“Transformation – that is what the actor’s nature, consciously or unconsciously, longs for.”
– Michael Chekhov
Drama as a Path of Inner Development
A 3-year part-time course
with David Anderson of Walking the dog Theater
wtdtheater.org and wtdasia.org
As human beings we play and act our daily lives using the elements of drama. These elements – gesture, speech, atmosphere, space, image, language – shape our environment, our relationships, and the process of our becoming. They are the tools of our transformation. How we use these elements determines the forces and energies that attend our lives and our work. In this course we will look at how we can become more aware and creative with these elements and forces, and how they might lead us toward a deeper experience of being alive.
These elements have both outer and inner aspects. The drama work can help us to open up to these aspects, to understand the unique relationship between them, and to unite the inner and outer in our experience of life. The course is open to adults at any level of dramatic experience. It is an opportunity to clarify our perceptions and to deepen our understanding of how we express life and how life expresses itself through us.
Ideal for actors and creators of all kinds but also for anyone interested in developing a deeper experience of his or her human potential. This work has supported teachers in the art of teaching, business leaders in improving the impact and quality of their communication and their leadership, and those seeking practical tools for enriching their inner work and meditation.
The course will explore the Michael Chekov Acting Technique and draw inspiration from Rudolf Steiner’s picture of the evolving human being.
Michael Chekhov investigated the interplay between psychology and body, between the ‘intangible and tangible’. He developed simple and clear tools for the actor, based on the powers of Concentration and Imagination, Psychological Gesture, Imaginary Center, and Atmosphere. Going beyond personal experience and intellect, Chekhov’s exercises open doors to our own creative individuality.
Rudolf Steiner’s artistic impulses have led to a renewal in many arts. The course will focus particularly on his contributions to speech, drama, and movement.
Freeing the body and opening the soul / Preparing the actor
In working with the body and voice, and the qualities that can be discovered with them, the first year will focus on awakening your own artistic path, not only as a means of self-expression but as a means for understanding the unique context of your life. Movement, gesture, and speech will become means for revealing these qualities and strengthening your awareness for how life moves in you. They will bring consciousness to our soul and body habits. The work will include storytelling, image, and poetry.
Strengthen the inner life and the outer expression of it
Basic exercises will: develop a sensitivity to qualities and to the streams of life, and an ability to radiate and receive; deepen a sense of form; enhance sensations of freedom, ease, calm, and beauty; and awaken awareness for the movements, expressions, and processes of the inner life. This work makes the body finer and more sensitive, the inner experiences clearer, and deepens the actor’s understanding for the potential and limitations of his or her instrument.
Becoming a vessel / Calling upon imagination and inspiration
In the second year, the work will turn towards exploring how the awakened body and soul can become a vehicle for encountering “otherness”, archetypes, or something bigger than us. We will look at ways to free the power of our imagination, an essential element in any creative process. The work will include elements of character building, clowning, and improvisation.
Our work will turn toward tools for building character: imaginary centers, imaginary body, qualities of movement, and the four temperaments. We will distinguish the differences between actor and character, and develop the ability to step in and out of a full and alive character. We will explore gesture – the invisible soul movement that colors everything a person does or says. Work with archetypal gesture and psychological gesture show us how form and qualities of movement conjure the life of feeling and will. Participants will continue their work on poetry and also begin work on dramatic monologues.
The artist’s highest aim is free and complete self-expression. Clowning and improvisation work will open up the well of spontaneous imagination and creativity. Clowning is a state of playfulness that allows us a connection to what makes us vulnerable and receptive. Improvisation develops a flexibility and openness for the soul to meet and encounter situations with creativity and the ability to surprise ourselves; to dare the unrehearsed and the unexpected; to awaken a new sense of freedom and inner richness.
Serving the world / Performance
The third year will put these new and developing capacities into practice, into action. These capacities will become tools for further transformation of ourselves, our relationships, and our lives. They can also serve as a “path to the spirit,” whether to the spirit of a play, a character, or to the deeper intentions that shape our lives. Participants will develop and share personal performance projects and a group project before an audience.
The final year will draw together all the work, with a new focus on ensemble work (selfless co-creating or oneness with others) and atmospheres. Although ensemble work and atmosphere will have been part of previous weeks, the final weeks will put all the elements into practice through work on scenes or a group project. Poetry and monologue work will also continue. We will share all the work in a performance at the end of the year.
“Suit the action to the word, the word to the action, with this special observance, that you o’erstep not the modesty of nature… The purpose of playing is to hold, as ‘twere, the mirror up to nature, to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure.”
– William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act III Scene 2
Every human being is an evolving picture of creative intentions
Theater was born in Greece with the intention to reveal truths about humanity and the gods and to remind the human being who we are, why we are here, and how we can begin to take responsibility for our own destiny and the destiny of the world. Through our study of the actor’s art we can train our instrument, inviting our body and soul to become a means for expressing the highest intentions of our creative self.
Today, more than ever, theater is based on relationship: the relationships between the actors (and other production artists), between the characters we play, between the players and the audience, and between ourselves and the intangible realms that work with us. In all of these relationships we can find gesture, atmosphere, movement, qualities, and an invisible language of life. The art of acting reflects to us our habits, our connection to each other, and helps us toward a more conscious path in these relationships.
This course seeks to help participants develop capacities that can serve their life, their work, and the needs of the world. These capacities clarify our impulses, helping us to distinguish between personal desire and the task that is asked of us, illuminate our habits, enrich our social interactions, bring openness, energy, and flexibility to the soul, and lead us toward a greater freedom in how we move, gesture, and speak ourselves into the world.
The training will cover these areas: qualities of movement, radiating and receiving, imagination, the relationship between outer physical movement and inner sensation, center and periphery, gesture and psychological gesture, imaginary centers, characterization, presence, atmosphere, improvisation and ensemble work, and Chekhov’s Nine Basic Exercises.
The ultimate design of this course will be shaped by the needs and the process of the group involved.
“Drama is a creation of the spirit… When the whole human being places himself in word and gesture at the service of this creation, then this becomes a path to the spirit.”