a little Rilke…

…never hurts.

“What tightens into survival is already inert.”

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the real value

Jerzy Grotowski“The real value [of the exercises]”, Grotowski insisted, “lies in your not being able to do them.” –An Acrobat of the Heart, A Physical Approach to Acting Inspired by the Work of Jerzy Grotowski, Stephen Wangh

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the right work

When I was at the Drama School, I watched as actors were cast in one or two School productions, and then often did a Yale Cabaret show after hours. This was on top of a battery of classes. So everyone stayed very busy.

And because everyone stayed very busy, everyone felt very virtuous about how busy they were, and how hard they were working. They felt certain that because they were working so hard, their work must be good.

In reality, it seldom worked out that way.

They may have built stamina and endurance, but in the meantime, I saw a good deal of mediocre work happen at that illustrious institution. People were stretched too thin, and so they couldn’t really do justice to anything. And if you ask me, many of them liked it that way. It gave them the perfect means to avoid actually having to look squarely at anything, and ask themselves what it would take to really do something well. Instead of just giving what they felt like they could and hoping for the best.

One of the great experiences I had at the Drama School was three semesters as assistant to a master acting teacher and director, Evan Yionoulis. I remember discussing this issue with her, in a slightly different context. We were talking about students in the class who buried themselves in work, but were not actually working productively. The key, she said, is doing “the right work.”

Feeling busy doesn’t mean your time is well spent. Not at all. Sometimes, though, slowing down and paying real attention is just too frightening to contemplate.

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Houses of Cards happen.

Especially when Yolanda Seabourne is building them.

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a rare opportunity for actors

If I were going to be in SF in May, I’d be there.

Naked Empire Bouffon Company

Artistic Director, Nathaniel Justiniano, is offering his weekend long
Bouffon Intensive May 13-15, 2011.

Register: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/169878.

“The work of bouffon satisfies my greatest desires of the theatre. As
a performer it demands an intense athleticism and availability to
one’s wildest imagination. As audience to it I have found a way to
both laugh at myself and check my apathy at the door. As a citizen I
am consistently impressed by how much of the ‘unsayable’ the bouffon
is allowed to say and by how well people hear it. The space is
electrified by the presence of the bouffon, making each moment
potentially and hilariously explosive or deadly silent. No one is
safe.”

This intensive is a crash course in bouffon performance with the only
company this side of the Mississippi exclusively dedicated to the
research and performance of bouffon.

What you’ll be learning and practicing:

* Finding your personal bouffon
* Entering into and creating within a state of ecstatic play
* Choral, movement-based improvization
* Mercurial acting techniques for shape-shifting between
characters of heightened text and grace to those of base, groveling
goblin prophets
* Audacious and confrontational status play with the audience
* Wielding stillness and silence like a scapel
* Parodying social maladies and hypocrisies
* Ramshackle techniques for on-the-fly costume creation

You do not need to have previous experience in this form of theatre,
nor in performance at all. This is, however, an athletic, intensely
physical form of theatre that demands the in-the-moment engagement of
your intellect and perverse imagination. If this resonates with you,
we would love to see you here.

Bouffon Intensive with Nathaniel Justiniano

Friday, May 13th 6p – 10p
Saturday, May 14th 10a – 10p
Sunday, May 15th 12p – 6p

Price: $175 (before May 1st), $200 (after May 1st)

Register: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/169878

Location:
Main Street Theatre
915 Cayuga Ave
San Francisco, CA 94112
(5 minutes from: Balboa Park BART, Muni J, K, 14, 49)

About the teacher:

Nathaniel Justiniano has been a professional actor and director for
over 10 years. In 2007 he co-created Pax Americana, a satire of war
as seen through the lens of United States history and EUOI!, a bouffon
experiment in ecstatic ritual, inspired by the research of
anthropologist, Barbara Ehrenreich. He has performed with The
Thrillpeddlers in their mega-hit, Pearls Over Shanghai, as well as
with the SF Buffoons in their productions of The Hasheesh Eater and
Spunk, a satire of gold rush-era San Francisco. In 2009 he led the
creation of Naked Empire’s debut production, Shame! as a DIY Artist-in-
Residence at the recently-closed Mama Calizo’s Voice Factory, formerly
one of San Francisco’s most popular centers for queer and activist
performance. His most recent work, Cousin Cruelty’s Compulsion,
addresses violence in society and was the subject of a feature column
in the San Francisco Bay Guardian. He teaches workshops in bouffon,
commedia dell’arte, and mask performance and serves as the Director of
Physical Comedy for the Sacramento Shakespeare Festival as well as a
guest teacher of physical theatre at Sacramento City College. He
holds an MFA in Ensemble-Based Physical Theatre from Dell’Arte
International School of Physical Theatre.

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