Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Noda Hideki and my need to be still


It's been awhile since I have attended any acting workshops...and like any car, the actor in me needed a tune up...I think I am a thousand miles away from being a great actor but honestly, this is a craft I love and something I so hope to excel in. Because acting teaches you so much about yourself, life, your surroundings and people. So when Noda Hideki(who is regarded by Yukio Ninagawa as the most talented playwright in contemporary Japan) was in town to give a 2 day acting workshop under the auspices of the Japan Foundation and ASWARA. I jumped at the chance.

I asked Noda Hideki early on in the workshop what is his best advice to any actor and he said "enjoy it and play" and that really summed up what we were going to do in the next two days.
The following are three of the games we played.
SEAWEED
A body movement exercise where one partner becomes a seaweed while another partner gives him a push her and there that the seaweed must react to and move.

SLOW MOTION
We were all given a situation to react to and we must do it in slow motion. We do it in a group. It really trains your focus as you then to break out of your focus and slow motion especially when trying to react to a movement by a fellow actor.
video
1,2,3,4,3,2,1
This is an exercise where the entire group walks and stop at hideki command. And then without any verbal or physical communication one person in the group at random start walking.When he stops, two start walking. Thereafter three and then four; then three again, two and one. Whenever there is more or less people walking that the intended number of the session, the exercise starts all over again. This exercise is to give us an understanding that as actors on stage we work as a group and we must strive to function as one sensing our surrounding and be aware of the collective whole.Our group being a very young and noisy group took one an a half hour to successfully finish this exercise.And even then, I think it's more by luck than actual awareness from a deep focus...

So running, jumping,rolling and all what did I learn? Personally the most important thing I got from the entire workshop was stillness. How important it is to have a self awareness of yourself and your surroundings and focus even when still and that stillness is a part of life. Expression as in the willingness to express with energy is never my problem but I really feel that stillness is. I am always the eager puppy always wanting to hurry along and rush things...someone will attest to that.

As told to me by Micheal Voon once, the performers of Japan evovled the usage of slow motion in their performance because it was the only was to address the terror, destruction, devastation that was the Nagasaki bombing.

In Hideki words...if you can walk in slow motion with total focus, you can do anything. I kind of understand and agree but I am no way close yet. I hope in time I will master that stillness and I think in a modern hurried life...we can all afford to be a little bit more still.



Thanks to all my friends at the workshop old and new, who peppered the weekend with so many laughs and smiles, ASWARA for organising and the japan foundation for bringing in Noda Hideki.

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Living Life to the full...I hope to live by the principle that success doesn't mean making a tonne of money though I am blessed that i do make a decent sum...but success equates to appreciateing all the God given wonder this world has to offer before my time is up...