GeoAlaska: Theatre & Film
Spring 2003: Don Juan
ShowCases: 3 Sisters, Mikado, 12th Night, Hamlet, The Importance of Being Earnest, Dangerous Liaisons, Don Juan
Organization of the book : SYNOPSIS
Everything has it, the structure. Remember Aristotle? Role has it, every good show has it... At least, should have.
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SummaryThe performer’s discipline was further dissected and tested by Meyerhold’s insistence on breaking down every instant of an individual’s performance to ensure that the instant has no superfluous elements, and adds to the objectives of the piece.
"The co-ordinated manifestations of excitability together constitute the actor’s performance. Each separate manifestation comprises of an acting cycle [element of excitement].
Each acting cycle comprises three invariable stages :
The intention is the intellectual assimilation of a task prescribed externally by the dramatist, the director, or the initiative of the performer.
The realisation is the cycle of volitional1, mimetic2 and vocal reflexes.
The reaction is the attenuation of the volitional reflex as it is realised mimetically and vocally in preparation for the reception of a new intention (the transition to a new acting cycle)…"
1 The term ‘feelings’ is used in the strictly technical sense with no loose, sentimental connotation. The same applies to ‘volitional.’ The word is used on the one hand the ‘inspirational’ method of acting (and the systematic use of narcotic stimulants ), and on the other the method of ‘authentic emotions’ (the hypnotic conditioning of the imagination)…
2 ‘Mimetic reflexes’ comprise all the movements performed by the separate parts of the actor’s body and the movements of the entire body in space. [Meyerhold’s notes]." [Meyerhold, 1922] filmact.txt No physicalization = no visualization. I see nothing. I see nothing = I do not understand what you mean. I don't understand = you don't understand. You don't understand = you are not interested to know. You are not interested = why should I be interested?
QuestionsNo questions = no answers. No, seriously, if you have questions, read Brecht page or Intro to BM I. BM Acting or Episodic Acting (I resist to call it "epic" acting) is connected with Epic Theatre and Constructivist Theatre, of course. Meyerhold wanted to master the "aesthetics of the machine" (Taylor).
HomeworkTry Hamlet, a good script (showcase for Stagematrix: Directors.Direct)
NotesI need to READ your mind! You make invisible and secret into SPECTACLE! This is what I pay for!
Director's notes. Read, read the Book of Spectator!
[ see biomechanics.vtheatre.net (new) ]
2004 & After
Prop and BM: structuring action.
One Act Fest
antirealistic system of dramatic production developed in the Soviet Union in the early 1920s by the avant-garde director Vsevolod Meyerhold. Meyerhold drew on the traditions of the commedia dell'arte and kabuki and on the writings of Edward Gordon Craig for his system, in which the actor's own personality was eliminated and he was entirely subordinated to the director's will. Coached as gymnasts and acrobats and emphasizing pantomime rather than words, the actors threw themselves about in puppetlike attitudes at the director's discretion. For these productions the stage was exposed to the back wall and was then furnished with harshly lit, bare sets consisting of scaffoldings, ladders, and ramps that the actors used. Biomechanics had lost its appeal by the late 1920s, though Meyerhold's emphasis on external action did become an element in Soviet actor-training techniques.How our three structural elements (Poetics) work in BM:
[ use it scenes/monologues analysis ]
We know that ballet is the poetry of movement. In dance every step must be choreographed. BM comes from the same school of thought. In short, the Biomechanics structure the visuals very much like any professional art does. Call the role a "movement novel" -- your "writing." I am not sure why this obvious philosophy is not widely accpted on stage. You know, for exaple, that in film industry it's a given that each shot must be STAGED for camera. How else?
I suspect that the complexity of the actor's tasks is the reason. You, actor, have to do it alone in live performances. No camera and the crew to stage your movement, the director is gone, plus the interaction with other actors... messing things up. As a result, the movement is "functional" at best. You enter, you walk from place to place, you exit... Where is the art? The meaning of those physical motions? Noices. I can't even lksten, because I am distructed by this meaningless wondering on stage.
In class I ask my students to enter through the door "in-character"... and I have to stop them right away (see Pre-Acting). "What do you mean?" I ask.
"What you mean?" They say.
"I mean that I do not understand your meaning," I say. "What is the statement, what is the meaning of your character's entrance?"
Let me explain myself. Time and again, I see "To Be or Not to Be" in our monologue (first) segment in all classes. I do not mind, if you turn around (no entrance) and start the monologue. What I mind is the text thrown at me, when I am not ready. How am I supposed to know Hamlet's state of mind, you didn't establish it, before you go for the first line?
Lets make it simple? Is this is the last moment before he commits suicide? I need to know. The young man wants to kill himself -- and by the end of his monologue he changed his mind. Great (beginning and end = change). Now, how did it take place? First, I want to see that he is ready for death. (Did you notice how often actors would have a dagger in their hands in this scene? As far as I'm concerned, it's better than nothing).
All right, how serious is he about killing himself? I guess my students got used to my "bigger, bigger!" scream -- the bigger, the better ("bold choices" in Method Acting). Go all the way! He is to kill himself, he thought about it even before he came home. He is ready. Now it's the time to do it (how would I know, if you didn't prepare me in the previous scenes? Did you play the dagger before?). He kills himself and the play is over. The end.
So, how does he do it? Do you want to see it? I do.
First BM cycle (give it your own name -- "Now" or something). Aim -- to get the knife is out. Action -- it's out. Release -- the ground of the next cycle (is he to stabb himself? Where? Throuth? Stomach? Heart?) Number four -- stop! Let me swallow it first. Let them beg you, what is next? More, please. Never go for another beat without the public begging you first. Please, let me see, please!
We wait. ("Waiting" is the place where drama lives -- suspence).
The next BM cycle. The second thought. We are still not ready for the first line. We saw "not to be" part only. What about "to be"?
How do we bring it out? Does he take one hand out and look at it? Fingers, skin, blood, flesh, life? As if he never saw it before, the realization that it will be gone...
I hope you follow me, kid.
Look, I just give you an idea of the structuring the movement; PreActing. I am a director, I do not act. You do. Do it your way!
Are we ready for the Shakespeare and the first line? No? Maybe another BM cycle is missing?
I haven't seen him for days. Maybe I offended Master, I don't know. Maybe I said something wrong. Maybe he expected something from me? Or simply just waited, when I finish the book. Maybe he got jelous that I work on Method Acting for Directors? I don't know. I thought that Meyer was fine with Stanislavsky, but you never know. I miss you, Master. I need your help.... Right now, sir. Should I write about the "texture" in movement? Should I bring in the language of cinematography? More of it?
He started by looking for the impulses in the body of the actors, and exaggerated it to find first what the honest impulse is, and then start to find how you make that larger. Take a painting, it might be a Dali or a Picasso or a painting in which the images move away from naturalistic representation and say: “How do we translate that into performance or through the circus or through Kabuki or Noh or Bhuto and find what the issue is we are trying to communicate artistically, not naturalistically”. It maybe some visual art, maybe some music, but looking all the time really, to have very clearly, some reason for performing whatever you are performing, and to have stated we are doing this to demonstrate this piece of information or examine this issue or try to convey our insights into the truth of whatever the subject might be: greening of Australia, environmental issues, incarceration, a whole range of issues that could be brought into the space and examined on the floor physically, musically and visually.
Meyerhold was an experimenter in the theatre, he was a person who belonged to the technical scientific age and who brought that understanding and a very clear mind to creating theatre. He drew on all traditions of theatre going back and mining them to find ways in which to make the actors more expressive and to create an art form that searched for truth, that was highly exaggerated, that was definitely an artform that broke away from illusion into images that would startle, shock, awaken, delight the audience and therefore looked at commedia, looked at circus, looked to eastern theatre forms, looked to dance, looked to music, and out of that created an ongoing body of work that constantly evolved and developed right until the end of his life.
An online course supplement *
2005-2006 Theatre UAF Season: Four Farces + One Funeral & Godot'06
Film-North * Anatoly Antohin * eCitations *