Engaged in the Art of Living

Tina Packer and Mary Coy with the class of midwestern Shakespeareans.
Shakespeare on the Square, Aurora, Nebraska.

Over the weekend I grew about an inch taller.

I spent the last three days with seven other actors under the tutelage of two master teachers from Shakespeare & Company, Tina Packer and Mary Coy.

Actor training is a blend of physical work, voice work (which is also physical work), philosophical work, text work, and psychological work. It is an investment in self and craft and process. (And it’s cheaper than nineteen hours on a shrink’s couch.)

The first evening’s three hours of sitting, listening, and working released a tension I hadn’t realized I’d been carrying. My shoulders still hurt now and there’s immediate relief if I lift them toward my ears because that’s where they are used to being–but it is NOT where they belong. I choose to keep them down where they belong and stand at my full height. The pain will subside.

I feel more deeply connected to the actors I already knew (including my husband), and I feel connected with the actors I just met on Friday night. We know each other now, and not on a superficial level. I deeply admire them and am cheering for them.

I am a bit hungover from the joy of the work, the release of the tension, the revelation of the learning, and the hope for more. The emotion is readily available, just under my skin, waiting to well up and pour out.

I wish this kind of opportunity for each of you, in whatever your field of pursuit.
May you find the teachers you need.

The the vast volume of thoughts and ideas and questions that remain 24 hours after finishing this acting intensive…
For the mind and body to feel this engaged in the art of living…THAT is worth the time, is worth the struggle, is worth striving for.

Some thoughts I’m left pondering:
* It’s only through language that things change. Language can shift the world.
*There is a direct line from Shakespeare to the Declaration of Independence.
*You can trust Shakespeare to keep you safe.
*The voice reveals who you are.
*Breathing through nose = calming / breathing through the mouth = immediate emotional response
*Shakespeare always asks three questions:
–What does it mean to be a human being?
–What action should we take?
–What is my role/What must I do?
*Words are ancient and potent and powerful.
*The truth can tell a good story.
*Allow the fear. Acknowledge the ignorance. Ask the questions.
*What is the character struggling with? Do I, the actor, also struggle with that?
*What is the character better at than I am?
*Once a character is out of the box, they won’t go back in.
*Direct out of asking questions.
*Check in: How am I feeling RIGHT NOW?
*Reinforce: Where am I going to?

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