One week of our Summer Physical Theatre and Dance Intensives is complete! Below Rebekah Dawn shares her thoughts and reflections in her time at the ADA so far.
Upon arriving at the Villa Godiola to attend Accademia dell’Arte’s Summer Physical Theatre Intensive, I was enchanted. From the look and feel of the rustic villa, to home cooked community meals together in the mensa, to 24-7 access to any of the several rehearsal rooms, Villa Godiola is the artist’s dream. My favorite space is the new outdoor studio named Crawford Corner. It’s a marley floor enclosed by a stone half wall, overlooking the mountainside dotted with vineyards and olive groves.
In our first afternoon in this studio, instructor Roberto Andrioli asked us to consider the meaning of the neutral body, posing two questions: What is it, and how do we get there? Through critical thinking and engaging each other in dialogue, we came to the conclusion that perhaps there is no such thing as a totally neutral body. Perhaps it is an actor’s life long quest. Beneath the shade of the trees, pondering how to return to my truest self, I felt like a philosopher’s pupil during ancient civilization. In this moment I was lifted out of the stress riddling, creativity stifling, hustle bustle of contemporary western life. In this moment, my neutral self peeked its head out to play.
When Time Stands Still
What a pleasure it is to study Commedia dell’Arte in Italy, from a native Italian, whose lineage of training spans the Commedia dell’Arte masters. There are distinct differences in the style of teaching from that which I’ve received in the United States. Perhaps the greatest is that time is weighted differently, and it feels like there’s a lot more of it. It is possible that this feeling comes from being in an intensive setting and having all day to train. However, when I consider my time here in contrast to intensive training in an American setting, I still observe a difference. The pace of life here is far more relaxed, as is the pace at which the class is run.
The precedent that instructor Roberto Andrioli sets is one of ease, both in action and in words. On the first day he said “Life is hard. Commedia dell’Arte should be easy.” His manner of engaging with us is relaxed, and yet also 100% energized. I have rarely observed such a performer that can hold this level of ease and power together at the same time. In his very nature, he sets an example to which we can aspire. Even in one week’s time I’ve observed the effect that this precedent has had on the group, and I feel it in myself as well. Paradoxically, the more I relax, the more at ease I become, the more open I am, and the better my work is. What comes out of me is more honest, responsive, creative, and specific.
This is the complete opposite effect of the work ethic in my country of origin. I so easily succumb to the “pull yourself up by the bootstraps,” “manifest your own destiny” values often associated with American culture, which sometimes create in me a flight or fight response that either shuts me down or distracts me from the work at hand. I live most of my life feeling the affect of this, but not always seeing the source. Here, outside of my native environment, under the instruction of someone who has lived and worked in many different countries, I am better able to see where my native habits support me, and where they hold me back.