Emotion-Action/Musiciality as a practical tool for investigate and creating the invisible space.

Bred In The Bone is a multilingual and culturally diverse company of theatre creators. Musiciality, physical practise and development of the body, ear and voice as an eternal ever-inspired instrument, are at the core of our training.

The idea that there should be a practice of ‘scales’ for the actor is arguably an ancient endeavour, and it remains the best description of what we developing, both in our rehearsal work and in what we implement in our training and our teaching.

Practically it derives from our specific and recognised work on musicality (Unreal City / David Roesner), where the actor is the musician in the relationship she has with her body-mind physicality, in a way synonymous to that of a musician with her instrument.
In our work demonstration we will show the practice of our scales, where physicality, text work, ensemble work, impulse work, are all gathered in one and in conversation with live music in an on-going conversation with the body and sound in space.

Our work interprets the debate between practice and theory, the body vs. mind paradigm; or how the training understands and uses organic physical impulses, and whether and how we may or may not be working “from the inside to the outside” – or whether the two are ever possibly separate. The space that we create within Bred in The Bone can be described as the living, breathing, in-action seeking of inspiration. It is sought, caught, experienced and explored in the physicality and movement of the performer/trainer.

Our main and essential question when we devised the practice of ‘scales’ was whether they could act as a formalised working structure that is also, and at the same time, constantly improvised. In that sense that ‘formalise’ and ‘improvise’ taken together do not constitute an oxymoron.

The nature and paradox of this work, means we train our ‘scales’ so that we are in essence able to move through a sense of the hyper-real, the intensely felt. The scales become the antennae in which we sense the world, and it translates to the world we are in, and to the world we create.

Our consistent paradigm, is that in order to do this we must strip back our skin and reveal our nature, in each moment, in a (physical) reaction to the world rather than in an action towards it. When exposing the musculature and marrow of ourselves in the moment, the actor not only becomes the instrument, but the master, the servant, the space and the sound itself. In that very moment, and within this newly created context, the performer paradoxically becomes other than herself, beyond herself, perhaps then closer to what a character is – when speaking (or playing) the physical score that the written text has thus become.

Our bodies are physically trained stemming from the belief that the actor must be in a sense the ‘athlete’ (not unlike Artaud’s premonitions) and have an understanding of their physical optimum. We train this through a series of strategic physical exercises, including running, step work, and impulse work. We also train the ear, and the sensory elements through musicality. This is accessed through musicians trained directly with this practise, who provide an auditory link to the invisible world. We connect the sound to the body with singing, which is trained in multi-national languages, and essentially by ear. The core of our Musicality training is to link the sense of music to the text and body. They are never essentially an entity all to themselves; they are in a constant dialogue and inter-connected relationship. Again, we train the ability to hear and create this moment to moment. Not to train the ‘learning’ of solely the instrument or song itself.

The body is the ultimate and only true instrument for the performer. In our work the very texture of the body is the sum of the vibrations that runs through it at the contact of the outside world, acting as stimuli for what is then visible as ‘Emotion-Action(s)’. These are not solely concerned with the mechanical and physical aspects of movement (Physical Actions), nor can they be described as signs towards expression of a psychology of character (Psychological acting). They can be described as the core of the relationship between inner and outer in the body itself, and link with the very definition of emotion as ‘what makes moves’. Hence “Emotion-action” acts as our theoretical framework, while our access to psychophysical practice is through musicality and the practice or our scales.

It is through the intensity of our training that we are able to break through a pedestrian, or ‘usual’ relationship to the body and sound in space. To label this or integrate with this as a form of improvisation, somehow does not reflect the depth and detail. Our work cannot exist without training, and our training is a constant development of our work. Through this, we have uncovered a potential mechanism for the continued portrayal of moment-to-moment, real inspiration.

One thought on “Emotion-Action/Musiciality as a practical tool for investigate and creating the invisible space.

  1. Wow – great post and so much to think about.

    I like the sense of movement and antennae. When I trained at the Lecoq School in the 1980s, I was very aware of the ways in which the training was fine tuning my ability to to be alert to the world around me. This was partly through exercises that gave me ways of analysing and observing the world, and partly because my body/mind was becoming more alert to changes and transformations taking place within it.

    I had a real sense in my youth of the actor as athlete – I was trained in physical theatre techniques and drawn to the theories of Artaud, Copeau, Lecoq, Grotowski and Meyerhold. As I get older, I feel less certain that ‘athlete’ is the most appropriate metaphor. This is of course an effect of age. But I also see and meet people whose engagement with the world and with performance is not the intense physicality of the athlete, but they are nonetheless intensely present, physically engaged and alert to the moment – even though they don’t move very much.

    I am fascinated by how we dance between the sense of our bodies being both natural and strange to us, and how training feels like a constant journey back and forth between the two – learning and unlearning, working to regimes and improvising, being in the moment and struggling to be in the moment. Is the ‘relationship between inner and outer’ part of this oscillation as well?

Comments are closed.