I’ve just returned from Athens, where I had the great pleasure of teaching the first group of students to pass through the Duende School of Ensemble Physical Theatre. From October to December 2015, a group of 19 participants from around the world took part in an intensive programme of training in ensemble theatre, movement, voice, rhythm and musicality. This programme led to the performance of a “The Ridiculous Dream”, based on Dostoevsky’s short story “The Dream of the Ridiculous Man”.
The focus of my work with this group was on developing their awareness and understanding of rhythm and musicality in movement and voice. We approached these as a means of creating performance work and connecting as an ensemble, building from the basic principles of pulse and simple rhythmic phrases, we explored the ways rhythm can give form and energy to movement and sound, and weave together the threads of an ensemble. In many ways this work is simple, it asks the performer to do basic actions like walking, clapping, speaking/sounding and familiar physical actions. Yet these simple acts can begin to feel very complicated when we pay attention to when and how we do them in regards to time and rhythm. This one of the curious qualities of rhythm, it has the potential to make our action feel effortless and/or awkward. We encounter moments in this work where we feel like we are flying, carried by the rhythm, and moments when the body feels almost alien, unknown, dysfunctional… ridiculous. (more…)
In October and November 2010 I visited Mexico City to undertake research into the work of theatre director Nicolás Núñez and the Taller de Investigación Teatral, constituting an important aspect of my PhD studies into the role of rhythm in actor training. This research focused on the Taller’s use of traditional forms in actor training and the ways in which they use rhythm within their practice.
The Taller de Investigación Teatral (TIT) has evolved its own unique approach to training actors, within the urban intercultural landscape of Mexico City. Established in 1975 under the auspices of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) they have developed a wide repertoire of training forms and performance practices known as “Anthropocosmic Theatre”. This is a theatre where traditional practices and philosophies sit alongside modern acting pedagogies and scientific theory. Developed through years of active research into indigenous Mexican theatre and ritual, as well as traditional Tibetan Theatre and Buddhist practices, their work is driven by the intention to create a theatre that is both for Mexico and linked to a wider global, and cosmic, “worldview”(Núñez 1996). (more…)