This series of video clips offer glimpses of the six Workshop Approaches documented in Dorinda Hulton and Maria Kapsali’s Yoga and Actor Training (Routledge 2015) DVD/booklet that focusses on ways in which the practice of yoga may be applied towards actor training purposes. Six Workshop Approaches are proposed, and contextualised with a historical overview of the use of yoga in the work of Konstantin Stanislavski, Jerzy Grotowski and Joseph Chaikin.
Within the six videos, as well as the publication as a whole, two key perspectives are proposed as being directly, or indirectly, helpful to actor training: the first is an understanding of yoga in relation to actor training that does not prioritise, or pit, ‘interior’ against ‘exterior’, ‘mind’ against ‘body’, ‘mental’ against ‘physical’, but recognises their interdependence and interconnections. The second is an understanding that the ‘internalization’ of attention, which may be perceived in aspects of yoga, is not inimical to the creative processes of a contemporary actor, but can contribute to the cultivation of an attitude of ‘alert receptivity’ that is particularly relevant to processes within actor training.
The first video clip derives from Workshop Approach 1, led by Dorinda Hulton and filmed by Arts Archives, and focuses on four body-mind dialogues inherent in the safe practice of the yoga postures and proposes correspondences between these and processes relevant to first steps in actor training.
The clip selected here relates to the body-mind dialogue entitled ‘a clear order’. It touches on two proposals:
i. The first proposal is that it is helpful for student actors to approach practice in the yoga postures with a sense of purpose beyond the development of mere ‘physical’ technique. In the clip, for example, the student actors are seen practising the postures facing each other, as a mirror exercise, in order to develop awareness of their partner’s capacity and rhythms at the same time as being closely in touch with their own.
ii. Secondly, it is helpful for student actors to give themselves clear orders, or instructions, when practising the yoga postures, and then to practise allowing the body-mind to follow those orders through, without interfering intellectually. This proposal corresponds with Stanislavski’s concept of ‘purposeful action’ in which a psychological ‘objective’ or ‘intention’ gives the actor ‘a clear order’, in order to invite psychophysical response within a ‘realistic’ style of theatre making (2008: 39).
The overall intention in Workshop Approach 1, then, is that experience in, as well as understanding of, the four body-mind dialogues inherent in the safe practice of the yoga postures can potentially be used by the student actor to investigate afresh the dynamics within a variety of actor training exercises; and also that these same body-mind dialogues can offer a common experiential vocabulary which may be shared between actors, even if they have not worked together before. They are all concerned with – and dependent upon – cultivating a state of alertness balanced with a state of receptivity.
Stanislavski, K. (2008) An Actor’s Work. London and New York: Routledge.
Workshop leader: Dorinda Hulton
Student Actors: Lauren Drennan and Joseph McDonnell (Exeter University, Department of Drama)
Filming and editing: Original filming, editing and DVD-ROM by Peter Hulton, Arts Archives www.arts-archives.org