Saturday, January 21, 2012

On knowing

Question: Whaddayou know Joe?

Answer: Nothing.

"If you know something you are an idiot," says Philippe. "Every idiot, he knows something."

I have thought about this a little recently, it is starting to make more sense to me, for knowing implies something concrete, fixed, immovable. It is heavy.

It lacks thelightness in the joy of discovery for there is nothing left to discover once you know.
As artists can we ever allow ourselves to know, is that not the death of us?

It is hard to admit that we don't know something, we have to know because when we know we are clever, intelligent and can be rewarded.
But the unknown is where creativity lives and thrives. We have to learn to embrace the unknown, to love the unknown, to live in the unknown, it is the the unknown that will reward us, the unknown that will nourish us and the unknown where we will make discoveries for ourselves, where our spirits and imaginations can play.

It can be scary in the unknown, when things are unknown they are new, the new can be scary, scary because we don't know, because we haven't got a frame of reference, because there might be surprises.

Surprises? Gah! Run and hide!

Oh no! Give me the comfort of routine and the safety of the same old shit.
Let me tread the same known ground, repeating the same known ways and the same known approaches. At least I'll be safe.

But the safety the known grants is worthless. Worthless because it can't enrich lives, the known can't surprise an audience, it can't rock them and ask that they believe in magic because once we know how magic is done we immediately take away the magic and all we are left with is a trick.

To be truly alive is to live in the unknown
Our thrills come from the unknown, life breathes, in the unknown.
And it is only in the unknown that we can begin to discover our freedom.

So in class, trust the unknown, have faith in casting off and not knowing where we will go today. Embrace that part that is scared, hold its hand, build its confidence, learn to have courage in the unknown by constantly hanging out there. Take pleasure in it. Love it. Then you will discover new things, new ways to play, new ways to create, new ways to live, new ways to be.
And maybe, just maybe, you might be discover your way to be great.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The washing machine

"Pour diner ce soir" Christine tells me, Soup de chouflour est broccoli est crevettes de chinois.
I love their soup especially on this cold January night but the thought of eating chinese ties concerns me.
Oui. Regarde.
She opens the fridge and instead of revealing a plastic tub of sweet and sour neckwear she shows me an ornate dish full of spicy deep fried prawns.
Ah, france.
ces't foridable.
She tells me that Francois is unwell , that he has been chewing too much gum and has upset his stomach. The 2 untouched baguttes on the worktop testify to this fact. He normally eats about 2/3rds of a baguette in an evening so if they are untouched it must be serious.
Christine opens a bottle of red "from the loire" she says "near where francois grew up.
I pour her a large glass and me a larger one, take a glug and then top it back up again.
I've been looking forward to this.
I'm very lost at the moment.

Very lost.

I have no idea what acting or theatre are anymore.
I explained it this way to a friend earlier.
"It's like all my ideas are in a tumble dryer and I can hear them rolling over one another as the dryer spins but when i open the dryer there is nothing inside, so i close the door and i hear the cycle start again."
And if that makes no sense to you now, then I'm not sure it did to him either but I think what I'm trying to get at is that averything is being turned on its head, spun around and around and all I know is that I don't know anymore.
Wow what a place to be!
My ideas of theatre are constantly being challenged by the wonders of the classroom.

It's like the discovery that the world isn't flat, I don't know what to do, it's all new territory.
And it occurs to me that we all have a couple of choices, either retreat back into our little villages ignoring this new discovery or forge our world and ourselves a new in the light of the discovery.

A new world. A dream world where the music of the wind dances in the chimes.
A world where conventional acting and convential theatre are just that, conventional.
Conventional; ordinary, the accepted form, general consent.

Conventional acting, the obvious route or as Philippe so concisely put it today, "anybody can do that. Even my sister could do that."

Yes I accept that I am a conventional actor.

I don't want to be conventional anymore.
I want to be great.
I want to be special.
I want to be beautiful.
I want to be Free.
Beautifully free.

Right now my conventional ideas are tumbling in the drum of a dryer.
Actually no, not a dryer, a washing machine and not just my ideas, my whole being.
I'm being cleaned, rinsed, and bleached and when the door opens I will be cleansed of the dirt of convention.

I will climb out anew, discover my wings and soar.

I have every faith that this will happen.

Let's go Monsieur Gaulier
Where will you lead us?
What will we discover?
What winds will chime in us?
What will spark our individual poetry?
What fires will ignite our freedom?
What games will we play?
What rhythms will we play with?
What lands will we dream?

So many questions?

And for now I happy to be disorientated, tumbling round and round knocking my head on the drum, getting bruised and battered as the machine washes me.

It's good to be lost.

For only when we are lost can we truly find our way.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Pronunciation: /ˈvʌlgə/ adjective
1: lacking sophistication or good taste:a vulgar check suit

2: making explicit and offensive reference to sex or bodily functions; coarse and rude: a vulgar joke

3:(dated) characteristic of or belonging to ordinary people.

The above is from the Oxford English Dictionary.

The word of today, according to Philippe an actor should never be vulgar but what does this mean? Well we can immediately rule out number 2, so many plays since plays began have characters that make explicit references to sex or bodily functions, in fact monsieur Gaulier often makes jokes that are of this nature, non, this is not what is meant by an actor never being vulgar.

And we can think of characters whose clothes are vulgar; Malvolio in his cross gartered yellow stockings immediately springs to mind, so this leaves us only with number 3, a dated meaning but one that made so much sense in class today.

The exercise; to enter and to paint little brushstrokes, tiny flecks of character that colour the canvas of the audiences imagination.

There was a "writer" in the corner, another class mate who had to help the actor if they got stuck.
Philippe asks for a volunteer.
I stand.
I walk off stage with absolutely no idea what to do.
frantically look for something to go on stage with.
I grab a pink plastic bag and a toilet roll as Philippe bang his drum bumbumbubmbubmbubmbubmbubmbubm..bum...bum...BUM!

And I'm on.

I stop.

Look around.

Take in the space.

Move to the chairs.

Take off my hat.

I shout...Norman.

Wait for a response.





I look cheesed off. Then look at the chair and tut. Take the roll of toilet paper out the pink bag, tear off a strip and start to wipe down the chair.
Suddenly I'm cleaner man, pleased at having found something to do on stage, oh yes this acting lark is easy.

Philippe rings a doorbell on his i-pod.
I go off to see who it is. He stops the scene.

Not a good start.

Maybe the choice of toiet paper was a metaphor for the shit I just did.

He goes on to explain that i killed myself the moment i took my hat off, that when i entered he was happy to be with me. That he was happy to dream around me. But that within 30 seconds i had killed myself.
That an audience has to dream around the character for 2 hours.
2 hours?
And i lasted 30 seconds. Ay-ay-ayit's a bit like when I fuck. ( is that vulgar?)

He told me that cleaning the chair was vulgar, I wasn't sure I knew what he meant.
He told me to leave and to whisper words offstage very fast.



"Now you enterrr."

"And you cry."

"You say "to be or not to be" whilst crying."

"Shut up."

"You come forward singing a love song like a music hall star."

I went a bit Bill and Ted and sang every rose has its thorn.

"You ask someone out here for a mescal."

I do.

"Louder and you are drunk."

Can i have a mescal.

"Louder and you are drunk."

And you don't wipe your mouth.




He plays some music.

It is fast and full of life.

And you dance.

I do.

I dance on top of the chairs.

"And don't be so heaveeee!"

"You play lighter."


"And you say a poem."

"A love poem."

I start. Stop all the clocks...


"Like Mark 5."

"More gay."


I deliver the poem lighter.
...I thought that love would last forever... I was wrong

I take a step back.

...I was wrong.

"and you leave rhispering I was wrong."

I walk back up stage centre.

Hold there for a second.

I smile.

And as I leave.


Boom on the drum.

I come back out.

"He could have stayed longer at the end, non, Pon Pon?"

Ya, replies Michiko.

"We like him like this, non?"

The class agree.

"Ya. But when you touch your mouth as a drunk it is nuffing. It is vulgar. Anybody in the world could do this. I play drunk I wipe my mouth. So cheap. It is the job of the actor to be better. That the spectator, he thinks, i could not have done that, he is better than me.
I think on this. He is right how can we dream around a character if we only see cliche and obvious choices? For the spectators to dream we have to show them the unexpected, so they think "oh-la la who is this person" bif we only give them what they know how can they dream> They can't because they already know it, non.
So to anyone reading this; don't be vulgar on stage, don't do what anybody coud do, find a way to be special, then you are an actor, and your character lives in the audiences imagination, non?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Paris... part 2

I'm back.
Huzzah! Hurrah! Oom-pa-paa!
Yes, term 2 comenced a couple of days ago and now here I am about to go to movement to se our new teacher Martin (pronounced Martine).
I now have a new favourite game, very simple too everyone stands in a circle one person throws a ball to someone across the space and shouts the name of another person in the circle, they then change places (the one who called a name and the one whose name was called). the person who catches the ball throws it to someone else calls another name and changes places with them.
The game continues.
It may not sound exciting on the page, these explanations rarely do, just play it, and let the energy and confusion follow, I love it.

I'm going to try and write a lot less about school this term, following the advice that i was given but i do like to write so quite what this will be, who knows...
"You will see what you will see!"

I do have a couple of quotes from yesterday though...

"If we see too much the character, the character dies."

"The actor has to tread on eggshells in the imagination of the audience."

I'll leave you to figure out what they mean.

For now

Au revoir