Description of the activity

Today as our theatre activity, we were asked to assemble the movement of a falling paper. This was part of a more general lesson on Jacques Lecoq’s study on the types of tension our body experiences during any acting performance. According to Lecoq the tension that takes over the human body during a performance can be summarised into 10 general categories.
No tension
This type is also known as the jellyfish. The actor during this state is basically relaxed and exhausted.
Example: Dead body

Zombie
Following the jellyfish with slightly more tension, the actor here appears laid back with no anxiety or extreme emotion. Just like a Californian, the performer is cool and carefree with distinct difficulty to move his body.
Example: Californian

Actis Neutral
In this state the performer is aware of the atmosphere around him, observes the surroundings, but does not have a proactive stance on the scene.
Example: Walking

Alert
Any curious character that appears more tenuous than the Actis Neutral could be described as alert. He also appears impatient, with constant movements to express his emotions, and indecisive by repeating movements and words.
Example: Mr. Bean

Suspense
With suspense taking over his body, the persona is filled with tension as he sees the threat. The reaction is delayed.
Example: John Cleese

Melodramatic/ Opera
An explosion of craziness and tension. Through opera, the audience witnesses an overload of tension, which is expressed by exaggerated movements. Everything is bigger and intense.
Example: Opera

Tragic
So much tension, that the body is unable to handle it and freezes instantly. This is the most extreme case, where the tension is at its peak point and the chaos of the atmosphere has taken over the scene.
Example: Ending of King Lear

(Please note that the first 4 refer to everyday life as well, but the last 3 appear mostly in the theatrical environment.)

We also experimented with other objects of different volume, size, weight, and material. The purpose of the activity was one; to experiment within our own bodies and find the balance and freedom of the paper within our own movements.

 

Discoveries+Struggles

It felt right. Right in every way. Not only because it involved moving freely in the space without worries trying to assemble the stiffness of a bean bag or the elasticity and freedom of a falling paper, but mainly because I discovered parts of myself; not implying that I was not aware of their existence but that I now made optimum use out of them by using every muscle in my body to portray and assemble the movement of the object on its downfall.
While admitting that the procedure was very freeing at first, it was also quite demanding. Once I started attempting to mime the movement I felt held back by the abilities of my body. It felt almost impossible to actually portray the exact act. As much bending, moving and shifting as I did, I could not do it. This turned into the downgrade of the excitement I held for this activity.

 

So what?

So what? Why? Is moving according to a random object in any way related to theatre? Has this activity impacted your acting skills in any way?
Yes! Yes! And once more, yes!
The art of acting, performing and expressing ideas, feelings and situations, that build up the concept of theatre and theatrical essence, uses our bodies to pass on the message. Our bodies, by assembling movements, imply different things. Knowing how to use the muscles of your body will assure that the message you’re trying to pass is not allured because of the disability of the human body to interpret that.
And that’s where this activity comes in. I discovered different aspects of my body and I was able to play with the level of tension based on the circumstances. This aptitude reaches its maximum potential within the world of theatre, by undoubtedly improving the actor’s performance.

 

Connections

Recently I have been rehearsing Bollywood dancing for my school’s Grand Opening. As an amateur dancer, this was a chance for me to discover the intensity and empowering powers of this dancing style. The levels of intensity within the dance performance are interchangeable, which reminded me of today’s theatre reference. As I am dancing I use different parts of my body to express signals and embody a different cultural mindset. The same also happens in theatre, where you transform into a unique character and you embody the different aspects of his personality; may that be his cultural identity or his interactions with the environment around him.

For more of Lecoq’s theory refer to the following links:
http://dramaresource.com/seven-levels-of-tension/
https://youtu.be/sHSze5w8fiE

 

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