We perform The Knight of the Burning Pestle a week from today. It's a terrifying thought. For some reason, the three weeks devoted to this show are flying by much quicker than the three devoted to Agamemnon. Vivian Munn is a great director and gives us a lot of freedom to be goofy and devise strange, funny little moments in the play. He really embraces how ridiculous the play is and wants us to run with it. Sometimes it's daunting (like when you realize you have a week left and aren't as off book as you'd like to be), but mostly its fun. We are learning to balance a very fine line between caricature and absurdity. He wants it to be believable, but to push the bounds of reality in our performances. OH! And we are each playing at least 4 characters. It's overwhelming.
Today, we had 2.5 hours of class with Vanessa Mildenberg, our movement teacher extraordinaire. I can't express how fantastic she is at facilitating exercises without getting in the way. It's a pretty unique skill. It never feels like she is imposing any specific expectations on us but simultaneously makes it very clear what it is she wants us to experiment with. Today, we were mostly working with Laban Movement Analysis stuff and exploring movement through those definitions. She had us try each combination of strong/light, direct/indirect, and sustained/sudden. Then, she had us try to ascertain which combination applies to ourselves in daily life. These terms refer more to a sense of one's self than to actual physical being. I think I am usually light, direct, and sustained. That combo is referred to as "gliding" in Laban. It's hard to do self analysis like that. For instance, my instinct after our exercises were done was to say that I default to "sustained," but Vanessa says that I do "sudden" very well also. I don't know! (This Laban stuff is kind of complicated...I am by NOOOO means an expert, but if you want more details let me know because I know this is a little vague.) It's important to figure out your baseline, though, so that you can understand what you have to work from when trying to build a character who works with a different set of movement parameters. The second part of class was spent working through a piece of text from Pestle. Vanessa asked that we work word by word and develop a physicalization for each word of the speech. Abstract work like that confuses a lot of people, but I really enjoy it. Not only does it help to get me out of my head, it also helped me to memorize a big chunk of words in ~10 minutes! My line learning tactics have been irrevocably changed. It is during classes like these that I am grateful for my dance background and my able body. It is so fun to have time set aside specifically to experiment with my body's abilities. It makes me excited about being a more physical actor.
Tomorrow, Cat and I set off for Edinburgh! Bridgette has decided to stay in London to get some work done. Also, one week til SPRING BREAK! I can't believe how close we are to th