Last night marked the first night of the YoungLiars Summer Training Festival. We began the night with a thirty minute yoga warm up led by the incomparable Maggie Conroy. Following the warmup, all participants convened for opening remarks and introductions. The instructors introduced themselves and their work - Lucille Rosalind Cashion (Viewpoints), Jef Awada (Clown), and Chuck Harper (Suzuki). After dividing the participants into two groups, it was time to get started.
We began with The Nine Theatrical Viewpoints...
Sun Salutations, Ensemble Exercises, Soft Focus, Movement on a Grid, Tempo, Duration, Repetition, Kinesthetic, Response, Shape, Spatial Relationship, Movement on Circles, Topography
My exposure to the Viewpoints began in my first year of undergrad. Re-engaging in them was like reuniting with an old friend - before long, all synapses were firing at full speed. The immensity of the ensemble become more clear to me last night than ever before. I studied the Viewpoints with approximately the same ensemble for four years. Last night, I participated in the same exercises and heard identical instructions among a completely new ensemble, and the work could not have felt more unique to the people, time and place. It was fascinating. I felt like a walking case study on group polarization and the psychology of theatre.
I'm excited to continue. For now, my lack of original thought can be summed up as such: Familiarity & Foot Calluses.
Following the Viewpoints with Lucy Cashion, we scratched the surface of Clown work with Jef Awada...
Simon Says, Clown History, Red Nose, Clown Idiocy, and Self Deprecation.
Jef taught us an exercise where the class stood in a circle, went around the room, and said "Hi, my name is [name], and I am very stupid." After each participant shared their self deprecating truth, we were given feedback. In essence, we were encouraged to truthfully embrace the stupidity of the Clown. I'm fascinated to learn what technique Jef builds on top of this intriguing foundation.
Lastly, all festival participants convened for the first Suzuki workshop...
Hara, Core, Basics I and II, Balance, Openness, Opposing Forces, Cool Face, Inward/Outward Motion/Stillness
Chuck dove in to the work head first. All around the room - trembling leg muscles, deep focus, engaged breath. We learned Basics I and II (series of Suzuki steps that inherently challenge the body's balance and center of gravity). By executing steps that inherently challenge balance, the more gracefully and successfully one can move through the steps while maintaining balance, the better.
Similarly to Jef, Chuck laid some incredible groundwork. Similarly to Lucy, Chuck strengthened the calluses on my feet.
The festival continues! Tune back in to Blank Verse for tomorrow's entry.