Panic, fear, empathy and unity. How strange yet surprisingly obvious it is to discover that all these elements operate together so well. The past week has been an opportunity for all of us in the cast to explore infinite facets of shape, tempo, and spatial relationships.
It is Day 7 of the rehearsal process and my alarm clock starts to sound off like it normally does but this morning I do not move a muscle. For one thing I feel stiff as a board. My knees are bruised, my thighs are stretched, the bottom of my feet are callused and even my fingers feel swollen and worn out. What has become of me? I go to sleep a hard working, energetic 28 year old and suddenly wake up with the body of an octogenarian? No… Ladies and Gentleman this sensation I am experiencing is the result of rehearsing for 7 days using a theatrical/rehearsal technique called VIEWPOINTS.
Now, I am not taking the initiative to jump right out of dream land smack the snooze button because I am so tired and sore. Oh no…that would be too simple. I am lying in bed hearing the alarm and wanting so badly turn it off…but I question myself. Is my first instinct actually just automatic response? Or is the sound I am hearing really compelling me to get up and do what I would normally do? I can just hear one of our VIEWPOINTS leader’s in her very best Kathleen Turner inspired voice saying “Keep in mind of your spatial relationships. What purpose are you serving in the picture? What is your tempo? Go to extremes. Take in the architecture…take in the environment…Remember kinesthetic response!”
Wait a second are you feeling confused? Not sure where I am coming from or exactly where I am trying to go with this journal entry? Well neither do I. In fact, sometimes I get the feeling none of the actors in the cast really do either. This is the great experiment that has been our rehearsal process so far for WAR OF THE WORLDS. A blank wooden stage where you can freely move as long as you walk on an imaginary grid line…the repetitive phrases of Phillip Glass pouring out of the PA system and a bunch of actors devising and discovering who they are and what their specific purpose is in this production. Letting nothing else lead us but our instincts, and our sensitivity to the stimuli. If he moves do I move? Do I want to move? Wait…should I even be moving?
At times over the past few days I have wondered what it is that we are doing. What does this all look like out there in the audience? Is it maniacal? Is it beautiful? Does it move people to tears or inspire them to vomit their previous meal in the nearest wastebasket? I have no clue. But I will say that when the confusing process is over I feel exhilarated. When I stop being confused and just put the world of the stage aside and allow my moments to be led by a “soft focus” of senses is when the magic usually starts to happen. The game of exploration begins and when the actors are finally led to stop and “restore” it feels like I am basking in the “afterglow” of some sensational all night love making or like I just came out of some spiritual psychedelic drug trip. At times I totally forget who I am. You know the actor with a name, who was born at this particular time and comes from a background of such and such a people and has my own personal world view. These parameters start to peel away, and I feel myself starting to become a unit of something bigger than me. I become part of a living performance, a link in the chain of creative stimuli affecting other stimuli. A small piece of sand getting blown by the wind of imagination and changing the unknown into something tangible. These are the things that make it all worth the effort.
- Joshua Weidenhamer