Wednesday, November 30, 2011

what are you doing here, you should belearning your lines

I was in a bad mood today, i don't know why but part way through movement I didn't want to be there. We were working in small choral groups and when it was my turn to lead I really didn't want to.
Maybe I'm just tired.
It is exhausting doing the 2 years at once.
Neutral Mask followed the same structure as previous classes, with Philippe trying to get us to play with the rhythm of snakes and ants.
As a group we aren't cut out for serpeants, Philippe told me that I reminded him of a python that had eaten a whole cow.
We are moving into a new stage of the workshop as we begin to work on text.
I want to get off script soon, Julia and I are working on the final scene from Medea. I have no idea how we will work it with Philippe I am excited about it though, I just want to be word perfect. Its strange I normally learn on my feet in the rehearsal room , i remember my first time round at drama school feeling slightly envious of my classmate Aled who seemed to pick lines up very quickly, its always taken me a bit of time, so to try and go in already off script will be a callenge but i get the impression he'll kick us off if we aren't bob on with the text.
In fact thats where i'm off to now, to try and learn some script.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The ridiculous motor

I'm back!
A well needed night off last night which was also a celebration.
Yesterday I flew in clown.

The exercise was one we did last week and one that I really wanted to have a go at; The Audition.
The exercise is simple: Monsieur Loyal is auditioning for a new actor, he says "Do we have an actor here?"
The Clown "Yeees! Me! I am an actor!"
Monsieur Loyal says "Ah you are an actor? Show me how an actor walks."
And from here the clown plays at pretending to be an actor for Monsieur Loyal.
He is pleased to speak to Monsieur Loyal because Monsieur Loyal is the boss of the circus. The main man.
Philippe likened it to a child talking to a teacher. "Yes Monsieur Loyal. Of course Monsieur Loyal. Ha ha ha Monsieur Loyal."
Last week Philippe worked a lot with everyone who got up and I really wanted that.
Andre was our Monsieur Loyal. Ah, Andre, such a generous straight man, I heard someone in school say of him that he is already a star. They might well be right. He is very quick on stage constantly suggesting games and he says yes to everything.
Yesterday Philippe worked with Kiki, a spanish street performer with a lot of experience and by his own admission, years of working on the street have meant that he has created a hard outer shell, a tough persona that he is struggling to crack. Philippe spent a while working with him trying to get him to open up, at moments it was difficult to watch because we could see him suffering but finally the mask fell and Kiki was there naked before us, Gone was the plastered on smile and the defensive posture, gone was the laughing at himself when he flopped and what we saw was on open soul, beautiful, fragile and full of humanity.
I was really glad for Kiki and touched to see him so vulnerable on stage. Philippe has promised him that he will be tough on him if he relies on his tricks anymore and I hope he does Kiki, its what Kiki wants.
I knew I wanted to get up and when Kiki sat I got up.
I went backstage with Andre, took my T-shirt off, I wanted to expose my wobbly bits. Put on the swimming cap, goggles and red nose.
Andre looked at me and said " Lets have some fun, eh?" or words to that effect.
The intro music struck up and Andre walked out on to stage.
I had seconds before I had to enter.
I shaved yesterday morning, hacked off the beard and the wispy bits that try to hide my jowels but I thought I'd leave myself a handlebar 'tache and the soul spot under the bottom lip.
I hadn't seen my face since shaving, when Andre entered I caught sight of my reflection in the window and smiled as I looked ridiculous.
half a second later I was on stage kept buoyant by the feeling of ridiculousness.
Philippe is right you have to feel ridiculous, without it how can you access your stupidity, so I guess this is the challenge for us wannabee clowns, how do we feel ridiculous, really ridiculous so that we can walk out and it has already started. The motor is already running.
I donb't know what happened out there, I think it helped that Philippe gave advice about the reltionship between Clown and Monsieur Loyal. I had that to focus on.
Andre was brilliant, in the sense that light can be brilliant, he really helped light the way for me.
Instead of just saying let me see you walk like an actor he said " Have you read the scene?"
"Yes Monsieur Loyal, of course I have read the scene, I have read the whole script."
"then we'll do the scene, are you ready Mr President."
" Are you ready Mr. President"
"No thats the cue and then you walk forward and you say I am the president."
" Ah yes, of course Monsieur Loyal.........."

To be truthful even if i could remember word for word how the scene went there would be little point in me writing it here.
It wouldn't be funny to read it. If you don't believe me try reading Tristan Remy's Clown Scenes. They don't come off the page.
What I can tell you is that at one point Philippe got me to lower my voice , it went through several stages, from angry glaswegian to Tommy Cooper via Yoda and Cookie Monster but the audience seemed to really like it, that's the beautiful and the terrifying part of clown yu know instantly, either they laugh or they don't there aren't any half measures.
Philippe also pointed out that I wasn't looking at Monsieur Loyal, thatI wasn't checking in to see if Monsieur Loyal approved of my "acting". Of course the maestro was right, I was playing out front and nothing was going to Andre, but once he pointed this out we really flew.
Suddenly there was game between us and the batting back and forth of the impulse started.
Quite what happened in the rest of the number I'm not too sure. At some point we switched and I ended up directing Andre.
There was a lot of laughter, a lot and when they weren't laughing for a few seconds it felt like an hour, I don't know if medically it is possible to become addicted to laughter but I feel like I've had my first hit of an intoxicating drug and I want more.
At the end Philippe said "It's good. Very Good." Aha high praise indeed.
I spoke to Philippe today, his advice was that my ideas are good but that I need to play more (that's not exactly the way he put it, damn you short term memory)that I could pretend to be more pretentious as the director.
He also talked about being in a groove, again not his terminology, and how we need to find that thing, the motor for the ridiculous.
Again I go looking for this. I want to know how to turn it on at will, once you find this, you enter with it and immediatly the audience laugh. Oh to find this motor, then great things will be possible.

I was chatting with Ed in the cafe du depart after class and he pointed out what he thought was the reason for the exercise, that if you can play for Monsieur Loyal with pleasure and look for his approval then it is only a matter of turning 90 degrees so that you do the same but for the audience. I like this, it make sense to me.
So know as well as finding the ridiculous motor I need to turn 90 degrees.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

fridat saturday , sunday

Bit of a different reflection this one though still very much related to my time at school.
I have just finished teaching a 2 day play and clown workshop for friends and colleagues of Louise, somehow we managed to get access to a metal works factory.
Plenty big enough and tres froid.
Normally I plan my lessons on paper as I like to have a structure to what I'm teaching, but seeing as though I'm trying to learn to become a freer actor why not do the same for my teaching?
I remember reading in Clive Barkers book that he only ever planned what the first game of a session was going to be and everything else he just followed his nose.
I'm not quite there yet but instead of planning what exercise followed what instead I worked with the principles I wanted to explore, predominantly play and complicity so that was essentially what we did yesterday. Game after game after game.
Mr. Hit, skipping, slapsies, exploring the liars voice, dancing searching for the pleasure, Grandma's footsteps.
A couple of moments of uncertainty throughout the day but that can only be good. I used to have uncertain moments when I planned my lessons so this is no different with the exception that the safety net of the correctly filled in lesson plan is missing.
All in all it was pretty good I thought. a bit scrappy in parts but for a first outing unplanned, not too bad.
What I have noticed over these last 2 days is that my eye is getting a bit keener, my understanding has definitely developed and I felt more able to work with the students in front of me, particularly in the clown session this afternoon.
I didn't want to be too tough on them, we did only have 2 days, but I felt that if I were working with them longer I could challenge them more than I could have done in the past because thanks to being here I feel I have a better understanding of what I am looking for. Beginning to see what buttons to push, how I can help different people to find out what's funny about them, this is surely what a clown teacher has to do no? How can I help you discover what is funny about yu? How can I help you to discover your pleasure?
The real test of this will be in Jan when I'm hoping to run a longer workshop.

I didn't talk yet about Fridays neutral mask, Oh la la how good was this?
We worked in 2 chorus for the session, 1 chorus talking to another, the chorypheas and chorus' carried both by an element and the song of a classmate; different rhythms, different heights, different voices, different languages.
These strange rhythmic clashes and the melange of languages gave it a dream like quality, at times staggeringly beautiful?
Imagine a 5ft 2 inch young man from Singapore speaking Malay with the voice of a King or a blonde, beautiful teenage girl playing hopskotch and singing the text "The Death of Hektor" to the tune of ring a ring a roses, or a chorus crawling on its belly and shouting at the other chorus who seemingly burst into laughter for no reason at, if you can imagine it then you are some way to seeing what we saw in class on Friday and I can tell you the effect is strange, eerie and stunningly beautiful.

The lesson from this session has not quite become conscious yet, yes it was all the above to do with rhythm space, taking the road less obvious etc but I have the feeling that something more than this has sunk much deeper than first appears, maybe it will rise to the surface further down the line.
Certainly the way I feel thinking back on the session takes me to an almost mystical place in my imagination, once again the power of theatre and creativity rears its beautiful head and makes me glad I am here.
When Philippe talks of the theatre and actors in the theatre he talks of images being imprinted in the mind, on the heart, stamped on the imaginations of the spectators so that they are not the same when they leave the theatre and today we got a little taste of that.


Arthur O'Shaughnessy

We are the music-makers
and we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers
and sitting by desolate streams;
World-losers and world-forsakers
on whom the pale moon gleams
Yet we are the movers and shakers
of the world, forever it seems.

With wonderful deathless ditties,
we build up the world's great cities
And out of a fabulous story,
we fashion an empire's glory:
One man with a dream, at pleasure,
shall go forth and conquer a crown
And three, with a new song's measure,
shall trample an empire down.

We, in the ages, lying
in the buried past of the earth
Built Nineveh with our sighing,
and Babel itself with our mirth,
And o'erthrew them with prophesying
to the old, of the new world's worth;
For each age is a dream that is dying
or one that is coming to birth.

A breath of our inspiration
is the life of each generation;
A wondrous thing of our dreaming,
Unearthly, impossible seeming-
The soldier, the king and the peasant
are working together in one,
Till our dream shall become their present
and their work in this world shall be done.

They had no vision amazing
of the goodly house they are raising;
They had no divine foreshowing
of the land to which they are going,
But on one man's soul it hath broken
a light that doth not depart
And his look or a word he hath spoken
wrought flame in another man's heart.

And therefore to-day is thrilling
with a past day's late fulfilling;
And the multitudes are enlisted
in the faith that their fathers resisted
And, scorning the dreams of tomorrow,
and bringing to pass, as they may,
To the world for its joy or its sorrow
the dream that was scorned yesterday.

But we, with our dreaming and singing,
Ceaseless and sorrowless we!
The glory about us clinging
of the glorious futures we see,
Our souls with high music ringing,
O man, it must ever be
That we dwell,in our dreaming and singing,
a little apart from ye.

For we are afar with the dawning
and the suns that are not yet high,
And our of the infinite morning,
Intrepid you hear us cry-
How, spite of your human scorning,
once more God's future draws nigh,
And already goes forth the warning
that ye of the past must die.

Great hail! we cry to the comers
from the dazzling unknown shore;
Give us hither your suns and your summers
and renew our world as of yore;
You shall teach us your songs new numbers,
and things that we dreamed not before:
Yea, in spite of a dreamer who slumbers
and a singer who sings no more.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

prancing like lions

A really good movement session today, after 2 days off it was good to get in the space with Loreedana and my classmates and dance.
When the pleasure to dance rushes up inside me it is such a wonderful feeling.
To move without care or consciousness of "do I look cool or not" ,which is often my feeling dancing in a club, is actually very liberating.
We did a great free-dance exercise. We begin dancing with a partner, then one stops while the other continues dancing until the pleasure fades, At this point you give an impulse to your partner who takes over, the key here is to notice when the pleasure is fading, I danced with Laree a bit and she was quick to point out when it started to fall down. It wasgood to hear her " No, ees falling down" because then i began to notice it more in myself.
So it's either time to change or to pass it on to my partner. A really good exercise for several things in fact; pleasure, major/ minor and the fixed point.
Yes I really enjoyed it.

Neutral Mask.
Being Lions.
I was a terrible lion especially when asked to come forwrd and give a speach about gay marriage (?) wow, difficult.
I think we looked at lions to help us be graceful, beautiful but also dangerous.
The other scenes of the day included using the lion rhythm to play gangsters who had ordered pizza and the pizza delivery boy was playing with a mouse rhythm.
We turned into a bunch terrible Noo Yoik Aytalian gayngsterz bickering about anchovies and were quickly banged off, however for me I felt there was about " seconds when i started to come alive.I was really glad of thistoo, I've had such low energy for the past week or so but know I'm starting to feel like something is coming.
Part 2 of the exercise took place in a brothel, mama mia, success for Carmen and Hannah, they were both really good. I'm so pleqsed for them especially Hannah, she's been having a bit of a nightmare for the last few weeks and today she looked amazing on stage, and very mysterious, she didn't speak too much which Philippe has been telling her about for a while and as a result we started to imagine around her.
Carmen played the madam and physically you could really see the lion there, quite beautiful to watch.
In general the girls were a lot stronger than the boys today, Katie looked like a doped up hooker, a fragile, vulnerable mess, I thought oh la la what is wrong with this one, there was a strong sense of sadness to what she was doing without Katie being sad, its hard to explain unless you were there. Either way she opened my imagination even though she was only on stage for about a minute. Powerful stuff.
I'm a bit gutted because I was backstage helping people change into costume and I missed Philippe talking about acting and character I asked Sam about it and apparently he said something like the actor does not need to think about his "character" he needs to use this rhythm or that image to support the movement and the text and the character is then born in the mind of the spectator.
I wish I could have heard it exactly, its always so inspiring to hear him speak, Gonna ask him to recap it tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The risk of silence to help us dream

Bonsoir, or if you read this during the day, bonjour.
Slacked off a little yesterday and didn't bother blogging, I think I've still got enough previous blogs in the tank to justify my sqeaker from Naz.
So, yesterday, Neutral mask, we played with the rhythm of a tree, thats right folks i'm at theatre school and i played a tree.
Ah i feel like i'm home.
the difference here being that we had to have roots, apparently there is as much under the surface as there is above it, crazy, no?
We had to grow, aided by beautiful classic music and when we were at our peak Philippe and others would come round and yank at our branches, if we toppled, we sat.
First group up, timbeeeeeeer everybody.
We trees need wide bases at least this was the lesson learned from the failings of the 1st group.
If a student had a strong enough base to not be pulled over he had to speak a text as if the words were coming up from the roots.
The second part was about impulse.
1 actor stood at the back of the stage, 2 others held theri feet on the floor and the 1 st actor had to walk forward against the force of the other 2, if they didn't work hard enough monsieur gaulier had 2 others hold their arms so they had to struggle with the whole body.
The speech had to come as a result of the impulse to move.
seeing it and doing the exercise my understanding of impulse has started to deepen.

Today the mask work was really good, we played with the rhythm of fats; clotted cream,, butter, sunflower oil.
as normal we began our movement on the floor.
part 2 was to enter as if we were an 80 year old star, Maria Callas, Alec Guinnes, John Gielgud, walk down stage, sit on a chair and say" My name is Mark Winstanley, I am from Manchester, thankyou for joining me her today..."
The lesson here seemed to be about silence. If we rush we leave no space for the audience to dream but in the silences an audience can imagine around us.
As Philippe said, it is a risk for the actor to leave such long silences but as an audience we think Oh-la-la who is this person speaking to us.
So I move forward with hope that one day a paying public willdream around me, that I will give food to their imagination and they can feast on my pleasure and my aura.
Surely it is food for the soul.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday, week 7

Another day done,
Today I had a good feeling in movement, we sweat a lot through dance and stretching and games; it was lots of FUN.
Dancing with a partner in the middle of the circle the body moves without the head judging or trying to lead what's next, surely this lesson, if it could be applied to whenever I was on the stage would help me well on my way to regular acting work.
The problem is the head it seems and such a simple exercise as dancing, lost in pleasure and fun with the partner helps me to see how easy it is when the body does what it does in response to the music.
How to do it without the music is the challenge and the work.

Neutral Mask.
Playing with the rhythm of an animal.
At the weekend Philippe said we would need to study an animal for today.
I went to the zoo with a few classmates.
It was closed.
So to the aquarium we went.
I looked at fish.
Today I tried a fish.
Apparently my fish was "Omosexual".

After this we tried to be actors in Greece 2500 years ago.
The exercise, the actor warms up.
Banned were any actor stretches or bobbity bippity vocal warm up's we were to try and speak the text (the death of Hektor) as if we were backstage before the show.
Aha, a chance to play with the voice.
I sang the text a bit trying to have some fun and then came the drum.

"Mak, when ee touch iz stomach like this do we think he is a dramatic actor or do we fink eez advert for bad inglish sandweech?"

So don't touch the body.
I'm a numpty because only 20 seconds earlier he mentioned to Jamie about touching his legs.
He did the same exercise with several people.
He put on a part of Verdi's requiem when the horns build and build and build and it clamaxes in the human voice.
Philippe did this in Le Jeu to help us to be carried by the music.
I'm coming back to being carried again, something has to carry us on stage, then we are never alone.
Today several people played the exercise as if it was the one from le jeu and it wasn't.
After a while he said that we were too solemn ( I think that was the word he used) and that we need to have more fun.

Again we watched several numbers and even though they flopped Philippe used them to help demonstarte how necessary it is for the clown to look to his friend with admiration, without the feeling that my friend is a genius it falls down.
If your friend does something shit and you look at him as if he is a genius you save the show.
Quote of the day went something like this;
"You are two friends going out to do a number, not two people doing a number trying to find their friendship."

The last exercise of the day was this:
Romeo and Juliet.
For 2 clowns.
The actors due to play the show are stuck in an airport, 1 in New York, the other in Berlin, the planes have gone on strike. The audience are in the house and are getting restless.
It is at a rough theatre in Paris.
The show was due to start at 9 and it is now 9:20 they chant "money back, money back"
The 2 clowns sell ice-cream in the theatre and if they are lucky they may do 1 minute of material.

The theatre manager comes up to 2 clowns and says if you save the show I will ring the king of Sweden to see that you get the Nobel prize for clown and so 2 clowns go out on stage to save the show.

After being out with Ed we were boomed off.
Philippe said that he saw our panic and not the pleasure of the clown who might change his life.

I was chatting with Ben Cutler a few weeks back and he said that Philippe painted very visual images for the students in class and here was a brilliant example but I didn't enter into it.
The clown could change his life.
Once again it didn't matter enough to the clown because if it did I would have shown my pleasure.
The pleasure to play for the audience for an hour and a half.
The pleasure to play wasn't there.
No contact with them neither.
When will this click?
Will it click?
When will my pleasure shine through?
Will I make more discoveries?
When will I see this workshop as a new audience?
When will I roll up my sleeves, spit on my palms and make it matter?
Will it matter?
It has to matter.
Has to.
Or else why am I here?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Quick report from friday that never got filled in.
We played with the rhythm of animals.
First up, cows.
My god i was boring, so were most of us that played the cow.
We then tries a scene with the cow rhythm being that of a barman and it was contasted by customer (playing with the rhythm of a mouse) who had just witnessed a robbery.
I was first up and I was awful.We did this several times, we lacked pleasure to play the cow, my note was that the voice was so boring.
"I was concentrating on the rhythm of the cow" I say to Monsieur Gaulier.
"Concentrating, oh yes, concentration is not good, eez for academics."
Note to self, don't concentrate, find the pleasure.
Don't manufacture it, discover it, what do I find the most fun? This is the question.

Next up a choral exercise, trying to lead a chorus of cows.
Julia leads a chorus of mice, she gives a lot Julia, is light and playful and when she is in major she takes it.
Philippe: "Everyone around Mak, I am the cow coryphea. When we were up there I was thinking pick me to lead, pick me, I want to show you how good I can be as a cow leader. Bad mistake, I was so boring.
Philippe is slumped in his chair resting his drum hand on his cheek, he looks the most bored I think I've seen since classes began. The longer it goes on the more bored I get.
Second note to self, stop trying to be good, you don't take any risks, you bore yourself and everyone around you.
Maybe I'm not cut out for cows.
I was so tired on friday, physically and mentally knackered.
I thought that a cow would have been representative of my energy level, but no, i see that the cow is way above me.

Next we also tried playing with the rhythm of a dog again i was awfulI start to copy what my friends are doing.
It's over before it has begun. I panic and then give up. I might as well commit Hari Kari. I started the exercise and immediately i was thinking oh my god this is rubbish, what am i doing and hey presto da daaaaan! I was rubbish.

Philippe says, "You seet, you say to your friend, no friday is not my day. Ah Friday, friday, friday"

It's long been a problem of mine, listening to the inner critic, got to find a way to kill him because if i don't then he will surely kill me.
But how to silence him, that is part of my work.
In a way he is good because he helps me, what I need is to change my thinking about him, think of him as my friend, like monsieur flop "Ah my little one, be careful you are brginning to bore us, you better change quickly."
To be bad and yet remain optimistic.
To be bad and turn in a different dirction.
To be bad and find something new.
Rather than to be bad and think yes, I am bad, I am terrible, I don't know why you would even want to look at me now, if I were you I would leave and ask for your money back on the way out.
To be bad is good in this school, we are bad and by being bad we will discover something.
As Philippe says, "To be bad is the secret of the school". I get that in my head but like several people I still don't want to be bad and yet here I can be, I need to embrace that and learn from my mistakes, they will surely shape me into a better performer.
I still have so much to learn.
And yet speaking of I or me seems to have missed the point as I understand it so far. I won't discover anything through me, they will be found through something else, through a colour, an animal, an element or a material if I have fun with it.
Everything moves and everything can move the actor.
He should never be alone on stage.
As Philippe said a few weeks back, "the actor has to be carried by something".
Carry me, so that I can carry the audience.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

black is the colour

Not a lot to report tonight apart from that in neutral mask we played with the rhythm of oil cooking chips and colours.
Part of me was resistant to playing with the abstract movement of colours, how does blue move?
This is the kind of question my HEAD asks and yet theone that my body doesn't need to because it instinctively knows.
Damn you head, why do you have to keep getting in the way.
I discovered something with the colour black.
It led me somewhere new.
I liked it.

where else will the image of something lead me?
I don't know but then isn't that why I'm here? To discover new approaches and new ways to mine creativity.
As Philippe said, "You have to discover something through something, not from yourself."
He laso talked about there being a distance between the actor and the character, can't wait to find out what this means.
I want to be led to more new places,
come on colours take me there.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Chloric acid and beating hearts

Here goes, day 3 of week 6 at the Ecole.
Lots of stretching and pushing the body, working the abs and training the arms, my shoulders feel like they might snap under my weight sometimes and I'm still carrying the knee niggle from week 1 so on several occasions I stop what I'm doing to stretch and massage the offending limb.
Pas probleme.
Oh and today I managed a few smiles through the exercises. Incredible!
Got to wonder what Laradana has in store for us tomorrow, I hope its more dancing, é consecutive days of punishment might snap my tendons and send my legs into a permanent cramp.
Speaking of cramp, at one point towards the end of the session she had us doing sit ups holding each others legs down, 20 normal followed by 15 to the left and 15 to the right.
My calves started to burn and suddenly seize up, all I could think wzs if the Rocky theme tune were playing I'd piss these sit ups.
It wasn't and I didn't.
Damn you lactic acid!

Yesterday Philippe had to go to hospital, garage day, old cars need to go to the garage, I asked him today what the mechanics had said. They say I am cured. The twinkle in his eye seemed to burn a bit brighter than normal. Me I smiled like I haven't done since le Jeu, and gave him a huge hug. The man is amazing, I'm totally in awe of him. Like most of his students, I think I'm in love with him.

Neutral Mask
Playing with the rhythm of Chloric acid and rodents.
Monsieur Gaulier explained that when he was a boy and the drains got blocked his mother wouldclear them with a tube of chloric acid, you put the cube on the plug, pour on water and hey presto, good riddance drainpipe gunk, sometimes, good riddance drainpipe too.
So in the mask we played with the violent fizzing of the chloric acid.
I got a 6 out of 10 for my epileptic chloric acid, which then had to come in looking for its glasses. Woo-hoo, I'm begining to find something, but what? That's the question.
High energy play, looking back on the session, moments of fixed point, darting up, down and around the stage in search for my elusive spectacles. There is something there for me, something.
I remember the moment before going on stage not thinking or worrying, sure there was a nervous energy of the unknown but not really any time to think. Could this be a part of what helps? Time to think is time to worry, no?
Other scenes Philippe worked with chloric acid; speaking about capitalism, a world peace convention and something else that I can't remember.
I should have left it there but sadly no, playing with the rhythm of a rodent turned out to be a total "catastroff", in fact baaaaaad, the scene was to come on and speak about the phone bill arriving tomorrow, no, awful. In fact he put me in a pooh coloured plastic bin as a result of how awful, not a nice metal bin, no the pooh coloured plastic one. Ah well, at least I wasn't alone.
After that a group played with the rodent rhythm but in a more dramatic scene, as if they had just been sentenced to the electric chair, Julia was good, but then again she is, can't wait to work with her on a scene, she gives a lot and I reckon it will be fun.
Philippe flagge dup that to play this scene but with a fast and erratic rhythm is intriguing, it was certainly incredibly watchable.
He pointed out that only Julia and Yang Yang managed to sustain the same rhythm in the scene that they had found on the floor in the mask.
The final group had to come on, again with the rat/squirrel/hamster rhythm as if they had been tortured and one of them ha dgiven the name of the leader under extreme circumstances.
Philippe said it was like a silent movie.
Me I say it was just pretty boring. Thats tough but also true, mind you it was the end of the session and I think they all sensed it before getting up. Neutral Mask is knackering.

So, me and Claude worked together on a idea yestaerday afternoon to present today.
I changed my costume last week from Obelix to a lifeguard, at the beginning Philippe didn't understand my costume but he could see that I was having more fun in it so said that I should keep it, anyway I had an idea for a number with something with this lifeguard costume. I bought a radio controlled car, cellotaped a cardboard, black felt-tip coloured sharks fin to the top and hey presto, the beginning of an number. The sharks fin was my killer gag, the one that would have them rolling in the aisles, in my head that was the case anyway.
Before class Claude comes up to me and says that he doesn't want to try the number today and that he feels we need more rehearsal, part of me agrees but the bigger part says "No, we should try it. The worst that can happen is that we sre bad." As I say this I keep thinking about the shark fin, it has to work, if not then I have to accept that my ideas are shit.
Ding ding!
Bell rings for class, Claude and I agree to dit next to each other and chat over what we are going to do again.
Class starts we try and subtley go over the number again.
As we sit watching our friends try out there numbers Claude keeps spazzaming, " Or idee I feenk is too psychological" he's starting to panic a bit, me too but I don't want to show it fully,it's enough he can see it in my eyes;
We laugh at each other imagining the horrible death that awaits
"It's okay we'll just do it and see what happens".

" Okay okay I fink eez better if we try you come in wiv ze Chark;"
Claude is racking his brains for ways to improve our "idee".

"Let's just do what we did yesterday, if its shit hopefully he'll give us some advice how we can rework it."


"I said Let's just do what we did yesterday, and if its shit hopefully he'll give us some advice how we can rework it."


Let's just do what we did yesterday, if its shit hopefully he'll give us some ....."

"Next!" calls Philippe

Oh shit , oh shit oh shit.

Yes... We go.

Claude looks at me like a lost puppy.

We stand up and walk to the back of the stage.

I don't ever remember feeling so nervous, excited and wondering what will happen as I did standing back stage today.
We look at each other I see a terrified glint and a smile on Claude's face and he sees it on mine, 2 naughty boys about to go out to try and make the room laugh.

In the words of Monsieur G "Eez not a pees of caak"

Suddenly the music starts and........

Even though I know everyone in the audience we have some new tabs in the space which means you can't see the audience, they felt like a new audience, as they should every time we go out they are different, how will I play with this audience today.
This is the lesson from today not how good or bad the number is, this feeling of the unknown, this feeling of jumping out the side of the plane wondering if you packed your chute properly, those few moments when Claude and I stood backstage before the music trumpeted through the speakers, when our adrenalin was pumping and we signalled to each other that our hearts were beating fast, the not knowing if we were going to be funny or if they would love us or how we would find a way to play but at the same time putting ourselves out with nothing really but a cardboard shark fin cellotaped to a 12 Euro radio controlled car and the need to be ridiculous for the fun and for the pleasure, yes, this is the lesson I take home today.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Boring snoring

Feeling tired right now, especially tired of flopping in clown, There is no pleasure in me right now and that is the key to having fun on stage as clown. maybe I should eat chocolate before I go out on stage.
AY ay ay

Neutral mask,
Playing with earth, no I didn't find anything today except that I was boring today. I keep being tough on myself about this.
Luckily Philippe talked aboot this in answer to another students question.
I can't quote exactly but it was something along the lines of you don't have to be good, you have to be bad and to discover, the secret of the school is that we are bad. We need to stop worrying about being good rather we go out to discover something beautiful in ourselves through something else.
His words are so inspiring but the difficulty is in trying to put them into practice, I don't know I'm just tired I guess and without much energy.
I want to say its fine, but its not, I'm not fine, I'm swimming in the shit and I can't get used to it, but then maybe that's why I'm here, to get used to the shit. Just somedays you need more than shit. Or maybe not, Don't flowers grow in shit? Roses from the manure? I got to grow.
I'm tired of being small and going through the motions I want to be big and beautiful. Something special from myself.
Maybe I just need to relax.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Today we played with glue, to be more precise the rhythm of glue, Philippe said;
"Mak, push too much."
I sensed that this was what he was going to say and yet I still don't quite understand, my voice was gravelly as glue, its been gravelly quite a few times in the workshops since I started in October and I can't quite connect voice and body together so I force the words out from my throat and there are little surprises for me.
How do I relax? That is my question and task.
Mark 5 was great today playing with glue, his face changed as did his voice and rhythm.
After Mark 5 was up Philippe turned to me and said:
"Your question last week about, was the neutral mask just used for tragedy, ah non, you see you would not use this material for tragedy but it could be very funny for comedy, no? With this you could have a lot of fun."
So I have to master glue or nuttella (actually judging by my currant waist line Nuttella is mastering me, what was that old ya mama joke about falling over and bleeding gravy? yeah something like that)

Strange to not take the notepad in but I'm going to give it a go, yes today again I felt more attentive in class and I hope this will continue console myself with Philippe's words, "what you need you will remember".

What is do remember from today is experiencing the realisation that I can't be good at everything, i don't mean that in an arrogant way rather I should accept that I can't and instead of beating myself up when I'm not or an exercise doesn't go "well" I have to say okay so glue is not my material, neither are fire water or air my elements but just wait till we get to jelly.

Clown I enjoyed clown today we did an exercise coming forward to know if we were loved or not.
I went forward slowly making eye contact with the audience and though I didn't do anything spectacular I felt I was sensitive and that is something I've been lacking for a while.

Dan was brilliant today, the same exercise but he had a lot of fun and at one point the words, I can't do anything wrong escaped his mouth and he was right, we loved him and he couldn't do anything wrong, oh to get there. 5 weeks left and apparently the final week is show week so 4 weeks left really to discover something. Come on clown where are you hiding?

The Friday Review

Movement was great, we started with a game of handball that seemed to turn into rugby at points, the lions versus the tigers and it was great fun. Another veiled lesson to teach us about teamwork, complicity, eye~contact, impulse and fun.
It's always interesting doing this type of work with students back at Clown Lab H.Q.
You have to wonder if they see it as just a warm up or whether they see it as a vital part of the work.
The movement teachers here aren't explicit about the daily lessons, no aims and objectives that are the blight of academic education no, the lessons are seemingly absorbed by osmosis in the hope that they become an instinctive part of the performers nature and they are always looking for the game, where is it? Who will play with me?? Ah yes they look like they have fun in their eyes, how can we play together?
For the fun.
Everything for the fun.
On thursday we sucked and blew one another, yes it does sound a bit pervy but then that was Loridana's amusing terminology. We tested the sensitivity between us, I blow on my partners shoulder, they respond taking that impulse and movig with it, blowing them like a leaf around the space.
Very helpful for neutral mask later in the day and excellent for responding to a given impulse, the sucking was the same but instead of being blown from your partner you were sucked towards them. All good fun.

Back to Friday, as the session progressed we started to move together and at times it was beautiful, reminding me how much my body likes to swim in space, kept buoyant by music and the contact with another human being.
We worked with several partners, my most fun was had with Katie, who had obviously consumed a lot of booze the night before and now the sweat was helping her get rid of it.
As she pointed out later there was a contrast between what we were doing physically which was light, playful and graceful and the fact that I was saying "fucking hell you reek like a brewery"
She did.
A very strong brewery.
On a hot humid day.
Loridanna came over and told us to focus more as we were laughing, we did and we found more risk between us. Its fun to take risks.
The session ended with a foot massage by that i mean we had to massage each other with our feet, Loridanna said that there is a lot of energy in the feet, she's right.

Neutral Mask
Today we looked again at water, the rhythm of a tsunami, as I was saying my text I could feel my voice deep and harsh and I knew i was pushing but couldn't stop, actually thats a lie, I could have but i didn't want to.
When we finished Philippe said "Mak, you use too much force", shit i knew that, its the second or third time he's pulled me up for that, good that i notice it but how to do something about it?
Yazid is great with the tsunami, he's from Singapore, only a small guy but on stage he is massive, i can't quite explain it, he looks 3 times his everyday size and his voice is strong, powerful and heroic.
After the round of water we moved on to air as Philippe said we can't see air but we can see it in the smoke it moves or tha leaves it shifts on the ground.
So to air, I was enjoying myself, breathy little gasps escaping from my open mouth as i danced and flitted across along the floor, not bad I thought.
Philippe "Av any of you ever been to a chinese restaurant? you know the fish tank in the chinese restaurant and as you eat your meal you watch the big white fish with its mouth going (does a fish impression), you know what i mean, the fish, it puts you off your meal a bit with its (fish impression). Did Mak remind you of this fish the way his mouth was moving? oo shall I ask? Yazid!"

"I liked the movement but yes his mouth did remind me of the fish in a chinese restaurant"

Note to self; keep your mouth shut.

Sometimes my ego gets in the way, I realise its constantly assessing how I am doing, "yes this is going well, oh my god what are you doing, this is awful, oh yes philippe will think this is great, oh yes"
It rides a line between smug self satisfaction and paranoid Oh my god that was awfull~ness.
I need to kill it, gag it or learn to ignore it.
Its not helpful neither in life, stage nor the day to day.
Instead ride the pleasure, enjoy the ride and see what happens.

Friday, November 11, 2011


yes as the title suggests, bugger,
forgot to do todays post in time so i guess Naz won't owe me the squeeker that was the carrot for these continuous bloggings.
Not a lot to tell at this moment cept that I'm currently watching weapon of choice on youtube, my what a mint video.
Oh and a wee message to Tunde, first of all thanks for your msg of encouragement plus this, today i misplaced my rucksack just before for neutral mask class, it had my notepad in it, which i;ve been constantly scribbling in since this journey began and i had a mild panic about it, but eventually i settled into being in the space, feeling a little naked without that paper skin and ink cloth (yes i still think I'm some sort of poet). Philippe spotted that i wasn't writing and commented on the fact saying that he felt there was nopoint in writing in class, that we would remember what we needed and forget what we didn't. And you know what i was more attentive in class than I have been so far on the course, so, Tunde, if you take apen and paper in with you, don't. Trust that what you needwill stick with you and what you don;t remember didn't strike you as necessary.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Buff and Blubber

Movement today was really enjoyable, we looked at rhythm by moving through two lines of bouncing balls, dance, putting an action to music, playing with and against the beat then pasting these together to create a montage of movement, a good exercise that i will surely be using with future students.
Oh and we didn't sweat too much, maybe lauridanna will kill us tomorrow.

Neutral Mask
What did we do today?
Erm... well we got back into the lake, to see what the rhythm of water could inspire in us.
For most it was the rhythm of the drains backed up with sewage rather than a crisp clear lake. I enjoyed playing in the sewage, but Monsieur Gaulier said I talk too much, Katie however was stunning. Philippe was right when he called her beautiful I didn't have my glasses on but I could have sworn she was weeping, she wasn't but she opened the box of my imagination and i saw her tears, oh the power of the actor.

After the exercise Sam makes a comment: 'Phileyepe (she's Australain, I get that Katie was beautiful, i mean , i couldn't take my eyes off her but you couldn't do a whole show like that, i mean Hamlet would last about 5 days if we spoke like that.'
Philippe's response: Non, the neutral mask is not for performance, it is for the actor in training. For the actor to discover his beauty, and she was beautiful non? It is smooth it has no character, but once the actor has discovered his beauty everything else can sit on top of it.

I've paraphrased Monsieur Gaulier's words but the gist is there.

And what did I take from this lesson, that beauty is not skin deep,beauty is when we show our true self on stage those naked parts of our true self, when we are open and vulnerable and our soul envelops us and helps the audience to dream around us, it can't be willed it can't be faked, if you are lucky and ready it will pour out of you and on the audiences imaginary forces work.

Is the task then to get lost in the movement and not steer the words, rather to let the impulse of the movement lead the words, instead of allowing the head to lead? I'm sure I know the answer to theis but how to find that. Deep breathing? Yoga? Chance? Hope? I don't know just

I want to discover how I'm beautiful.
Don't you?
We also mimed/ played with the rhythm of the stream. Philippe explained that the stream was the rhythm of youth, that it had something of the explosion of fire about it that the rhythm of the river was the rhythm of an old man. I'm blown away by his insights, and its such a joy to be in his presence, he is constantly beautiful and the twinkle in his eye seems to get brighter everyday.


Steve was really good today, he is looking more and more comfortable up there and today I really liked watching him, he is definitely his child soul you can see what he looked like when he was 7.

We did an exercise to help us connect with the audience, Philippe commented that Claude and I had a good relationship together, which is good as I have an idea for a number that I'd like to try out but I need some more ideas and I'm not sure if its a solo or a duo and i think could Claude and I could do it well.
Philippe said that I should stick with my costume, he doesn't know what it is but that I seem to be having more fun in it. It could just be that I had my glasses on and I could see the audience for once but yes I do like my new costume, which incidentally is a lifeguard.
Philippe doesn't see it but I do and it inspires me more than Obelix.
And today I learned that in the clown world the opposite of Obelix is a toff, either a tennis toff or a Golf toff.
After class said that Claude and I were a bit like Laurel and Hardy, I guess he means physically, Claude is buff and I'm blubber, I'm bearded him clean shaven and we have contrasting personalities it'll be good to see what if we can come up with anything.
But the big question is...what will I learn tomorrow?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Yargh! part 2

stretching, straining grunting and a sweating.
Loridana, our movement teacher, is determined to lose 5 pounds before Christmas and we have to suffer as a result, but smile while we suffer.
I like to think I'm normal and therefore frown when i suffer.
I'm actually quite enjoying the ab crunching workout and the hip flexing but just please don't ask me to grin whilst doing pressups.
The body is not built for that.

Neutral Mask

Yeah, fun to wave goodbye to a friend to play fire and water.
I've studied a bit of neutral mask with other teachers and Philippe is similar but very different. The point is not to get it right. Nope, rather to experiment. Wow! experiment, but what do i do with the boy scout in me who wants to please? to get it right? I like getting it right, then i can tick box, but no to fuck is the point here, to be bad, to be thrown back into the dirt so you have to dust yourself off and crawl out the shit again and each time find the pleasure to do so until one day, further down the line you start to find your way, your freedom, when you work for your fun, your pleasure when you are set free from the boundaries of right and wrong or trying to please the teacher, then you can be free. non?












No ground in sight.

Maybe I'll grow wings.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011



Damnit when will this click.

No more news.

Whay am I not funny?

Monday, November 7, 2011

A much needed weekend of loafing around the house, yes i had a lot of marking to do for uni but thats well underway and should all be inon time.
New workshop day today, the Neutral Mask.
I've done a couple of intensive workshops in this before and the work always surprises me, today the biggest surprise was the masks that Philippe used, white plastic copies of the sartori masks.
He can see the faces better apparently.
Not sure what I've noticed in others but for a couple of seconds I felt something out there.
As if I was moving the room somehow, very difficult to explain though, it was either a brief moment of vertigo or else something other.
Like I say I can't really explain it.
On reflection I think that I was trying to recreate the work I hae done with other teachers and maybe that was what Philippe spotted when he said that "Mak!(No thats not a typo) Mak! Sometimes he has something, sometimes he is tall sometimes it falls, sometimes it is actor studio of my balls."

It is the something that I need to discover, the great unknown. Is this something presence? Is this something living in the moment? Is this something the sense of openness that we actors strive for? Is this it?
Seeing the world anew, being enchanted by life, tapping in to life and its flow.
And to do this on stage, is this not the real power of actors?
Not to moralise about society through new writing, scrutinising systems with intelligent texts penned by bright young playwrights. No!
Is not the reason we are dangerous our capacity to live in the moment infront of an audience. For if we can do this and at the same time show our audiences beauty and love then maybe they won't stand for ugliness, fear and hate anymore?

Sorry I just tripped and fell off my soap box.
What will i discover on this neutral mask journey?
I don't know but when it all finishes the real adventure begins.

trid a number with thomas, it flopped, he owes me a beer.
Philippe said that when we come out we sell ourselves as bad students. we don't pretend that we are good, even though we are bad.
I tried to tell him that when i got out it felt awful that the audience don't laugh. that i felt bad.
He said "Then you are not clown and you don't understand what i say."
"Yes I do"
"No you don't"
He got us to both go off and re-enter and say "Philippe I understand completely" I did
"Not loud enough"
I said it again louder.
Laughter from the floor.
Something happened a suppressed half smile crept on my face and I felt lighter, like my mind was hovering somewhere in the space above me.
Strange to say I know but thats the only way I can think of describing it right now.
"In zis way you can discover something"
Holy fuck, what does that mean I have to have an out of body experience every time i go on stage.
But then I guess that's what it is. I am using me but at the same time I am not me. Not the day to day Mark that goes to Carrefour to but a birthday card and some biscuits, nor the same Mark that worries if my filling is goiing to fall out while I'm in France away from an NHS dentist and have to pay hundreds of Euros to get it sorted, non. I am me times funny or me times stupid or me times ridiculous.
Now the question is how do I find this me again?

Friday, November 4, 2011

How am I funny?

Friday p.m. – post school. Feeling fragile, frustrated and about as funny as a funeral. This clown stuff is hard. Put Marvin Gaye on the I-pod to try and write my way out of these unfunny blues. Okay, so far I’ve discovered that the audience like me when I get beaten up. From the cabaret duo I do with Alice I kind of new this already. There was one moment when Philippe said that I was the second worst, not the worst and I let out an excited cry so I guess that means they like me when I’m excited, or is it when I react to his provocation? I can’t pin it down. Whatever it is when I try to find it again onstage I am normally drummed off within a few seconds. So far, I am pretty sure they don’t like me when I talk. How the hell am I funny on stage? Todays exercise came in 2 parts, first we had to pretend to be a doctor using only the line “Come in, take off your clothes.” There were a couple of successes but he had banged everybody off within ¾ of an hour. Then we got into the meat of todays lesson; The fun to pretend to be each others clowns. We swapped costumes and 1 by 1 came in to music then had to pretend to be each other.
Dan did a really bad impersonation of me he ambled on, shook his tits and contorted his body in a strange manner, Steve had mentioned to me that I have a habit of collapsing inwards when I flop, my body obviously says what I am experiencing even though I try to hide it with smiles and I think that this what Dan was going for. Maybe it’s my mood today but I did get a little offended, surely there’s more to me than my wobbly bits. Okay, admittedly since Chunk truffle shuffled his way through the Goonies, a fat lad jiggling is generally funny but is that it. Will people pay me for that? I doubt it. The other reason is that whereas several people, myself included pretended to be Dan because he has begun discovering a lot in class and was fun to play, it seems that I like some others have discovered a lot less and so there is a lot less to play with.
At the end of class Philippe talked about us needing to enter into a contract with the audience, that we had to sell more. I don’t have much of an idea what this means. I can’t work it out we are not a character, we are not ourselves we have to sell parts of ourselves to make the audience laugh. ??? My brains all fuddled thinking about it, trying to understand it, to grasp this elusive thing called clown that strikes for a few seconds a week but the rest of the time is hiding in the shadows laughing at me. Maybe I’m just thinking about it too much, trying to intellectualise pleasure is like trying to describe the taste of a peach to someone who has only ever eaten potatoe.
Le Jeu ended today, it wasn’t what I expected from the module but it has been a brilliant few weeks, I’m still a world away from understanding all its lessons but a few have sunk into my head, if not my body. Still with 6 weeks left of school there is plenty of time to discover I just have to keep getting up. I want to discover what I want to do. How I can play. How I have fun. I’m a bit lost right now. The path has disappeared. I’m fumbling through the undergrowth, the vines are starting to grow up and around me, binding my legs and creeping up my body. I need a sword to hack them off and find the path below. But not the same path. A new path. The path to my imagination and fun. The road to creativity.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Another quickie.
Felt a bit blue today, don't know why, could be the soggy weather that hasn't lifted all day, just a grey drizzle.
Le Jeu is coming to an end, that could be a part of it.
Could be that I've still no job to return home to when all this ends.
No job, no money, welcome to the wonderful fantabulous credit crunch double dip recession party!
Credit crunch? Double dip? are they trying to make these things sound like chocolates so they are easier to swallow?
Yes, right there folks you see why I am not getting many laughs in clown.
But do you?
The realisation that I have been on the verge of realising for some time now is that it doesn't matter what the clown does or says, none of it, it is the moment after he does it that counts.
The pleasure that follows the moment after the joke, no matter how bad or old or half baked it is, when the clown looks out into the audience for someone to say, wow you are a great joke teller, tell me another.
The pleasure to pretend and to look out for someone to say hey you really are spiderman, or a pirate or frankenstein.
I understand these things in my head now to achieve them on stage.

This is the challenge.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A postcard home

Hi all,
Just been checking facebook and have seen the photos my brother posted of my Nana's 85th birthday in Summer and am feeling a little nostalgic for family, I truly hope all this training leads to something.
Am reminded of a conversation I had with my Grandad a few weeks back where he basically said that he loved me but that he wanted to see what all this was leading too.
I understand why he says this, he is from a generation that got a job for life, in fact when he was my age he had 3 kids, a wife and a steady job and 20 something years down the line he retired.
And me?
I'm 33, back in school praying that when I leave my career finally kicks off and like so many of us I want to prove to something to my nearest and dearest, to say;
Look at what I did.
Look what I made.
Look at the smiles on the faces of all these people.
Grandad, look. I did that. Me and my friends up here on stage.
Do you see them Grandad?
They all paid their hard earned money to come and watch us.
Do you hear them shouting and clapping?
That's because they love us.
Do you see them Grandad?
Do you?

And this is a big part of Le Jeu, the pleasure to play in major, for Mummy, Daddy, Nana and Grandad and all the audience.
Playing to be loved.

To be here at school with Monsieur's guidance is to explore how we can be beautiful and how to be loved by the audience.

I haven't found it yet, but then if this problem were solvable in 3 weeks then there wouldn't be any need for 2 yeqrs of school.

I hope to show you, one day, Grandad how all this time and money and effort has paid off.

One day.

I just hope you are around to see it.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

bruised arms and legs but at least the ego's healing

Just a quick one tonight folks,
movement, spent the morning basically slamming ourselves into the floor in a relaxed manner, learning to fall is difficult only when you think about it, throw yourself down without fear and it seems to go okay, at least in class, the browning skin round my knees and elbows tells a different story but I guess thats part of it.
Oh by the way if you want to see a genius 1 man slapstick act look up Larry Grizwold comic diver on you tube, the guy is amazing.
You have to wonder where he learned it.

le Jeu,
today we worked on a burlesque exercise, i half expected Michiko to run in with pom poms and titty tassles, but oh lala my preconceptions are wrong, apparently this scene from the marx brothers night at the opera is a great example as is this from Laurel and Hardy:
What I understood was that Burlesque is rooted in reality with 1 thing that is abnormal, that thing gets bigger and bigger and more and more out of control.
Damn there is so much to learn.

Yesterday the lion tamer was eaten by the lion, today Monsieur Loyal says you have to eep the curtain up nfor 20 minutes.
The clown he thinks Oh lala its not easy but if I do it I will become a star.
I got up first and got to choose my partner, I chose Katie, we managed 20 seconds but, what we didn't pick up on was that the game was in the exercise. Why didn't we keep checking the clock, there is a bloody massive one in the space, duh. the annoying thing is that as Philippe was explaining the exercise I pictured myself checking my watch, but up there is a totally different matter.
Katie found some stuff which I was really glad to see.
We started off terribly but we got a second go which went just as bad but after the drum boomed a second time we fought to stay there a bit longer and we got some laughs.

I saw the fixed point in action too with Dan and Ammo today, How when 1 is moving around a lot it is so important that the other actor is still, without this the stage becomes a soup as a certtain spanish theatre teacher would say. I want steak and chips, not soup.