WARNING: The opinions expressed below are DEFINITELY those of The CoLab Theatre Company! Learn more at www.colabtheatre.org!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Erika's Path To "Viewpoints"

Good morning, people of the world! Let me set the scene for you before you read this post. My scene. I'm in my pajamas, sitting on pale green sheets, listening to maintenance men do work to the exterior of my building through my open window. I have a small fan on my dresser, which projects a small yet effective breeze throughout the whole room. Freelance Whales plays on my pandora. (You're welcome, men outside, for the soundtrack. I don't thank you for the creepy noises I woke up to this morning.) A hot, freshly brewed cup of Trader Joe's coffee sits on my bedside table and its sweet, caffeinated aroma permeates my system with each turn of my fan.

Have a mental picture of my morning yet? I believe in the five senses of the theatre. Take an audience by the hand and help them understand the tastes and smells of your world while allowing them to hear the touches and listen to the sounds, and they will buy into your world. This is what we are trying to accomplish in our ensemble-built piece as part of play. For those of you who don't know, I am "directing" seven actors in a quest to create a new piece based on the theme of "Growing Up." How are we doing this?

The first step was to start working with our instincts instead of our brains. To do this, I introduced Viewpoints into the rehearsal room. Viewpoints is a method developed by Anne Bogart and Tina Landau that teaches actors to react instead of act in the rehearsal room in hopes that in performance, the actors will always be discovering, always be reacting. It keeps your mind and your scene always open, always fresh. It also is my new favorite way to get people to starting moving and reacting as an ensemble - a cohesive group. Viewpoints was first introduced to me while I was studying at Brandeis University where I was studying with a professor (and local actress - catch her as Emilia in CSC's Othello in the park this summer!) named Adrianne Krstansky. I'm a big thinker and this particular training method helped me to stop thinking and start doing. Although I took this class during the fall of my senior year of college, it was one of the first times I had truly felt alive while performing and this was a feeling I had been missing. And now, I'm passing it along to my ensemble!

It was scary to start teaching Viewpoints for the first time because there are so many components and I wanted them to make sense and actually be useful for my actors. So far, they've taken my direction and gone above and beyond what I've expected of them to this point in the process. (It is, after all, a collaborative process!) It's definitely been a learning experience - I know when I teach this the next time around that I'll approach different activities from different angles, and I truly understand why some activities are so important now. We start moving from training to actual construction of our piece at our next rehearsal, and I can't wait. This has so far been a very rewarding experience and I know that the end product is going to be an amazing thing to experience - with all five of your senses!

Production Info:
play. - A Night of Original Theatre
Tuesday, August 24th at 8 pm at The Factory Theatre!

Check our website for more info: http://www.colabtheatre.org/upcoming-shows.html

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