Friday, February 7, 2014

From Moscow to Marshall

Last night I taught the first in a series of three workshops about contemporary Russian actor training that I'm offering while I'm here at Southwest Minnesota State University. I've spent the last three summers studying this work at the Moscow Art Theatre, and I've used it myself in rehearsals - to varying degrees of success.  I even incorporated a little bit of it into my Acting 1 class after my first trip to Moscow.  But this was my first chance to take the work I've been doing and package it for delivery to new students in a concentrated way.  And I have to say, I was really surprised by how well it went.  First, I ended up with 16 students, which was basically the perfect size - with this size you can divide the group into two equally sized, still even-numbered, still big enough to be a challenge groups, which allows them the chance to watch and reflect on the work that's being done.  I was worried that I'd have to do a lot of referring to notes and whatnot, but it turned out that, once I got moving, I was in the zone.  I definitely wasn't on Sergei's level - I don't pretend I ever will be - but I did feel like I was maybe channeling him a little bit here and there.  We worked through a number of exercises focused on concentration, ensemble and focus - and they really went for it.  They laughed and made faces and got frustrated, but they also succeeded in a lot of ways, which was a lot of fun.  The big question will come next week, I think, when they have to bring in object etudes.  It's one thing to work together on these exercises, it's something else to create an imaginative illustration of an object and an event.  I'm very interested to see what they bring back to me next week - and I have to admit I'm wondering who will and won't come back.  But in general, I got a great vibe from the group.  I'm really looking forward to the work they're going to do next week, building off of our time together.  This is a small department, but boy is it energetic!  Go Mustangs!  And, on a personal note, I'm feeling pretty proud of myself!  Hooray team me! (Ура команда меня!)

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