Oct 5th- 8th
For the week I had worked on my solo theatre project. For my project I have chosen Steven Berkoff for my theorist because he works with movement and with my past dance experience I thought it would be a good fit. Another reason I had chosen Berkoff is because I read somewhere that he had seen the actors as dolls and toys that he could shape into his own scene and play with them that he wanted. For some odd reason that had stuck with me over the time that I was looking for a theorist so I took that as a gut instinct.
For the week I started my research on Steven Berkoff. Starting with the context and looking at where he came from and his family life and where he studied and a bit of who he is as a person. I found out that he studied movement and theatre at Ecole Internationale de Theatre de Jacques Lecoq, and that his main focus was on mime. For next week I am hoping to look more into the context but more about what was happening around the world and in the world of theatre to see how that impacted Berkoff’s theories.
During this week I had the intention of looking at the historical context around Berkoff but when I was doing my research on that I came across some of his inspirations and how they impacted his theories and I sort of fell into that hole. Berkoff was very inspired by movement and that was his main focus on most things. Some other theorists that had inspired Berkoff were Laurence Olivier, Bertolt Brecht, Antonin Artaud, Jean-Louis Barrault, Jacques Le Coq. All of these actors and theorists inspired Berkoff mostly for their movement and he took some aspects of their theories and turned them into his own.
For this first week of continuing my solo theatre project for this mod. With my research that I have done so far on Berkoff I have narrowed down that I want to focus on the repetitive motion and movement within his theory. I have a monologue picked out that has many repetitive words and phrases and high emotion which ties in nicely with Berkoff’s theory. I also started reading “Steven Berkoff and the Theatre of self-performance” by Robert Cross, I’ve mainly focused on some specific chapters that I have felt like would give me a better understanding. Over the next few weeks I would like to look for more primary sources, such as interviews with Berkoff and he has any sort of writings. I would also like to start my memorization and choreography of my monologue.
Steven Berkoff, known to be an actor, director, playwright and theatre practitioner. Berkoff was born in Stepney East London in 1937, he grew up in a lower middle class Jewish family. Berkoff attended Webber Douglas Academy and studied to be an actor, later he studied movement at the Ecole Internationale de Théâtre de Jacques Lecoq in Paris. After graduating in 1965 he worked at Webber Douglas Academy as a mime and a physical theatre practitioner, Berkoff had experimented with ensemble work using The Trial and later in 1968 he had formed the London Theatre Group. Berkoff participated in the group by writing and directing and performing with them. During the 1970’s while Berkoff was forming his way of theatre with the London Theatre Group censorship had come to an end in England which opened up the world a bit more to Berkoff by him showing off his experimental ideas. In Berkoff’s work he paid attention to the actors' movement over their voice, and had encouraged experimentation with the theory of Total Theatre. The components of Total Theatre that Berkoff adapted were having a purpose for each and every movement and also choreographed movements to each line and emotion. Berkoff’s aim was to create extreme emotions on the stage to give the audience an experience of immersion. Techniques commonly used in Berkovian acting is repetitive actions along with mime and I have decided to focus on the repetitive action as my aspect of theatre.
For my chosen aspect of the theory I decided to focus on movement since that is an aspect that Berkoff is most known for with his pieces. Common ways within Berkoff’s movement are choreographed movements and exaggerated physicality. Choreographed movement is having planned out poses and movements to lines of your character and that is in attempt to tell more with the movement over the lines that the actor is saying, same goes for the exaggerated physicality. When looking at exercises to explore movement in Berkoff’s style I did find it difficult to find individual exercises that I could do alone since much of his work is also ensemble work. But looking through them I saw certain things that I can do and that I don’t necessarily need a group to get the point across of this certain exercise. I started with ‘finding the mie (pose)’ and the basics of this exercise is to choose a character and create a pose for them that speaks about and tells about the character, you must use all your body and not just a simple hand on hip but include each toe and your legs and torso and neck and everything to create the perfect statue of your character. Following up with this exercise I did ‘finding the gesture’ which is very similar but instead of just one pose you walk around the space as your character but keeping certain elements of your characters pose.
Going on through the week I've been thinking more about what my impact I want to go for with this piece. To start I thought about how Berkoff wanted to impact his audience, he impacted his audience by having them be consumed by the performance and showing horrifying and grotesque qualities and parts of the characters within the play. He wanted the audience to be fully immersed and hypnotized by the performancer and the play, and he used exaggerated movement to capture the audience. For me I would like to draw the audience in and have them feel immersed by trying to have them think I am talking directly to them. I want them to feel my characters energy and see my movements as natural.
For the week I worked on getting some sort of rough draft of my moment of theatre to record and present to the class to get some feedback and their thoughts on it. With the due date for a rough draft recording being Thursday I started to rethink some of my blocking for the piece. This week I started with my monologue having lots of movement so much that I made myself confused with all of it, so I went back to the drawing board and took some things away before I did the recording that I would show. I think making it slightly more simple made it easier to go through and still made the impact that it made even with all the extra movements that I had. Showing the recording I feel like I got a good reaction and feedback from my peers, for starters I got lots of positive comments but also followed up with constructive and helpful feedback, I was told that there were moments where I could definitely take a second and breathe and catch my breath because it was noticeable during the video that I would sometimes get out of breath. With slowing down I was also told that since my character in the monologue was just spurting out lies that I should show the thinking process of forming the lie that I am going to tell and that makes a whole lot of sense since I need to get my time a bit more up. I was also told some certain things that I could add to enhance my character and I liked all the suggestions and ideas that my peers bounced off me. But my main takeaway from the feedback was that I need to take my time a bit more and that silence isn’t a bad thing because if I keep movement on the stage I will still hold the audience's attention. So looks like I don’t need to change much of the blocking but just the pacing.
Solo Project Reflection
It's been about a week since I performed my solo project piece to my peers and an audience. First thoughts are that it went good and the best that I could have done. Of course right after I had the after performance thoughts of what I could have done better and what I did wrong , but those thoughts come with every performance and looking back on the video actually just watching myself and not just experiencing was somewhat of a new perspective for me that I surprisingly enjoyed. I thought I would hate having to watch myself back but it was not as bad as I thought. Then listening to the talk back from the audience was nice because I actually go to fully process the comments that I got from the audience and got to see how my portrayal of the character and the piece was actually communicated to the audience and that made me feel very proud of myself.