Science class paid a visit to my acting class this week...
We began our session with a discussion about the patterns found in the chaos of Viewpoints technique. It's a pretty amazing set of actor tools that has really opened up a universe of possibilities in my acting work. For those not familiar:
The Viewpoints is a technique of improvisation that grew out of the post-modern dance world. It was first articulated by choreographer Mary Overlie who broke down the two dominant issues performers deal with - time and space - into six categories. She called her approach, the Six Viewpoints. Since that time, Artistic Director Anne Bogart and SITI Company have expanded her notions and adapted them for actors. The Viewpoints allows a group of actors to function together spontaneously and intuitively and to generate bold, theatrical work quickly. It develops flexibility, articulation, and strength in movement and makes ensemble playing really possible.
Many of the Viewpoints exercises involve working with impulses, letting things happen as opposed to forcing things to happen. Awareness. Feeling the world not just in front of you, but above you, behind you, below you.
Often, Viewpoints exercises will seem completey random on the surface. However, if you look closer, you'll find patterns that assert themselves again and again. Part of being a good actor is making sure you're aware of your patterns so that you don't become trapped within them. Unless, of course, you decide that's right for the character.
And speaking of character, often as actors, we worry so much about making the right choices for our characters. My teacher called upon the stars to remind us that this isn't true:
"If you have any doubt that there are more than two choices, think of the cosmos. Go outside and look UP."