Monday, June 6, 2011

Our First Full Week - GO!

That’s right, we haven’t even been here a week yet, and in some ways it feels like we’ve been here for months.  Of course, all I have to do to counteract that feeling is attempt to have a conversation with a Russian person.  Then it is abundantly clear that I am a dumb American with only a couple of days under my belt. But today began our first full week of classes… so time marches on!  We kicked off the week with our movement class taught by Владимир Сажын (Vladimir Sazhin), a Russian beefcake of a man who can move his buttocks independently of one another (and does so with great relish).  He led us through an hour and a half (no breaks) of stretches and isolations and bending and jumping and jumping (so much jumping), and all sorts of other ridiculous things that your body doesn’t usually have to do.  I did manage to do this crazy double jointed thing with my arms that I can’t possibly describe, but it made me feel like I accomplished something for the day.  After class with him, we went straight to singing class where Marina kicked out the women in order to work with the men for an hour.  She then brought us in and finished handing out the songs that we would be working with for the next few classes.  I have to admit, I was a little disappointed at being assigned “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again” from the world’s most overrated musical, Phantom of the Opera.  But still, this class is sort of like taking voice lessons from the Tazmanian Devil (the woman punched me in the stomach while I was singing today), so it seems our best bet is just to hold on for dear life and learn what we can along the way. Lunch was very quick, as we only had an hour and we all wanted to practice our etudes before acting class.  Class began with the first group’s etude about several blades of grass who grew up and then were tragically mowed in the prime of their lives by a man and his lawnmower.  It was a pretty fantastic etude.  My group created a gumball machine and a whole progression of a person trying to get the right gumball… it really wasn’t all that successful or clear, but it was a lot of fun putting it together.  From there we did a series of exercises which proved to be very frustrating.  The second was the worst because we all understood it, but then a couple group members started asking a bunch of questions which led the interpreter to give us the wrong instructions, so Sergei then chastised us for not understanding the exercise and not asking more questions when it had been the questions that had led us astray in the first place.  Then we completely failed at the third exercise – and since my half of the class was second to go we were chastised again for not being better than the first group after having watched them.  After our break, however, things got a lot more fun when we presented our first individual etudes.  We had to become an inanimate object and illustrate a story about it.  There was a tree, a cloud of hairspray, a match, a hair tie, a baseball glove, a Russian cathedral (which ended up being hilarious), a clothes drying rack, a stick of gum… and I was an egg.  I went from fridge to bowl to whisk to frying pan to plate… it was quite a journey.  And though I ended up with a bit of a floor burn on my elbow, my little egg went over pretty well. Monday nights are not dark theatre-wise in Moscow as they are in the states, but they are slightly less action packed, so we don’t have tickets to anything tonight which gives us a much needed evening off – as we have to work on new etudes and re-read The Three Sisters for tomorrow’s classes.
Doppelganger Update – Today I saw Russian April Schaffer on my way back to the dorm from the theatre, and apparently Russian Craig(e) Holcombe lives in our dorm on another floor.

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