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My APAC Theatre experience was eye-opening and fulfilling. Not only was I granted the opportunity to learn more about Butoh, Kathakali, and Talchum, but also did I learn more about myself as an artist.
Each school was meant to prepare a 10-minute, devised production dealing with the theme of transformations. We ended up using a segment of my audition piece for our individual performance. My audition piece was directly inspired by a college essay I had written back during application season (those were the days!). The essay itself explored transformation of thought… “We seldom know what we’re hearing when we hear something for the first time, but one thing is certain: we hear it as we will never hear it again.” I had written about the transformation of my perception of what it means to be strong and what it means to be vulnerable. I concluded that only with vulnerability comes strength — or so my life experience has lead me to believe.
Anyways, I hold sharing writing to be a sacred procedure… ceremonious, almost. Presenting my audition piece alongside Sarah was oddly purging. I felt a bit pathetic putting myself out there like that, but if there’s anything I’ve learned from my experience in theatre it’s that there is no shame in vulnerability.
The more we physicalized the piece, the more honest it became. I think honesty is at the crux of theatre. I always think back to what Patsy Rodenburg had to say about truth in theatre. She had said that through theatre, we are capable of playing the truth. I had first recognized the honesty, the truth in theatre when we rehearsed the curtain call for Our Town.
That being said, performing our piece for the other schools was a cathartic experience. Witnessing the tangibility of our thoughts is always a unique and beautiful experience.
Anyways, I decided to join the Butoh ensemble lead by the one and only Mark Hill. I was granted the opportunity to experiment with Butoh theatre early on in the year alongside my theatre classmates. We had only really looked into the isolation of body parts as an element of Butoh theatre, though. We hadn’t touched on masks.
The whole idea of “finding beauty in the grotesque” had never really resonated with me, but it had always held my interest. It was for this reason that I decided that I wanted to further explore Butoh theatre. It wasn’t until this experience that I was finally able to understand and appreciate what it means to find beauty in the grotesque. Finding beauty in what would conventionally be seen as ugly is discomforting in many ways. It’s almost threatening. I mean, day in and day out we’re working towards this universally accepted image of beauty and what it means to reflect beauty. To experience that it is possible to find beauty in rolled back eyes, lips tightened over teeth, saliva spilling out of mouths hung agape is frightening. Experience being the operative word. Not to observe, not to realize, not to recognize, but to experience! To feel! It is about feeling the pain you wish to communicate. It is about feeling the despair you intend to reflect. Pain and despair, among the many sentiments that remind us that we are human, are beautiful. They make us feel sick, they tie knots in our stomachs, they shake our bones, they are the silent breeze, and sometimes they tell us that we are alone. They are not pleasant but they are beautiful. That is Butoh theatre and that is life.
Shivangi Kakkar - Lighting for Big Love by Charles Mee
Philip Frasse - Directing the class production of Charles Mee’s “Big Love”
Melissa Wilde - Student directing a children’s theatre performance
I would like to discuss one of the quotes from the play that you brought up: “Hold out your hand to help and it will be torn off. Help the lost and you become lost. Where was I to find the strength that was needed? Only from myself? But I wasn’t good enough.” - Shen Te
I, myself, am not an optimistic person. In fact, you could probably go as far as to say that I am, by nature, cynical. I try to be hopeful for others though. I used to try to be hopeful for myself, but not so much anymore. I can’t seem to make the effort these days. Anyway, I find much truth in this quote. If I were religious, maybe I would be able to draw strength from God. Maybe I would be more hopeful about the future, about people. But as of yet, I have not found a God who truly cares and loves and inspires and strengthens. This, in itself, probably makes me ungrateful. Maybe I’m just nearsighted. But… at the end of the day… really… what about us? I mean, what about the people who don’t believe in a God? What about the people who aren’t inspired by a greater power? I used to believe in a God. I used to pray every night. I used to believe in angels as well. I used to have a bit too much hope, I think. Where am I meant to find my strength now?
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Dear IB Year 1 students,
First off, I’d like to commend you for two successful performances. I attended Friday night’s performance and I thought you guys did a brilliant job. As a Y2 student, having put on two IB Theatre Arts plays, I fully recognize that you were under a tight schedule. I know that there is only so much that can be done in a given amount of time. I also acknowledge the challenge you took on when you decided to do a Brechtian play.
This letter to you is a compilation of my thoughts on your performance of Bertolt Brecht’s The Good Soul of Szechuan. That being said, and as you all know, I’m no expert. I’m always learning and I will always have a lot to learn. But anyway, here are a few of the things I picked up on that I think are worth mentioning! (I decided to stick with Mrs. Moon’s evaluation format - things that went well/things that I thought needed some more work):
What went well…
Things that I thought could have used some more work…
All in all, spectacular performance! You really got me thinking with this one. How appropriate is it to be “good” — almost altruistic — in a world that is motivated by self-interest? Is to be “good” to be foolish? Is to be “good” to abandon one’s own survival instincts? I have always struggled with these questions and I suspect that I will continue to struggle with them for the lot of my life. Anyway, a job well done! Congratulations to all of you!! Best of luck for your next and final IB Theatre Arts play! Things will go a whole lot smoother hopefully now that you have all this experience to take with you. You guys better record that one as well because I will demand a copy from wherever I am :)
Just last night I downloaded the song “One Billion Hands” by Lourds Lane. According to iTunes, I’ve already listened to it 35 times.
I find the lyrics to be really inspiring and empowering… the song begins with: “We are the water. We are the sun. We are the daughters. This is a revolution.” The pace suddenly quickens and hands begin to clap: “And we rise! You are invited - come join the revolution.”
In regards to our initiative here at SFS, I really liked Sarah’s idea of allotting the whole of the week of Feb. 14th to be an awareness week. I think providing a showing of both (or at least one) of the documentaries would be a great way to kick off the week.
I thought a lot of what he had to say was interesting. I connected with the point he made of how our thoughts and our dreams are physical. It’s comforting and a welcome change of pace to believe that some parts of our souls are tangible.
At times I felt as though he was a bit too optimistic. Optimism has never really resonated with me.
I found it inspiring that Toyo Shibata began to write at age 92. This goes to show that it is never to late to take up something new. I also found it interesting that her poems are classified by a forward-looking attitude even though she began to write after the passing of her husband.
“Even age can’t slow your creative drive down.”
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If lincoln seems given over to legend, so does Day-Lewis’ totalizing methodology of acting, honed over a quarter-century. It comes with its own boilerplate of mythos and anecdote: How he stayed in character throughout My Left Foot (1989), in which he portrayed the profoundly disabled Irish writer and painter Christy Brown, to the point that cast and crew members fed him at lunch breaks and carried him over equipment between setups. How he lived in the manner of an 18th century American Indian in preparation to play the noble warrior Hawkeye in The Last of the Mohicans (1992), surviving for days on a 3,000-acre (1,200 hectare) expanse of Alabama wilderness. (“If he didn’t shoot it,” Mohicans director Michael Mann says, “he didn’t eat it.”) How he stayed up for three nights straight before a nightmarish interrogation scene as a man wrongly accused of an IRA bombing for In the Name of the Father (1993). How he sharpened knives between takes as the terrifying proto-mobster Bill “The -Butcher” Cutting on the set of Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York (2002).
“As I got older and more experienced,” Watson continues, “I could look back and appreciate being able to work with someone who has the most integrity you can possibly have in this job. He has integrity coming out of every pore. I remember asking at the very end, ‘Why do you work like that?’ And he said—it was very sweet—‘Well, I don’t think I’m a good enough actor to be able to not do it this way.’”
“I like taking a long time over things, and I believe that it’s the time spent away from the work that allows me to do the work itself,” Day-Lewis says. “If you’re lurching from one film set or one theater to the other, I’m not sure what your resources would be as a human being.”
Method acting seems to be more of a way of life than a method. Not only does method acting seem to require a lot of commitment, but also does it ask of personal sacrifice. This article took me back to Peter Brook’s description of the living actor… the living actor retains the ability to empty himself/herself. Method acting asks the actor to empty himself/herself.
What we thought…
What is true…
Practice: Korean mask dance
Play: Andong Talchum
Aspects of practice: use of mask, physical movements specific to each character, vocal quality of characters, costuming specific to characters, dance, music (drums), rhythm, theatre in the round, comedic abilities, satire, audience interaction, cross-gender characters, improvisation
Aspects of play: status, issue itself, final endings, comedy, theatre in the round, scene (cow-killing, girl peeing), role of han, expression of han, work up to the han
Possible focus: use of stock scene within the whole of the play; movement used
Possible research question: How would an actor portray the physical characters of the old monk in a scene of Andong Talchum? How would the actor use the combination of costume, music, and physical movements in order to portray the old monk in a scene of Andong Talchum?
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