Utopian Cafeteria Musings
Picture by Camille L.
There is such a wealth of experience and passion and diversity in the
participants at this workshop! As I sit here in the lunch room, gazing at the stream out the window, voices wash over me and snatches of conversation filter into my consciousness. Each personality is so distinct, so vibrant and unique, I feel so much love for these people I have known only a few days. We have already been through so much. Not that we're not getting on each others nerves, that's inevitable when you're with a group of people 24/7, but even so.
I’m having trouble sleeping. It is SO invigorating each day to be surrounded by 30+ personalities, all of whom are so passionate about the work, so excited and enthusiastic. I'm exhausted, but I feel like I can't switch off. I imagine I'll sleep for a week when I finally get home.
The space Willamette University has given us to use is just gorgeous. And alive with activity. Walking in to the foyer I can feel the emotions bubble over and spill down the stairs of our studio. I feel like our enthusiasm spreads infectiously outwards, widening over the town of Salem. Larry Silverberg’s students are all over the world, doing great things.
In this atmosphere it's hard not to imagine you're part of a global movement. A quiet, energetic revolution of people intent on creating a more truthful and feeling world where we all connect with each other and make art and experience beauty with every breath, every word, every moment of our lives.
I know, I'm being effusively positive but it's so hard not to! Life here is very close to how I imagine my ideal lifestyle to be. This morning, as I wandered from breakfast to the theatre where we take classes I passed a hall where an orchestra(?) is practicing. I stopped a while to listen. In the afternoons I sit on the grass in the sun beside the stream and watch the ducks. Everywhere I go I pass little pockets of people enthusing about
their discoveries, repeating under a tree, rehearsing over dinner. I can't help but feel I have been transported to some sort of performer's paradise. A pity our stay is so short.
In the beginning it is always dark
I've just finished the first week of the four week Meisner Certification Training Program I'm taking through the
True Acting Institute and I am taking a much needed "rest and rehearse" day.
Our instructor Larry Silverberg said something this week that just opened up my world. I’ve been struggling with the idea of how to begin this blog and this quote gave me both a starting topic and the courage to jump in and begin.
“We can only create when we are in the unknown.”
Just typing that makes me well up. It’s so beautiful. And so simple. And, okay, pretty obvious once you think about it. I think that all powerful quotes touch you because they're reminding you of a truth you already know. The beauty is in the simplicity. That’s what I love about the Meisner work (and why I feel that the Meisner Approach and voice practice complement each other so perfectly), it’s so simple. Not easy. Not remotely. But simple.
In my experience it is often the simple things that are hard to do. To be focussed and present requires something of us that we’re just not used to accessing in our culture. We’ve become too good at multitasking. I feel lost if I’m not juggling a few things at once. I feel so vulnerable.
As a way of negotiating this, If I have simple, powerful task to perform I find that I have to work backwards. If I approach the thing directly it just disappears and I become exasperated. If I create a convoluted version of the problem or task, something my mind can worry at and unravel then I can pare it down to its essence and finally experience the power of the simple thing. It is often how I approach teaching voice, especially to newcomers. The simplicity can be overwhelming. Working backwards from what we know is sometimes the best approach.
My challenge to myself at the moment, especially while I'm doing the Meisner work is to relax into the simple, the pure and the powerful. To get out of my own way and just let things be.
Danielle Benzon coaches entrepreneurs and performing artists in voice, acting and audition technique. She is also certified to teach the Meisner Approach through the True Acting Institute. Danielle is based in Vancouver, Canada.