Thursday, June 5, 2008

Suzuki: Day Three

Long marching session today, and I was actually picked out with a bunch of other students who had previous experience with the form to actually demonstrate for the newer ones. I had a lot of pride in being selected, though it caught up with me right away--> I lost my focus, which is never stronger than when I'm doing this work, because I got concerned with looking good, and consequently made it harder on myself, caused me to mess up my footing in one of the marches, and in the combination during the recitation of "O splendour." I should explain: there are a series of movements we do while counting to three in Japanese, and after specific points we freeze and recite this piece of text.

O splendour of sunburst breaking forth this day
Whereon I lay my hands once more on Helen my wife. (breath)
And yet it is not so much as men think
For the woman's sake I came to Troy, (breath)
But against that guest, proved treacherous,
Who, like a robber, carried the woman from my House.
(Excerpted from Menelaus's Trojan Women)

We also work on moving slowly from a squat position to a standing position using that text, or instead replacing it with the second piece:

O that my tongue were in the thunder's mouth! (breath)
Then with a passion would I shake the world,
And rouse from sleep that fell anatomy (breath)
Which cannot hear a lady's feeble voice, (short breath)
Which scorns a modern invocation.
(Excerpted from King John, Constance, 3.4)

So yes, my ego got the best of me, and I screwed up some of the movement. But when we were working with the Constance line, I found a breakthrough with my breath that I had been looking for--we'd just been working the "O splendor" line lately, and I always feel bombastic when I do it. Volume is my strong point, and is one of my tricks. I'm trying to work away from it, without abandoning it, use it but not be dependent. It's a hard balance to find, especially given who I am in life: usually a very loud person. So it was nice to finally find where the breath was supposed to be, properly supported, and not taxing my voice. It was, as I like to say, "a small grace."

We also need to have learned by now a song in Japanese, "Suteki Da Ne," which, along with seemingly everything else in my life, I have put off in really getting to. Hopefully this weekend. At some point. Someday.

My group worked with Robyn tonight on slow tempo. Slow tempo is not slow motion--usually in slow motion there's an idea of restrain in order to create movement of that quality, and also that when you are doing slow motion you are seeing something that is slowed down from our normal sense of time. In slow tempo, you are actually respecting a different idea of time all together: what you can accomplish in one minute of slow tempo time takes ten minutes of real time to show--if "real time" even existed to be gauged against. But the idea is that it doesn't. I saw a production of The Water Station some years ago, done by Robyn and Steve's company, which utilized slow tempo for essentially the whole show. It takes a little getting used to, if only because an audience's sensibility is so geared towards realism these days that anything from the norm takes about 15 minutes to even accept. But in the end, I was really affected by the form and it heightened my relationship with the whole piece. I can honestly say if that had been done in "real time," I would have cared much less about the whole evening.

Slow tempo is hard, especially when living in a city that is so geared around goinggoingoing, and is pretty physically taxing in its way. I will feel it tomorrow no doubt. But there is a sense of serenity when entering it, and maintaining it is almost a form of meditation. Again, though, it's something as a performer you miss, when really focused on the doing of it, as most of our work is. Which is sad sometimes.

Next Monday's class will be cut short for me, as I am doing Heidi's scene for her directing class, the first exchange between Catherine and Hal from Proof. I'll be sad to miss, but it will be nice to do a scene after such a long absence from formal acting.

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