Returning from Italy and La Mama Umbria

Yes, I’m back! And it has been an awesome trip It has been almost a week now but I’m still unpacking the experience.

Learning from the masters and working with the international artists was extremely valuable. I went hoping to pick up new tools of working, I came back with those and a much richer perspective on my art. I left Singapore feeling overwhelmed and afraid of how to continue on the Substation Directors’ Lab, I came back feeling inspired and more confident.

This I attribute to the mentorship I received from sharing with the masters and my fellow artists. As a director, I think it’s the perspective on life, the questions we want to ask (as advised by David Diamond) that drive work. Perhaps, if I may distinguish, an actor looks to bring a character or a story to life, a director investigates what the story means.

Some quick notes about the teaching artists, whose works I intend to incorporate into rehearsals and my own warmups:

The three masters have developed approaches of working that attempt to engage the body first, and to bridge the body-mind gap.

Nancy Gabor’s use of the golden circle of trust, figure 8 breathing and colors as a way into freeing the body and emotion stood out for me. The grounding exercises were not new to me, but I really appreciated the tune up and the constant reminder to be so. It helped me understand and consider stage presence in another form. The process made me more aware where sources of impulse can come from. Beyond the technical, it was also special for me to learn more about her experience as an artist and her point of view. I saw it as a form of mentorship, and made me reflect on my own journey.

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Paul Binnert’s exercises came at a point where I was “itching” to perform. We had been doing exercises that were relatively more technical, and I was eager to integrate and test what I had been learning. That aside, the real time acting exercises gave me a new perspective on approaching a stage performance. Conceptually, it helps consolidate and articulate what is currently demanded by many Singaporean productions, which then provides a technique which can be used by both an actor and a director. I certainly hope to extend, apply and research more the use of of this approach as an actor and director.

Likewise, as it was with Nancy’ Paul’s mentorship through his stories, advice and outside of class discussions were an invaluable part of my contact with him throughout the workshop. I really appreciated the two-pronged approach that Nancy and Paul took with their workshops, and understand how the exercises build on each other. i wish that we had more time to further the explore more of Paul’s real-time acting exercises.

Kristin Linklater – I enjoyed Kristin’s workshops tremendously. The workshops were the first time I’ve encountered her approach. Never was I truly confused or lost, which I find to be quite common when working with the vocal instrument. This I attribute to her meticulous guidance, articulation and wealth of experience. She was firm yet encouraging. She didn’t coddle, but drew me in by showing me how wondrous discovering the voice work. It was simply exciting. Her use of imagery to unlock the potential of the voice and to imbue text with the full expressive ability of the human instrument was particularly exciting for me. It’s a new tool I can use!

Kristin has given me a new perspective on my craft. It’s hard to explain how really. I have yet to find the words. It’s as straight forward as learning that the body’s multiple brain centers; as multilayered as rediscovering the unconscious. To me, what I have gained from contact with Kristin is at once tangible and intangible.

I can’t wait to test out these approaches with my actors.

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