Clowning and physical theatre represent the origins of comedy which was initially a privilege for the upper classes…put on by the court jesters in China and Egypt thousands of years ago.
Today, drawing from many influences modern and contemporary, especially the white faced mime of France’s Marcel Marceau, we have…Under the Big Top!…a middle school comedy of clowns, mimes and Mr. Bean-like characters.
The dress rehearsal was in pieces because this year we have a lot of shy students who have joined middle school drama at ISGJ. The rehearsal took almost three hours, but the next night, the show ran at a solid hour and a half with an intermission. Imagine! Why? Because the audience brings an energy that lifts the students and the performances. Theatre is not theatre without a live performance!
In four short months we have managed to put together a two act production of devised theatre (written and produced by the students) on the theme of family. The title of the show reflects the fact that, while we may not all be the same, or get along, we need each other.
The students worked well together, learning the true meaning of being part of an ‘ensemble’ and the photos below showed an extremely healthy turnout. The ISGJ Black Box was full with 100 people in attendance. Bravo! Here’s a collection of images from the night.
Grade 6 students have spent two months learning how to work as an ensemble and use their minds, bodies and the stage for character, story performance and – ultimately – audience effect.
This pair took all the lessons on full body extension, playing to the audience, breaking the fourth wall, timing, using the width and depth of the stage, stage business, mime and movement as well as facial expression…and pulled this beaut off.
A key point was to recognize that western acting is from the head and upper body (ie. arms, hands, face) whereas Asian methods of acting, and specifically Japanese Butoh and Suzuki, operate from a place of grounding to the earth…with the feet and legs.
Butoh, as a technique, calls for free-flow, free thinking movements, where the actors start by following each other’s hand…and this leads to loose improvizational movement, great for characterization. Suzuki, on the other hand, as I was introduced to it, begins with precise stepping styles.
I mean, I speak of this as if I know the methods well. It was the beginner (to Japanese acting methods) teaching the complete beginners. This was the outcome, and Mark has seen it – loved it. So do I!