The Globe - Week one

That's the first week of the Globe over and done. Exhausting but very rewarding. We have been working with director Tom Cornford how to use the Michael Chekhov technique. There has been so much going on that I will try and put down what we have learned as it will serve as a good reminder when I get back:

There are four main qualities of movement:

1. Moulding - like you are making your way through clay (I think the term sculpting may work better)

2. Flowing - like air

3. Flying - like fire. As though a bee is annoying you and you're walking on coals.

4. Radiating - like a blinding light is pouring out of your body.

These elements can be combined with a movement in a direction:

Forward: I give

Back: I receive

Up: I stand my ground

Down: I yield

And expand out and contract in.

The actor then takes these gestures and using their body act out the line using the appropriate gesture. The trick is then to transfer this gesture into something called the life body.

This appears to be a difficult balance between internalising the gesture completely and simply demonstrating the gesture. It seems to me like a psychological thought (and a pre-learned physical recall of the gesture) that should then, naturally, allow the body to move in a natural way. The body should move just before the thought. Although this is what the life-body is doing the actors body must be radiating at all times - this is akin to 'star-quality- it felt like expanding the performance just a little more than is natural in the 'real' world so as to make your thought/gesture clearer to an audience.

This was then combined with text where the physical movement influenced how the text came out of the body. Physicalising the text. This seemed to make sense to me and was far easier to understand through physically doing it rather than reading and talking about it.

We broke a six line or so speech into 3 sections each with a different gesture. This helped make the thoughts of each section much clearer but, when transferred to the life body, it seemed to be very hard for most people to retain what they had gained through doing the full gestures. I think it will be interesting to return to this exercise next week and see how if it has improved. Another major problem was that a number of actors were internalising the life-body completely, finding the fine balance between showing the elements and allowing them to subtly enhance your performance is where the trick lies in this. I'm glad the directors were taken out to watch as I was mince at it!

An exercise that I loved, which I think will work great in youth theatre, was sculpting someone elses body and stepping into it. Then asking that body questions: "how do I sit, how do I lie down, how do I respond to leaving the oven on". This was a great way to explore character and a great demonstration how the physical influences the verbal and the internal.

These are all really useful exercises for directors to understand as it helps us create a clear vocabulary with actors so notes like "be more sexy" can be given in a way which breaks it down into tasks that an actor can achieve:

What is your gesture - "I'm giving them something" how are you doing that gesture "it's moulding" try it out and hopefully you will get something which reads to an audience as 'sexy' yet, from the actors perspective, they are doing broken down tasks which have led to this. Once it's in their life body, and actual body, they will hopefully be able to recreate it.

Atmosphere was also something talked about that is very important to directors. Make sure the actors play the atmosphere at all times and make sure it changes on an event, for everyone in a subtle or very noticeable way.

I've really got a lot out of this week and can't wait to see how it can all be applied to Hamlet!


Jonathan White said…
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A McGregor said…
That's the stage Jonathan. They don't use scenery (just props like a bed or whatever) so the actor needs to create the atmosphere. There is no lighting either, so plays have to happen during they day. So we have the challenge, for example, of the first scene of Hamlet which is in the dark on the battlements of a castle in the middle of nowhere. Takes a lot for the actor to convince you that's what happening. Also you have those two pillars that can't be moved, that's a nightmare for the director. ALSO, you have audience almost 360 degree. Lots of problems, but that's what makes it exciting!

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