• Listening Deeply and Living Intentionally with One Month Left

    by  • November 6, 2019 • One Year Program, Student Life, Uncategorized, Undergraduate Physical Theatre, Undergraduate Programs • 0 Comments


    Collin David Beach, Coastal Carolina University

    Semester Physical Theatre Program

    At the time I am writing this, we are a little ways pass the one month marker for being here, and
    have just passed the marker for a month remaining. Being here is second nature by now. You
    know the classes like the back of your hand, your classmates are your new family, and
    everything is very familiar. Which is why it’s good to take the free time you have left and
    rediscover the area. Refreshen your senses with what’s around you! Enjoy the outside areas of
    the villa! Grab some friends and walk into town as much as you can! This is a very special place
    and it’s worth remembering!



    Patrick Burke, LeMoyne University

    Semester Physical Theatre Program

    This past weekend, I walked alongside the lives of four total strangers for a day
    and it was one of the best days I’ve had since coming here. Prometheus was an
    adopted orphan who had now taken ownership of their surrogate parents’ bread bakery,
    and was doing quite well for himself when he wasn’t yelling at his own teenage boy to
    work more at the family business. Makaria was a secretive street performer, who lived
    on a farm outside of town with their pet poodle and a menagerie of farm animals, and
    she performed fire dances by night to crowds of excited fans. Stephano was an
    absurdist theatre director, with a pretty lively community of like minded people making
    obscure art pieces just like his in crowded dark cafes. Finally, Joey was a 14 year old
    boy who lived alone on the 7th floor of a public library, and spent most of his days
    playing pranks on the librarian and entering skateboarding competitions. Oh yeah, did I
    mention I was DMing a game of Dungeons & Dragons?
    I’ve played games of D&D before, but never one quite like this. This crazy group
    of unlikely acquaintances could only meet as part of a hilarious role playing game, but I
    think that it was only enhanced by the fact that all the players are Commedia dell’Arte
    students here. It was so entertaining, watching one of my friends start unconsciously
    performing as Capitano the moment their character began interacting with their lost
    interest; alluring and suave with their chest puffed out. Or how the disgruntled dad
    became inconsolably furious when his hard working teenage wanted a single night off
    from selling bread; it was an uncanny Pantalone! I had the privilege of running the game
    for them and it puts me in the unique spot to watch over their actions and it was truly
    fascinating seeing how we are all putting to use our new talents without even realizing it.
    It makes me even more thrilled to put these new skills to use when I inevitably return
    home and get to perform again in front of my family and friends!





    Olivia Rescigno, Muhlenberg College

    Physical Theatre Semester Program

    One of the key components in our work is our body and how we can transform it, release certain parts of it, and use it to connect to those around us. We have also learned that every individual’s body naturally tells them how much it can take at a time; we are still learning to listen to our bodies. This is something that I have definitely struggled with, and this program has helped me realize how I need to become a better listener.
    The past few weeks (right after fall break) were tough to get back into the daily schedule of classes and homework, and my body was trying its best to keep up. However, last week I got sick (not unusual, but very frustrating). Usually when I am sick, I push myself even harder to keep up with the demands of my classes. This time, I really listened to my body. I was going to bed earlier, drinking a lot of water, and even sitting out when we were doing very physical things in class. It was hard for me to sit out, but I was really trying to listen to what my body needed in that moment because in the end it would lead to a faster recovery. 
    With our last long weekend approaching I was getting anxious that I would have to rest and not be able to travel. After some consideration, I decided that it was best not to do an overnight trip, but do a day-trip to Pisa with some close friends. This last minute decision turned out to be one of the most fun days that I have had here. Not only was it breathtaking to actually see the Leaning Tower of Pisa (which, by the way, REALLY leans), but the surrounding monuments are gorgeous! The trip was filled with endless laughs as we watched all of the tourists do the typical “Leaning Tower of Pisa pose”, and then of course became one of those tourists when we did the pose as well. I never would have thought that listening to what my body needed could have led me to experiences that I will cherish my whole life. 



    Dressing up for Halloween (Harry Potter and the Snitch)


    Playing in the leaves


    Cinnamon hot chocolate at Coffee O’Clock

    Myriam Burger, Sarah Lawrence College

    Physical Theatre Semester Program

    A few things I’ve learned / things my teachers have said since I last wrote a blog post:
    – Let gravity go where it needs to go; give weight wherever you need to give
    weight; this is the work.
    – Release what is merely habitual; often our most established habits are also our
    most damaging. Live intentionally.
    – Skepticism is death of curiosity.
    – LISTEN!!!!! In all of our classes, basically everything we learn can be summed up
    with this. Are you listening? Are you listening deeply? Are you listening with
    empathy? Are you listening with and to your body? We must listen deeply to
    each other. We must listen deeply to our masks.
    – Where does your smile live in your body? Everything that you normally hold in
    your face must also live in your body.
    We had a really beautiful “Voice in the Mask” class the other day. Dory brought in these
    haunting, powerful masks and in groups of three, we each picked a mask (or let the
    mask pick us) and then spent time listening to it before putting it on and letting it
    transform us. We started out facing the wall and looking at the mask tilt in different
    directions, watching the light hit it in different ways, etc. We then stared into the
    eyes—and that was when I really felt transported in a way I never have before. The
    eyes are the windows to the soul, and because eyes of masks are hollow, it’s almost
    like there is no window, and when you look at the eyes, it is just the soul, with nothing
    blocking it. Anyway, looking at that mask, seeing how it was calling out, how
    desperately it wanted to connect, was haunting. It was screaming for connection. The
    mask wanted so desperately to connect, and there was such a pain in that! I was
    heartbroken to take off the mask at the end of the exercise, because it really felt like the
    mask-me still had so much to say and do, and I felt like I was killing it in some sense.
    But then Dory said something so beautiful—that that character is still alive in my spine,
    and in this mask. The character doesn’t die when you take off the mask, because the
    mask is not some distant “other”—the mask is me. Dory said at one point that masks
    can be the strongest communicator of what is really inside of us—they can be a vehicle
    to help us let out the real truth that we hold inside. There is nowhere to hide when you
    are in mask. Some spirit part of us, some deep and true part of us alights with some
    spirit part of the mask and that is how the mask-you is created. When she said that, I
    began to imagine this mask-me as this beautiful merging, this deep connection between

    The soul of the mask and the soul of me; when they met they created this character that
    is still very much alive in each of us, and is in fact living, dancing in some other


    The wonderfully colorful exterior of Spazio Seme. Many of us have been back since our workshop to take classes and see shows there.


    A happy moment from the theatre students’ movement collaboration.

    Aliza Saper, Coastal Carolina University

    One Year Physical Theatre Program

    Profound things are happening within the consciousness of this ensemble. Since returning from fall break, I sense that a directional shift is occurring in our work here. Collaboration is the pulse of this program and I think we all are beginning to understand what this means for us as creators here in this small, magical villa. Recently we have been engaging in some difficult, and necessary discussions about what we are creating and why. There is goodness in frustration, tension, passion, anger…these are indicative of the fact that growth and learning are taking place. We are endlessly discovering all the ways in which we can listen to each other. 

    Honorable mentions from this past week:

           Our final tarantella dance workshop at Spazio Seme International Artistic Center with Gianni Bruchi

           A wonderful collaborative class led by Dory Sibley, where theatre and music students moved and worked together, exploring the ways in which their techniques overlap and complement each other. 

           A four hour Commedia class, during which I practiced working with a ‘do more, think less’ approach. We are working on developing our own Commedia scenarios that deal with social and political issues. 

           Being witness to the work and growth of my peers. 

           Having the opportunity to make and eat bagels from scratch (they are hard to come by here) thanks to the ADA’s very own Seamus Good!


    We are all acutely aware of time, how much of it has passed, how much of it we have left, what we can accomplish in the time we have left etc. In this next month we will be working hard. This I know. We begin, at this point, to really build towards something. Not a show or a performance, we’ve been told, but rather a living exploration of our experience here. A culmination of sorts. We don’t know, of course what this is going to look like, but what we do know is our potential. I am very much looking forward to building to the end of my time here with this group of creators. I will leave you with some things that our ensemble has been talking about, and contemplating the past couple of weeks:

           Presence                                                                – Patience 

           Empathy                                                                – Sacrifice

           Listening                                                               – Gentleness 

           Space – taking space, holding space               – Impulse

           Being exhausted for the right reasons            – Risk 

           Trusting                                                                 – Duality 

           Not knowing                                                         – Doing without thinking



    Our delicious bagel babies. They turned out so yummy!


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