The second year will be really hard, but I'm so happy I get to play.
"Jacques Lecoq's vision, whether it be through pedagogy, acting, or directing, to form a complete creator-mime and poet, remains a fundamental support, nevertheless in perpetual motion."
The above quote taken from Paola Rizza's biog on the Jacques Lecoq website gives some insight into the perpetual motion of the days that have passed and the things I have learned since I've been here. We are taught that all moves, that everything is constantly moving and growing or depleting, caught but never stuck in the momentum between equilibrium and disequilibrium, even when still things change. This is something that is starting to become clear to me, as well as providing a nice parallel to our movements at the school which have - of course, and I doubt it's due to serendipity - followed the rule of perpetual motion. It's been a tough last trimester, not only because the material we are working with and the tasks at hand became more complex, but also our relationships to the teachers are also constantly evolving..more often than not in the direction of them expecting more from us as time progresses. After character work we moved on to 'L'hotel du libre echange' which was the use of screens and change of character to create an environment which could change and surprise the audience, which lent itself very easily to farce. During this week we would have impro classes in which it was just us and a screen on stage, and we'd have to create a scene with 2 people - both characters - and change in 5 seconds behind the screen from one character to another, whilst still keeping the action going on stage by using our voice. It was physically challenging and also creatively - as an actor who improvises you're used to making offers but also receiving them from others - in this senario I was accepting the offers made by myself and visa versa.
Then came our four week rehearsals for our first public performance - called an Enquete - which involved going in groups to a place of work or business and integrating ourselves into the daily life of that place. Not in a journalistic way, as in just observation, but truly getting involved. We ended up in mixed groups, and our group was given the task of a centre of reinsertion - a place people go to who are 'on the fringes of society' who need to take a 'remise a niveau' in order to find work. Long story short (and it was a very long story) our group experienced many difficulties with the Enquete. Firstly, it was a place where people sat and talked - does that make interesting raw material for theatre? (no) And secondly (this was the whopper) our group experienced difficulties in working together. It was the hardest, probably most disappointing experience I've ever had in making theatre. But I did learn some things. Do, don't talk about doing. Negativity is to creation what Kryptonite is to Superman. Being polite in a creative workshop in order not to disturb or offend can be just if not more destructive than being rude. Honesty is the only thing, because that's the only thing the audience has when watching.
During these four weeks of rehearsals we also has impro classes with music - moving the music of schubert or vivaldi or michel petrucciani, abstractly but also in quotidien situations. It was very freeing to use music as an aid, and a tool to unlock doors we'd never been behind as a year - grand emotions were tapped and sourced from nowhere in honest reactions to the music - people embraced, kissed, screamed and wept. There was also the stress of the enquete going on to so that probably provided a motor for this hideous gorgeous spew of emotions.
This week we came to the 20 movements presentations - each person had the attention of the whole school and the teachers in the salle verte (the smallest room at the school) in which they had to present an enchainment of 20 moves that we've learnt since we've been here, in any choreography they please. Most of these moves are mime - climbing the wall, gondola, baton, weight-lifting, discus throwing, but also some acrobatics like forward roll, handstand and cartwheel, as well as some neutral mask exercises - the 9 attitudes of Jacques Lecoq.
After watching the 10 people that showed on Monday, I realised from the teachers feedback that although we've been concentrating on technique all year, they don't really care about it that much, just as long as you create something - that is, a presence, a space - if you believe you are ice skating then the audience do too. Also, it was a very nerve racking thing to do - even though we perform every day at the school, the 20 movements is not an easy thing to do - it takes breath control, concentration, and complete submersion into the action - if you worry about your technique or what's next we see you as an actor struggling. Then it becomes about ego. That is something that was the biggest lesson for me in doing this - people asked me on tuesday if I was nervous and I wasn't really because I realised that to be nervous is to create a tension within yourself and it is a product of ego. Obviously it is natural to be nervous about performing, but it's interesting to think about it as this - why be nervous, when the performance isn't about YOU. Or it shouldn't be. Like Jacques says in his book when I go to the theatre I don't want to see an actor 'doing' a good hamlet. I want to see Hamlet. Performance, amazingly, isn't about actors or directors or writers..it is about the collaborative space created in which exists something ephemeral and unique and separate from those which created it.
This week as we finish the presentations off, we've been having very loose, fun improvisation classes which have been a wonderful release and a distraction from the meetings taking place at the beginning of next week which will inform us whether or not we've been selected for a place in the second year.