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.
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.
– WE ARE ASHAMED OF THAT WHICH IS MOST BEAUTIFUL
– 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
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