Friday, October 31

Happy Halloween!

We spent nearly the entire class period just discussing what we learned from our Viewpoints group projects, and I enjoyed it. The three groups had very different processes, and it was interesting to get a feel for how everything was created.

One of the biggest things that I learned from my group was that we could create tons, and then not have to worry about remembering anything. If we created something great, then we'd remember it simply because we'd WANT to do it again. And I think it helped us to create a piece that was dynamic throughout. I loved it.

In the final minutes of class, we got in two straight lines and began an exercise involving throwing handballs in zigzags across the lines in two directions simultaneously. I was dead in the middle, so I often had more than one ball coming at me at the same time. I think we're going to work on it more on Wednesday (our Movement professor canceled class for Tuesday so that we can all go vote... although I voted today, so for me it'll just be an excuse to sleep in.)

My Voice Professor told a really great story about how she's been coaching an Episcopalian priest who is trying to improve his sermons. At the heart of the story was the idea that as actors, we don't realize how different our perceptions of the world are from everyone else. We live in such a bizarre environment, but we're so accustomed to it that we don't notice. We speak loudly. We have no problem touching our professors bodies if it'll help to inform us of how our own should be operating. We're basically a bunch of freaks. (In a good way, I hope.)

But they did find common ground. Actors try to connect with audiences on a level of humanity in quite the same way that a priest does with a congregation. We're not so different after all.

We went through our consonant practice sentences individually so that our professor could explain what we need to work on before our exams. I've worked a lot this week, and I think it's paying off (as my professor says, "this is a skill-set, not a talent"). I think I've nailed the "sts" combinations that were plaguing me. The only things she said to work on today were the "k" and "l" in the word "difficult", and the "v" in the word "have". And I've got three whole days to do it. :) I can do this!

I showed up to class about 10 minutes late today (because I had to take my car into the shop and there were problems getting a loaner), which was so weird. I think that's the first time I've been late since I've gotten here (if Ashleigh is reading this, I know she's in disbelief). I felt horribly about it. And really awkward to walk in while all my classmates were in the middle of a membrane exercise. I feel like I let them down.

I did some text etudes with Killer today. My professor called me out on a lot of stuff, which is great. He says that I've gotten the hang of STARTING the etudes, but that I lose that sense of life once I'm in them. He said I've done well with following my impulses in the silent etudes, but that there's something in the text that's screwing me up. I need to stop saying the lines because I feel like I have to, and only say the lines when they say themselves.

He also said that I make a weird face where my forehead looks "like an accordion" when I'm thinking in etudes, and he thinks it's something that will go away on its own when I'm truly living in them. He also said that in one of my exercises I put a pause awkwardly into the middle of the line, which is a television convention that actors use to make it look like they're living when they're not. So I guess those are a couple of crutches that I need to let go of.

I have call in 10 minutes for a tech run. See ya!


Thursday, October 30

I can't believe we're already at the end of October. Where has the time gone?

Barack Obama came and spoke in my town today. Several of my classmates wanted to ditch class to go see him, but no one actually did (too dedicated of students for that, I suppose). I'm going to do early voting tomorrow over my lunch break. Which means I have to finish my research on candidates tonight. I feel the need to make informed decisions.

There's now another muscle that I can't feel but have to use. Apparently, there's also some minor version of the psoas that's more central in the body, and my Movement Professor says that I have to "zip it up" when I'm using my good muscles of support (I think that note was specifically for me).

We did some partner stretches on our legs today, and it turns out that I'm more flexible than I thought I was (and so is Wifey, for the record).

More of the same. I think I've nailed the "Amidst the mists..." thing, which I thought would be the hardest for me. But it turns out that words like "dreamers" and "trees" are my weak spots at the moments ("dr" and "tr" combinations are harder to make clear than you might think). And of course, there's the word "distinctly"...

The artistic director for the repertory theatre (which is an Equity theatre that is in a tight partnership with my program) came to speak with our class today. He said that the theatre has already begun acquiring grant money for our season next year, and even has ideas about the shows that we'll be doing in our third year. (Seriously, my third year? 2010? You're KIDDING! They don't even know what we can DO yet!)

The conversation then switched to a lesson about basic human needs, and applying them to characters. The root of drama is when needs are in conflict. All needs are of equal value when we're analyzing a script, and we can't judge characters by them, but we have to know what they're foregrounding in order to play them properly. There were several needs, and each of them had subsets. Here's the list we had:

- Security (shelter, food, safety, etc.)
- Love (carnal, familial, friendship, divine, contact, connection, romantic, etc.)
- Self-Worth (purpose, power, meaning, soul, etc.)
- Self-Respect (affirmation, respect, validation, power, etc.)
- Freedom
- Manhood/Womanhood
- Absolution (purging guilt)
- Self-Preservation (saving yourself)

He said that with all of us being in this program, we're allowing Self-Worth to be above everything else. Clearly if we're planning to be actors, we're not making Security our priority. And we've all risked a lot to be here, including what people think of us (respect) and the status of our relationships (love). I feel pretty good about that.

After the artistic director left, we did a group exercise that involved Wifey saying a line that we were all supposed to understand as the last line of a speech, and we were to receive our cue based on that. It yielded some neat things. Particularly a golden comment from our professor regarding taking what is inside of you, having it interact with what is coming from someone else, and letting the two interact and perhaps explode. I wish I'd written the whole thing down. *sigh*

In Uncle Vanya, the characters all begin by waiting around for order to be restored. Order is only restored when, at the end of the play, they leave. They all complain about being bored. They're trapped in a place where they can't proceed with what they want to do. And the things that they do during the course of the play are only being done because they have NOTHING LEFT TO DO.

That's pretty much what I got out of today's class.

Tonight was the first day of tech for Wilder, Wilder, Wilder, which is a series of five one-act plays by Thornton Wilder. It's being performed by the entire 2nd-Year class, and I've been assigned to be on stage crew (also called "deck crew"). So far, I've had to do very, very little. I helped sweep and mop the stage, I set up some food props, which I'll have to do every night (fun fact: props that are used up every show and need to be replaced are called "consumables"). I also was assigned to sit at various locations in the audience and help the director with things related to sightlines (which means telling him how much can be seen from different vantage points, both onstage and backstage).

So tech went from 6:30-11:00 tonight. We have it again for the same length tomorrow, and then we have two 10-for-12s this weekend (which means you have a 12-hour work span -- in our case noon to midnight -- with a two-hour lunch break).


Wednesday, October 29

My group got to perform our Viewpoints piece today, which I was completely amped about. I think we did a lovely job. One of the other groups went today as well, and it was fascinating to see that they had ended up with a piece that was completely different from ours stylistically. I dug it.

My professor says that when you become focused on voice, you'll go through a phase of over-articulation at some point. We briefly discussed a rule that prevents you from doing that to an unnatural level. But seeing as how I haven't hit my over-articulation phase yet, it's not really something that I can put into practice yet.

We're having a consonant exam on Tuesday. I've been really working hard on my consonants outside of class, and when I'm focused on them, I'm no longer a consonant disaster. I still have a lot of work to do, but I'm not nearly as bad as I used to be. Still, I plan to drill my phrases a lot this week.

Here are the things we were working on today:

"What a to-do to die today at a minute or two to two
A distinctly difficult thing to say, but harder still to do
For they'll beat a tattoo at twenty to
With a ra-tah-tah-ta-tah-tah-ta-tah-tah-too
And the dragon will come when he hears the drum
A minute or two to two today, a minute or two to two."

(As Heidi and Jes can attest, we used a variation of this as a warm-up in high school drama. But it's SO DIFFERENT to do it when you're focusing on every consonant sound instead of using it as a tongue-twister. "Distinctly" becomes a really rough word to say, and you have to pay attention to every "t" sound that comes out of your mouth.)

"Amidst the mists and coldest frosts,
With stoutest wrists and loudest boasts
She thrusts her fists against the posts,
And still insists she sees the ghosts."

(This was REALLY HARD for me at first, but my professor says my "sts" combination is getting clearer.)

"Round the rugged rock the ragged rascal ran.
Round and round the great arena race the Roman charioteers, reckless of life,
Heedless of risk, striving to gain that rich and rare reward that men call fame."

(When you're working on "r" sounds, "rare reward" is really tricky.)

"We are the music makers and we are the dreamers of dreams
Wand'ring through lone sea breakers, and sitting by desolate streams.
World losers, and world forsakers, on whom the pale moon gleams.
Yet we are the movers and shakers of the world forever, it seems."

(Note: the hard thing for me in this one, is that every word that ends in an "s" is actually pronounced like a "z". Or at least, it's supposed to be. I have a real problem with leaving them unvoiced.)

"Some streets have streams, some streets have trees, I love them both."

My professor says that once you master any sound, you have to continue to practice it on a regular basis, or it will atrophy. She encouraged us to practice in the shower, which I am totally going to do from now on.

It's funny how much you can work in the shower. I used it for "memory of physical action" practice for awhile. And I used it to record physical sensations (what it's like to be soaking wet, what the temperature is like, how steam feels"). Now, it's my new zone of consonant practice. I'm actually really geeked about that. (Killer laughed when he saw that I had written down "practice in the shower" in my notes today with a big asterisk next to it. Haha.)

We spent the first part of class working on an exercise with an imaginary membrane surrounding each of us, that we then reached through and felt sensations of what existed on the other side. We were supposed to delete what we were being told we would feel, so that we wouldn't prepare for it. And we were also told that after breaking through the membrane, we would have no short-term memory of what we had just felt, and would keep doing it.

It turns out, I'm really bad at staying neutral and not preparing for what's on the other side when I KNOW what's going to be on the other side. Something to work on in my homework sessions.

I did some text etudes with Wifey, but it took a few tries before I got into the right place for it. I've been judging myself so harshly the last couple of days and have lost all my courage. I need to get it back, but I'm not sure how to do it yet.


Tuesday, October 28

I've met with my Viewpoints group (Thrill, Iceman, Wifey, and Director A) a few times now to prepare our performance for Movement class tomorrow, and I'm pretty excited to share it. I think we found something neat.

We spent class learning new partner stretches. We were assigned to find a one-minute monologue and learn it neutrally before next Tuesday. We're going to use them as "movement monologues", although I'm not really sure what that means yet.

I can't tell you how great it was to have Voice class again after a week without it.

I got advice from one of the 3rd-Years about how to calm down my tremors, and it's helped a lot. I'm going to avoid the Dying Cockroach for awhile, as that's a tricky one for me to do. And I'm actually going to send LESS energy outward when I start the tremors, and not flex my feet as much in things like 1st position.

Today in class, I only did two tremors; 1st Position and Half-Plow. I was in Half-Plow for several minutes in a light tremor, and it was really cool. In some ways it feels like I'm taking a step back, but I have to let my body record the tremors this way so that I can eventually find a happy medium.

We worked a bit on our "STS" combinations, and my Professor said that my "s" sounds have improved greatly. I'm so proud! I've been working really hard on them. I still have to be thinking about them in order to make the correction, but it's nice to know that I'm on the right track.

I loved Acting class today. We started off by doing Michael Chekov exercises with "expansion" and "contraction". In my "daily center", I'm comfortable with both actions. But my artistic center is definitely more comfortable with "expansion", which is exactly what actors are supposed to feel.

My Professor says that psychological muscles are just like physical ones and need to be exercised regularly.

At one point, our professor told a story about Marlene Dietrich. Apparently, she once said that several actors in her generation (such as Jimmy Stewart) always acted "while looking for their left shoe". No matter what they were saying (I interpret this as meaning that they had a distracted quality to them, and said all their lines with the same weight).

We went back to the text etudes that we did several weeks ago while sitting in chairs, and I got some really great notes from our professor. In the first one, things went astray as the result of my making a choice instead of acting on an impulse (a choice that I didn't know I was making at the time). In the second one, things were weak because I wasn't giving myself full freedom to explore my impulses (and, as my professor often says, "there's no such thing as 99% freedom").

I'm always glad to get really direct criticism from my professors. It's nice to know exactly what I need to work on. And I feel like I understood all the feedback I got today. Now it's just a matter of putting it into practice. Wish me luck!

I turned in my paper on The Wild Duck today. I honestly started that paper 5 different times before settling on an action for the play (rejected actions included "to sacrifice" and "to benefit others"). I ended up with a very muddy paper using a combination of "to meddle" and "to manipulate". It's horrible, but at least it's done.

The very first thing that our Professor said in class today was that, from now on, we all need to read the Arts portion (specifically the Theater section) of the New York Times on a daily basis (you can read it online for free). He says that as actors, we have to embrace the entire profession. We have to be aware of what's going on in the field. So I subscribed to it on my GoogleReader (which is a lovely device, if you don't already have it... I highly recommend). I also already follow a couple of Broadway World feeds, as well as some smaller, more personal accounts of Broadway happenings.

We discussed Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekov today, and spent a fair amount of time attempting to discern whether it's a comedy or a drama. I'm still a little foggy on it, actually. I guess it's a "neither"?

We were split into two groups for research before Thursday. My group (Director A, Director C, Director J, Thrill, Two-Shots-Up, and me) has to investigate the characters of Ástrov, Yélena, and Sónya. We're charting how their pasts are revealed and commented on through the course of the play.


Quotations: Volume 9

Here are some of the educational, inspirational, and humorous quotations from my classes this week:

Me: [D-Train], you look more likely to kick yourself than the other guy right now.
D-Train: That's how I feel!

"I can do it in the pool!" - All-The-Way, on walking on her hands

"Invest in your homework. That's where you grow." - Acting Professor

"I sound like a parrot. Which is wonderful. And I guess my job. That's how you know I mean business." - Acting Professor, on how he repeats the same concepts every day

"You said that line for the audience, and then you had a beautiful moment of 'I am'. It was like throwing one last bone to the dogs, and then saying, 'go to hell'." - Acting Professor, to Alicia after an etude

"Sometimes these etudes can be boring, and that's a beautiful thing. When it's exciting, it's all for the audience. When it's boring, the actor is really getting something out of it." - Acting Professor

"The ways that plays should be rehearsed, frankly, is that the calm moments need to get to one-hundred-percent truth, and then the cataclysms will take care of themselves." - Acting Professor

"I'm glad no one put it in their mouth. It looked filthy." - Big Show, about a shoelace that was being used in an etude

"The resemblance of an emotion is like the light of a dead star." - Acting Professor

"You're cuter than, well, at least me." - O.D. to Two-Shots-Up

"I already forgot your first etude. Sorry." - Acting Professor

"I wouldn't make a PhD dissertation out of it." - Acting Professor, on explaining what happened in an etude

"I'm at C4. D5? You sunk my battleship." - Killer, when asked to work "on the grid" in a Viewpoints exercise

"An artist works with what they have on a given day. If they do that, it will be enough." - Movement Professor

"I know I'm going to hit the rope. There's just too much [Iceman], I feel like." - Iceman, when trying to do Capoeira low to the ground underneath a rope

(singing) "[D-Train], [D-Train], [D-Train]! Capoeira, that's my s***!" - [D-Train], making up his own lyrics to one of the Capoeira songs

"Choice is a horrible thing. You must act when there is no choice." - Acting Professor

"Actors must have nerves of steel." - Acting Professor

"When I butcher a word, you still get it, right?" - Acting Professor, whose Russian accent made the word "steel" difficult to understand

"You have to kill your time waiting for the train." - Acting Professor, on doing wasting time in an etude while waiting for an impulse (the train)

"I do believe that something you discover for yourself is worth thousands of cases where you were pointed toward it." - Acting Professor

"You're the ten people I'm gonna be stuck with in Hell." - Big Show

"Stop whining until I close the door." - Analysis Professor

"I can guarantee you, you're never gonna forget The Wild Duck." - Analysis Professor

"Sooner or later, you will stop saying, '[Analysis Professor] wouldn't agree with this', and start saying, 'I don't agree with this.' And that's called indoctrinating and brainwashing." - Analysis Professor

"Our job in the theatre is to manipulate the audience and not let them know that they're being manipulated." - Analysis Professor

"A kick is like a bullet. If I pick one up and throw it at you it'll bounce back. But put some speed in it, and it'll go right through." - The Capoeira Mestre

"What's gonna make you get hit is the fear." - The Capoeira Mestre

"The snake charmer is not afraid of snakes, because they know what the snake can do. You're only afraid until you understand." - The Capoeira Mestre

"I just hope he isn't following impulses anymore." - Acting Professor, when Iceman walked out of the room in an etude and wasn't coming back in


Friday, October 24

D-Train and I ended up having a successful spying excursion at a Starbucks. There were about 5 couples around when we got there, but we picked the same one. And before we left, Two-Shots-Up and Iceman arrived at the same place for the same assignment.

I sat out for all of Capoeira in order to baby my injuries. But I watched, and I think I still learned.

The Mestre (big cheese) came and gave instruction, and then later we had a Roda with the 2nd-Years. The Mestre has three rules when playing:

1. Don't get hit.
2. Don't cross kicks.
3. Don't stop moving.

He says that when Capoeira is played (danced? fought?) correctly, it should look like a kitchen mixer, where the blades are folding in towards each other but never actually touch.

He said that a kick is always a consequence of a dodge, and that Capoeira has to be played defensively more than offensively. He also reminded of the importance of speed (he even broke out the science class principle of Force = Mass x Acceleration) with kicks. And he emphasized the importance of not being afraid, but just reacting on impulse (ah... I see how this fits into acting training...).

I actually participated a bit, albeit very carefully. For one Viewpoints exercise that's normally done on your feet, Wifey and I did it in chairs (she has a knee injury right now, so we're a good pairing). I realized that I've been confusing Kinesthetic Response with Spacial Relationship, as I often feel the need to fill in dead space. As a result of being confined to the chair, I learned the difference. So something positive came out of my injuries after all.

I'm not sure that I should call it a tutorial... I requested a meeting with my Acting Professor to check in on my progress. I've had some really great work in class, but my progress feels like a rollercoaster, and I know that some days are steps back.

He said a lot of things that were hard to hear, but I'm sure that I needed to hear them. He said that I need to work more on my own outside of class. He thinks that my head is in my classwork, but he's not sure if my heart truly is. He also said that the best way that I can contribute to making our class into an ensemble is to work as hard as I can and set a good example.

I thought I was working hard. I thought my heart was in it. I felt blindsided and confused. But I know that I want to learn this, so if that's what I need to do, then that's what I need to do.

We had an exercise that required us to work as an ensemble. It didn't go well.

Our professor gave us a stern talking-to. I felt embarrassed and upset. I started crying. I wasn't the only one.

We took a break, came back, and did our last ever batch of the "Shakespeare on Vacation" silent etudes. I did one with O.D. where I was in "I Am" for most of it.

Over the weekend, I'm meeting with a group and Director A. for a Viewpoints assignment for Movement. I'm also going to be working on my Wild Duck paper. And I have to read a bit of Chekov.

And it's also my birthday weekend, and there's a Halloween party... Life is complicated. :)


Thursday, October 23

Today people learned really awesome fake-outs. There were a couple of new kicks, too. And then everyone did some practice fighting.

Except I didn't.

Why? Because my body hates me.

I got pretty dizzy at near the beginning of class, so I sat down for a bit. Then I felt like a pathetic wimp for sitting down, so I tried to get up. But no, I was so dizzy that I literally couldn't. I finally got back up, and started giving it my all. And then the pain came back.

My right side is really messed up. Like, REALLY messed up. And part of me wanted to try to work through it (I know that I have a low pain threshold, so I try to make up for it be consciously increasing my pain tolerance). And at first, I did (which was probably stupid). But it got to the point where I couldn't anymore.

A friend of mine once said there's a difference between "playing while hurt" and "playing while injured" (it was originally applied to sports, but I think it's true in most things that apply to theatre as well). If you're "playing hurt", it takes guts, and it's sort of a brave, selfless thing to do. If you can continue helping the team and doing your best despite the fact that you're in pain, that's great. But "playing injured" is just stupid. You're going to put yourself and your teammates in danger as a result.

I "play while hurt" a lot. Seriously a lot. Due to my low pain threshold, I've been in pain on almost a daily basis since I got to grad school. If the pain is like a 1-3 (on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the worst pain I've ever felt in my life), I don't even mention it. Once it goes over 3, I often will, but I work through it. I start watching myself and pulling back around a 5.

Today I was stupid. I kept participating even once I got to about a 6, just because I wanted to learn this stuff SO BADLY. As a result, I hit at least an 8 on the pain scale, because I tried to "play while injured".

Our workshop is only 4 days long, and I don't want to miss any of it. And there is nothing more frustrating than sitting on the sidelines watching everyone else do it, and feeling like a failure for not being able to. I sat out for the rest of class.

I told my Movement Professor what was going on immediately when I got to her class. At first she had me stretch out and try to let my muscles relax. She let me participate in a Viewpoints exercise for all of about 2 minutes before she pulled me out and ordered me to lie down.

She said something about my femur not being in my hip socket correctly? I'm not certain. All I know is that I cannot release a couple of the muscles in my leg, and I'm in pain. And, as I've been favoring my left leg for weeks, now my left ankle isn't doing well either.

My Movement Professor currently has an Apprentice, who is getting certified in Eginton Alignment. So my professor asked Apprentice J. to help me out. She basically tried to manipulate my muscles and do things that felt like physical therapy to me for a long period of time. It actually did help, but I was ordered to stay on the ground and just watch class.

Watching class is a completely different experience than participating in it. Today was the day that my class (minus me) had a collective breakthrough in Viewpoints exercises, and it was SO COOL to see it.

Over the last couple of weeks we've been working with the "time" viewpoints (Tempo, Duration, Repetition, and Kinesthetic Response). Today, they got to begin working with the "space" viewpoints (Architecture, Spacial Relationship, Topography, Shape, and Gesture -- although we haven't gotten to Gesture yet). It was super neat. They started looking like a unit as opposed to ten individuals, despite the fact that they were often doing completely different things. I was so proud of them, and so very frustrated that I couldn't be a part of it.

After class, my professor recommended a massage therapist to me, and said that it is CRUCIAL that I go to one before classes next week, or I'm going to end up doing a lot more damage to myself. I made an appointment for Saturday morning, which happens to be my 24th birthday. You know, it's funny; most people would probably LOVE to go get a massage on their birthdays. But for me, it's a matter of dread, discomfort, pain, and inconvenience. *sigh*

My Acting Professor said that if someone were to come into our class for five or ten minutes on a given day, they might say, "I know that exercise. I know what they're doing." But the truth is, they don't. They don't understand the context that exercise is being taught in, or the exact way that we've been instructed to do it on that day. We're the ones who are in classes day in and day out, so we are the only ones who truly know.

Him saying that made me immediately think of this blog. I could live-blog from class every day, but you STILL wouldn't really understand what we're doing without physically being there on a daily basis. :-/

We did a group activity that involved working from our creative centers and trying to start in a "pause" and then find an impulse "as a group". That is so much easier said than done. For a long, long period of time, we were all just sitting/standing in the space, trying to feel SOMETHING. People started doing things as individuals, but there was no group impulse. And me? I just kept trying to ignore the pain in my leg.

Our professor notified us we missed the first collective impulse, because not everyone recognized that it was occurring. And then we sat there for what seemed like a very long time, several of us becoming frustrated that we weren't coming together on anything. We got to a point where we all started letting our eyes dart around to each other, which I think was when the communion really began.

I don't remember the group impulse taking over. What I do remember was my leg hurting. I put my arm on Big Show's shoulder for balance as I started moving my leg around and trying to manipulate the muscles the way Apprentice J had. Before I knew it, it looked like everyone was either stretching out or helping someone else stretch out. I remember D-Train coming over to me and helping with my leg, and then I started rubbing his back. Eventually, the group ended up in a big train, rubbing each other's shoulders.

Our professor applauded when we had finished. He said that the impulse we followed was identical to the one we had missed. We all just really wanted to stretch out and be massaged (and after Capoeira all week, who could blame us?). It just took us a while to realize that.

I love my Analysis Professor today. Why? Because he gave us a desperately craved extension on our papers on The Wild Duck. Which is swell, because I thought I was going to have to pull an all-nighter in order to finish all my homework tonight.

We spent the first hour of class just discussing the issues that we've been having writing the paper. Trying to come up with a cohesive action for a play where the characters don't seem to agree and keep changing their motivations? Not easy.

The end of class was about the images from Joe Turner's Come and Gone that we had been assigned to focus on last class. A lot of really interesting points were raised.

By the end of class, my professor made the statement that August Wilson might be the Shakespeare of the last century. I have a really hard time agreeing with that... but that's just because of my Shakespeare geekdom. And the fact that I don't much care for Joe Turner's Come and Gone. In my mind, there's really no comparison between the two.

I'm about to head to a coffee shop with D-Train to try to observe the behavior of a couple for our Movement class. We then have to watch a television show that has a couple in it, and compare and contrast the behavior between the real couple and the fictional one. I had planned to go right after class today, but my car stalled TWICE in the MILE that I had to drive home, so D-Train and I are borrowing a car from the ever-lovely All-The-Way to complete the assignment. Let's hope that there are still some couples out and about at this hour on a Thursday night!


Wednesday, October 22

We started learning take-down moves. I ended up getting incredibly dizzy and having to stop. It's a very weird feeling to be sitting on the floor, yet still feeling like you're about to fall down. Not cool. Also, my whole body hurts. I don't think I was built for Capoeira. :(

We spent pretty much the entire class period discussing our readings from Blink. The gist of the conversation: We all have an abilit to sense truth, but we ignore it because we've been trained to trust the scientific and the analytic. As actors, we need to return to those gut reactions, as nine times out of ten they will create things that are truthful.

We also discussed the importance of not letting one performance bleed into the next. You can't expect that you're going to get the same thing from your scene partner tonight that you had last night. You can't force that connection to remain the same. You will either be thrown off when you get something different, or you will be pushing the entire time in order to manufacture what you had before.

Every once in awhile, I feel like the resident freak of my class. It might be because of my big tremors, my frequent hiccoughs, people looking at me like I have two heads when I ask questions... It happens. And though most of the time I'm comfortable being exactly who I am, there are times when I feel like I'm in high school all over again, and I'm not really sure how I'd have to mold myself to fit in.

Today was definitely one of those days. I felt like the odd man out. Worse than that, actually. I felt like the alien.

I tried to voice some concerns that I had in group therapy, but the responses that I got just made me feel even less comfortable than I was going into the meeting. And at the end, there were so many things that I really needed to say, but didn't have time for. In the ten minute break between therapy and class, I did everything I could to release my aggression, but I was upset for the rest of the day. To be honest, I'm still upset.

Class was short today, and it felt less complete than normal. There were a few etudes done, but nothing earth-shattering (or at least, not foot-licking level).

The reason we were released from Acting early was so that we could see the 2nd-Years performing "The Greeks" (a project for Acting II where they are directed in scenes from Greek plays... This year, they were The Trojan Women and Agamemnon. It was clear that they were being done more for educational purposes than for entertainment value. There were some great moments, and there were some weak ones. But it sounds like "The Greeks" are that way every year. To their credit, I think that the 2nd-Years were probably doing what they were asked to do to the best of their abilities; some were just more comfortable doing that than others.

D-Train, Thrill, Big Show, Killer, Iceman, and I were chosen to stay after the show to work on tech stuff. We had to load a big van with the set pieces and props from "The Greeks", and then unpack them in the props storage facility. It was all that difficult; just annoying.

I'm going to stay up a bit longer to work on my Wild Duck paper. I have virtually nothing done so far, and it's due Friday. As is our paper for Movement class on observing couples both in life and in television. Terrific.


Tuesday, October 21

Thanks for the comments on my last post (Theatre Can Change the World). I'm glad to know that some of you were so moved by it. :)

Today was the first day of our week of Capoeira workshops. We worked on our kicks (I think we know about 6-7 of them now). We also learned the Capoeira version of cartwheels (which involves facing outward instead of in the direction of movement, and requires that your legs be bent with your feet close to your body). We started learning to walk on our hands (Two-Shots-Up and O.D. were already doing pretty well with it). And by the end of the class, we had our very first Roda. So exciting! But man, was I tired when we were done!

We continued working with Viewpoints, as we had last week. Today, though, things were clarified a bit. Apparently we're not supposed to do anything that creates a story while working with these elements. That involves not using facial expressions and not touching each other. It turns out I was doing it completely wrong (I thought stories were sort of the goal). Oh well.

We did more of the circus stretches. I know that they're probably really increasing my flexibility and removing tension from my body, but I have to admit that I don't love them.

We continued the discussion of our etude test from last week. Our professor said that he thinks in our previous conversation we focused too much on what we lost during the test, and not at what we've gained. While we may have taken a step backward on Friday, we've taken twenty steps forward since we've started working on the etudes.

He tells us on a regular basis that it's vital to practice exercises in following impulses at least 15 minutes a day on our own. When you're working on your own, you're working for yourself and not for an audience. That's when you truly have growth in your work.

He said that saying "this technique doesn't work for me" is the lazy answer. The technique works; perhaps YOU'RE not working hard enough.

He also said that we are rushing our exercises right now. We WANT there to be pauses. By eliminating them for the sake of being interesting, we are not indulging the beauty of every moment, including transitions. He says that grand moments are the easiest things to play on stage, and it's more important to rehearse finding truth in the little moments between the cataclysms.

I did a couple of etudes with Iceman. The first one had potential, but I don't think it really got up on its feet. The second one involved us jokingly fighting over an ottoman and a blanket. I thought it went pretty well at the time, but when we finished the etude it turned out that we'd sort of been on different pages (for example, I had no idea that we were outside, although that seemed clear to Iceman... and to most of my classmates).

Also, my professor called me out on dropping an impulse near the beginning of the scene. I cleared my throat when it began, which informed me of having a sore throat. But as the etude went on, I completely forgot about the sore throat. My professor said that, while the etude was good, he wanted to see where it would've gone if I'd stuck to that first thought and let it play itself out.

We're discussing Joe Turner's Come and Gone by August Wilson. We're paying far more attention to images in this play than we have with any of the others. It has elements of "magical realism" (which D-Train equated with the movie Pan's Labyrinth and I suggested was like a José Rivera play).

We were placed into four teams to each track one of the major images throughout the play. My team is me, Wifey, and D-Train, and we've been assigned "song". The other teams are "shining", "binding", and "relation to the road". I think the goal is to see how the image shifts, how it expands, and what it means to different characters.


Monday, October 20: Theatre Can Change the World

The ten students in the 3rd-Year class are currently putting on a production of The Giver (it's an adaptation of the book). Today I attended a preview performance, and it was truly phenomenal. Whenever I see quality of work that gets done here, I feel so very blessed to be part of this program. Beyond that, I feel honored to have been chosen to become a part of it.

It's neat to see the people that I hang out with doing this work. It's also cool that the person who designed lights for this production went to undergrad with me. This show was created by people who I consider to be my peers, and I loved seeing what they were capable of. It makes me think that maybe I'm capable of the same thing.

The performance I saw today helped to remind me why I'm doing this with my life. Remarkable theatre always reminds me of how passionately I feel about it.

Theatre can change the world.

I once heard a saying: "Theatre is life. Film is art. Television is furniture." I believe that live theatre is the most powerful of these art-forms. You can't change the channel. You can't fast forward. You can't throw popcorn at the screen. It's there. It's real. It's right in front of you. The audience is as much a part of the experience as the actors are, and that's a connection that is unlike anything else. The audience suspends their collective disbelief, and they witness the performed events firsthand. It's an incredible sort of phenomenon that people are willing to expand themselves for the theatre in the first place. And because it's not easy to tune it out or escape from it, the effects can be felt more intensely.

Years ago, I was in a production of a stage version of Anne of Green Gables (which, for the record, wasn't particularly well-written). It was a community theatre production with a limited budget and a cast of enthusiastic local actors.

The story, if you're unfamiliar with the books, is about a precocious, redhead orphan girl named Anne, who is taken in by an elderly brother and sister after a misunderstanding. She's perhaps the brightest girl in school, in constant competition with a boy who teases her for her freckles and red braids. She experiences the world as a more romantic and enchanting place than other people, and her dramatics often get her into trouble. It's not political. It's not avant-garde. It's not meant to be a powerhouse of a play. The novels are heart-warming, and someone decided to create the play more for nostalgia and entertainment value than anything else. And that's fine by me.

While I was working on that production, a couple of troops of girl scouts came backstage before attending the performances. They could earn some sort of theatre badge for it, I guess. And I was asked to tell them all about acting, costumes, make-up, rehearsals, and everything else that might enrich the theatre-going experience. The girls were full of questions and seemed fascinated by everything I said.

And I realized that it didn't matter that this show wasn't written as some sort of worldly commentary. If one of those little girls watched the play and felt a little more okay with her freckles, then that was more than enough of a reason to keep doing it. If one girl came to the show and felt a little braver about raising her hand in class... If she realized that it was okay for girls to be smart... Or if a child knew it was okay to be an orphan... Or okay to look a little different from everyone else... Or to think of the world as a beautiful place filled with poetry... This show -- this poorly-written, unprofessional, tiny little show -- could change that child's life.

That makes all the effort worthwhile.

It's like that with every play. If one person who feels really lousy can go to a farce and forget their problems for a little while... If a family that rarely gives each other the time of day can see a play together and have something to discuss as a family at dinner the next night... If one ladder-climbing professional can see Macbeth and realize that power isn't everything... Theatre can definitely change lives. Who's to say that it can't change the world?

So everything that I learn that I can use to make a show better, I'll learn. Because if the show is a little bit better, then maybe it can touch someone a little bit more.

That's why I'm at graduate school getting my MFA in Acting. If fixing the way I say "s" sounds makes the story a little clearer, then I'll do it. If making my walk more neutral in daily life means that I can put more into physical characterizations, then I'll do it. If learning to use psychological gestures and molding qualities can bring out things in me that I need help tapping into, I'll do it. And I'll work as hard as I possibly can to get there, because I know how important this is.

Theatre is not my hobby. Theatre is my calling. Theatre is my vocation. Theatre is my life.

While I was an undergraduate student, I ran into a guy whom I'd done drama with in high school. I told him that I'd recently become a theatre major, and I felt a little guilty about it. I was worried that it was selfish, and I didn't think it was important enough. He looked me square in the eyes, more earnest than I had ever seen him before, and said, "It IS important." I wondered aloud if I should be doing something more altruistic, like becoming a doctor and trying to heal people's bodies. He responded with, "Angela, you're going to heal their souls."

I've given variations on this speech more times than I can remember. And during every incarnation, I remind myself of why it is that I love theatre so much. I remember why I do what I do.

True Story:
Several years ago, a woman went up to Mother Theresa. Mother Theresa looked at her and asked, "what's wrong?" The woman broke down, saying that she worked in theatre in New York, and that she felt like she wasn't doing enough with her life. She said that she wanted to go to Calcutta and help the poor. Mother Theresa looked at her and said, "There are many famines. In my country, there is a famine of the body. In your country, there is a famine of the spirit. And that is what you must feed. You must remain."

So that's why I'm an actor.

I do theatre because I love it more than I can say.
I do theatre because I don't know if I could ever be truly happy doing anything else.
I do theatre to heal people's souls.
I do theatre to relieve the famine of the spirit.
I do theatre because it's my way of changing the world.

May you find your own little way to change the world.



Quotations: Volume 8

Here are some of the educational, inspirational, and humorous quotations from my classes this week:

Acting Professor: What are you doing in here?
Big Show: We're playing dodge-ball. Everyone against [O.D.].

Acting Professor: Okay. What's next?
Big Show: Well, first you're gonna give me a back rub. Then you're gonna get me a drink. Then we'll talk business in about five minutes.

"I felt that [O.D.] was a special boy at that point." - Iceman

"He has no invention. He's just got this screen that goes up and down. But he knows that he's going to invent something fabulous. Which is like me becoming a rock star." - Analysis Professor

Voice Professor: Find yourselves lying down.
Iceman: Found it.
Voice Professor: You're ahead of the game.

"This is not a talent; it's a skill-set." - Voice Professor

"[Student] is suffocating to death!" - The Pro
(Another person is going to be added to our class in December. Sometimes when we do exercises, we mentally include her to the idea of our ensemble. In this exercise, we ended up in a huge full-class pile-up at one point.)

(When O.D. was late to class, we tried to "radiate" towards him to signal him to arrive)
Acting Professor: We need to work on our radiating. [O.D.] is not here.
Me: Maybe he got molded into something and can't get out.
Acting Professor: *snort*

"Testitude?" - Iceman (misunderstanding "Test etude")

"I'm going to name my first child 'Zuh-zhuh-ruh'." - Me, after a Voice exercise

"Conscious incompetence is a very painful place to be living." - Voice Professor

(regarding a stuffed animal named Musky that Two-Shots-Up and O.D. are obsessed with)
Big Show: I'm gonna get rid of that damn thing forever.
Two-Shots-Up: Don't you dare.
Big Show: I'm gonna teach you about loss.

"You haven't gotten paid yet? God, dude, take my nuts." - The Pro to Iceman, offering him a jar of mixed nuts

"[O.D.] is like an impulse. If you try to hold him, he dies." - The Pro, after O.D. disappeared from the classroom

"Sometimes our problem is that we are waiting to be electrocuted by an impulse, and we end up missing one that is incredibly subtle." - Acting Professor

"That curséd control. Who needs it? We have so much of it that it would help if we could just get rid of some of it." - Acting Professor

"When you have the impulse, you have to give yourself a little tap on the butt." - Acting Professor

"Time flies when you're kickin' ass." - Iceman, after Big Show commented that 30 minutes had gone by between the time an etude started and the discussion on it ended

"You have to record before you delete." - Acting Professor

"That is not a polo shirt, [Analysis Professor]. We have a problem here." - Thrill

"Let's pretend, God forbid, you're all directors." - Analysis Professor

Killer: I guess I need to do some tongue exercises.
Wifey: Just make out with tons of people.

(in an etude, where Iceman put Killer on his shoulders so they could escape through a skylight)
Killer: I don't think this is gonna go well.
Iceman: This is not gonna go well.

"I think it's a paper door." - Movement Professor

(about an etude)
All-The-Way: Do I love him? I don't know.
Acting Professor: How very much like life.

"Freedom is not analogous to flow." - Movement Professor

"There is no such thing as overestimating the beginning." - Acting Professor

"We don't know where we are until we push this nutshell." - O.D.

"The best way to prepare for a performance is to eliminate social b***s*** and become a monk for a day." - Acting Professor


Friday, October 17

The "circus stretches" we've been doing are actually called "Vakhtangov" stretches. But that's hard to spell, so I'm sticking with "circus".

I was having hip pain, and so my professor wouldn't let me do most things. It's so frustrating to sit and watch instead of doing, particularly when you feel capable. I felt like I was hurting, but not injured. But professor knows best. By the end of the day, it was clear that I'm actually injured. I'm going to have to take it easy with my right leg for awhile.

My professor suspects that the reason my right side has been hurting so much lately is because I'm overcompensating with the adjustments I've been making to my "walk", and my muscles can't handle it. *sigh*

Our homework for over the weekend is to meet with a partner to do Viewpoints exercises for at least 3 hours. Due to my injury, I've been assigned to sit and watch other people do them for 3 hours instead. Not nearly as fun.

Due to injury, I couldn't do most things in my Voice class, either. Although it might not seem logical, our Voice class is just as physical as our Movement class some days. I couldn't "rock like Roy Hart", I couldn't tremor, I couldn't stretch... Frustrating.

But then we moved into consonant sounds. As it turns out, while my tongue is doing the right thing while making "r" sounds, my lips are too engaged. So I have yet another consonant to work on... I really hope that my vowels are less of a mess than my consonants have been. As D-Train says, I'm a consonant disaster.

Over the weekend and all of next week, we're supposed to practice all of our consonants, especially the "st" combination at the ends of words. And to work on the "r" sounds, we're doing "'Round the rugged rock the ragged rascal ran."

Our Analysis Professor and Movement Professor came to our etude exam, as did our Movement Professor's assistant/apprentice. Everyone ended up being involved in two etudes.

My first was with D-Train. We were dating, and I think we were preparing for a dinner where he was meeting either my parents or my friends for the first time. My second was with Wifey. I think she was my mother (which is funny, as I'm 2 years older than she is), we were packing up to move, and she was trying to make me feel less upset about it.

The etudes weren't really up to the same level as they have been for most of the week, which I think can be chalked up to the examination atmosphere and the guests who usually aren't in the space. Some were entertaining (there was a really hilarious heist-gone-wrong with Iceman and Killer), some had truth (All-The-Way not knowing how to handle Big Show falling in love with her), but most just fell flat.

Really, there's only one etude that happened that will stick in everyone's mind. With the 3rd-years and 2nd-years, their classes each had one uncomfortable, insane etude that everyone in their class talks about and remembers. I'm positive that our defining etude happened yesterday, and I can sum it up in five words.



It was the most uncomfortable thing I have ever sat through, and it was INCREDIBLE. OH. MY. WORD. I cannot stop thinking about it. I cannot stop TALKING about it. The scene also included pushing, hair-pulling, and ear-nibbling. All in ONE SCENE. And it was only a few minutes long. WHAT?!?! And it was between two guys, which I think made it even raunchier somehow. Our Movement Professor looked like her skin was crawling while watching it.

I guess that proves that if you trust your creative subconscious, something interesting WILL happen.

After all the exercises had ended, we discussed them with our professors for an hour. Here are some of the things I picked up from that conversation:

- The more surprising the meeting, the more time you need to allow for it to expand.

- When you get caught in "eye-lock" with your partner or the space and ignore your peripheral vision, you cut yourself off from the world.

- Instead of wondering "Is this a real impulse? What is an impulse?", it's better to simply move without thinking.

- Beware of rushing to plot and creating a story. There doesn't need to be one.

- If you're saying something in order to give your partner a verbal cue on where you think the scene is headed, then you don't really WANT to say it, and shouldn't.

- If you speak because you've come up with something brilliant to say, then you're the playwright of the etude, not an actor.

- Don't be in a rush to snap out of your artistic center when the exercise is over. Allow it to linger. Take a few moments to let things sink very deeply in.

- Don't discard subtle first impulses while waiting for something grand to arrive.

Along with that last one, our Acting Professor provided us with a really great metaphor. He said that your first impulse is like the non-stop train that you want to get on. You're waiting at the platform, and it arrives, but the doors are only open briefly. If you're tying your shoe or something, you'll miss it. And another train will come, but it will just be a heavy freight train. You'll take it, because at least you won't be stuck at the station, but the second train will be heavy, slow, and not nearly as good a ride as what you could've had if you'd taken the first one.

That might be one of my favorite lessons we've gotten so far. :)


Thursday, October 16

One of our home-study assignments has been the "Cunningham Big Back Stretch". I haven't mentioned it because it's a multi-step stretch and I'm not sure that I can properly explain it without demonstrating it. But I figured I should mention it. So there you are.

We worked on our Capoeira kicks today. Our Capoeira workshop is next week, so we've got to get whipped into shape before then. Those kicks take a lot out of me.

We've also started doing some exercises that are related to Viewpoints. My professor was in the very first Viewpoints class that Mary Overlie ever taught (Anne Bogart was one of her classmates). We're doing this thing where everyone walks around the room with the idea that they're standing on an imaginary grid and have to make 90-degree turns... Like most of my classwork, it's hard to explain, but it's pretty neat.

We had our destructuring (tremoring) exam today. I can't think of anything that I did wrong, so I assume I did well on it. But I guess I'll find out sooner or later.

We started focusing on "r" sounds (the "ruh" as in "red" or "right"). My tongue is doing the correct thing during it (pointed toward the back of my aveloar ridge and flicking backward), but I'm worried that I'm using my lips in the sound creation (which you're not supposed to). I spent some time tonight saying words that start with "r" sounds while smiling, to make certain that my lips were not involved. Hopefully, that will help.

We did exercises as a group to begin class, which I was glad about. They really do help to instill the idea of ensemble while simultaneously putting us into contact with our creative centers. I dig them.

I had an etude with Thrill today that I thought went particularly well. Our scene ended up being about a couple who had just moved into their first home. And while I've had etudes in the past that I thought were more interesting, dramatic, or fun, I think this one had more honesty in it.

The goal of an etude is to get to a state of "I Am", where you are no longer acting, but truly living. The reason I think I hit "I Am" today is that after the exercise ended, I couldn't remember half of what happened or why it happened; it had just happened. I didn't force anything, I didn't create anything, I just lived it. It was neat.

The other etudes today all got pretty heavy. Two-Shots-Up started crying in one when All-The-Way was apologizing for an unknown accident. D-Train tried to cheer up Iceman after the death of his mother with a clarinet that he bought for $5 (which turned out to be broken). Killer was moving out of The Pro's apartment after a bad break-up. And then O.D. was trying to comfort Big Show when a dinner party he was planning brought up the pain of his friend's death.

Our professor said today that if a scene feels like it's dragging on for too long, it's usually not because people aren't picking up their cues, but rather because they're not following their impulses. He also said that the most important gift for an actor to have is the possibility to completely adopt the life of someone else (a point that was raised after Big Show mirrored O.D.'s body language and physical state exactly while in an etude).

Tomorrow, we have an "etude exam" (although I'm not really sure if etudes are something that you can have an exam on... but then, I'm just a student here). A couple of our other professors are probably going to show up to watch, which of course will be a bit nerve-inducing. I hope we can all do as well as we've been doing all this week. There has been a lot of really good work in the last few days, and I'd love to be able to keep it up.

I don't think I understand The Wild Duck, but I've decided that I like it. It's quite the reverse of A Doll House (strange, as they were both written by Ibsen), where the play shows how destructive lies can be and how important it is that truth come out. In The Wild Duck, lies are what save people, and truth is a negative, destructive force.

Our paper analyzing the action of The Wild Duck is due next week. And for Tuesday we're reading Joe Turner's Come and Gone by August Wilson.

It wasn't really a tutorial, but I'm going to call it one. It was a mid-semester review with my professor to discuss my progress in the class. She says she can tell that I've been working hard, and says I've already made improvements with my alignment. But, because I'm flexible, she says I hyper-extend body parts a great deal (particularly my spine).

She says the biggest things that I have to work on are my form and my kinesthetic awareness (knowledge of where my body is in space). While my flexibility will help me with some things when we get into tumbling (she says she thinks I'll be able to do some bends and flips well), my lack of form and awareness will prevent me from doing others (she predicts that handstands are going to be difficult for me, as they require your body to be in a single plane in space, and I won't be able to feel whether I'm in one or not).


Wednesday, October 15

I started off the morning with a Pilates class, taught by one of the 2nd-year directors (Director C.), and it put me in a good mood the rest of the day. She's going to hold them Wednesday and Friday mornings for an hour before our Movement class. I'm really rather excited about it. :)

We're still working on our "psoas rolldowns", and now on our "psoas sit-ups". And since it often takes people over a year to be able to feel their psoas muscles working, it's just as frustrating as ever.

We've also been working on what my professor calls "Circus Stretches". They involve stretching out a partner, and also have a lot to do with connection and balance. I'm not particularly good at them, as I'm apparently too flexible in my back and my rib cage. I'm not great at moving within just my side plane, or moving too much with my lower back... That sort of stuff. Form is difficult for me, just as flexibility and opening up are difficult for other people. It's a trade-off, I suppose.

This week we're also focusing on mirroring exercises with a partner, making use of the qualities that we've been learning in Acting class (molding, radiating, flowing, and flying).

Today we went back to our consonant work. I've been working really hard on my "s" and "t" sounds, and they're pretty good if I'm paying attention to them (particularly "s" sounds at the fronts of words and "t" sounds at the ends of words). But today I learned that my "k" and "g" sounds are too far back in my throat, so I have to work on moving them forward (which, after "s" and "t", is a relatively easy adjustment to make).

On the upside, I'm definitely making my "r" sounds correctly! Woo-hoo!

Tonight we're practicing the following phrase:

Amidst the mists and coldest frosts,
With stoutest wrists and loudest boasts,
She thrusts her fists against the posts
And still insists she sees the ghosts.

This is NOT to be used as a tongue-twister. It's not about speed, but rather about clarity.

Because we're just starting it (and it's incredibly difficult to enunciate it with the level of precision that is expected of us), we're allowed to take off the final "s" sounds for tonight ("Amidst the mist and coldest frost", etc.).

Tomorrow is our destructuring (tremoring) exam. I'm really not worried about it. I know that I know the positions... and if I were doing things wrong, she would've corrected them by now. I'm sure it'll be a piece of cake.

We started class with an exercise called "The Golden Hoop". I remember doing it in undergrad, but it has taken on completely different significance here. The group stands in a circle, and envisions a golden hoop (of changeable size) at their feet. Then, as a collective, the group leans down and picks up the hoop, raising it up high. The group then lowers the hoop, expands it, and throws it into the air, following it with their eyes as it floats away. It has helped us to feel more connected to each other. It makes me think that there is energy flowing between all of us.

We moved into a bunch of exercises where impulses were coming out of us as a group. There was one in which the group had to decide to all run/walk/sit/gather/stand at the same times. There was another in which we were on a "stage" and whatever was being created had to arrive organically out of the group as a whole. Both were a lot of fun.

The rest of class was spent doing the silent etudes. They turned out pretty bizarre today, but they were interesting. Iceman was a crazy cross-dressing kleptomaniac and Thrill was his drug dealer brother. D-Train and O.D. were brothers whose mother had died and they were trying to make sense of her things. The Pro was an OCD father and All-The-Way was his belligerent teen daughter. Big Show was a drunk and Killer was his freeloading caretaker. It's interesting how many different directions a scene can go when you give yourself complete freedom to do (or NOT do) anything.


Tuesday, October 14

I finished my first notebook full of class notes on Friday and have started a new one. Considering that I only have 4 classes, and one of my classes is very difficult to take notes during (Movement), it's pretty insane that I've gotten through one already. But I can't help it. There are just so many things that I want to remember. And it's not even just about being a good student. It's not about grades. It's about really learning the material and trying to have as much of it recorded as I possibly can. I love these classes so very much, and I don't want to miss a thing.

I finally talked a little with my professor about the weird pains I've been having. I told her about how my intercostals (rib-connecting muscles) cramped up after Rib Swing. I told her about how my right calf and thigh have been cramping up all weekend. She suggested that I do some "cross body stretching" in order to try to relieve it. I might end up meeting with her assistant over lunch tomorrow. She also recommended that I go see a masseuse. I'd MUCH rather get acupuncture done, but she thinks I should try that second... Is it weird that I'd rather have needles stuck in me than have someone touch me? (Wait; don't answer that.)

Today we focused on front tremors in preparation for our exam on Thursday. These are Cobra, Bow, and Camel-Arch (it would normally also include Arm position, but we're not being tested on that one until we learn Standing tremors). These have been three of my most dreaded positions. But today they were alright. I think the reason I hate Cobra is that when I get a tremor, I'm terrified that I'm going to drop myself and face-plant into the mat. It's hard to give myself over to it fully. But I did get a tremor there today. I also got the biggest tremor that I've ever gotten in The Bow, which was exciting.

Camel-Arch still wasn't doing anything for me whatsoever, so I asked my professor if I could modify it by putting my hands on the floor instead of on my ankles when I bent back (see here for a picture of what it usually looks like). I showed her, and she said I could try it, but she thought I was leaning too far back. The energy in this is supposed to go forward out of your sternum. So I asked if I could put my hands on my calves instead of my ankles. I showed that to her, and she approved. And you know what? Suddenly, I LOVE the Camel-Arch! I don't think I could get a tremor in that position to save my life, but it completely opens up my breathing. I felt like the air in the room changed consistencies into something more breathable. It was unbelievable.

I guess my professor was right when she said to keep revisiting the tremors you don't like. You really can find new things in them.

Today was the day that we got information about the Equity Membership Candidacy program, and I'm STOKED! Basically, actors have their own union, called Actors Equity Association. Getting in is kind of a pain, but I will now officially be earning points towards getting in. By the time I graduate from here, I will be in the union, which is something that most graduate programs cannot offer. Some people in my class are already in EMC and have points built up, but this is brand new for me. It's so exciting!

When I got to class, there were no chairs set up in our usual configuration. So we all just started playing an impromptu game with a ball. Sort of a cross between "dodge ball" and "monkey in the middle". I didn't really understand if there were rules or not... Our professor came upon this spectacle, and turns the ball passing into an exercise in giving and receiving (Have I mentioned that my acting professor is a genius? Because he is).

After that, we spent the rest of the afternoon doing the silent etudes (which rarely end up being silent... but they start off that way). Before you begin, you're supposed to "delete" (or "forget") that they have to be silent, and that something is going to happen that will cause a change in the relationship.

I think the most important thing I got from the etudes today came out of one with Iceman and Killer. When the silent scene started, it felt like they were brothers. As it evolved, it started feeling like Iceman was a father and Killer was his son. By the end, it seemed obvious to me that Iceman was some sort of counselor or therapist trying to help Killer with his problems. The relationship had three distinct forms before either said a word.

The lesson in this is that relationships are living, developing things. Status changes during the course of a conversation, like a rollercoaster. There are times when a son has status equal to his father... and that's not wrong. It's part of the truth of the scene.

We also discussed the difference between premeditation in these exercises and truly following impulses. If moves are calculated, then they're not coming out of an artistic center. If you're planning what you do before you do it, then you're in your head, and you're not truly living.

The last two etudes of the day were between me and Big Show. Both of them involved sexual tension. As our acting professor mentioned before, often something that doesn't get closure in the first etude will come out again in the second.

The entire time we were doing the second etude, I KNEW that he was going to kiss me before the scene ended. So my impulse was to play it a little hard-to-get. Because I knew it would happen, I was NOT going to initiate it; I didn't have to... or so I thought. I was just waiting for him to kiss me. But we never did. When the scene ended (after a very long, game-filled etude), we were staring into each others eyes with our foreheads and noses touching. We never quite completed that kiss. Despite that, what came out of the etude felt incredibly exciting and intense. It showed us that sometimes beating around the bush is more interesting than diving right in. (Although I think some of our classmates had been rooting for the kiss to happen and were disappointed that it didn't... heck, I was a little disappointed myself. There was so much build up!)

In both A Doll House and The Wild Duck, there are examples of how Ibsen manipulates the audience into believing that one thing will happen, and then providing them with something else entirely. This is mostly a result of the characters having shifting motivations.

We also discussed how the symbolism within the play has to do entirely with the psychology of the characters. It shows us their opinions on things. It has very little to do with the expectations of the audience. It doesn't matter what a "wild duck" means to the audience. It doesn't even matter what it meant to Ibsen. What matters is how the different characters interpret it.

In general, I was really proud of my class today. We definitely put a lot of our plan to become a better ensemble into action today, and we had success with it. I hope we can keep it up.


Monday, October 13

My class met on our own today to discuss some of the issues that we've been having as of late.

The road to becoming an ensemble has been rocky for us thus far. Our group is made up of intelligent, strong-willed leaders. I love that about us, actually, but it does complicate the way we operate. We haven't yet arrived at a place where we can put our personal differences aside in order to trust and respect each other as artists.

I know that there is no quick fix for the problems that we have had with joining together as an ensemble. I knew going into today that we weren't all going to suddenly be smiling and agreeing. And we weren't.

That said, I think that it means a lot that we were willing to try. The fact that eleven people all showed up to the same place on our day off shows that we're all committed to working out our differences. We stayed for an hour and a half.

Some of the things that were said had been points of discussion before, but there was a generally open environment this time. We were respectful of each other, and allowed everyone a turn to speak. We listened and responded to the concerns that were raised. It felt more like a conversation than an argument, for which I was grateful. I only spoke a couple of times, but I said something that I've been needing to say for awhile. I don't know if it did anything to help the discussion, but it did make me feel a little bit better to get it out into the group.

It's so easy to become divisive in these sorts of conversations. It's obvious what our differences are. The challenge is to look past them in a spirit of unity.

We came up with some ideas about how to alter the structure of our Acting class to be more productive and less argumentative. We shared our thoughts on what we're trying to accomplish and ways to problem-solve. Iceman brought up wanting to work on a creative atmosphere and an artistic goal. Wifey raised the concept of "choosing to agree", quite like one would in an improv exercise. Two-Shots-Up commented that what we're working toward is bigger than all of us. Really, everyone made insightful contributions. And although I sensed frustrations at times, it stayed calm and focused throughout.

I didn't walk out with a feeling that everything was solved. What I do have is a hope that we're getting on the right track.

I don't know if things will be different now, but I've decided to go into the week with the mentality that they will. After all, if we start off tomorrow thinking that we're never going to become a proper ensemble, then we won't be. We can't poison ourselves against it with pessimism.

So here's to tomorrow.



Quotations: Volume 7

Here are some of the educational, inspirational, and humorous quotations from my classes this week:

"Once your technique is very strong, it is your technique that gives you creativity." - Movement Professor

"Remember when she lifted the buckie? I mean the bucket! *shakes head* Buckie, buckie. This is me, guys. You'll have to get used to it. When you work right brain to left brain, these sorts of things happen." - Movement Professor

"If you're comfortable on stage, then there's something wrong." - Movement Professor, who said that this is an indication that you're playing for the result

*people join hands in a circle. O.D. is next to our Movement Professor*
O.D.: Warm hands.
Movement Professor: Me?
O.D.: Yes.
Movement Professor: I'm not actually a human. I'm a divining rod.

"It's okay to be boring. You don't need to be exciting." - Acting Professor

"Audience is as much an artist as you are. Never underestimate their creativity." - Acting Professor

"What genius performances I have given in my own living room. In my bathroom, my God! Sir Lawrence Olivier himself!" - Acting Professor

"Do not interact with any ghosts, unless there are actually ghosts in the room for you, in which case, bless your heart." - Acting Professor, on not pretending that their are other people in the room with you in an exercise

"I go to Disney World for inspiration. That's why all the pottery I make looks like gigantic mouse ears." - Big Show

"I feel... fizzy. Does anyone else feel fizzy?" - Movement Professor

"I think I have mat-burn on my back." - Me, after doing a warm-up that we call "Rocking like Roy Hart"

"I get mat-burn on my sacrum. I have to moisturize it frequently." - Voice Professor.

"Don't do it naked on a wool rug." - Voice Professor, about "Rocking like Roy Hart"

Me: My knees are like this in Second position. *shows bent knees* Is that okay?
Voice Professor: They can be as bent as you need.
Me: Just like pushing out a baby.
Voice Professor: I try never to think of that... But use what works for you.

"I feel like we're getting gypped out of class. A lot, lately. I'm going to write a letter!" - D-Train, when Voice class ended 15 minutes early so that we could all get flu shots

"[D-Train] will say this is another experiment I conducted." - Acting Professor

"If you can't let go of something, you will never be able to hold onto it." - Acting Professor

All-The-Way: Can we stop working with qualities for today? I'm tired.
D-Train: Stop whining.
O.D.: The Whining Quality!

"My hair hurts." - Me, after "Rocking like Roy Hart"

"The Half-Plow and Dying Cockroach. Never to be done at the same time, prostitute or not." - Voice Professor

"We got into an argument. [...] He's in the trunk of a car right now." - Acting Professor, giving an explanation for why Iceman was no where to be found after their meeting

"So those that it works for?... Defend yourselves, damn it." - Acting Professor, trying to encourage discussion

"First I thought we were kids on a playground, but then I was like, "Oh, of course. I'm obviously Rainman." - The Pro, when he thought he was a child in an etude but was being treated like a freak

"This exercise is called 'Shakespeare on Vacation'." - Acting Professor

"I can't go on. I must go on." - Analysis Professor, quoting Samuel Beckett (he uses this quotation ALL THE TIME to explain what characters are doing)

"I'm losing sensation in my forearm." - O.D., when our Movement Professor was stretching him out.

"If you're tickling yourself, come talk to me later. I've always wanted to be able to do that, and I can't." - Voice Professor

"Do I know what the f*** I'm talking about? Yes? Maybe I should phrase my answer in the form of a question." - Big Show, on self-censoring

"[Big Show] only gave us ten minutes." - Acting Professor, ten minutes after Big Show had announced that we should take a break, when Big Show and several other classmates were not back yet


Friday, October 10

This has been the roughest week since I've been here, and it has had very little to do with actual classwork. It looks like the composition of my class may be changing, and I feel like the metaphorical wind was knocked out of me. I won't write more than that until I have all the facts, but I'm upset for multiple reasons.

We've been working on this "big back stretch", and at one point, you have to rotate something or other. I couldn't figure out what was supposed to be rotating. I think my professor was frustrated because I asked the same question more than once, but it was because I didn't understand her first answer.

I have many flaws as a student, but I think that one of my strengths is that I care about comprehension. I want to make sure that I'm actually learning things, and not just sitting back and nodding. This is especially true now that I'm in grad school. Sometimes I worry that my classmates dislike my inquisitive nature. Maybe I'm being selfish by taking up class time with all of my questions. At the same time, I'm here to learn and I'm going to make sure that I do. I just have to hope that it doesn't interfere with anyone else's learning.

The tremors of the day were Pelvic and Dying Cockroach (we did it again so that my professor could make sure that she had time to observe all of us). I think I've noticed that my tremors are particularly violent when I'm stressed or upset. Today my Pelvic tremor was so strong that I knocked the wind out of myself (literally, not metaphorically), and that I started coughing at another point. I spent most of the allotted tremoring time just resting. I also used the time to write a letter to someone in order to get some of my emotions from the day out of myself.

We continued work on our Rib Swing. I'm worried that I may have done something wrong, as my intercostal muscles (the ones that cover your ribs) started cramping up in an incredibly painful way in the middle of my acting class. I didn't even know that intercostals COULD cramp. I have to ask my professors next week if they think that was related.

We spent the first hour of class arguing. I wish I could sugarcoat it and call it a healthy discussion, but I'm not sure that it was. It seems that there are a few different philosophies floating around in my class regarding how class time should be spent, how an ensemble works, and how to resolve issues. Last week, I felt us take strides toward becoming an ensemble, and this week I felt everything falling apart. I honestly care for and respect everyone in my class as an individual, but we're not a cohesive group yet. I hope that we can become one.

We spent the second half of class doing our new etudes that begin silently. Big Show and Thrill had one that felt true, and it gave me a little bit of hope for us. Maybe we can overcome our problems if we try to relate to each other as artists first and as peers second.

D-Train and Two-Shots-Up finally broke the "make-out taboo" today (meaning that today was the first time that two people kissed in a scene). I'm glad that barrier has been broken down. Maybe now we'll be a little more free and less restricted. After all, once you have license to kiss someone or kill them (which happened yesterday) in an etude, everything else is pretty much automatically on the table.

I did two etudes with All-The-Way. Our professor commented that our second etude seemed to accomplish what we couldn't in our first. It was an extension of the same relationship (we had a "sister" bond), but we followed our impulses better the second time around. I totally held back an impulse to speak in the first etude, which temporarily stopped the scene dead in its tracks from the perspective of the audience.

Following your first impulse sounds like such an easy problem to fix, but it's really not. Society crushes that out of us in childhood. You're not supposed to say the first thing that comes into your head. You're not supposed to kiss someone or punch someone just because you feel like it. We live in a world that encourages a certain level of self-censorship. As actors, we have to fight against those rules. But when you're in your 20s or 30s, they're completely ingrained in you. Trying to change those teachings in order to produce truth on stage is easier said than done.

Thank goodness we have some time off now. I think we all need to cool down for a bit, and come back to our problems with a little distance on Tuesday.

All good things,



Thursday, October 9

Last night I somehow managed to find 14 states of being, read The Wild Duck by Henrik Ibsen, and bake brownies. I call myself victorious.

We worked on our psoas whatnot, which I still can't feel. But I do think that my abs are less engaged than they were before, so maybe my body is adapting and I just don't know it. *shrugs*

We practiced our Capoeira kicks. My professor said that I did one of them particularly well, which is funny, as I thought I was doing it completely wrong. I keep mixing up which kick is which, and I can't figure out how you go into them from "ginga" (the basic step). Ah well. I'm sure I'll get it sooner or later.

We talked a little about the methods of learning in the class. Our professor explained that when it comes to movement, our progression is not linear. We have to trust that all the things that we're learning will add up. We have to come to class each day with a "beginner's mind", ready to learn. She said it's like we're building a violin from scratch. We have to find the right wood, the right shape, the right angles, the right glue... and once we put it all together, we'll have an instrument that's ready to make music. (The instruments, of course, being our bodies.)

Our focus tremors today were Dying Cockroach and Half-Plow. I quite like both of them. Sadly, though, I've been a little gun-shy about Half-Plow ever since the day that my knee violently hit my nose. Now I'm afraid to let my legs anywhere near my face, and when my tremor starts to get intense, I feel the need to stop it.

Both my Movement Professor and my Voice Professor have discussed "code-switching" recently. There's this idea that's sort of like compartmentalizing, so that even though we're in neutral, we have the ability to find our non-neutrals in case social climates or roles call for them. My Voice Professor is originally from Boston and says that when she visits her family, she starts dropping "r" sounds. But as soon as she's at school, she code-switches back to neutral. It's nice to think that we can learn what neutral is without completely giving up who we are or what experiences we came in with.

Today, we finally started learning the breathing that we've been preparing for these last six weeks. It's called "rib swing", and I think I've already gotten the hang of it. I'm very lucky, as I have a flexible rib cage and am able to expand it a great deal already (the costume shop told me that the difference between my measurements with relaxed rib cage and "expanded" rib cage was massive). For me, Rib Swing isn't much different from the huge inhalations I take at the doctor's office when I'm examined with a stethoscope (but apparently I'm unusual in this).

Over lunch I had a movement tutorial to discuss my walk. My movement professor videotaped me walking from a few different angles, and then videotaped me standing from a few different angles. I'd actually done the same sort of thing in undergrad, so it wasn't all that weird to me.

She then gave me some "homework" of things to try to adjust in my normal walking. First of all, I lock my knees whenever I'm standing still, which then makes a jarring movement when I begin to walk. I always begin to walk with my right leg, and I don't put enough weight on my left leg. My right hip swivels out to the side. And my pelvis, as I already knew, tilts too far backward. She said that this is just the beginning. Next time I meet with her, she expects that I will have done my best to correct those things so that we can move on to even more problems with my walk.

I met with my Acting Professor to discuss my "memory of physical action" exam from last week (where I made an imaginary peanut butter and banana sandwich). His comments were mostly positive, and very encouraging. I was quite proud of my progress with that exercise, and it was nice to know that he recognized the work I put into it.

He said the biggest thing that I need to work on is recording the sensation of food and drink in my mouth at the end of the exercise in a stronger way. He also said that, while I was able to have a sense of general ease in the exercise, that ease did not carry over to my lips. Apparently, I hold tension in my lips. Who knew?

We spent the first hour (it's a 3-hour class, daily) discussing our work from yesterday on archetypal gestures. We had an interesting (and at times frustrating) conversation on the differences between archetypes and stereotypes. I'm not sure that we all came away with the same understanding... Oh well. I have my own definitions, and I'm comfortable with them.

We started doing a brand new breed of etudes, which I'm excited about. In the past, our etudes have been dialogue-based. Starting today, they were silent, and we had no given circumstances going into them. The scenes created themselves. I haven't gotten to try them yet, but it was neat to watch them unfold.

Our professor said that if, at the end of an etude, you want to try it again, then that's usually a good indicator that nothing "real" happened the first time around. I actually kind of wanted to argue that point, but I didn't. But in the past, when I have a really great etude, I want to do another. When I have a bad etude, I want to sit down and watch other people do them for awhile until I can figure out what I was doing that was unsuccessful. *shrugs* Maybe I'm just weird.

My Analysis Professor was back today, and we picked up class exactly where we left off. We tried to pinpoint the action of A Doll House. The ideas that we ended up with were things about "taking responsibility" and "revealing truth". Neither of them felt quite right to me, but I couldn't come up with anything better. I think I'm actually sort of terrible at this analysis stuff. A lot of times I end up arguing against the best answers. I think I'm better at finding reasons that things seem wrong than finding evidence to support anything. It's for this reason that I'm terrified about our upcoming paper on The Wild Duck. I'm trying to put it out of my head for the moment.


Wednesday, October 8

We continued our discussions on the readings briefly. Over the last couple of days, our conversations have been all over the place due to the sheer quantity and variety of our recent readings. We've discussed mirroring body language as a tactic. Also how preening behavior is instinctual when trying to attract people.

Today's discussion focused mostly on the senses. My professor says that on top of the 5 senses we're taught in elementary school (scent, sight, touch, taste, and sound), we also have two additional senses. One is "kinesthetic sense" (knowing where your body is in space), and the other she calls the "KGB sense" (knowing when you're in danger). Throughout our lives, actors need to continue to develop our senses so that they're sharp when we're on stage.

Our professor told us that she conducts her class as a series of workshops as opposed to being under a rubric so that she can better adapt the class to fit our needs. She says that the goal of the 1st-year here, movement-wise, is to have sensory awareness in all parts of the body, and control over a lot of it.

The second part of the class was spent doing things in order to try to isolate our psoas muscles. It's still incredibly frustrating for me (and for most of my class), as I cannot feel those muscles at all (they're deep in the body). But my professor said today that if you can visualize the psoas while you're doing these exercises, eventually your body will take over and start doing things using the muscles that we're trying to isolate.

As homework for tomorrow, we have to identify 14-16 "states of being". This will include naming them, saying what we were doing, and discussing our breathing, heart rate, and every other way that our bodies, minds, and emotions were responding. I have no idea how I'm going to find 16 states of being by tomorrow. Yikes.

We're going to have an exam over our destructuring (tremoring) positions next Thursday, so we're going to focus on a couple of them every day between now and then. Today we focused on First and Second. First involves laying on your back with your legs straight up in the air. Second is when you do the same thing, but then move your legs out to the sides. I quite like First, but I don't much like Second... it makes my whole body hurt.

It occurred to me today that I have no endurance whatsoever. Some of my classmates can stay in one tremor for several minutes at a time. Me? Thirty seconds and I'm done. My body just spazzes out so much that I can't do it longer than that. I can probably go for 90 seconds in Half-Plow, but that's the extent of it. So I guess that's going to be something for me to work on.

Also, when we add "fluffy, breathy sound" to our tremors, mine gets punchy sometimes. My professor says that she has had other students in the past who have had the same problem, and that I shouldn't be concerned. I just have a different brand of tremor from the rest of my classmates.

Today was all about our Michael Chekov work. We've done archetypal gestures in the past (things like "push", "thrust", "pull", "drag", grab", "throw", "toss") where we start by doing actions to the air, and then try to use the actions mentally instead of physically. We have also worked with qualities, such as "flying" and "radiating".

Today, we worked with two new qualities: "molding" and "flowing" (sometimes "flowing" is translated as "floating"). We then worked to incorporate archetypal gestures into the qualities (e.g. "pushing" with a quality of "molding")

The way to remember the qualities is that they relate to the ancient elements: air (flying), fire (radiating), earth (molding), and water (flowing). It seems that different people relate to different qualities. For example, All-The-Way says she lives in "radiating", O.D. says he's in "flowing", and Big Show says he's "molding". I learned about myself today that I usually live with a "flying" quality, and I also spend a lot of time in "flowing". "Molding" and "radiating" are foreign to me, which is why I need to work on them. Those are tools that I can then use when working on different sorts of characters in the future.

We also discussed how the qualities of expansion and contraction affect us. My professor says that when you're working from your "artistic center", expansion signifies joy, whereas contraction signifies depression. He says that on occasion, students will disagree with this, saying that to them, expansion makes them feel fear and contraction makes them feel security. The tendency of most instructors is to want to tell people that "that's okay" and "everyone experiences things differently". My professor, however, says that those feelings occur when people are working out of their "everyday center". If they were working artistically, they would be open to other things.

Our professor ended class by saying that it's not always going to be easy for us to see the value in the exercises we're working on now, as we're not currently performing anything. He's teaching us these things so that we can use them in our 2nd-year. That's why it's important for us to spend time with these exercises on our own outside of class. If you read something in a book and need it later on, you're going to have to go back to the book and try to learn it when you need it. But if you've already worked with it in the past, then you can draw on it without needing to reteach it to yourself. I'm excited to have the opportunity to take the things that we're learning and put them into action in the future. :)


Tuesday, October 7

When we arrived at school, we were met with sad news. The head of my program, who is also our Textual Analysis professor, had been hit by a car while walking his dog. He was sent to the hospital, and was said to be making a full recovery. Tragically, his dog passed away. I think we were all pretty shaken up by it. I cried at three separate times during the school day, and some others in my class did as well.

Our Voice Professor went to help, so we led our Voice class ourselves, with the help of a recording of her voice leading us through our warm-ups.

It was the first day that we discussed all the readings we've been doing. These included excerpts from:

- How to Use Body Language by Drs. Sharon and Glenn Livingston
- The Body Speaks by Lorna Marshall
- Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the World Through Mindfulness by Jon Kabat-Zinn
- The Actor and the Target by Declan Donnellan
- Gymnastik for Busy People by Elsa Gindler
- Waking Up: The Work of Charlotte Selver collected and edited by William C. Littlewood with Mary Alice Roche
- blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell

We started off with a discussion about how the logic that the actor uses is a product of the time that they're performing (and what is happening in the world at that time), the author (and the material) that they are performing, and the creative collective (be it an ensemble or an individual) who is creating it. We also discussed "collective will", or the common impulse of the ensemble.

We moved on to the topic of flawed actors. Iceman suggested that he thinks actors get away with mediocrity far more than artists in other genres. In order for a painting to move you, no part of it can be mediocre. If a musician is mediocre, you jump on their mistakes. But if you're watching a play and an actor is mediocre, you often will try to enjoy the play as a whole. And, as my professor said, in order to enjoy the play, the audience will sometimes forgive an actor's mistakes. But that does not make them a good actor.

We discussed the importance of always having an audience, even if the audience is the wall in your living room. Being watched is a sensation that we have to rehearse with in order to make the rehearsal as close to the performance as possible.

We also began discussing the difference between theatre and sports. Thrill, who is an athlete, says that he's good at tuning out audiences because of his sports background. O.D., who was a swimmer, said that for him, the difference between sports and theatre is the sense of competition vs. collaboration.

We spent the rest of the class working on our "homework" exercises. These are not homework in the typical sense. These are the exercises that our professor thinks that we should continue to do for the rest of our lives in order to keep up our skills. Just as musicians play scales and arpeggios, we must do the basics on a daily basis so that we can do complex work afterward.

These exercises include:
- memory of physical action work (which we're all very familiar with now)
- allowing objects to affect us deeply
- yielding to small, automatic movements
- making lists of physical sensations and places, and then pointing to something on the list and letting it take over (I was thinking about making a deck of cards with these things on them, and then just pulling out cards from it)
- allowing movement, or emotion, or thought (or perhaps all three) to develop and evolve while maintaining a sense of public solitude