by Kathleen Doyle
In working with the Suzuki Method, we are not encouraged to refer to mirrors for feedback, because the emphasis, although always about trying to precisely achieve the form, is on the visceral experience that comes from the endeavor. The exercises are designed to raise levels of energy, and the actor uses that heightened energy to transform – the intensity of the energy essentially puts a flame to qualities that already exist in the actor. Suzuki always describes the process as the actor becoming possessed by the text, and, rather than the actor so called ‘becoming’ the character, Suzuki sees it has the character becoming the actor.
In our current zoom training and rehearsals, working with the screen challenges this approach. Seeing oneself on screen and seeking feedback from the group who also relate to me from the screen, is drawing me out of the pure ‘visceral’ experience. There is a lack of faith, on my part, that the visceral experience alone can communicate, like I trust it can in the ‘live’ experience. On top of that, I am seduced by what the screen offers – plays with lighting and angles, plays with depth perception, a singular visual and auditory perception rather than the multiple that occurs in a ‘live’ space. It is like I am automatically drawn into the position of director, of lighting designer, and as Alana rightly asserts, there is curation that takes place. The questions that were posed this week can’t be ignored:
Where are we going with this?
Is the screen and its seductions something to fight against?
Are we discovering gems that we can incorporate into our established way of working, or will we eventually discard the work and strengthen resolve in other directions?
(And the grandest of them all) Will it change the way we work ‘forever’?
These are questions that arise about the actor, and their craft, and the tools and frameworks chosen to communicate with and within. Without a clearer sense of our collective response to these questions, the next question of how we relate to the fellow actors, which Rodrigo posed, feels impossible to address.
I feel extraordinarily privileged to have experienced playing the role of Josephine, or I should say, to have experienced Josephine playing the role of me in Silent Forest. One great ‘take away’ was learning a new way to relate to the fellow performer. Within the fiction of the ‘Silent Forest’, the other people on stage were framed as projections of the self – something so intimate as ‘the self’. With this framework, my relationship and response to the self/others came immediately, and instantly, and was so complex. I clearly needed to work with the other – to acknowledge, respect, and accept the self/other with compassion – in order to gain a sense of well-being and wholeness, but I couldn’t help wanting to resist and disown the projections and manifestations that were reveal.
I don’t know whether this way of working with the fellow performer can sustain itself outside the ‘Silent Forest’ fiction. I believe we have unresolved, possibly unresolvable, questions about how we relate to each other in performance. And this may not necessarily be a ‘bad’ position to be in. It may, indeed, drive our investigations.
Just some thoughts…