Sunday, November 14, 2010

true foundation - another note to an actor

In my various notes to students lately, i am finding that if i read them as messages to myself, I learn a great deal... today I sent a message to a student in response to a report assignment - it is their monthly evaluation of how their own physical practice is going. So far my 4th year acting students have been writing very well though out examinations of their practice. One student, however, wrote me a brief statement... more or less: I failed, I am disappointed, I will try again.

This students work has felt a bit in a lull- something familiar to us all and I wrote back:

I would encourage you to take a deeper look at your process. If you are not able to get to the work you had planned, then maybe the work is to ask yourself WHY?

Are you:
lack work ethic
afraid of success
afraid of failure
over tired
in the wrong work

If you are happy with the way things are then maybe none of these things are true- but if you are not- are any of these things resonating? If so- then this is the work... adjust your practice to INCLUDE addressing this issue.

If the building you are creating keeps collapsing, then you need to examine the foundation... it can be very hard to tell oneself the truth

Without truth, you cannot grow...

not pushing

I managed to find an hour in the studio and I was able to really move from a deep visceral place. I was also able to see how much I push from the muscular system. It is an old habit that is hard to break. I wrote some notes to another faculty member about an older- very mature actor, who is afraid of confronting old patterns, and what I wrote could easily be a prescription for myself. I want to make real change, but i can see how deep the old patterns are. It takes a great deal of vigilance to begin from a new place. I also realized, however, the advantage of age... there are less big bogs of emotional muck to get through as I feel my internal viscera... i do not seem to run in to as much cathartic emotional release (unless that is because I am working so rarely- but I don;t think so.) It feels like when i manage to work authentically and follow the real 'guts' of my impulses they lead me to:

-releasing physical pain and stiffness (although I have to be careful not to head for pain, but sit just before sensation and feel through the blood/breath etc... inside the muscles etc)... the healing aspect of the work

-a real desire to move towards 'God' and all that that means... no good words for this... 'the realm of being' versus 'heedlessness' (BUT I have to be careful here to sit in 'powerlessness' as this can lead to an INTENSE desire to ACT- which is GREAT!!! but I can then get hooked into superficial responses to this that still feel old... so I must be patient and go deeper... but this is SO useful and can spur me on to great things... IF I can maintain faith and purpose... that is the tough part... the follow through

- the simple pleasure of oneness ... where the two things above come together...

I very much look forward to daily practice- which will not start again until end of April... tomorrow I will check out a studio space on Toronto Island where I hope to work for 6 weeks almost daily and I cannot wait!!!

Friday, November 12, 2010

notes to an actor re: emotional workout

actors have a very valuable excuse to literally make space in their lives to consciously, physically, vocally work with their emotions/feelings/thoughts in metaphor.... as you do this, you will uncover very valuable information about yourself that you can offer to your audiences- as they may not have the skills/time to do this kind of work- you can model it/hold it for them... the deeper you go, the more consciously you do it, the richer the gems that you mine will be that you can offer

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Notes to a student asking me about meditation as a part of their warm up and daily routine and feeling like she wasn’t able to be present in stillness

try movement meditation... (the slow walk we used in class, walk on a rope, take 5-45 minutes to stand up)

try using music.(one song over and over or get some music intended for meditation.. I don't have any great selections off the top of my head)

try calligraphy... (write one important word over and over again)

try a mantra (saying something over and over)

a yantra (something you look at like a mandala- can be used as meditation – or any image you like)

try holding a stone or any object and seeing it, feeling it for a long time....

there are lots of different kind of meditations...

every culture has used all of these above and many more in different forms-
make meditation as fluid and fun as you are allowing your warm ups to become!!


also make sure that your spine/heart/breath etc are really warm BEFORE you meditate (like a yoga class, which is ultimately getting you ready for stillness but our contemporary materialistic culture has turned it into fitness alone) and do the work from my class (which is pretty basic- and is part of yoga, part of mindfulness meditation, is pretty simple and universal and actually, to do for real, quite difficult...)


notes to a student regarding how to stay alive during long still times on stage

keep the tension fluid- neither always fully relaxed- or always held
think of the stillness as very active- and maybe give yourself a very long term engaged task
look for the someone in the audience who is... fill in the blank with something really compelling for yourself
the person who I do not know now- but who will be one of my best friends for life... something fun and that provokes you to FEEL and therefore move internally...

In any case, your internal viscera- should be shifting and this will hopefully help make the stillness more alive- also really remember gravity and how much it constantly is changing- don't go numb to gravity- you are still moving, as you always are- but it is just more delicate- great meditative practice!