It’s pretty amazing to watch a person’s control over their body transform over just a few days. Some of my fellow students who are new to mime at the White Church Theatre workshop are progressing rapidly. A week and a half ago, the concept of moving the chest and waist separately was completely foreign, and now they are delving into complex triple design combinations. I’m sure they feel lost in the weeds, but the difference is remarkable.
Had a slightly odd experience yesterday. We did a leg exercise that, although I use it all the time, I had actually forgotten about as a technique. It’s like I assimilated it and then forgot that I’d learned it. What? Doesn’t everyone try to move both legs in opposite directions as close to simultaneously as possible without either jumping or falling on your face? In corporeal mime speak, it’s called a diphthong – a linguistic term that refers to combining two vowels in one syllable. In this case, it’s a movement rather than a sound. Great for giving an impression of suddenness or surprise. And since I’m already using it, it was good to review the academic version.
We also started working with text. Fortunately for me, there is one other woman who is only doing two weeks, so I have a partner. We had each chosen a random bit of text – I picked a couple versus from Ecclesiastes and she picked a passage from Dr. Seuss – without knowing how they were to be used. A couple days of improving, feedback and re-working, we now have the beginnings of a strange but endearing little number that combines “one fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish” with “Sometimes a righteous person dies prematurely, in spite of his righteousness.” Obviously, we end up drunk. Working with random, abstract text like this allows you to focus on the balance and connection of movement and speech, with the individual qualities and rhythms of each. The story and characters, such as they are, develop from that. Some interesting ideas emerge, and with a bit of skilled guidance those ideas take shape quite quickly. I’m not sure yet how this will impact The Grey Wolf (the mime-storytelling piece I’m working on for the Minnesota Fringe). Those ideas will need a few days to digest.
Speaking of the Fringe, that is the next thing on my agenda, so after this workshop is over I will turn this blog to discussion of physical theater shows in the Fringe. For sure this will include Ash Land and Birds of Passage, among others.