Physical Performance

We were offered a workshop on Saturday with Juri Nael, a graduate of our MA Program, and current instructor at RADA and Royal Holloway. Juri's approach to theatre is intensely physical, built out of a dance/choreography background, with influence from LABAN, Butoh, and Viewpoints/Suzuki/Bogart. His main theory is that time or tempo is the major influencer on our external influencing our internal; that generally we live our lives at around a tempo of 5, but slowing down to 1 or 2, or speeding up to 9 or 10 will awaken memories in our bodies and help us connect with emotions.

The first exercise really got things moving; we began moving through the space using our tailbone as a paintbrush, at first in smaller movements, increasing in size, dimension, direction. Set to music of some relaxed tribal drumming, this really set a nice mood, and awakened us to what is physically possible when we change the focal point of our physical movement. From here we went into moving (walking/running/slow) through the space at the various tempos, working our way up and down, making abrupt shifts in tempo, going to a full stop from a full run, or the reverse. Into this, he built asking us to find a focal point once stopped, and interact with it. Continually he asked us to challenge any habits that were forming, push for more speed or for slower movement. I think it is because I have done similar work, but I found myself interacting with focal points awhile before he specifically asked us to do so.

From here, we chose a focal point and interacted for some time; Juri asked us to get down to the floor at a speed of 1, so movement was almost imperceptible. I think images from Dionysus came back to me, because as I did this Butoh style melt I could see a large man in a tall black hat, with eyes like coal when the fire dies down..menacingly lurching over me...then when we were asked to get up (again at a 1) I felt defiant. None of this was put on, it just came up within me...amazing that an experience I am starting to feel removed from can render itself vivid once again so easily.

Between each, Juri had us do some automatic writing on the experience, focusing on the importance not to edit or compare, but simply notice.

From here we did an exercise interacting with finding our inner monsters, then forcing interaction with another monster. I found this to be interesting, but not to the same degree as some others did...many people were really affected by the open-ness of this exercise. I must say I really found the open-ness to be comforting, but not scary or vulnerable as others had.

The next exercise was (for me) the best...we used the same tempo theory to explore various physical gestures, and the impact this has on our inside. How does a gesture change meaning when done at extreme fast? or extreme slow? We also did some work in groups to try to communicate these gestures to the audience. I found it really fascinating that when I was trying to communicate at first, everything came from me....but then once I began to get or not get response from the audience this impacted my gesture....too much attention and I changed gestures or focus, not enough and my gestures wanted to catch their attention so sped up, or slowed down to extreme.

I was up and down through the day....though I do really find his theory on tempo to be intersting, and will continue to play on this.