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Soundings & Ritual Actions

Soundings: A nautical term used to frame the exploration process for depth in the craft and art of the Performer and by extension to the process of making theatre performance; specifically, to sound the depths of images within the energy centres of the human body, the written text and the cultural context where theatre is created and performed.

Jane O’Reilly in The Masks of Dionysos

Soundings: The presence of the Actor is the fullest description of the work / play process of actor training conducted by Ryszard Nieoczym and is the foundation on which all other projects are based.

Current Soundings
The Actor’s Craft: Integration of Body Voice
Image & Text VoicePower
Voice: Barometer of the Soul
The Ekstatic Body The Greek Tragedies Love Betrayal & Revenge
The Audition Process
The Art & Craft of the Monologue
The Medea Project
Performance Soundings

Soundings
The Presence of the Actor
The Total Act

Master Classes in Performance

A new Soundings project designed as a Master Class for professional actors, recent graduates of theatre schools and actors who have previously worked with me in the Soundings program. The focus is to move on from only actor training into performance to incorporate & integrate four tributaries of the Theatre Research conducted by R Nieoczym and his collaborators: Body Craft, Voice Power, The Art & Craft of the Monologue and Scene Studies / Open Etudes

The aims of the project are:

1.To create the Total Actor: the craft of the actor is the vehicle to go to the extremes in body, voice, monologues and scene studies
2. To find full presence in performance
3. To deepen the craft of performance
4. To develop the skills of self-presentation without personal compromise in the audition process & the competitive marketplace of theatre, film & television

 

Training for Performance

The Spirit of Play: without it there is no vital theatre; to rekindle this fire in the soul of the actor is the first task. The descriptions that follow allow the performer to awaken and to become engaged with this spirit.

All training is unlearning. To go forward, one must first go back. Training to develop the performer’s craft for performance is the constant meeting, confronting and overcoming of personal laziness, automatisms in actions, and the false reliance on habits and techniques. Craft is not a linear process. It is cyclic. The work/play on craft and oneself is an on-going life process and is never a finished product.

I do not seek. I find.
Picasso

The Praxis of the training requires a profound change in Attitude by the actor to accept responsibility for his / her training, the craft, the career, and the profession. In our work the first step of the training is to confront oneself with a process of self-exploration with others to find the following:

The Total Act
Artaud: the actor signals through the flames
Grotowski: the actor makes a total abandonment, a sacrifice of self

Nicole Champagne in The Song of Songs / Le Cantique des Cantiques

 

Actions: in all actions – texts, songs, scenes etc - the actor must find his / her way to achieve the Total Act: physically, mentally, and spiritually
Extremes: to reach for the extremes: from total action to total silence stillness and repose; to approach the impossible Limits: to break the limits of conventions; to free oneself from the social and cultural chains that limit one’s fullest potential as a performer
Transgressions: to commit acts of transgressions against one’s own laziness, inertia, and artificial masks
The Awakened Body: a return to Primal Rhythms to reawaken the body to develop physical awareness and presence through rigorous training in rhythm and movement; to rediscover the freedom of the animal in one’s muscles to take back the body from social and cultural conditioning to work/play without fear; to see and to be seen; to let the erotic animal play without shame or guilt

The Vocal Centre:Voice & Eros

Voice is the barometer of the soul; to meet with one’s true voice is to see an objective, and independent force flowing within the body intimately fused with Eros
• to unblock one’s true voice through an exploratory process of the vocal centre – as part of the whole body - and not merely to train the voice in a narrow and limited way

Dawn Obokata in Wilderness Trilogy

The Centre of Emotion:

With deliberate care and attention to discover how to uncover, nurture and develop the power of emotions and feelings to play a role
• to unblock the psychophysical barriers, to allow the river to flow, to navigate but never to force, manipulate and control

The Sex Centre

• to discover the power of the erotic and sensual energy within the body
• how to awaken and play with this energy
• how not to misuse it
• how not to be exploited by it

The Centres of Imagination


• to explore the archetypal depths within the fantasy structures of the mind body and soul
• to use archetypal images to develop roles and characters

Kathleen Morgeneyer & Nicole Champagne in The Dream of Cadmus

 

The 4 Tributaries

Body Craft, VoicePower, Monologues, Scene Studies / Open Etudes

The human body is not only an instrument to be trained; It is primarily a mystery to be experienced.

Body Craft

Physical Training:
• the purpose of training is to recognize the inherent organic unity of mind, body and imagination
• to develop flexibility of the spine, muscle tone, and physical conditioning
• sessions in movement, rhythms, stretching, realigning the spine the development of the physical imagination including the erotic – incorporated as a daily necessity of the entire rehearsal process

Rebecca Stein & Serok Park

 

Breath

• to work with the natural rhythms of the breath within the body; however, no Yogic or any other breathing techniques are used; the focus is to free one’s own breath, and not to impose even more foreign rhythms.

The rule of thumb for all the training is: work with the breath, not against the breath; work with nature, not against nature.

VoicePower

Praxis:

• training the Vocal Centre is based on a two-fold approach inspired by Stanislavski’s perception of the organic basis of all physical actions, and Grotowski’s process of unblocking the body resonators, to recover the power of the individual voice we once possessed as children
• to see the voice as part of a dynamic psycho-physical process involving the whole Vocal Centre and not only an instrument to train and exploit
• to reconnect with the power of one’s voice is to integrate it with the centres of emotion, sex & imagination
• the actor/performer must root the voice in the natural breath of the body, to work with and not against the body, which is a part of nature; therefore, one must work/play with nature and not against nature
• exploration of the vocal centre requires intensive physical work / play to break old vocal patterns of speech, bad habits of forcing volume and feelings into the voice, straining the vocal chords, and most importantly to eliminate the gratuitous whining and pleading of the actor’s artificial theatrical voice
• to recognize all work/play within theatre including the voice is rooted in archetypal patterns: love, betrayal, rejection, abandonment, hate, sorrow, joy, revenge: the total life of the actor

Serok Park in the Dream of Cadmus

 

The Art & Craft of the Monologue

Text & Image
• the actor cannot play the essence of a text; the actor plays the images, which the audience can see and feel
• an image is a series of conscious actions & reactions; silence and conscious do-nothing can be powerful images
• an integration of voice, body, rhythm, and text with image
• to unblock the psycho-physical barriers in the vocal & emotional centres
• how to memorize text as a total body experience; how to analyze texts; how to use text & image; how to develop speech & articulation

Scene Studies / Open Etudes

Developing The Role
• introduction to two concrete processes of work / play: the open etude concept and how to use archetypal images to develop the character of a role in theatre.

Open Etudes & the Moment of Truth
• how to work with objects as living partners
• how to work with human partners as living subjects not as objects
• how to work with ‘invisible partners’
• how to work as an ensemble
• to find the moment of truth
• to create a role as a pearl necklace strung with moments of truth.

Archetypal Images [the mythic dimension]:
• the use of archetypal images allows one to sound & explore the personal depths of the actor in physical, emotional, imaginative, sensual, and erotic play & to open up deeper possibilities in developing modern roles in theatre
• to introduce the actor into the use of archetypal figures from ancient mythologies, such as Medusa, the Hecate, the Pandora, the Gorgon, the Gods, and Goddesses of Greek and Hindu pantheons
• this is a process, not a formal technique, designed to escape literalism in acting and to engage the actor’s full fantasy and imagination in developing a role

Perry Lewis Nicole Champagne Jane O’Reilly in Lucifer’s Lament

Dawn Obokata Jane O’Reilly Nicole Champagne in Lucifer’s Lament

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Ritual Actions

“Ritual heals... ritual constitutes the social form in which human beings seek to deal with denial as active agents rather then as passive victims”
Richard Sennett Flesh & Stone The Body and the City in Western Civilization

Ritual Actions are rooted in the Erotic and created out of the Spirit of Play; they emerge from the profound depths of the human soul; they are akin more to art than science. As an aesthetic phenomenon, they satisfy the longings of the soul for completeness, beauty, silence and stillness; they transgress daily boundaries and open the soul to its hidden depths. Ritual Actions are a source of physical & psychic Renewal.

Ritual Actions began as a project called “Ritual and Healing” which emerged from much of the early work on Greek Tragedies, particularly By God Possessed, based on the Bacchae of Euripides. This process required the formalization of past research works in archetypal imagery including Wilderness Canada projects, open etudes and theatre explorations, and transform them into Ritual explorations. The Ensemble the work within the open etude context become an on-going articulation of ‘soul’ in the creative act in theatre and performance, which flowed naturally into drama and therapy, theatre and education, and individual soul journeys based on the works of Jung and Hillman. Ritual and healing projects continued as a collaboration of LeTHAL and Tanz und Theaterwerkstatt in Ludwigsburg Germany and were held over a five-year period in the Black Forest in the south west of Germany. Later the program expanded into Ritual Actions and is presently conducted in the small coastal village of Platamonas Greece under the sponsorship of ROES / Drama & Therapy Centre of Thessaloniki and at Buck Lake in Ontario. Over the years psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, lawyers, engineers, educators and performers have participated in the program. Some of the projects developed include: SoulSong, Ekstatic Body As Ritual Subject, Ritual, Healing & Communitas, Body As Imagination, The Archetypal Dimensions Of The Healer / Teacher [A theatre and performance exploration project for healers and / or teachers in drama & therapy and drama & education] In My Own Voice [soundings for men only]

Nicole Champagne in Le Cantique des Cantiques / Song of Songs .

Descriptions of Soundings Projects: The Medea Project, VoicePower, Performance Soundings, The Actor’s Craft:
Integration of Body Voice Image & Text

Soundings
The Medea Project:
Ekstasis Madness & Possession

Conducted by Ryszard Nieoczym

Using three texts from Euripides’ Medea – the Messenger, Medea and Jason - to explore the following questions:
• how can modern actors play such classical texts • how to discover the depth in each role
• how can an actor prepare him or herself to create such roles
• in the modern context how can we deal with such psychological and physical states as “Ekstasis”, “madness” and “possession”

We shall deal with these questions in the following way.

The Actor Prepares:
• The Body:
a rigorous training program in rhythm, movement and dance to free and prepare the body for exalted states
• The Voice: to open and extend the vocal centre to free the voice from contemporary attitudes and psycho-physical blocks; to uncover a vocal path for the actor to deal with the extremes of passions – anger, rage, jealousy - necessary to play such roles
• Text & Images: an in-depth analysis of the texts to discover the images which an actor can use to develop the character and role; how to find the depth of interpretation in physical images and not simply intellectual abstractions; to reach the total act of an actor and not to resort to familiar clichés

VOICEPOWER:
Body Voice Song Text & Image
conducted by
Ryszard NIEOCZYM

Introduction

The Soundings program VOICEPOWER was successfully introduced in 1998 to deal with the particular difficulties associated with the human voice. The program which has evolved is the result of over 20 years of research on the human voice conducted by myself and my collaborators at LeTHAL / Le Theatre de L’Homme Actor’s Laboratorium / Toronto and at Le Contre Courant / Quebec City.

The program is designed to meet the needs of both professional performers in theatre and film, training for the audition process and ordinary people who have difficulties with their voices in speaking or singing. The work / play can be tailored for the individual participants in a group.

VoicePower

The Vocal Centre: Voice & Eros

Voice is the barometer of the soul: to meet with one’s true voice is to unite with an objective, and independent force flowing within the body intimately fused with Eros

Praxis:
• unblocking the Vocal Centre is based on a two-fold approach inspired by Stanislavski’s perception of the organic basis of all physical actions, and Grotowski’s process of unblocking the body resonators, to recover the power of the individual voice we once possessed as children
• to see the voice as part of a dynamic psycho-physical process involving the whole Vocal Centre and not only an instrument to train and exploit
• to reconnect with the power of one’s voice is to integrate it with the centres of emotion, sex & imagination
• the actor/performer must root the voice in the natural breath of the body, to work with and not against the body, which is a part of nature; therefore, one must work/play with nature and not against nature
• exploration of the vocal centre requires intensive physical work / play to break old vocal patterns of speech, bad habits of forcing volume and feelings into the voice, straining the vocal chords, and most importantly to eliminate the gratuitous whining and pleading of the actor’s artificial theatrical voice
• to recognize all work/play within theatre including the voice is rooted in archetypal patterns: love, betrayal, rejection, abandonment, hate, sorrow, joy, revenge: the total life of the actor

Requirements:
All participants must come prepared with one monologue classical or contemporary, based on any theme of Love Betrayal Revenge from Aeschylus to Shakespeare to Brecht, and one song; loose work clothes, no dance tights; since the work / play is strenuous we recommend several changes of shirts; we sweat a lot!!

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Performance Soundings
The Craft of Performance
Conducted by R Nieoczym

In 2008 we will begin a new project, open only to performers who have participated in at least 2 previous Soundings with R Nieoczym. For further details contact the organizers.

Performance Soundings are designed to move the actor from the workshop training process into the context of actual performance. This means the actor must come already prepared to work with texts and images and also with objects and costumes.

Candidates shall come with 2 texts and images – 2 very different monologues totally memorized – and have composed a scenario with at least 18 images for each monologue. This means at least 3 images for each of the 6 Planes of Action. Recommended texts: Ancient Greek Tragedies, Shakespeare, and any texts actors will be using in future auditions. Texts from the plays by R Nieoczym are also possible for those performers working in Theatre Research Projects. All participants must memorize the Chorus text from Euripides’ The Bacchae in the language of the host country.

The structure of the Soundings will recapitulate a shortened version of the training process familiar to the participants: waking up the erotic energies in the  body, rhythms in the 6 planes of action and extended voice training. But the main focus of the work during the Soundings is on the craft of performance

To summarize the primary aims of the project:


Total Act:: To create the Total Actor: the craft of the actor is the vehicle to go to the extremes in body, voice, monologues and scene studies
Presence: To find full presence during the training process for performance
Craft: To deepen the craft of performance
Auditions: To develop the skills of self-presentation without personal compromise in the audition process & the competitive marketplace of theatre, film & television
A fuller description of the training process is offered in Soundings: The Presence of the Act

2003 Soundings at ETI 2003
conducted by Ryszard Nieoczym

September 26-28,2003
Times: Fri 1830 – 2230 Sat & Sun 1100 - 1900
Fee: Regular: Euro 200 ETI students: euro 100 For groups of 5 or more students euro 80

The  Actor’s Craft:
 Integration of Body Voice Image & Text
      

Elements of the Performer’s Craft

Ensemble: The training process is rooted in the recognition that theatre is an ensemble activity and that an essential aspect in the work of the actor is learning how to integrate one’s work within an ensemble context.

Integration of Body Voice Image and Text:  Image learning how to create theatrical images, how to use clichés and how to get beyond clichés and to root all the work/play in the process of imagination. Words & Texts to free the images physically within a text and in the process to explore the archetypal depths that words & texts contain

Voice Training Using Stanislavski’s perception of the organic basis of all physical actions, and Grotowski’s process of unblocking the body resonators, to see the voice as a dynamic psycho - physical process, and to recognise the voice & body as a barometer of the soul, and not merely an instrument to be trained mechanically. To see the voice as an objective, and independent force flowing within the body and allied with Eros.

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A Reminder

 

Auditions for Actors September 26-28, 2003 & January 9-11, 2004
Wildflecken Theater / Berlin in association with Europaische Theater Institut conducts Auditions for Actors September 26-28 2003, & January 9-11, 2004. to select actors for its multi-ethnic, multi-racial Theatre Research Ensemble Europe / TREE, [founded in 2001]; to conduct theatre research, and to perform in the production The Revenge of Medea, a modern adaptation of the Greek Tragedy by Euripides, scheduled for June 2004

The Audition Process: All candidates must participate fully in a 3-day Soundings entitled The Actor’s Craft: Integration of Body Voice Image & Text, which includes a rigorous physical training program. This process exposes candidates to our style of work and allows for an opportunity to meet and play with the Ensemble. Since we are a multi-ethnic and multi-racial Theatre Research Ensemble, audition texts, therefore, can be in any language: Turkish Japanese Korean French Russian Yiddish Polish German English Swahili etc. Texts, either from modern or ancient authors should deal with the overall theme of the current production, which is Love, Betrayal, & Revenge.

We are auditioning actors for members of the Chorus, Medea and Jason.

Auditions & Soundings location Europaische Theater Institut 20
Rungestr Berlin [Janowitzebrucke U-Bahn]
Times: Fri 1830 – 2230 Sat & Sun 1100 - 1900

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