Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Aikido and Drama

Conventional plays are built on combat. Two or more characters will engage in conflict; individual actors are engaged in internal conflict. There are goals, and characters struggle to achieve those goals, working on one another to change a person and get something they need, succeeding or failing. Success and failure both bring consequences. This is the structure of drama.

Thus when actors rehearse a scene they are practicing combat. Acting is a martial art.

Aikido students have to learn to work with complete commitment, while including the consciousness of their partner. Before every exercise, there is a bow, and a promise to care for the flourishing of that partner. Andrew, who served as Theatre Dojo's aikido teacher when we were working in Los Angeles, reminded our group workshops that the punch is real, yet at the same time you are responsible to watch for your partner's safety and well-being. Soon, students were working hard on one another, encouraging each other to work with real commitment and courage, and caring for their colleagues' progress.

This is how I envision an acting ensemble's function. A little bit of technique and a lifetime of commitment and bravery. By getting this into our bodies with our martial arts practice, we can awaken to the same relationship in the psychic workings of a scene, and play out the conflicts of human existence with conscious awareness and fearless honesty.

The most dangerous knife in the drawer is the one that isn't sharpened.

[Photo: From a 2007 Theatre Dojo workshop in North Hollywood.]

1 comment:

do.gong said...

Well said .