Friday, April 4, 2014

Ocean Waves - Energy Flows Between You and Your Audience

If you are a performing artist of any kind, you may have wondered how to create strong connection of energy between you and your audience.  We generally call this "Stage Projection" which in our art form, encompasses coiling body parts, combined with throwing our thoughts in several directions out into the theater.  We even learn to use our eye muscles to control a type of psychological emotion between us and them.

Stage Projection is the precise study to make ourselves be as close to our audience as emotionally and visually possible. 

Marcel Marceau in the Lion Tamer

In other words, it is the performer's ongoing intention to be breaking the fourth wall, i.e., proscenium, and make his/her audience feel included and subjective in the scene.  Note that we don't mean breaking the fourth wall in a Vaudeville, or Groucho Marx way, meaning as if we "step out of character."  We mean that we choose to create a subliminal effect where they feel that they are on-stage with us, as opposed to sitting an watching us as if we are far away inside of a bubble in a world of our own on the other side of the proscenium.  Furthermore, we are not saying that those choices are wrong, or invalid.  We are only using those as examples to help you better understand this article and technique we are describing. 

Marcel Marceau holding "The Tiger" flag in Boston

We believe that this style of performance communication originated from Marcel Marceau and was then further expanded upon by Goldston over the past 30-plus years.  Gregg often speaks of how his audience will tell him: "his performance makes them feel so close to them that it feels as if he is sitting in their lap." 

Let's continue:

As we study coiling, we push multiple body parts to different directions in order to keep our body fully alive - creating energy flows that reach our audience.  (Here it is important to tell you that Gregg first heard of this concept from Moni yakim, when he was working with Decroux during the 1950s - 1960's era.)  

Marcel Marceau in The Public Garden

If you would like to check if your energy is actually coming across the proscenium and reaching your audience, it is best to ask your audience if it is visible to them.

Better yet, you can practice this technique by having an associate stand far from you, (50 feet - 15 meters) 
and watch you pose and move through different positions.

For me, it has been exhausting to study pushing body parts to create the energy flows out into the house.  I did not feel efficient energy continuously beaming out from my body.  I heard Gregg's voice "Push more!" and I was trying so hard gripping my muscles and twisting as many parts as possible, but honestly, I felt something not so natural about how I created the flows.  (In fact, I later learned that: "gripping my muscles too hard and twisting too many parts actually stops this effect from happening!")

Very recently, I accidentally learned that one additional image can instantly facilitate and multiply this effect.  So I would love to share this story with you.

Probably for the last several years, I have been using an image of "liquid air" filling the theater in order to create necessary resistance for the moving quality this art form requires, meaning being Off- the-Clock.  

In my own imagination, I was always carrying a stage full of quiet water around me.  This was the reason I could not instantly create this energy projection.  I was gripping and holding during the moment of a push, instead of pushing further through the gesture I was delivering. 

I then realized that if I actually push "still water" in a bath tub, my body used too little effort.  Pushing against "bath tub water" was too simple and then I saw I was not really pushing!  This study led me see that the same was happening to me on stage.  I needed a much greater muscular force in my work on stage.

Consequently, I looked for a stronger visual image.  I thought of the Ocean Waves.  As soon as I focused on the image of waves coming toward me, as if I were in the ocean in Hawaii, my body spontaneously created the energy flows that felt so great and natural to me.

The flows were in irregular directions and speeds because of what my DNA remembered about the characteristics of the ocean.  I felt that my body shape turned into a human in motion.  My jaw dropped and I was screaming inside in one of my big epiphanies. 

I just wanted to share this simple story with you all.  About a little image, which helped me immensely and gave me hope to get better tomorrow.

The beauty of this image is found in the words I just wrote and I want to repeat them again, because these words best describe what we are all trying to arrive at while we are on stage: 

"The flows were in irregular directions and speeds."

We often say in class using a different description, but we are describing the same thing: 

"All Things, All Directions, All The Time!"

I have one final thought about "Ocean Waves" that you might find very interesting...

When I showed this article to Gregg before publishing it, he reminded me of an epiphany he had a few years ago about his Umbrella play Pas De Deux. He said the following: 

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"What captivates people about this play may not have to do with helium and a floating umbrella at all.  It is more likely the fact I recreate the same physics of waves breaking onto the sand and the rip-tides that pull the water back out to the sea.  I become the ocean and my audience gets to sit on the beach and enjoy.  As my teacher Marceau might say:  You must "become" the Sea."

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So have a seat on the beach and enjoy!

If you want to study this style of work, we hold weekly classes (unless tied up with other projects or touring)
and we often staging 2-Day Weekend Intensives and Summer Mime Intensives.

Written by Haruka Moriyama, 
 with additional writings by Gregg Goldston

For more information about The Goldston Moriyama Institute for Mime, our Personal Mime Training Programs in New York City, or our Summer Mime Intensives, please contact us at the links listed below.