Saturday, 2 February 2013

I prefer the gentle approach to harsh ones

Personally, I like and prefer gentler methods of trainings such as yoga (depends on the type but usually it is gentle), Pilates, feldenkrais, Alexander technique, biomechanics, etc., than harsh ones like kalaripayattu, grotowski, suzuki, etc.

I find it more effective for myself. And the results are subtle and amazing too. That's not to say that harsher methods aren't necessary. They are and I would do them but minimally for a week's training. I like my body to find its way of getting better rather than being forced to.

Having done yoga and some Pilates before I find that my body looks and feels better after a week of practice. It dips and goes up again for the next. Plateau for a week, or few, then go up exponentially. It was better than gymming (and healthier too as I'm not using external weight to work my body) and more fun. The real attraction is in the results I reaped. I feel so good, stronger, is actually leaner and more confident. Of course diet plays a considerably big part too but that was a natural progression and not something I have to coerce myself to doing. And it definitely works for the actor's body. Most celebrities are said to do yoga and Pilates. (I also think they do other form of exercises.) But that's maybe for screen actors. The difference is that a stage actor's body has to be more alive and not just the top half or the head. The good thing about these harsh trainings is that after it forces the body to wake up, the body can remain awake without having to put much thought to remind it. I feel this when I'm on stage. It thus allows me to focus on other acting things such as delivery, actions, etc. That's about as good as what I think harsh methods is for. The gentler methods get supplemented and now let's the body find its grace, elegance and confidence when working (or even in everyday setting). But even without the harsh methods I think the body and mind will eventually figure itself out (if the actor is smart enough). We are lucky to be in drama school where such connection is force to expedite. But that's my speculation.

I am all for beauty, grace and elegance. After trying out an exercise of the feldenkrais and Alexander technique I feel my body as alive as doing the harsh methods but without the pain. It was invigorating! And its more graceful and aware of its surroundings (this awareness could also be attributed to my 6 months training of kalaripayattu so far). That's when I am positive it is not that necessary to have such harsh methods of trainings. The harsh methods also help in being grounded but that's kind of what Taiji does too.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

What does it mean to let go?

I don't know really. It's something intellectual, not sensorially. But what I reckon is that it will be very very frightening. Maybe that's why it's hard to surrender to it.

I dont get post dramatic theatre. And if i were to use it i will make sure i will do it right amd integrated

I really don't understand post dramatic theatre. I have yet to read more on it so it is a little unfair to dislike it. But to me theatre should also be accessible. Performing art is known as 'theatre' and it's OK of they don't have an audience. What's that? What's that then? It's like masturbating on stage.

I can accept if a director adds post dramatic theatre form somewhere appropriate in the play because it is powerful and creative (powerfully creative) it can be mind-blowing. But it has to be done right. It can only work as an effective style if the 'choreography' and elements are 'correctly' done. Otherwise, it will look ridiculous and separated which then mean s/he has failed to me.

I would like to put post dramatic elements in plays I direct (if I get to some day) and I will do my best to make it appropriate and effective. It's one of those things that cannot fail if one wants to do it. It's annoying and irritating because it doesn't make sense.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Today at drama school

Man today I dont feel productive at all. Thomas, my clasmate, said it was for him but not me.

I think I'm losing my steam to rehearse. maybe because it's a children's show and I'm not particularly interested in children. And I think doing their show is not my kinda thing. I don't wanna get into auto mode or mechanical model when doing a show but that seems very possible nowadays.

Better buck up nini. Your scholarship application is on the line...

Alexander technique refelction

I'm reading a couple of books on the relationship between Alexander technique and voice while learning a little bit of it in school. I still don't understand why and how they are related. In the meanwhile, I am still exploring.

The technique is not about being in a posture or even an acting technique. It's a way of learning to move with ease and natural grace. It's about learning how to move with your own body. I read this from a master teacher's book (I will add her name later). And she told us that Alexander has 5 important perspectives he is strict about when learning his technique. (I will list them all later.)

Hence it isn't restricted to actors, dancers and singers or performing art teachers. it's for anyone and everyone. And ideally it can be applied to any situation. So I decided to test it out in kalari class.

Kalari is an indian martial said to predate shaolin wushu. And it has many animal poses that has been adapted for martial art forms (personally I still dont understand and see how it works for actor training). So some of the poses need good balance to stay in the form like the elephant pose that we have to constantly do. I gave it a try the first time and it worked. I'm no expert but I thought of the ear-shoulder-knee-ankle alignment, something that was taught in voice in neutral standing psoition. Not in the master teacher book. I havent gotten to that part, just started on it 2 days ago. However, when I try it again for the second day it doesn't work. And I wonder why is that so. I tried it again for later days but I can't find my balance point. Maybe I should read and research again.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

My first experience and reintroduction with Alexander technique

I had an introduction and a couple of brief lesson on the Alexander technique prior to coming to lasalle under my singing teacher Wendy Woon. Wendy is a trained opera singer who has coached some of the local musical theatre actors and actors who wannabe able to sing. I was still a new person to the scene so I wasn't earning much (I was doing lots of crew and backstage work before coming to Lasalle Acting programme). When I finally decided on being an actor again I realised that singing is very important. And if I want to cast I need to have a more manly voice. My voice was 'naturally' high the I often get mistaken for a girl or woman over the phone (not anymore now). So I reckon that having singing lessons I can develop both a singing voice (I couldn't match a pitch at all) and a healthy speaking voice.

After a few lessons Wendy taught me the technique. And it improves my posture, breathing and overall feeling of how I carry myself (later on i read that working with the Self is very important to Alexander and of course mastering his technique). I was told to stand up straight - not straightening my spine because that's impossible - and look forward. Feet shoulder width apart and relax the shoulders. I was then asked where do I feel the weight of my body. I felt it more in the heels. She then instruct me to lean my torso forward a little, place my head slightly forward too and put the weight of my body on the balls of my feet (this is not 'the' way, but a way, told my biomechanics teacher, Li Xie, and voice teacher in lasalle, Aole, as different people have different body shape). And I felt lighter, more graceful and elegant! Convinced it was an effective and correct way, I kept working on this standing posture and habit of walking (of walking with putting the weight of my body on the balls of my feet). However, later on when I come to Lasalle I couldn't afford anymore singing lessons and I was taught a new way of standing and putting my body weight: on my heels! Because it's said to be stronger and more stable. I tried working against this and also my yoga training (I was actively doing yoga for 2 months straight, weekly with my very good friend, Rashita) but couldn't so I went back to my old habits of walking. It was not an effective way of walking and I didn't feel stronger or grounded but I went along.

This was last year. This year, just a couple of days ago I was reintroduced to the Alexander technique in voice class by my voice teacher, Aole. There are new discoveries. I will reflect on them and write them soon.