Kernel of Truth

We finally got the group back together and the process has begun.

Before we can get into any viewpoints inparticular we have to go through the warmups – and by warmups I mean Preliminary exercises.

First is Running Stretches, which is basically stretching – but the key to it is that the group must do it together. Moving through the steps and breathing together. The same with the 12 rotations of the Sun Salutations.

That’s right – 12 rotations. They must, as a group, go through a sun salutations phrase 12 times in a row in unison. Usually, if you really thought about it, it does not seem like it owuld be that hard. But it is and it was. They struggled a good bit. We only had 6 people today, but that did not make simultaneous movement any easier. At first, everyone was just trying to get the moves right. Then, slowly but surely, they were becoming more confident in the moves and were focusing outside of themselves, reaching out to the group. The pace was picking up and they were flowing, one move to the next. From 6 – about 9 rotations, they had it. They were together, they were reaching out to one another, and they were cocky about it. I could see in their body language, no matter how still it was – they were all like “Fuck yea! We are doin it!” ANd they felt good, which let them relax, which let them lose focus, which meant 11 and 12 were complete and total disaters!

But the lesson was absorbed. We learned that each person must maintain a split between focus on one’s own body and the group. If at any point someone got content in their downward dog stretch, they immediately fell behind and group starts to lag and get confused. And on the flip side – if one is so focused on watching the group they are not fully engaging in the stretch. When they don’t pay attention to their own stretch they cannot effectively flow with the group.

If we really break down this concept we get a really wonderful kernel of truth about theatre: One must maintain great focus on oneself and one’s own work while at the same time maintaining the same amount of focus on their surroundings and their group – without this balance the actor loses touch with their own work as well as with the world of which they are part.

I have had teachers call this dual conciousness – having an eye in the character and one eye in the world…but it does not exactly translate. This term does not always help an actor. BUT THE SUN SALUTATIONS! They demonstrate and demand this dual way of thinking. These are to be repeated at the top of every meeting.

We also did high jumps where everyone has to jump big at the same time. This got tricky and eventually I had to stop them altogether. Which is fine! This was an exercise in listening – truly listening and trusting and responding to the wants and needs of the group. What it revealed was that they could not simply stay still and listen to the group as well as their own impulses. We must draw them out of their heads.

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