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MICHA: The Future of Theater

Meisner/Chekhov Integration: Laban, Steiner, et al

Liz Shipman - 7 July 2014

WHO WAS THERE

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Liz, psycho-physical acting technique specialist – integrates Laban+Chekhov+++
Has recently started the Meisner/Chekhov Integrated Training Studio in San Diego
Has particular interest in connection between Laban, Steiner and Chekhov most IMMEDIATE interest, is the flow through and integration of the Meisner and Chekhov techniques.

Intros – see why people are in this session? What is their connection to the topic of the session?
Everyone shared why they were there and each person has connection to Meisner or Chekhov, so on.

Participants: Liz, Gabriel, Kim, Anthony, Yan, Rob, Craig, Rena

Gabirel – on going search for a connection between Meisner and Chekhov
Kim– looking for a new training system for actors and dancers in Taiwan
Anthony – integrating music into his acting and finds the Chekhov work very helpful
Yan – Using Chekhov to enrich what he is doing on camera
Craig – Hugh O’Gorman is translating the gesture and placing it in his eyes for camera work
Liz – placing the gesture in the ideal center and other areas of the body (really using images and the technique as totally inner objects)
Craig – acknowledges some of the possible limitations of the Meisner work when the actor transitions into activity work

Discussion about failure and the need to create an atmosphere as a teacher or practitioner that is accepting of the fact that actors are never 100% “successful.” And how to use failure as a way to step forward.
o The atmosphere created in the room is important
o Instead of saying no that’s wrong, using phrases like, “you’re in the ballpark”
o Specifying where they were successful and posing questions like, “Did you consider xyz…”

Rena – recalled horror stories from HB Studios and it took her years to understand that she could both drop in and expand (and the Chekhov technique has helped her with that!)

Question raised: As teachers, what tools do you give to help students deal with rejection or failure?
- flying back over is useful
- must find the little victories – come at it with a feeling of gratitude
- there’s 20% you can’t control, DON’T LIVE THERE!
- inner teacher who knows that there is no such thing as failure unless you name it as such – make your goal your process
- Liz’s studio grew out of failure!

Questions raised in the group about the value of the Meisner work and this was acknowledged by other people that work with Meisner

Liz – had a negative perspective at first but then worked with another person who worked from an open, receptive, artistic place and that made all the difference. Overtime working with techniques, she found that they very much complement one another.

Questions were asked about the strength of the Meisner work
- the importance of imagination, day dreaming, focus on the partner, sense of truth, moment to moment, actual doing,

Rena says, Truth messed me up… what is truth?
Liz - If I’m really in my body, what comes out is truthful
Craig – truth frees him from acting. You don’t have to self-generate. Meisner said to me, “You should do Chekhov next.”

Rena says, “The same place you aim for as an actor, is the same place you go for as a teacher – to listen, receive, to give and take, to sense when a change happens, and respond.
Liz says, “That’s Meisner. And that’s Chekhov.”

Meisner = what humans do // Chekhov = what the universe does
Perhaps a perfect technique would bring the two together, otherwise acting is a one legged animal.

Craig – Meisner = Prose, Chekhov = Poetry
Where my body meets the universe is what Chekhov has tapped into.
The Meisner can take you deeply to the interior space – the Chekhov helps you find the outside target.

Can my gesture be caused by the other person? Can it be inspired by the relationship? YES!
Gianluca – Searching as an actor/teacher, how can I play? Chekhov met anthroposophy – was able to create space for the mystical and the spiritual. When we dream, the astral body, the imaginary spiritual goes somewhere. I don’t know where! But the genius of Chekhov is that I can play with that reality in the material world. I get help from the imagination – my spiritual body. This helps me in my life too.
Gabriel – a story is a living being that doesn’t have a physical body. The actor is giving it flesh!

Rena – when I studied at HB studios, I longed for that mystical connection. I wish all the smaller technical aspects of acting could be combined with that.

Liz – Akido, as she understands it, receives energy, transforms it and sends it back to the other and there is an Akido affect, in acting. This is what we look for in both Meisner and Chekhov. Quoted from Lionel Walsh, “that ensemble and what were are doing as actors is working through the union of our life bodies.”

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