"How do I direct a group scene where every one is moving independently and I am also a part of it and make it look like an orchestrated scene?" The question was running through my head today during rehearsal as we tackled one of the complicated moments in the show. I've said this before, but in this kind of planned chaos, everyone must be aware of each other on the stage and the time signature created by the group. Everyone needs to be like a good musician in a jam session: Keep your independence, but listen to and feel the other musicians in the session. And most importantly, tell a story together.
Before the scene work, we did the same old Kyokotsu exercises, and then a few Suzuki exercises: the Walks and Basic #4. In the Walks, We walked across the studio diagonally in different styles of walking. After the exercise, I asked the group what they were practicing during the Walks. "What do you think is the most important thing in your doing this exercise?" Their answers varied: simplicity, precision, efficiency, control, how to be in sync with others, etc. Then Tuomas mentioned something regarding the attitude towards the exercise. I expounded on what he said. One can practice many things in one exercise, so all the answers are valid and good. But, all of us have to think about the bigger context in which we practice or do exercises. In Suzuki Method, all the exercises were born out of rehearsals. So they have the context of "performing in front of the audience." Every time you walk across the stage, you are being watched by somebody else. You are practicing what it takes to perform in front of others first and foremost in Suzuki Method. This kind of context helps me to do Suzuki as acting practice instead of a physical workout.
When we moved onto Basic #4 exercise, I also mentioned the importance of clear change and transition. In Basic #4, you start out squatting down with your back turned to the audience. When the cue comes, you pivot on one leg to turn to the audience and stop in a standing position. On the next cue, you go back to the squatting position. The sequence continues on the other leg. The movement has to be fast and precise in this. The momentum of turning from makes it challenging to start and stop exactly without upsetting the upper body. It's also quite tricky to keep track of which why to turn if you're not used to the exercise. But then again, the most important thing is to become aware of how you encounter these exercises as a performer instead of being overwhelmed by the physical challenges and demands.
What are we practicing? -- It's a good question to ask every once in a while.
My pedagogy colleague Camila and her husband Lefa came in around 8pm to observe our rehearsal. I had asked Lefa to take photographs and Camila to give me feedback on the process. In fact I had asked several people to come and watch our rehearsals because I need some kind of input from the outside to put myself in perspective. Sometimes I get caught in my own ideas, and the mode of obsession narrows my vision too much. Other people's feedback helps me to see the process from a different angle. I have been working with Camila for some time in the pedagogy program. She often wakes me up with her perspective, which is very different from mine. Agreed or disagreed, I've come to really appreciate her views on things.
While they were observing and taking photographs, we worked on the complicated scenes. We tried different timings, movement patters, etc. Slowly but surely we started to find a better balance of orchestration. I also reminded myself that I would need to think about my characters in relation to other characters more. Almost every scene in a play is complex orchestration of different worlds, and I am definitely a part of it.