From Thursday until tonight (Sunday) I was at the workshop everyday with Be, Livia, Fra and Filippo. Four days of intensive work, playing with paying attention, being imaginative and reacting truthfully in a given situation.
On Thursday I started my favorite exercise, called Beauty Corner. It’s an exercise in which participants have to create a space with objects they own (intimate or not), a space that represents them and their inner world. Be and Fra were the first ones to create these places and we all discovered new things about their passions and their personality through the objects that they brought. We had a look into Be’s past and at the things that inspire her and we looked at a lot of photos that Fra took with his analog cameras. We were the first people outside his family to see all his photos. It was hard for them to have other people look through their intimate things and very interesting for the others to discover their universes. My opinion was that in theater you have to always put an intimate part of yourself on stage, however hard it is, so that what you do becomes valuable. It’s hard to let some strangers see you into your most intimate moments, but if you don’t what’s the use of pretending? We also did some exercises that made them understand that at the core of theater you will always find something fake, something not real that we as actors have to make real through believing. We worked on the ways to make something unreal become real, by first understanding all the circumstances of a scene (where, when, purpose, stakes, actions) and then imagining biographies and contexts.
On Friday we worked a lot on relationships between characters. We started from simple relationships like statutes (boss-employee for example) and then we went on to work on more complex types of relationships. We also took the first steps into character observation by asking them to pretend they are someone that they know and to “bring” that person to the workshop. That way I met a shy Italian guy, an extrovert grandmother and a very religious piano teacher. With the piano teacher everybody got so caught up in the dialogue that they were trying to convince an unreal character to change her views about religion, forgetting that it’s only an exercise and that the person they were talking to was not who she pretended to be. But again, they experienced how something that starts as being false can become real and even bring out real emotions. It’s all about constructing a character and situation down to the smallest detail and believing in the premises of your character and situation.
On Saturday we looked at Livia and Filippo’s Beauty Corners and we found a very curious girl and a boy that grew up but still believes in magic. After that we worked on dialogue lines and how and why words come out of actors/characters’ mouths. We learned that there’s a reason, a context and a purpose for each word or sentence that we say, in life as well as on stage. We worked on justification, something that usually the actor has to find for his actions or lines if the director doesn’t provide it. While trying to interact with what happens in front of them and not bringing their own stories to the scene, they understood the importance of always doing an action truthfully. They started showing and pretending less and less and started thinking and feeling more and more. At some point I was really happy when I saw that they didn’t even care if the goal of an exercise is reached as long as they tried to be real and interact honestly with each other.
Today (Sunday) was the last and most important day of the workshop. Today I was going to gather everything they learned this week into one big exercise. I asked them to write a monologue addressed to someone that can help them achieve something that they really want. Then I switched the monologues between them so that everybody got someone else’s monologue and learned it by heart. They thought that they would just have to recite the monologues, but I offered them real partners to speak to. I even changed the context and the characters that they were addressing so that the purpose was always different and the relationships between them and their partners was changing all the time. In this last lesson everybody learned through practice that a text gets is value from the context (situation, who i’m talking to, why, what do i want to obtain) and so the same text can have different interpretations based on that context. We also played with emotion and how to build it, but to get better at that it would have taken another week of exercises.
So the workshop ended. We had some burgers tonight and we were both happy and sad. Happy for this week and sad that it was ending. Me and Be are shooting a short movie tomorrow and Filippo helped us today with a microphone. We recorded a monologue that I wrote for the movie and that Be was acting out. Filippo and Livia will also be helping us with the soundtrack, so this group will probably not dissolve as soon as our melancholy was suggesting.
Tuesday I’m leaving to Florence, so tomorrow is my last day in Rimini, a city by the beach were I never swam in the sea during 8 days. In Barcelona I only had one swim on my last day. Now that I think about it, my trip is not about the attractions of a city, but about the people that I meet there. And I could have never done this if I were on holiday!