Dear Mime Artists around the World,
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"The Flashlight" - Follow up
Today I will answer one of the questions from a reader regarding my last article. The question was about how "The Flashlight" for indoor space is done physically in relation to "Eye Focus" and "The Attitude Phrase".
In our New York studio, I recently demonstrated this technique using an actual flashlight. It was very helpful for the students to understand the process and its timing. And their immediate improvement I saw was unbelievable.
"The Flashlight" Process in relation to Eye Focus:
Imagine you are wearing a head lamp which has a narrow focused flashlight attached to it. You enter a dark room with the head lamp on.
Shine "The Flashlight" (head lamp) on a diagonal high corner of the indoor space. You "See" a wall clock hung there with your head and eyes together. Immediately adjust your eye focus to recognize the clock like you naturally do in life when you try to read a street sign. This should take almost two seconds. (Two beats = see, recognize.) As you “recognize, inflate (coil) your body into an attitude. Then, move to the next point.
* You only have about 6 to 10 seconds of stage time to “Paint the Space” that you are in. Best advice is to make this a musical phrase of beats that are quick thoughts about the place. This is illustrated in the examples that follow.
Keep your flashlight pointing there and say to yourself a few quick thoughts in beats such as "Oh? clock... cool!" while making your eyes farsighted and focused upon the clock. Then, you can add a few minimal moves with your eyes, painting “thought dots” in the air, independently from your head.
* Internally sing short syllable words like above or simple sounds. Thoughts for "The Flashlight must be square and quick taking only a few seconds at the most for one glance. Do not take longer time or describe the thing with gestures.
* It’s true that a simple visualization such as a clock in the performer's mind helps us achieve a better acting moment, during this phase of your play. But it is not important "what" we are visualizing. What it is important, is that we ARE visualizing something in order to show a “place” around us.
While “painting the space” stay in one place, do not walk around. Quickly repeat Sections 1 and 2 above on two or three more points at different heights and angles from where you are until you see the space in your own imagination. Each space will take a different time and rhythm. Describing a Church will be more lyrical and a busy street in Times Square will be more frenetic. The opening moments of a play can be the most enjoyable part once you take advantage of these tools.
After you’ve drawn the space, you’re finished with "The Flashlight" phrase and can now add "The Depicting Objects."
Quick "Attitude Phrase" (See, Wish, Doubt, Believe) in "The Flashlight"
Let's find "The Attitude Phrase" in each glance of "The Flashlight" for indoor space. One glance (at one corner of the space) consists of two sections. Section 1 is "See", and Section 2 is "Wish", "Doubt", and "Believe".
Section 1) You see a point with the head lamp and eyes together and recognize (visualize) a thing. This is the moment of "See" in "The Attitude Phrase". Your eyes get focused on the thing by widening your eyes in a second.
Section 2) You keep your head lamp pointing there, and give a few thoughts ("Wish" and "Doubt") about what you saw with minimal moves and color changes of your eyes separately from your head, then make a quick conclusion ("Believe").
You just completed a quick "Attitude Phrase" (See, Wish, Doubt, Believe) about the thing you saw on the corner of the indoor space. This "Attitude Phrase" is shown so fast that people hardly notice it. But if that is missing, your audience will easily get lost in your play.
Again, the timing is so important in "The Flashlight". And those quick seconds you take will definitely help your audience feel at home throughout the scene.
Here is a video link to Gregg's "Phantom 309", my favorite play. Watch this play and see how quickly he puts in "The Flashlight" when he enters the cafe. He sees the corners and things sitting there, so we, the viewers, create the space through our own memory and imagination. It is not important "what" he saw, but it is important "that" he saw.
Please feel free to send any comments and questions you have about mime techniques, our articles, etc. Gregg is currently creating a video series "Goldmime Online" to support our global community.
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Written by Haruka Moriyama
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