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I see a thread...

I see a thread...

regina mendes - 27 September 2013

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Hi everyone I am sharing these lines I wrote a long time ago. I think they are still valid.

' I see a thread pass through the actor and the director. A thread which has its origin in the earliest days of humankind, passes through the present and extends into a distant future, bringing with it all the history of evolution. An existential fibre of infinite elasticity passing through centuries, and here , now in the relationship between actor and director. In this relationship , the encounter moment is the  bridge of the immediate and the always. The ephemerality of the perennial. The moment is now. The theme is eternal. The now and the eternal meet each other.

Actor and director carry their own thread which is defined by their individuality and familial, cultural and ancestral collectivity. The threads form a strand from which the plot is woven revealing the shape and content of the play ( montage ) . The play is the manifestation of the quality and profundity of this coming together. At each new encounter , a new fabric is woven in its specific texture and tone, allowing us to live the unlimited potential of the performance creation .

We are , in my view , at this moment able to glimpse a new and richer possibility which deepens our understanding of the dynamic between actor and director. In the past each in turn has claimed the power , subjugating the other to a greater or lesser extent to his or her needs. The alternating dynamic between active and passive has had its positive side stimulating transformation in theatre. However we can see that the way theatre was discussed in the 20th century revealed a leaning towards the ‘or’ to the detriment of the ‘and’ ; the exclusion to the detriment of the union. The pseudo independence that the director claimed in relation to the actor and the same pseudo independence claimed by the actor, during the process of the creation of a play, was perhaps the result of a compensatory dynamic in search of a better equilibrium. In the same way as these two individuals are expressing an adolescent attempt at independence from each other, theatre itself is caught in that immature phase and needs to grow out of this to reach full maturity. This transition towards maturity will lead to a life shared by at least two in continuous interaction.

In short it is time to stop talking about the ‘ me and I ’ of the actor or the director and instead speak of ‘ us and we ’ , the amazing encounter through which a synthesis is built. Two lives in reciprocity generating a new life. The unity of the play through two natures.

The central bond  to be established is that between the director and the actor. This bond will determine the future relationship with the audience. The primary purpose is to allow the full development of the fruit of the encounter and to support it; set limits which determine the security of that new born life . Director and actor become caring  parents providing ideal conditions for the new baby ( the play ) to grow and blossom .

The play represents the encounter, yet it has its own independent life in constant transformation. On the stage we see actor and director in this new and unique being. A new equilibrium. In the process of creation, each actor’s move determines the director’s next move and vice-versa. They have the responsibility of following each other's steps with an active receptivity . Neither is conscious of the importance of the encounter but when it is achieved it shows itself absolute and undeniable; the certainty of the full expression of the cord that binds them. Firstly they have the certainty , later the understanding.

The intermediate place, symbolically represented by the cord, is revealed in the play. In this space the mystery manifests itself and actor and director become accomplices. The continuous unpredictable experience of the process of creation allows the perception of a path just partially imagined. Together they decipher the signs which are revealed during the work. Coming apparently at random , these are clues revealing the right route .Even when they are apart living their own lives , they remain connected and their experiences come together to build the play .

A new phase starts when the play is viewed by an audience. The process intensifies and a single show can bring more insights than many weeks of rehearsal. The audience encounter is decisive , pointing to unique possibilities which offer new shades to the fabric of the performance. The audience surrender and wait for the moment when their own thread will be unwound. Actor , audience and director are merged and transformed . At this moment we feel the depth of the encounter between actor and director, the strength of their spiritual cord '  


Regina Mendes

Written and published in March 2003 in Portuguese
Translated to English July 2013

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