13 July 2009

First Rehearsals are a treat!

It’s 9.30 on Monday night. We’ve just retired to our hotel after the first day of rehearsal, and what a day! Eli and I met this morning for a cup of coffee before taking a cab to the studio at 9.30. I set up and tested my gear while Eli met the company. At 10.00, the company began their 2 hours of warm up.

Warm up begins with 30 minutes of silence, during with the performers begin by meditating in silence and end by freestyling Yoga positions. After that, they do vocal warm-ups and physical warm-ups. By the end of the two hours, they are doing what they call ‘movement meditation.’ Physically, it looks like the kinetic part of viewpoints: quick movement, working with and against each other, being aware of positions in space and in relation to each other. Vocally, the warmup deviates from Viewpoints sharply. Actually, the exercise is a vocal version of the physical exercise. The performers sing, shout, grunt, mutter, holler, howl, coo, and squeal, working together to improvise filling and purging the room of sound. It was very interesting to watch them warm up. I watched part of the warm up, but I also used the time to check my email and talk to our hosts. Here is me with Ju-Yah and Yosup. Yosup is the artistic director and founder of Tuida. His wife, Ju-Yah, is also a director in the company and is one of the people who joined us for dinner last night.

After warm-ups ended (about noon), the whole company broke for lunch. Tuida eats lunch together in the common room, and today’s line-up was rice, mushrooms, meatballs, kimchee, greens, dried seaweed, tiny dried fish with peppers, and potatoes. For dessert, Yosup’s mother had sent along a big watermelon. For the second time in as many meals, I was complemented on my chopstick usage.

At 1pm, we started rehearsing. The company had worked in clown before, using Eli’s technique, and though Eli feared that they might have developed some bad habits in their prior training, their good points far outweighed their bad points. They had a lot of energy and what they lacked in focus, the made up for in imagination and zeal. We had planned on spending the whole afternoon helping each actor discover their clown, but it wasn’t long before we had started breaking the clowns into groups for some advanced exercises:

Before and after each session, the clowns and Eli circle up to check in and reconnect with each other:

At 5.30, we took dinner, which consisted of leftovers from lunch. Again, the whole company eats together. At each meal, everyone plays a game to determine who will wash the dishes. At lunch, we rolled dice. At dinner, we drew straws. I did not have to wash today.

At 7.00, we reconvened for another hour and a half. At this point, we had cast the show, and we worked some ideas with each group of cast members. The three men (Sook, Jo, and Yong) will play the witches, and we worked a creepy dance with some Blossom Dearie music (I thought of the gravediggers from our Hamlet in Maine). Our two taller women (Hee and Soo-Ah), will play Banquo, Duncan, Fleance, etc., and our two small women (Hye-Ran and Ara) will play MacBeth and Lady M. Here they are working on an exercise that eventually turned into the parade of kings from the banquet scene:

At 8.30, we broke, circled up, and packed up after our great first day. Sook took us back to our hotel, and Eli and I both retired early. It was a long day, and we’re meeting an old colleague of his tomorrow morning at 8. Then, another full day of rehearsal!

I love being back in rehearsal!

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