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Michael Chekhov's 'Theater of the Future' -- what does it have to do with you?

My Whole sense is tingling?

Christopher Estevez - 15 July 2012

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Title: My Whole Sense is Tingling?
Convener: Chris
Participants: Ruth, Hugo, Mara, Linda, Ellie, Thais, Karine

Notes:
Chekhov has mentioned the sense of the whole within his book having witnessed it in his students while working with Stanislavsky’s etudes (extended piece of improvisation; nothing is scripted). He explained it as the first lesson learned in the first period of their class.
The sense of the whole, I’ll tell you how I feel about it. Do you know how people nowadays, they discriminate between my mind is working, my body is working, they feel like they need to strengthen there muscles but sometimes they forget that aside of all those elements they forget their whole being. Say for example doctors, a patient is experiencing a sore throat and they believe let’s concentrate the medication on the sore throat, and sometimes that works, but a holistic approach would be to really see the entire body. And they understand the whole system, how you live your life, what kind of stress do you have, what do you eat, what do feel, what you think…And through that they see what is the root of the problem that may be influencing the disease. This is of course a medical example, the same way Michael Chekhov is perhaps the first person that talked, and of course Stanislavsky, a brilliant man developed the first method, Systematized Acting. He really is like a father, he is like Freud.
Still Chekhov, took it a step further, really energized the system.
You have this whole body, and when you are acting you still have to have a sense, and it can still be applied to anything later on. You can have a sense of whole in the whole world you can have a sense of this monologue, but it starts in your body, feeling in your body completely whole.
Say for example, some shallow teachers focus on performance while isolating certain elements, like script analysis and speech and the way Michael Chekhov applied his technique is through the body and the body is this instrument that creates this wholeness, so even if your speaking or moving you have to create a feeling, you still are a whole being. It is not like your limbs are separate from language and speech.
Michael Chekhov was one of the first to mention the sense of the whole, he is technique compared to others like the difference between exercise and yoga or martial arts. Because these two forms have a deep connection to the soul, something deeper than the body.
I was posing on the sense of the whole and what it is taken to the all-knowing consciousness level, the sense of everything that is occurring at the specific moment on stage.
It can be…Hello Hugo, Come and tingle with us. How can the sense of the whole be brought to the whole universe level?
The way I understood from his writing I thought about it as the sense of the whole company of actors in sync, working towards a common goal. And Mara enlightened me, by defining the whole by awareness of the whole body in action. And I mean, I am interested in this because, it is very vague, it can be anything, it could be everything.
Yes, I suppose.
But you only have one body, and it is whole.
Yeah,
There you go.
I mean you can any direction with the sense of the whole; the sense of the whole body is something that is fundamental in the Chekhov work. It is like a violin, it is an instrument. You started by saying the whole of the universe. Scott led a warm-up where we led us to a concentration of an object. And begin to concentrate on it looking at it just through your eyes. And noting line, shape, the edges. And if your turn you mind to that you can then notice that you have a relationship with an object, you are with the object, there is information recorded in your mind. And then he asked us to notice what is surrounding the object, gathering the object in the sense of the whole room, and then from above the building, moving on to island, the continent, going all the way into space, and then in the whole universe and then is was all gone.
If you close your eyes, you can feel the whole universe inside. It can be just you, it could be your inner sense of your self.
The sense of whole, when Chekhov talks about the sense of the whole or entirety. If you enter on-stage…
From the beginning of the play with a sense of the whole play.
So, it is not just linear.
If I understand you correctly, the sense of the whole is connected to the creative life of the show?

The last that I remember, is that there is an essence of knowing what you’re doing, like a road map.
I think this is the sense that you have to with you always, whether it is rehearsal or an open space. It is not just entering in sort of a linear way, you are coming in with something, you’re coming in with…
Soul. I mean, I noticed how at first he mentioned his dissatisfaction with masks because they portrayed a 2-dimensional character because he was interested in portraying a living soul on stage. Although he did acknowledge its benefit. And he tied the sense of whole to the creative life on stage.
Right.
Ok, so how do you begin to separate from the actor’s sense of the whole and then from the characters perspective on his sense of the whole?
Well they are not contradictory, they are not oil and water separate from each other. So, I do not see it as a dilemma, limiting as an actor.
Do you have to conscious of this sense?
No, you have to be conscious, I mean Chekhov, take for example this table is whole in itself and yet it is part of another whole, like these group of tables. So, we do this all the time, the artist will aware of this all the time.
Your perspective is obviously slightly different, say I am looking at this tree depending on where you are standing. I think he means when you approach a role you have to take the context of the whole play.
Exactly, and you have trust your instincts. Say, If I read Hamlet and I see him as slightly effeminate and others will say its wrong, you have to go with gut, and if commit to what think then you are on the right track. And there is a sense of wholeness in every little part of a play, in any part of the scene.
Yes, along the same line; what if every moment of the play, if you were to stop it was still image definition of the whole play. And I am not recommending expanding a minute to an hour setting every slight movement.
All depending on the choice of that you make.
That is definitely true, I think that is when tingling comes into play. Yes the choice is the definition of who you are. Tingling meaning like a sensation, excitation, active engaged.
Yeah, you can’t be passive.
…SUMMARY..
Don’t you think that when you are in the whole, it’s just there is no question. Therefore, you know when you are whole, so it’s the truth your truth. When you are there, there is no question. With Chekhov, you know you are there, the most difficult is to get there.
I feel like I connect with what you are saying, because when I feel I am part of the whole is when I have the most sense of the whole. All of these questions are sort in service of what?. You know, when I am working with an actor, you need all the principles all the time. And you practice one thing and feel that’s the thing that creates the sense of the whole, or it may be something else. I wonder if the question isn’t as much about what is it that defines the sense of the whole or I guess I am less interested in having a linear definition of the sense of the whole and I am more interested in the question within all the trials and tribulations and complication of life and making and creating art, can I be a part of the sense of the whole or can my work be a part of the whole.
But then, how do you accomplish that?
You do may not have to make a constant effort, because if it whole it just is.
This question is very interesting to me because it is tied with your all-knowing sense or how some psychologist call it your supraconciousness. Meaning that every occurring in the planet though you may not be consciously aware of it may be having an impression.
Write down this name, Rupert Sheldrake, he talks about Morphic fields, I think. He is biologist and he is somewhat of renegade dude, most of the science community does not like him. He wrote a book about the sense of being starred at, describing all these different morphic fields that we are coming in and out of, from a scientific perspective.
Sometimes a performance is so electric because there is a sense of the whole and the you as an audience are a part of it.

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