Weekly Actors’ Evening Course – Week 2

Rodrigo Peñalosa – Participant Actor

This is my first experience as an actor in a Tamasha workshop. The approach is really different from my previous experiences in its accuracy and straightforwardness. Here are my reflections that came out of the second workshop.

There is a true simplicity in letting yourself be how you truly are in order to act; avoiding an idea of “acting” or becoming something we are not. Why not base it on something more solid, something we are. I often act the part of the actor acting a part, instead of going directly to the essence of the work, from me to the text, and not through this third party, this idea, this representation.

One of the tools to avoid being stuck in our ideas is to focus on the other. The pleasure of letting everything stand on the audience’s shoulders, stopping focusing on ourselves. And instead of being fed by your stress, fears, expectations, you can build on the other, the audience, the one you are there for.

Another person you are there for is the other actor. This workshop reminded me how great and vital the feeling of caring and being there for the other actor is. And how marvelous it is when the actor in front of you feeds back to you. (Before, during and after the scene)

If I had to concentrate one word on my experience of that night it would be the word –available. Available to the text, to the audience and to the other actors.

Thank you Kristine.

T. Patel – Participant Actor

“I want to ‘flop.'” After our second workshop, I told myself to remember this phrase – a revelation via an exercise: lip syncing to unfamiliar music, often in another language.

The exercise sounded intimidating. “How can I appear confident?” was my first thought, feeling as Kristine says many actors do, that I must always ‘succeed’. But this impulse – of stress, fear, and self-focus – prevents actors from being themselves, from being present. And as the exercise revealed, self-focus creates distance between actors and audience.

As fellow actors each began the musical exercise, one could see their conflict between wanting to ‘succeed’, yet feeling vulnerable. As Kristine coached each actor to concentrate on connecting with the audience, they changed. Their awkwardness – focusing on themselves – transformed outwards, into a connection with others. When they did, they became genuine, and engaging to watch.

Kristine encouraged us to embrace this vulnerability, rather than try to ‘perform’; and to not be afraid of ‘flopping’. Sharing memories of training with Philippe Gaulier, and ‘flopping’ repeatedly, Kristine conveyed the sense of leaving oneself open to ‘flopping’. It gives one freedom to ‘play’, to discover ways to ‘be’ with the audience, and to react with and off them.

Suddenly, I wanted to ‘flop’. At least for those moments, I released my need to ‘succeed.’ It’s stressful to feel one has to perform and excel. It’s much more freeing to leave oneself open to ‘flopping’, and bring that sense of openness with us into a room.

I tried to bring that dynamic into my monologue and improvised scenes. Normally, performing a new monologue, I’d let nervous fear make me over-perform. This time, trying to be present with other actors, I left myself open to sense dynamics that might take me forward. That same openness transformed an improvised scene with actors facing one direction, with no eye contact, and few words. I realised that scenes between actors often have much more eye contact than people maintain in reality; so they feel artificial. Indeed, many real people barely make eye contact, yet still powerfully communicate. Removing eye contact lets us better ‘sit into’ the scene – rather than trying to ‘perform’ reactions – and connect with the effects our words and body language offered each other. Kristine confirmed that watching these human dynamics makes actors more engaging.

And I confirmed that ‘flopping’ is nothing to be afraid of. And for the future, a way in.

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