Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Hallelujah for the bouffon!

Since I last wrote we have been exploring the various bouffon body shapes, these include the dwarf, the hunchback, both of which I mention in earlier posts plus the big stomach, the the big bottom and the heretic priest. Philippe has asked us to choose one that we feel good in as we will be sticking with these for several weeks. We need to discover how we move in this different body shape. What it is capable of and how it can surprise. "Ze bouffon are always surprising" says the master. And already there have been one or two. For me some of the most succesful and indeed surprising moments were in the group scenes. that have been developing. Particularly a rather disturbing piece with Duncan sat on Ben's knee while Ben spoke some text from one of Philippe's bouffon plays. There was something very paedophilic about that at moments was uncomfortable to watch but at the same time intensely compelling. Very strange as an audience member to be both pushed and pulled from something at the same time. I am sure this would be a wonderful reaction to get in the theatre where an audience want to get up and leave outraged but they cant because the performance is so engaging. Part of this I think, is to do with the beauty of the bouffon, that these ugly outcasts are brimming over with humanity. We have looked at the heretic priest. Our way into this was to first parody a preacher, I had recently looked at an American Evangelical Preacher called Benny Hinn who has has the spirit of the Lord in him. If you don't know this practiser of religious quackery and all round charlaton feel free to check him out, I'd recommend starting with this this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5lvU-DislkI Anyway, freshly wound up after watching the aforementioned shyster, when Philippe asked for someone to parody the priest I felt quite excited to do the exercise and wanted to get up. I have learned not to be too confident, or at least to try and push the feeling aside at times like these because inevitably that leads to a fantastic flop. A quick word on confidence, it seems that whenever I have been too confident I either push too much becoming fanatical and heavy or else I am so confident in my ideas that Im alone with them and not with the audience leading me to become more and more distant from them. If you didn't realise, this is bad. Bad for acting and particularly bad for theatre. How often have we seen a performer so confident in what they are doing that they might as well be on stage alone. Not generous at all. No we need to be with an audience, even when we don't address them directly. We still need to sense them, feel them and react to them. I want to tell you about the moments when I have soared the most. They have been when I was excited and nervous to get up on stage, when I have thought that an idea is funny but am still unsure what others will think. I can only imagine it is a similair feeling to doing a high wire act without the safety net. The safety of security is removed and the senses are more aware. Listening more, reacting more, feeling the audience out moment by moment. In this sensitive and unsure area beautiful things can be born. So armed only with my excitement at trying the exercise, the phrases "Praise God", "Hallelujah" and a book to be my bible I set out. The exercise went well with praise Gods and Hallelujahs aplenty then Philippe stops me. "Yah, eez not bad. We lak eem, non?." He then gets me to do the same thing but this time as if I have a serious pain in my balls but I don't want to let on to the congregation about it. It gets laughs. Great. Duncan is really good as the Preacher and he plays really well off the audience. Because he looks so innocent he is more dangerous as a result. Most of the exercises we have done are concerned with parody. Parodying the posh, the pope, models, the nouveau riche, the beautiful, the rich and the powerful, now we are in search of bastards. The people with the power, politicians and aristocrats, heads of business, the problem is that these people are generally fucking boring and with the exception of Boris Johnson and 1 or 2 others, step forward John Prescott and Prince Phillip who are basically like parodies already it is hard to get a handle on where to start with them. Good 'ol Dave who should be perfect bouffon material is just about as bland a person as you can get and apart from being the head of the country there isnt a single interesting thing about him, ergo, he's the perfect person to stick in charge. I have to wonder what his Spitting Image puppet would look like, at least the when John Major was in charge they could emphasise how boring he looked and sounded, the little love rat, imagine going down on Edwina Currie, ugh makes me feel ill, like i've got salmonella. boom boom. But what do you do with bland old Dave. How do you make bland funny? Can bland be edgy? Imagine Cliff Richard on crack or Michael Mcintyre ketamined out his mind having his prostate massaged by a thai ladyboy. It doesn't quite work does it? or does it. Maybe that could be a key surprise the audience with Dave's perversions. That coule be fun. Maybe I've written myself a way in but it needs a lot more thought. I've been watching some Louis Theroux recently too in search of my bastards and there are some horrible people in the episode where he meets the Nazi's, they seem such an obvious target but having said that with the first round of the french election having just passed and Marie Le Pen's front national party having received almost 20% of the national vote maybe the obvious targets are the best ones.

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