The Actor / Director Laboratory, day 4

Bhawna Bhawsar-Arya (Actor participant):

“Its already Thursday and I just don’t want this workshop to end. I can’t believe how much I have learnt in such a short space of time. What resonates greatly for me is the improvisation techniques that Kristine has used to make the actor ‘beautiful, good and present’. The actor IS good at their craft and IS an artist. An equal collaboration, rather than a hierarchical one, between the actor/director and trust in the actor by the director would allow for a superb creation.

“I’ve learnt that what I need from the director is the set up of an appropriate improvisation, with a basic story/scenario and simple language to elicit it. Too much information and complex language complicates and restricts ‘play’. By doing these exercises with Kristine and the other directors, I even surprised myself how much of my own life experience, mother-tongue and cultural background I could draw on to springboard me into the text/scene we were working on. Before these exercises, my monologues were too rehearsed and I was trying to play them in a specific way which didn’t suit me, but now I have the correct tools to work on this.

“This workshop is giving me more and more self-confidence and the ability to trust my instinct. I feel energised and am thriving working within a group of multicultural actors and directors. I wish I was going onto a project where I could put all of this into practice!”

 

Ian Nicholson (Director participant):

“And today it seems like all is coming together. Certainly been a week that’s challenged a lot of my commonly held ideas about what a director should do but today things made a lot more sense, a lot more intuitive.

“When we were in discussion today with the directors and their roles it was interesting to hear how we still want to author and impose a narrative on what the actors were doing was still prevalent. It’s hard to let go of something you’ve done for years! But in letting go of the idea of what should be happening, the actors always found a lot more than anything we – the directors – could suggest. And as we talked I was reminded of a poem my Mum told me from years ago by Michelangelo (she speaks Italian – I sadly have never really picked it up) and after the session I had to dig it out of an old book she’d written it down in with a rough translation she’d done, it starts:

Non ha l’ottimo artista alcun concetto
c’un marmo solo in se non circoscriva
col suo soverchio

which translates something like: The best artist has not one idea that is not already contained within the unworked stone.

“And I thought that’s it. And this is it. Everything we could possibly suggest is already there, in the actor, if we just bothered to look and work with them, to make them beautiful in action on stage, rather than trying to force them into what we want. That’s something hard to learn, or un-learn what I’ve learnt, but it makes more sense and is infinitely more equitable than the current situation with actors and directors. And that’s the most essential part of this week and what I’ve learnt from Kristine, to trust that everything is already there, you just have to see it.”

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