I just recently returned from my annual May workshop with Ruth Zaporah, the founder
of Action Theater, in Santa Fe. “The Other Group” (a joke name that took hold a few years back) is a group of long-time Action Theater students, some of whom are teachers of the work, who gather to refresh, deepen, explore, connect with the practice of Action Theater together and with our teacher every Spring. This year we had the pleasure of overlapping for 3 days with “The Summit”—the group of senior teachers who gather for the same purpose every year as well. The studio time was rich and illuminating at every turn. Our home cooked meals were delicious and eaten over meandering conversations about politics, entertainment, love, language, food, travel, nature, and of course questions and debates borne of our deepening relationships with improvisation and performance. I love this time I get each year. It fills me with renewed clarity, inspiration and excitement for the work and my desire to practice and share it. It also reminds me that the Action Theater community is just that—a community of fascinating and kind people all over the world. I thought I’d share a few of my notes from the week here for whoever is interested.
If they have quotation marks, they are from the horse’s (Ruth’s) mouth:
“If music is dominant, everything else falls into place”
“You have to be yourself or nobody’s gonna want to date you.”
“Open your imagination to it instead of knowing what it is.”
The faery is there. You listen. As a student, sometimes you need to try in terms of following the directions of exercises—eyes, timing, body parts, spatial signature, staying with it. You self-direct until you develop the skill, and it becomes the nature of it. Then, you improv. The first thing happens, and then everything follows everything else. You cannot ever drop the music. Don’t get into your head. Risk being wrong. Risk fucking it up…just keep the music going.
Drain the EMOTION from your face. Don’t tell the audience what to feel. Don’t push. Rather, let them IN to your experiencing of the actions that are happening.
“The pause is a naked experience that carries power.”
“You are that power. Don’t comment on that power.”
“The taste of a cave in the wilderness. Go into it.”
“Enter with innocence, believing everything is magnificent.”
The improv is like the flu—a virus doing you...But get the “you” out of it. Experience, don’t identify with actions.