Today I wanted us to focus on "relationship," how to be present and connect with others.
Started with the same old Kyokotsu exercises. Even in this seemingly solitary practice, when you have someone touching your Kyokotsu with his or her thumb for you to feel, there is a chance to practice relationship. How much can you feel the thumb of the other? How specifically and precisely can your Kyokotsu move towards it? There can be many levels of awareness in one simple exercise.
We continued onto the theme of feeling the other by a simple pair work. Person A grabs Person B's upper arms lightly from behind. A gently moves B gently. B follows the direction A gives through physical contact points. The goal is for B to feel A's intention fully through the physical contact points and be moved by A so that A does not feel any resistance.The person who's holding also needs to feel the other and give clear direction through the contact points.
The studio became rather silence while we were doing this exercise. Listening with whole body instantly brings concentration and focus.
Then I asked the half of them to sit on chairs and the other half to stand across them, facing each other. The standing people walked towards the sitting people, grabbed them by the wrist, and pulled them to the other end. Very simple choreography. The practice was about how to make it look like one smooth movement with even tempo and no resistance or hesitation.
After a break, we practiced with the Suzuki Method. Specifically we worked on the Statue and the Slow Walk. There are two main Statue exercises: the Sitting Statue and the Standing Statue. In both exercises, one takes a pose on a quick cue and stays still until the next cue. The back has to be straight and the core muscles have to be engaged strongly to move swiftly and to keep the same posture. But the most crucial thing in the Statue to me is how to quickly establish a clear, dynamic relationship between one and the focus to which he or she faces in stillness.
Today, since there were chairs in the studio, we did the modified version of the Statue exercise with them. First, I asked them to move from sitting to standing up on tip toes at even tempo. Then reverse. The tempo gradually increased to a point that it was only one clap of the hands. I occasionally had them speak some text while they moved up or down. Then we tried Sitting Statue on the chair: First sit quietly on the chair with the head down and the back straight; Then with a quick cue, come up with the face facing the audience, the legs up from the floor, and ideally the straight back. It was very difficult for many to keep balance. But once again, the point of this practice is not so much about strengthening the core muscles (although one definitely needs it) but more about how to quickly determine one's focus once the cue comes. Focus helps to create a relationship with the space.
Then we did the Slow Walk with a chair. The form of the exercise is such that you walk across the stage slowly at even tempo and the stable upper body.
Once you get to the other side, you turn and take a pose with your arms. You walk back to where you were with the same arm structure. With a chair, the exercise was a little more complicated in that one needed to handle the chair at the same tempo as the walking. But the chair usually helps to get a clearer sense of focus and concentration.
After a break, we did some improvised text exploration.
Ulla, one of the cast members, plays a character who has extreme difficulty remembering and also physically very limited. Her character's world is somewhat more fragmented than the worlds of two other characters: Macbeth (played by Tuomas) and the Drunken Guy (played by Niklas). The text exploration was mainly for Ulla to collect material for her character. I had Tuomas and Niklas speak their text over and over while Ulla listened and tried to remember a few words from it. The Chorus people, meanwhile, were helping by attaching themselves to others as the extensions of principle characters' mental states.
As the last thing of the day, we did some exploration work on one scene. This is the crowning ceremony scene with a lot of party guests and the ghost of Banquo. In the original Shakespeare, the scene's text is mostly exchanges between Macbeth and others at the banquet. But our script was written in such a way that only Macbeth speaks the whole time. So Tuomas has the longest speech in this scene.
To help him explore his text, I first asked all the others to be the most annoying party guests ever.
It was chaos for Tuomas. Others were relentlessly irritating him in many ways. But somehow he managed to get out all his lines. "I wanted to kill everyone! So annoying!" Tuomas laughed afterwards.
The next thing I asked them was to be the most condescending, snobby party guests who constantly mock Macbeth.
Then I asked them to be the most enthusiastic, exhilarated party guests who admires Macbeth like a rock star.
With each different type of the guests, as the relationship between Macbeth and the guests changed, Macbeth's text sounded different. Obvious as this may sound, it is the reason why relationship is so important in learning lines. It makes text come alive in many different forms.
We ended the rehearsal a bit earlier today around 21:15.
Whew, what a week. So much done in so little time!
I'm excited to go further with the group next week. Kiitos!