Documentation Team / Eastern Meeting Place: conversations 1
Eastern Meeting-place
Documentation Team Conversations
(Not yet corrected and edited.)

Participants: Antonio Attisani, Mario Biagini, Jelena Kovacevic, Grzegorz Ziolkowski, Mirjana (Mira) Vukovic + members of Workcenter as listeners (Marie, Pei Hwee, Elisa, Cecile, Francesc).

Dur 1.06h

Mira: Proposes the theme of the day: she wants to find some key words about the Workcenter’s work to make some kind of dictionary.

Antonio: How would you name what you have seen?

Mira: I have not yet any description of what I have seen until now.

Mario: It is true that vocabulary is one problem that already appeared in our first meeting for example about what we call training.

Mira: I ask the people from the Workcenter to explain every word that they use.

Mario: “To me for instance it is clear why a singing session is not vocal training but I could not explain it”. He asks Grzegorz about it.

Grzegorz: I would not call training the physical training I saw led by Thomas, but I have not a name for it. It’s beyond physical exercise. The quality of presence and demanding leading of Thomas made the training becoming an event and on this level it was similar to the singing. What happened could not be repeated, it was not a repetition of something. I imagine that in a different situation if nothing happened he would never stop the session.
For the young groups a question is how to make the training be not just repetition?
And how to translate it in creative acting?

Jelena: I would not use the word structure for the training I saw (led by Mario). It’s better to talk about phases, sequences.

Mario: I doubt about the word “event”, it is more vague. Physical training is as physical as physical actions are. There is a text where Grotowski speaks about the danger of exercises done in a void of content (“Exercise” text in the book published by Pontedera Teatro).
Grotowski hated when people was saying he was doing physical theatre. What is a physical action? It is not a movement. Difference between action-movement.
When should a working a session stop? Something should happen before to stop.
Blocks in the physical training: what can block the life and how one can overcome the problem. How to fight the fear working on a physical level.

Jelena: Why the participants are doing all the physical work which is very hard for them? It is surely not to be in a top form like society wants us to be, it is more than a health question, but what is it?

Antonio: There are many people unsatisfied with the work, maybe they need more explanations and maybe the physical work is not enough self explaining. The young actors feel very uneasy in the physical work and they have strange bodies without tone, they don’t do physical work which was done even in traditional acting schools. The curricula of people who want to be professionals are now made by seminars. I don’t agree with Grzegorz about his description of training because training for theatre is clearly different form training for athletics.

Grzegorz: I agree that the training is devised for the actors.

Mario: We started to do training because we realized that in the work with the songs our bodies were already dead at a young age, not ready to be vehicle of alive reactions. Training was devised to rediscover the freedom of the body.

Grzegorz: This training put the accent on the body but not forgetting other aspects.
Learning yanvalou is like learning a new language, with the grammar on one side and the communication on the other.

Mario: Strategies in leading a working session. The difficulty of working technically and looking for the life in a working session. Technical work cannot be only technical. It is needed that the working session goes towards something impossible without falling into animation.

Grzegorz: I found difficult to work on complex elements of another language in the training. Attention goes all the time inward and backward.

Mario: Double flow of attention is a strong experience but there is the danger to push oneself in auto-observation.
Grotowski said: during working the mind should only say “green light” or “red light”. Mind is not an enemy, it should just be at its place.
Double attention should be only used in the Motions where it is part of the exercise to see and to be aware of the physical presence. In other elements of the work the attention is directed towards the outside.
Combination of activity and passivity needed for this work: very difficult to do on the base of some decisions.
We can practice the elements of work, but there is something else that you cannot practice. To discover some possibilities we must be ready, open to the unexpected chance when it appears..

Grzegorz: On my mouth there is the word grace.

Mario: Grace is when you have done nothing for it. It is different when you took some steps which were in the right direction and you received something from it.

Antonio: This is what Varela calls “emergency”. You don’t know how the tornado is born.

Grzegorz: Don’t you think that these steps use itself?

Mario: Then we go into metaphysics. It’s true that something in you is demanding for a road and part of the road might be to ask to yourself “where do you want to go?”. But it’s a tricky territory because it can again lead to sleep. Sometimes I should also fight against my inner world.

Grzegorz: I meant that the road becomes used.

Mario: Of course, it cannot be the same road. A certain road to a climax of an action once it’s treated on it disappears. Every action if it doesn’t become more detailed becomes mechanical.

Jelena: So, in order to find again what you once found by accident are you trying, pushing all the time or you are just doing physical training, yanvalou, motions and it appears?

Mario: Normally you try to reproduce it, you reconstruct it with the director and then you have a structure. After long time life can disappear. The structure should go or to a higher level of articulation, or back to its original motivations.