compliments of Freddie!

Here’s a compilation of some footage from our second of two Suzuki labs:

Up next: Yoshi Oida!


Marching Forward

This video was a great reference point for tonight’s work and I thought I’d pass it your way:

A lot of the material was incorporated tonight, but there are 10 ways of walking we didn’t even touch on demonstrated in the video toward the end. The narration is provided by the professor, but mostly comes from the texts of Tadashi Suzuki, two examples of which are The Way of Acting and Culture is the Body. Culture is the Body contains more instruction and The Way of Acting exclusively explains Suzuki’s reasonings on theatre.


P.S. Please start to keep journals for yourselves on each class. Just write as much as you feel compelled to about what stuck for you, what you wanted to explore more, what you found most challenging, what you didn’t feel you quite grasped, what your general feelings were on the theorist’s approaches to unlocking masterful art, et al.

Until next time, check out this video of Meyerhold work:

meditations of the evening

In tonight’s lab, we each contributed an item to the following lists and then incorporated them into our meditative Tadashi Suzuki stomping.

Lessons from My Elders:

“Do what’s good for you… or you’re not good for anybody.”

“Treat others always as you wish to be treated.”

“Measure twice. Cut once.”

“Use your best judgment.”

“You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.”

“No matter how old you get, you can always make music.”

Lessons from Myself:

“The only potential you are 100% capable of actualizing is your own. Don’t neglect doing so.”

“You can’t trust those in charge to protect you.”

“The people you work with make or break your job.”

“Only you can realize what is best for yourself.”

“Life is too short to waste time worrying whether you’re good enough.”

“I am not my job.”

Lessons for the Future:

“Your definition of enough is yours and yours only.”

“Nothing is ever set in stone… even if it was here before you were.”

“Ambition often hides under the guise of selflessness.”

“Value one another more than money.”

“Never neglect the beauty of the world surrounding you, miraculous and mundane.”

“It is never, ever, ever too late to do something unexpected.”

Tadashi’s love for what Noh knows

Around the world and back again, that’s the sailor’s way!

Hello Islanders. This monday we will be traveling all the way to Japan to learn from Tadashi Suzuki! One of the most influential theorists from Japan, his ideas on acting have been shared world-wide, from Julliard to the Theatre Recamier. Inspired by japanese history and rituals, he found the feet to be a constant. With his method, “Theatre of the Feet”, Tadashi sought to reawaken the actor’s connection to the earth. Through building this relationship the actor became as powerful and diverse as the earth itself, not only physically, but spiritually as well.

So stomp on down to the Rumble Arts Center this monday at 6p.m. to plant your roots!

Advice: Wear something comfortable, and DON”T do squats the day before or day of.

See you soon,

The Island

“There is no great genius without some touch of madness.” –Seneca

Hello, all weary travelers looking for fire. Thanks to all for their commitment and willingness through the last 4 weeks! The 28th marked the end of our Michael Chekhov sessions, as we move onward to Tadashi Suzuki. Although we hope to see you, we know that life outside the Island can be rather hectic. So here’s a bit of exploration we did, that you can do at home :

*Lie on the floor with your eyes closed. Feel your body melting into the floor, allowing gravity to release tension.

*Imagine yourself splitting into two entities: the observer (you on the floor) and the imagination (free and above you)

* Think of a character. Your imagination will provide you with an image. HOLD ON TO IT: trust that your mind thought of this image for a reason, whether you or not you know why. (This image can be anything : a lawnmower, a crystal, a street sign, a crocodile- all images are acceptable and should be embraced.)

*As the observer you mustn’t interfere with the imagination- this takes a great deal of patience and focus. Allow this first image to take on its own life, simply watch as your imagination lives. Why this image? What is it doing and why?

 *Once your imagination has established its own life, you may begin to ask it questions. Ask it to transform into the character. Again, it is important that you don’t rush this transformation. Focus and allow the imagination to do the work.

*Once the transformation is complete, let this character take on his/her own life. Watch and study the character as it lives. What physical traits stand out to you? What are its physical strengths and weaknesses? How do they take advantage of their body or hide it? Example: if your character has long arms that hang past their knees, are they embarrassed- keeping them folded behind the back? Or do they use these arms as a source of power- allowing them to take up space?

 *Begin asking this character questions. Show me how you run, how you lie, how you dance, etc. Once you’ve developed a relationship with this character, ask it to perform three simple tasks. Study these tasks and the way they are carried out in detail, remember them.

*Return to one being. Imagine this character melting on top of you. Their physical and inner life sinks into you, as its strengths and weaknesses, its tensions, its freedoms become yours. In your own time, return to your feet.

* Now, married with this character, perform the three simple tasks as you saw them in your imagination. What insight do these tasks give you? Allow them to act as a catalyst for other tasks. Explore to your heart’s content!

Come find out what other treasures are waiting at The Island Performance Lab, every Monday 6-8p.m. at the Rumble Arts Center!

See you soon,

The Island

‘Cause I wanna be like Mike!

Time to gather around the camp fire as we take a look at our next acting theorist:

Michael Chekhov- Ambassador of the ImagiNation!

Although he was greatly admired by the likes of Stanislavski, Adler, and Meisner for his otherworldly performances, his ideas on acting were met with much skepticism; being deemed too mystical. For Chekhov nothing could be further from the truth, believing that energy radiated by the actor and atmospheres created within a scene were just as tangible as any defined action – in fact they were the literal embodiment of actions!

Chekhov held the imagination in the highest regard. It was the tool that defined the artist, and its cultivation was his greatest responsibility. Through its use the actor had the power to engulf the audience, taking them with him on a journey of self realization. Imagination was the actor’s wellspring, presence, and power!

In our first week we will be exploring exercises created to make the intangible tangible. Exercises that help the actor harness the imagination and radiate it outward with Ease, Form, Beauty, and Entirety – Chekhov’s four cornerstones for art.

Be sure to stop by the Rumble Arts Center at 6 p.m. this Monday and play!

For now, some food for thought:

“Since the last third of the nineteenth century a materialistic world outlook has been reigning, with ever-increasing power, in the sphere of art as well as in science and everyday life. Consequently, only those things which are tangible, only that which is palpable and only that which has the outer appearance of life phenomena seem valid enough to attract the artist’s attention.

Under the influence of materialistic concepts, the contemporary actor is constantly and out of sheer necessity suborned into the dangerous practice of eliminating the psychological elements from his art and overestimating the significance of the physical. Thus, as he sinks deeper and deeper into this inartistic milieu, his body becomes less and less animated, more and more shallow, dense, puppet-like, and in extreme cases even resembles some kind of automaton of his mechanistic age. Venality becomes a convenient substitute for originality. The actor begins to resort to all sorts of theatrical tricks and clichés and soon accumulates a number of peculiar acting habits and bodily mannerisms; but no matter how good or bad they are or seem to be, they are only a replacement for his real artistic feeling and emotions, for real creative excitement on the stage.

Moreover, under the hypnotic power of modern materialism, actors are even inclined to neglect the boundary which must separate everyday life from that of the stage. They strive instead to bring life-as-it-is onto the stage, and by doing so become ordinary photographers rather than artists. They are perilously prone to forget that the real task of the creative artist is not merely to copy the outer appearance of life but to interpret life in all its facets and profoundness, to show what is behind the phenomena of life, to let the spectator look beyond life’s surfaces and meanings.

For is not the artist, the actor in the truest sense, a being who is endowed with the ability to see and experience things which are obscure to the average person? And is it not his real mission, his joyous instinct, to convey to the spectator, as a kind of revelation, his very own impressions of things as he sees and feels them?”

Play with yourself in the shower!

Hello there Islanders!  Don’t fret if you missed our first two weeks devoted to Grotowski. Here is an exercise that we explored in the lab that you can try at home! It’s brief, easy, and energizing; an ideal daily vocal warmup.

This exercise was constructed with two goals in mind: activating different resonators within the body and sharpening the actor’s ability to listen/receive. We’ll start by activating the head resonator:

  • If voice is a bullet, then body is the gun. Stand with feet shoulder width apart, feel your pelvis being pulled towards the earth, keep a slight bounce in your knees, and imagine a string pulling your head towards the ceiling.
  • Place your hand on the top of your head. Imagining all of your vocal vibrations traveling toward your hand, say “KING”. Allow the word to stretch your mouth laterally. Use your other hand to pinch your nose then stretch open as you say the word. Keep repeating “KING” constantly moving up in pitch; this should help your vibrations move into your hand.
  • Remove your hand from your head, making the ceiling your new target. Imagine your vibrations rushing out of you, crashing against the ceiling. See if you can hear them falling back towards you. As you repeat “KING” focus on hearing the echo sent by the ceiling. This part of the exercise is crucial; you are no longer alone, you are now having a conversation!

Now, we’ll move on to the chest:

  • Place your hand on your chest. Again, imagine all of your vibrations traveling toward your hand. Release a long “ahh” as if suddenly relieved. As you continue sighing a long “ahh” bounce from your knees, letting the movement shake the sound out of you. 
  • Remove your hand from your chest, sending your vibrations out towards the wall in front of you. Don’t be afraid to use your imagination! Visualize the vibrations – see them radiating out from your chest, reaching the wall. Now focus on what the walls sends back to you. Listen to the echo created. Share in the conversation.

Let’s take it down to the belly:

  • You know the routine. Hand on the belly – just below the belly button. Take a long, deep breath. See if you can move your hand simply by breathing.
  • Now send vibrations to your hand using a long “bow” (as in bow and arrow – not take a bow). Use your hand to shake the sounds out of your belly.
  • Remove your hand and let your vibrations spill towards the floor, listening to hear what bounces back to you.
  • Once you feel comfortable and confident, feel free to use actual text when generating these conversations.

These are just a few resonantors this exercise has the power to unlock. Through practice, creating communion with objects around you will become second nature. And if you can have a conversation with a wall, imagine the ease you’ll have with another actor or audience member!

I highly recommend trying this exercise in the shower. The acoustics are great and all your targets are in close proximity.

On behalf of The Island,

Hope to see you soon!

CHALLENGE: See if you can include more than one target in the conversation!