Lo, these many years ago, when I first started my acting training it was the custom of programs and professors to take a student and crumble and crush them under the rigor of new beginnings.
The equivalent of 102 degrees of scrutiny was leveled at every one of us timorous enough to want to claim the artist's life.
This is no longer the accepted role of pedagogy but go tell that to the NYC summer. Today, we hit 102 degrees here in NYC for our first full day of classes and thank goodness for air conditioners and the strong electrical grid of the Northeast corridor. Famous last words.
That being said, we have braved this opening heat wave to meet each other last night at an evening barbecue in the backyard of the brownstone and today we headed to Simple Studios for the first session of our Devised Theatre/Directing Seminar. Director Mary Robinson opened class with a discussion of impressions of New York for our mostly non native New York company and students then were given a character assignment and let loose on the streets to observe and record the city they experienced.
Sweaty and solid, company members returned and began the soft and steady process of building character from physicality. The shape of these new souls being channeled woke up on the studio floor and began to come real. Easy, slow, softly they will be coaxed into their own reality and become the shapeshifting gown of the work that we do. Hopefully, characters will grow into people with wants and needs, in a real situation , and the tug and tumble of earning their rewards will be the stuff of the plays that emerge.
The afternoon took us to Centerstage Studios , where the air conditioner was tired, and hand fans shoved musty air back and forth. No matter. Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, David Auburn, came and talked with the company this afternoon. Company members threw questions and possibilities at David non stop for over and hour, imagining themselves in his shoes, or their shoes as he is in his... or... Such is the interchange of inspiration and example. We are so grateful that David was able to join us before he heads off to the Berkshires for a directing assignment at the Berkshire Theatre Festival. When asked how he moved from one step to the other in his work, he encouraged company members to produce their own work, place their work in the world and let the energy of the collective expand their own vision.
A great afternoon.
Tomorrow Janet Zarish begins her acting seminars with the company in the morning and our first Repertory session in the afternoon will take a look at BURNING LEAVES, a new play by Tom Rowan. This piece has been invited out to the Southhamptom Writers Conference after our work on the play and it will be great to see how our sessions with Tom and his play will change it.
Check back for some company pictures of todays festivities.