From Nothing All Appears
This devised work put the actor center stage, combining Complicite’s physical language in which the body is used to create worlds and landscapes, and Peter Brooke’s inquiry into the actor’s potential for inner focus, concentration, and imagination. I found that working with the body in space invites in this inner focus, whether in motion or in stillness. All too often actors forget they have bodies. Artists from around the world applied to come together with Complicite co-founder Marcello Magni to devise a movement-based work on The Alchemist. What transpired was a process much like the famous processes of all Complicite’s work: messy, organic, chaotic, and finally, a beautiful, inventively-told story. It was performed, unrecorded, at Toynbee Studios in London for a small, invited audience.
This performance experience was also an important professional development experience for me as an actor and educator, and I have carried this work into the creation of my own work and into my movement classrooms. It prompted these questions in me:
What is Movement? It’s a field that many in my field are still trying to articulate. Is it like dance? Is it yoga? Is it Stage Combat? To me movement study is a process of neuromuscular change. My ground is the Alexander Technique, a process of mind/body reeducation. It brings our awareness to our habits of mind and body, and then teaches us how to inhibit a habit and release into the upright, poised directions we were born with, opening up CHOICE for the actor. Greater availability. Allowing range.
Complicite’s ground is the mask and body work of Jacques LeCoq. Physical improvisations, ensemble partner work with balls and sticks of bamboo that require precision, connection of breath and movement, and focused connection between partners and ensemble. They focus on the essence of the story, or a word, and then build a physical world around that.
In conclusion, I learned that we don’t just create change within ourselves as actors when we study movement and create physical theatre. We create whole atmospheres in the space and within ourselves. Movement is like alchemy…it is a vehicle for transformation and unexpected creation. How fitting that we were recreating the world of The Alchemist.