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Workshopping the Workshop

I’m finding that there is an art to giving a workshop. Whether we’re playing with mime, Meisner, isolating the muscles of our body, or becoming more in tune with the natural rhythm of our breathing, my assertion to not waste a moment is a bit of a challenge.I see that because of the need to have an interpreter for every thought that I explore (and whenever someone seeks clarification) time is becoming an increasingly precious commodity. What’s also an obstacle is some of the actors’ inclinations to not really remain present with what we’re doing, though that hasn't deterred me too much from enjoying the work.

Case in point, one man, who we’ll call ‘Konstantine,’ seems to have an idea about the point of the exercises that takes the form of idle palaver with those around him, which is not giving everyone else the respect they deserve for trying something absolutely foreign to them.During one workshop in which I asked Komediograf to work on short scenes sans words, all he could do was discuss what he wanted his own group to do while others were presenting.He continued to not give everyone (including myself) their due respect while I was working with one group on some ideas about physical comedy.I had to stop everything and ask what the problem was, and he said they were still preparing what they were going to do.Because he’s so often one to chatter, I asked him if he was always preparing for something.He had nothing to say.After the workshop was over Svetlana (and others, it would appear) were happy I said something.  

At the end of that same workshop an Olga-translated copy of my short play Facta Non Verba (the New York production you can watch on was read by Konstantine and another actor (we'll call him 'Dimitry').  I chose K and D because they were physically right for the roles, K being a few decades older than D.  They had both had little time to prepare, so they just went for it.  I was very happy to hear how the play flowed through their language, and I was rather impressed that they stuck with the choices they made.  I can't say I'm happy with K's overall choices for playing the character, but, at the same time, I wasn't surprised.  What's more important is that the play has been put into the universe in a new space, with new actors, and with new energy.  For that, I am grateful.

I’m finding that my happiness and energy during the workshop are infectious, and the more I give the more I get.I’ve also found that the stereotypically cold Russian face in Hollywood movies is fictitious; the vast majority of those I’ve met and shared ideas with have been warm and friendly and have worn it on their faces.They are also polite and very respectful of the ideas I’ve raised for discussion.What’s more, their participation is what keeps fueling me as the workshops seem to go on longer and longer.To date, our longest sessions has been approximately three and half hours, and I’m rather certain that I could have continued had time permitted.I see that they are hungry for something new and what I will label as ‘different’.It’s a joy to be the one who gets to introduce them to new ideas while I figure out the best ways to deliver those ideas, even if a few Konstantines don't agree.

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