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MICHA: The Future of Theater

Stand Up Poetry

Michael Mulligan - 8 July 2014

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Called by Michael
Attending Pat, Gabriel, Shireen

Michael shared about his experience of performing poetry at open-mics, and ideas experienced during earlier sessions that felt connected or important to introduce –
particularly discussion in the What is the Actor of the Future session, and the concept, or symbol of the Actor-Poet. The discussion of this archetype was particularly raised as a response to the problem of how to have a healthy power of influence of what, where and how work is staged, and how the actor can secure a place as an artist, and auteur – have autonomy, and self determination. Having some of this self determination come from the writing and staging of one’s own work was suggested.

Also the concept of Devised Theatre was mentioned.

Gabriel discussed having the impulse to write, and to perform it – but feeling very insecure about this, in contrast to performing things written by others. Pat also mention feeling very secure in performing others’ words and acting in a play. Michael offered that his experience is the opposite, and that the he is secure about writing and reading his own work aloud, but insecure about characterizing a play, or performing movement.

So the question Gabriel raised was, what is between him and his genuine impulse to go to open mics, what was the inhibition about?

Michael offered an experience of struggling against the idea of categorization as an artist – like, I am an actor, I am a writer, I am a page poet, I am a performance poet – and a feeling a person must define as one thing—but isn’t it a continuum. Also offered as an example of trying to find a place where poetry and playwriting and acting and poetry performance crossed, Samuel Beckett’s ROCKABY.

The perspective was offered that the poet principally finds motivation in the writing, and the actor in performing. The standup poet in defining their self by writing their own thing, and then performing it and expressing ‘This is me. This is mine’ – I am not a character.

Michael offered that his experience, or in reflection after a series of performances, one conception of what is happening in poetry performance (at least in his style, of usually reading from the page, even if memorized, and Embodying the words), when most connected, he feels a deep still moment internally that from a Chekhov perspective, that feels like pure radiation. That through embodying the voice of the poem, one is seeking to communicate a pure atmosphere.

Pat offered a concept from Lorca – the Poetic Event, and Duende – which is Inspiration. The thing that bypasses intellect and goes direct to the gut. And offered that this is the point of the Chekhov Technique, to put Inspiration into performance— and To do a ‘Giving Out’

He discussed the ‘Blooming Moment’ of performance, in Noh drama, described by Zeami Motokiyo as ‘If you have grace, you’ll become the flower. Comparing this to the state of expansion in meditation. He further described this, and the moment of pure radiation as the slowing down of the physical body while allowing the internal to continue motion.

The idea of writing from gestures was discussed. And that when inspired words come, one feels this in the body. Michael mentioned that the poet Frank Bidart discussed this about his process.

The action of asking for a sense of ease when writing was mentioned.

Michael discussed his process of writing in public places, cafes and bar – where the writing was in a sense performance and that a ‘implicit response’ from the people surrounding becomes involved in the process.

Also mentioned was –

In working in poems –

A single line is a unit of atmosphere.



The participants gathered at different spot and shared a reading of their some of their writing.

I made notes of these lines:

Light enough to spar
with the dark

I pick a mouth

And enter.

I believe it not because I see it
holding back the flood of blood and bones

So many easy shards of terminology
my confusion of hands.



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