Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Trees - Viewpoints

The second rehearsal I attended was with the core drama group. Aradhana, the director, got things started by having the actors walk on a grid inside the taped off area that outlined the dimensions of the stage. She said "Stop thinking, let things happen naturally in the moment." I find myself looking to stop thinking and analyzing as I try and loose myself in a sketch. She then asked the actors to "explore gesture, and think of the space you are moving through." "What are the spaces you explore?" My sketches of this show are suddenly exploring larger and more grand vistas. She then asked them to adjust their tempo. She didn't want anyone moving at a medium tempo she wanted to see the extremes. Some actors moved imperceptibly while others were close to a run, actually Rachael was running.
The director said "find something about someone else to copy and make your own." Then she asked the actors to gradually over time to discover one movement where everyone moved as one organism. This is the aspect of the exercise that always amazes me. after a while the whole group was holding hands and moving side to side. Hands went up and down in a wavelike undulating pattern around the circle. The actors were then given the cure to break away from the group when they felt like it. Music was added into the mix and soon actors were snapping fingers and moving with the grace of dancers. As the music built in tempo the actors were jumping and swaying to the beat.
The director had everyone sit down in a circle. She pointed out that everything in theater is created to build tension between characters. She said that the largest motivating factors are always about love, war or spiritual concerns.
The actors were separated into 8 groups. Each group was given a scenario to act out. The actors were given free reign to act the scenes out as they saw fit. The room bustled with creative energy. They were given some time to discuss how they might build their scenes. Then one by one the scenes were staged with the remaining actors seated around the director to enjoy the show. There was loud applause and often laughter after the director ended each scene. She then offered suggestions on how to pace the scenes faster with more motivation. On the second run through the scenes were almost always clearer and more entertaining. This was a pure joyous game of inspiration and motivation. The director pointed out that notes are not a bad thing. She asked that once a note was given that the actor say thank you and repeat the note so she knew they had heard it.
The scenes were, City People, Airport scene, a loving couple, fighting family, diva desert, decorators and carolers. Once all the scenes had been rehearsed individually, the director asked that they overlap the actions on the stage just as they had in viewpoints. She would cue the next scene when she wanted them on the stage. This was tried a number of times and then the song "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" was added. Suddenly the scenes flowed with the music choreographed by pure instinct.
The director shouted out "Alright everybody one more time, Restore!" The actors all shouted back "Thank you Restore!"

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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