Wednesday, June 22, 2011

exercise 1

I am sending a series of text exercises out to a list of people on e mail

I want to see what the results are for different people...

here is the first exercise...
let me know if you try it, what happens for you

Lie down
Feel breath and blood and gravity till you are really able to hold all three
(even if it means juggling somewhat- but as much simultaneously as you can)

then engage muscularly…

1) engage around the spine in some way
2) engage from the hands

1) If you are ab;e to maintain blood/breath/gravity and muscular skeletal awareness (even if it becomes more juggling than simultaneous) tell me what happens or what you feel… in general

2) when you engage around the spine, versus the hands
is it the same? different

3) if different- can you describe it?

4) what difficulties did you encounter?

-at the level of the primary action of holding breath, gravity and blood
- at the level of adding muscular awareness
5) what other things do you think may have influenced the results?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

watching animals

tried watching animals on youtube to answer some questions

the most helpful was watching Gorillas... four legged ness and how it relates to my own four leggedness...
BUT not really able to learn much from videos

watched a chicadee earlier today- and thought- too hard to translate bird body to mine AND YET, I learned more from watching that bird than the videos
something transfers real body to real body that does not transfer over video- this is VERY important... re: why performance? especially at this time when so few go to live performance and everyone watches movies...

from chicadee I watched- the fast movements that feel like the fast - what feels like- nervous system twitching - that I still am not sure is healthy or not.... the immediate connection of breath to movement and sound... all one... must watch more animals...
trips to zoo this summer!!

Healthy Animal May 10/11 notes

A good day in the studio
So hard to get started…
Trying to find rigour while being gentle and tender with myself and really listening to my body

I managed two sessions… one about 1.5 hrs and another about 1:15
No singing yet today, sounding though and more integrated that before… still a million miles to go on that front

Longest yet in one day
But really able to stay with the listening
I also find I can get back in (today anyway) really easily after a distraction
(running out of power on ipod or bathroom break…)

there were people next door that I could hear so I decided to work with the ipod on
then the battery started to die so I put the music on quietly

first session Sigur Ros (can’t use things with text)
second ‘creature’ playlist… text mostly compatible

once I was in the work I was finding less explosive nervous system twitching- not sure why
maybe cause I am going so slowly
breath is VERY deep… it has to be
it all feels like WORK… although comes naturally
there are many moments of pain- but feels like good massage pain
and always has lots of breath, relaxed face or HUNGRY face
lots of mouth open, stretching
feels like I am really in the yawning work
fully, like never before
again- it does feel like if I were to keep doing this it would lead to a very healthy body
just really slow- as I am so out of shape- BUT feels… deep and permanent
and healing/healthy- we shall just have to be patient and see, this is not the quick fix route!
It is hard work
after the first session I laid in Cranial Sacral still point pose… with balls and legs elevated and prayed… this was perfect… and I must remember how animals stop and really rest and what I see in my students- that they MUST stop and really have moments with gravity or it gets pushed, dead ends, etc… what does it get exactly? Good question


I know that when they do have a good relationship with gravity- it goes deeper, stays real and affects the observer more
And more range of emotion… I can still feel how gravity is tough for me… skin ok, breath, yes, muscular skeletal yes, blood- varies… when I do feel it – it can be very intense- almost too much (heart especially) capillaries in upper body fairly accessible

So much tension in my body- what I am feeling feels accurate and real- like I am really in me- so not always easy… at times I can feel the knowledge in my body from the movement history… other times I feel my present dead body zone- both hard
Former feels lost and long away and never fully recoverable with this new healthier perspective, the other feels so real and insurmountable… but these are just my ‘mind ‘reflecting/responding to the felt sense
really inside this place when I do not look at myself externally with minds eye or real eyes
I feel like an animal- alive, healthy, even beautiful-
It is disorienting to come back to my view of myself… which is ‘old, fat, ugly’
Because internally it does not feel that way
Although I can feel the fat- it feels like – too many sweaters on my body that get in the way…
Hard to not get goal oriented… less of it today though
Not sure if this is good or bad- but trying to stay in the moment with the felt sense

Questions from today:

How does breathing really affect adrenaline- the details – I know it slows production of- but how?

back in studio April s 2011 notes

What I am doing

Start by listening… just breath and blood and whatever else
No ‘exercises’ unless body/animal wants them

I find not so much pain
As blocks

Then yawn and stretch takes me through them
Then I hit back of neck big time
Some pain, mostly heat and block feeling and power center feeling

Today got very feral very fast… distractions:

When I realize I have to pee… the animal just wants to pee right then and there
But have to get up and go to bathroom… nuisance
(do I set up a potty?) NO
I want to have to be human and maintain what I can on the way to the bathroom

I can hold a lot of thought while in it
I can have music but cannot change a lot- keep on repeat
Feel like I land in my own asanas.. places that feel like healing stretches and they are organically full of breath… rich and satisfying

Other distraction

Wanting to write about it as I am doing it… not wanting to lose the info/process/discoveries

This feels so right… and scriptural Writings come, they just pour in…
In the animal place… 'realm of being' somehow so close… and yet so feral…

It seems inevitable that this work would make me fit in an animal way… but it will be so slow as I am so out of shape but hopefully
Real and long lasting- time will tell

As I walk to bathroom I notice already my posture has shifted- wide open chest (rare for me)
And I cannot quite figure out how to walk… like something has shifted my weight, my pelvis so I can’t walk in the old way…

So hard for me to keep gravity awareness in head/neck/eyes

Still getting explosive left head turn
Sometimes I follow and sometimes I release
With breath
Not sure which way to go
Can take the impulse and follow it, tends to go same physical pattern every time and end up dropped over extended legs

Not feeling exhausting but now that I am done I do feel throbbing in back of neck
And heat

Wish I could find out about this…
Cranial sacral people?

Feel length in my arms as when Kate/Jessica worked with Jennifer Scanlon

Feel arch (god one) on back a la Denise Clarke

‘sense of a tail’, that opens my chest that I have felt before

feel like I can get back to a certain awareness much faster than I expected or in the past
and can come and go in and out more easily

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

sappy notes to an actor

my parting sappy manifesto for ...:

get the support you need to dig really deep inside yourself
it's not easy work, but the pay off is huge
unconscious living is not living
don't sabotage yourself
and if you do
be kind to yourself, cause we all do it and then spend the time it takes to figure out why you did

follow your bliss

and if you don't know what that is
then what you are doing is finding out what your bliss is
and it changes all the time
(often you will find it from having to transform yourself in order to
serve someone/something you love...)
assume it will be hard

if something scares you, then that is the right direction to go
in some form (the non-self destructive form is best...
so think before you leap, there are 72 different ways to do it, guaranteed)
pick one
and go that way with faith and extreme self care
relax, cause you will fall big
and you want to fall softly,
laugh loud, get back up
and keep going.
Find some good jokes to tell on the way... write them yourself
based on the falls (cause there will be many)
learn to pray (a version of falling) and dance alone in your room with the lights out and really good music three time a week!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

notes to a young solo show creator Apr 2011

-personalize the writing... politics don't enter people, someone TOUCHED by something real and painful does
-don't preach at us... we will shut down... get us to join you in something you care about and assume we also care about it
BUT - this is important- first we have to care about you (the character)
and than means specific details that are idiosyncratic not general

- the audience are all people affected by the illness you are addressing... in some way

ask these questions:
1) what are you healing in yourself with this piece?
2) find one other real person you care about who is dealing with the same issue TALK TO THEM AT LENGTH
3) who is the group suffering from this? Then there must be books- read them
4) how does this affect everyone (The children of, mothers of siblings of, friends of... and voila you have everyone...

NO ONE is outside any issue worth address ing on stage... if they are you make it a freak show and it loses universality

be brave PERSONALLY and then we will trust you politically...

Saturday, March 26, 2011

another note to an female actor Mar 26/2011

redefine the feminine as powerful, athletic and energetic

don't buy the old fashioned unhealthy garbage about it

READ, read some feminist stuff, read some stories of female heroes, find some female mentors that are sexy women AND have powerful physical practices (most of the working actresses do by the way! They have to!)

Read theatre, read plays by women, read novels by women, take yourself into other cultural physical environments...

take yourself into areas you may not usually go...
Indian dance, (even just a few classes), Chinese acrobatics, Hindu street festivals, latin music clubs... change up the rhythms you listen to

take a week and only listen to music that is new to you and if you start listening to something and you don't like it

and have some fun... in the woods, in water... let nature nurture and teach you

slow down sometimes and just be... don't move all the time
find the movement that is so deep and profound in stillness

notes to an actor Mar 26th/2011

A student asked me some things she can do over the summer:

-yoga classes or walking in which you are actively work on awareness work without worrying about emotional connection (relates to the awareness work in the emotional connection work I teach)

- as you are reading plays and playing with possible monologues for Theatre Ontario, play with character bodies, animals you can research... in fact
go to some zoos and really study some animals that you feel could stretch your range/and or serve your hit

-play with gesture... get to know your own, copy your parents, go for walks or go to parties and watch gestures... give yourself a goal to come home with 10 gestures that you can copy

-do some emotional culture homework... how do your parents handle anger? tears? joy? get what they want?
what does this tell you about yourself? your brothers? Your more distant relatives? any mentors/guardians in your life? people you grew up emulating?

-watch movies intelligently- watch several movies with the same actor - what character body choices did they make? how much did they rely on costume? accent? text? time period? status? watch a movie MANY TIMES... stop it at certain moments, rewind and watch a section again and again

Monday, February 28, 2011

notes to an actor who is hard on herself

in the end you will be further ahead BECAUSE you have the skill and discipline to BUILD the container
as well as learn how to fill it

just because some of the work as an artist at times focuses on
'just be there'

does not mean that a well crafted container is not important

it just takes time to get BOTH

think water and a glass

I hand you the water in a glass

without the glass
I can't get you the water
it's messy and self indulgent

if i hand you an empty glass
that's obvious

sometimes we are learning how to make the glass
and when water is around... it is very hard to make glass

sometimes you are learning how to trust the water... and even understand what it is and how to recognize it
is this clean water? is this coolaid? maybe I need juice or coffee...

but it feels sometimes very different than making the glass...
and well
trying to get the liquid into the glass!

yikes... you have to start with a wide open simple container...
to catch all that good stuff

then you can start to narrow the container... refine the glass... what is the best glass for juice? wine? coffee?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

notes to a depressed actor Feb 23/2011

I would say write a lot of unfinished poems, draw some faceless self portraits
and maybe there is something deeper or different, rather than nothing there
maybe you don't want to finish it the way you used to... and don't know what's next...
that's GOOD! and hard...

take a step back and take some time in the studio (somewhere private) to
a) have fun
b) be truly alone and do whatever you need to do

out of the studio...
c) go walk in a cemetery... what is really important to do before you die... talk out loud to yourself, to some dead people...
Abe Lincoln did it... you'd be in good company
d) take yourself somewhere you have never been before (a Korean grocery store, a Chinese herb store, a Hindu temple... ask some good questions, put your foot in your mouth)
e) watch some really funny movies... stupid ones... Bill and Ted's big adventure, amazon women on the moon... something so bad it's good
f) read a biography of a great artist/scientist/activist who was persecuted and also got it wrong at times... Van Gogh is always a good one
but look for someone new for you

sounds like you are hitting that normal place as an artist that we all hit
over and over again... if you can get through it once
congrats... it will be back
bigger and badder every time
and the pay off?

a new you, a new form, a new adventure... moving forward, death of the old self, birth of the new
death is not easy
but it happens every year- go look at the trees now- in the cold... touch them...

Monday, February 21, 2011

getting states of being consistently as an actor

I suspect you may need more specifics or to articulate for yourself more specifics that get you to (triggers/ways to cheat to get there) 'childlike', 'aggressor' etc.. otherwise they will become generic states and hard to find consistently... you need your specific triggers lined up and consistently repeatable- you may have them unconsciously- but it might be helpful to articulate them... so that you can CHOSE them when you need to- this is especially helpful for film- when you do not have the time often to get ready that you do in theatre and when your 'given circumstances' can be vague, changing, unrehearsed or you have to do the last scene first etc...
ie: when you cannot rely on the trajectory of the 'play' - this also happens in plays where you are multiple characters or scripts that are non-linear

notes to a performer Feb 21/2011 2

finding a way to allow for you own practice inspired but what excited you in all your classes- is critical
critical to allowing you to trust yourself
critical to really learning what we are trying to offer
critical to leaving training and OWNING what you are learning

your teachers cannot do this for you...
the sooner you learn this- the better off you will be
and it really does not have to look like anything your teachers tell you!
you can start from something you do in a class- so you have someplace to start- but then go where it is exciting for you to go!
and then when you get lost or distracted- go back again to an 'exercise'

I do the same!

the 'exercise' is there to keep me IN the work... not to dominate the work...

be an artist! play, work hard and trust your gut... follow the fun and let fun have a very broad and serious playground

notes to an actor Feb 21/2011

I break things down- in fact all of your classes do- in order to deepen, practice, understand

but dissection is not life... like is integration and full of it all

so allow your practice to be at times dissected and at times FULL
and full can feel very different... and when you are no longer training in the same way
or when you get older and have more experience in the WHOLE of the DOING of theatre
it will be easier to break it down from time to time to deepen, analyze, uncover a problem, understand

but we have to break it down... dissect it at times
even though
dissected things are typically...

and necessarily so-

or have no chemistry yet
(the cake before you mix it all together and it gets messy and bubbly...)

is full of throbbing, interrelated everything

and you cannot often see the detail/feel the detail within it
as you are experiencing it as a whole

as an artist you are often moving back and forth between these two worlds and sometimes it isn't even clear... which is which!

they are both part of the WORK!

Friday, February 18, 2011

naked disgust

And what if i did remove that outer layer?

you would see me
I would be sitting in naked disgust
my face curdled from my own sour

Why can I never seem to visit the place of the pretty?
The butterfly land of hyacinth and lavender?
Fearing the simple truth of the flower
Because it is simple?
Because it is truth?
Because it is nothing I can name or wear without watching it die
Naked disgust
How does one start again
When one has started again so many times to seemingly no effect
The growth, the change so unimaginably slow
the self hatred so rampant and boring