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A note from halfway through...

In (very)brief, this workshop has been an amazing pedagogical tool for me to get some playful acting feet back underneath me.  Pierre is an excellent teacher who makes clowning not as scary as it could otherwise be.  I've been refining the art of letting myself 'do nothing' which is a very hard thing to do!

We are now several days into the workshop with Pierre Byland and Oliviero Giovannoni.  The theme of the workshop is 'Homo Stupidens'.  The goal is to become more stupid every day than we were the previous day.  As an academic, I have been hitting a mental block each time I try to write about this work from an objective point of view.  As a creator of a solo show about dark matter, I have no problems with accepting my own stupidity, but I am having some problems translating that stupidity to the stage.  How to let myself be stupid seems to be the performance challenge, and it it the best challenge that I could find for this piece, and for my development as a performer.   

The first day was dedicated to a clown turn.  We warmed up in the morning with Oliviero and also with Pierre.  Once we returned after lunch, everyone pulled out their costumes and chose one for themselves.  The goal was to dress as a part of yourself, but the part of yourself that dresses without thinking too much.  Or, a running theme that Pierre developed over the course of the workshop, to dress as your mother told you to dress for Sunday.  Keep it simple, with not too many themes expressed in the costume.

I ended up going with a flashy gold and silver pants outfit with a jacket, a purse, a glowing ball that lit up, fancy shoes and a bracelet.  

We weren't given any direction for the first turn except that the theme is to make the audience laugh.  I realize now that the theme was deliberately misguiding.  And, I've done similar exercises in the past:  Be Funny or Die, in which you are on stage with only yourself and a couple of props and the goal is to make the audience to laugh.  Before, the audience had been armed with tennis balls that they were allowed to use to punish you until you made them laugh.  This was much more gentle (no tennis balls were thrown as ammunition during Pierre's workshop).  I kind of missed them, though.  My turn was not very funny, I was extremely nervous, and committed to playing with themes of dark matter at every chance.  I decided that the ball in my pocket should be a Higgs particle.  It kind of flopped.  But I was in good company.  

I had a long way to go.

 

Originally posted from Switzerland on August 27, 2012 on Vivian's Blog After Andromeda.