Actor/Director Lab November 2011 Day 1

Phoyo by Anna Nguyen

Annetta Laufer – Director Participant

“Day 1 and my head is already buzzing with ideas and thoughts of my own working process with actors.

I was stunned at how quickly Kristine transformed the actors’ “performed” speeches into moments of complete honesty after watching them for only a few minutes. She very quickly found the right improvisations that allowed them to be natural and incredibly beautiful. This very natural and relaxed state is something I have always wished from my performers but have somehow struggled to capture.

So, when Kristine stated that when an actor is bad, it is the director’s fault, I felt a moment of shame followed by utter jubilation because this meant that I could finally do something about it! I could learn to change my approach. A wonderful prospect!

I have not seen improvisations used in the way Kristine used them today and I am excited, moved and hopeful, despite my insecurities about my past improvisation skills with actors. Watching Kristine create pertinent improvisations for the actors, using their cultural backgrounds as well as switching between improvisation and text continuously, I could see how important it was to pick a scenario relevant to the actor’s emotional journey within the context of the play/text, as opposed to an arbitrary setting that creates random emotions. I am sure I knew this before, but somehow today was the first time I really understood this.

My next big “aha” moment was understanding Kristine’s process of finding the “person” within the actor, as opposed to the actor trying to find a “character”. This is a revelation and quite contrary to every thing I have ever done. But again, an exciting prospect, as it means that there is no reason to start from a blank canvas and then bombard with cerebral ideas. The actor has already so much they can add before you even begin.

But how do you activate it? Well, from what Kristine has taught me today – observation is the key. Listening is the key. Discover who the actors are as people, emotionally, culturally, physically and then build on that. Give the actors the space to explore and play. This takes skill and confidence from a director, I think. Something, I challenge myself to for this week. I cannot wait!”

Photo by Anna Nguyen

Anna Nyugen – ‘Buddy’ Director (Director Participant on April 2011 Lab)

“Day one. It was so nice to be surrounded by the buzz and excitement of new born TDA’s again, with teas and croissants to greet us (a Tamasha special). Everyone was so beautifully hand picked, a vast concoction of people from different backgrounds and cultures which makes for a very intriguing workshop. We started the day off introducing ourselves and explaining briefly why we wanted to be here. It seemed that everyone around the circle had either felt their backgrounds had been shunned, ignored or left outside the rehearsal room at one point during their artistic endeavours. They all had that same hungry look in their eyes to be understood and to be empowered by their identity as artists. While this practice is sensational, it holds no prisoners, cuts no corners and is as direct and impulsive as it can be. Just walking around the room and listening in on some work, it seems to me that language will be one of the main themes this week.”

Photo by Anna Nguyen

Antonio Harris – Director Participant

“The Actor/Director Lab so far has been fantastic. As a director, Kristine is teaching me to listen and look carefully at the actor or actors on stage. This laboratory has really been about the relationship between director and actor. Basically, cut out all the unnecessary nonsense, cut out the textbook words, cut out the generics and find a way to truly Talk to your actor. If you do this, or at least try (as I doubt I will be as quick as Kristine in a week, and trust me, she’s extremely quick), you will get some refined, sophisticated results.

The lab has been fun, constantly moving and engaging and I will be looking forward to the rest of it. I’m really understanding the skill behind directing and Kristine definitely makes the directors constant attention to detail worthwhile. The team of directors/actors is great, multicultural and there is some great talent which makes everything even more exciting.”

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