Teaching Philosophy

The philosophical axis of this work is the ‘out of comfort zone’ condition and its purpose is freedom of expression. I call this exercise ‘Reverse Dramaturgy’ and it is a study on the Architecture of Relationships – from the relationship to the character.

Till freedom becomes the only 
comfort zone.

IT’S ALL ABOUT PHYSICS, ARCHITECTURE, GRAMMAR AND MUSIC.

Physics: Potential energy and kinetic energy co-existing in a body always ready to move. When the body stands, it doesn’t stop moving, it rather balances.

The Architecture of Relationships refers to the axis that connects two or more people. This axis will define the characters.

Grammar is responsible for musicality in spoken word.

Music consists of rhythm, melody and harmony. This means that music is literally everywhere.


ARTISTIC EXPRESSION NEEDS TO BE NURTURED
WITH TRUTH AND FREEDOM.

In this class, we’ll try to cut every and any umbilical cord associated with social syndromes, forms of society, rules, prejudices, methods and techniques, in order to provide space for the creation of a ‘personalized method’ for the performers, based on their current “here and now”, their perspective and personal needs in regards to expression.

This new method is truth. Always new, always unique.

Give no more directions to the artists. 
Let them do it their way.

In this class, we will create space for a non-form, a non-method for acting.

Grammar, Syntax and Etymology will be our main tools for this work.

The truth of the story is what will set every performer free, making room for them to be a perfect ‘delivery vessel’, a vessel that knows nothing. And this is the magnificence of the performer’s actual status. 

They didn’t come on stage because they know, but in order to explore and discover.

The art of acting 
is a living organism 
that evolves along 
with human expression.

Verbal communication is only the first level of communication in a civilized world. Nonverbal communication is the rest of it. 


TILL FREEDOM BECOMES THE ONLY COMFORT ZONE 

Choose freedom or freedom will choose you, 
eventually.

Comfort zone is the state, where 
one feels comfortable and safe enough 
to take no responsibility.

Remember the first and only comfort zone you have ever been inside. It was the actual womb itself, where you did not have to worry about eating or even breathing. Someone else was doing everything for you.

The cutting of the umbilical cord between the mother and the newly born baby has been the most violent incident ever happened to any human being. While, concurrently, this has been the first literate moment for the possibility of independence and freedom.

Human existence balances between 
fear of loneliness and the 
possibility of freedom.

Where there is fear, there is 
no possibility of freedom. 

Where there is no fear, what's left 
is freedom.

The first moment where the body experiences loneliness is the exact moment the body is born. And this is also the first second of freedom, after the cutting of the umbilical cord.

I’m just saying that, maybe, this could be the neurological reason why breaking a pattern and freeing oneself from the brink of the abyss of comfort zones is not easy at all.

It’s true that no body can live with no comfort zones and this is very healthy. The comfort zones that we will try to deal with and break in this class, are the those that obstruct one’s evolution and freedom of expression.


BREAKING THE PATTERN.

A pattern is a repeated behavioral act. A sequence of actions that take place at least once, make a potential pattern. A sequence of acts that happen at least twice, make a pattern, already.

Human brain works through patterns (neuroscience calls them brain patterns or brain policies). The brain is structured so as to be able to recognize and capture the functions that work in favor of the body, so that you won’t have to learn how to tie your shoes or ride a bike from scratch every day.

There are also patterns that are created due to insecure feelings and are rooted to fear. The individual then chooses to act in a comfort zone, getting into a state of pseudo-security, temporarily.Those patterns become part of the life of an individual, sometimes for very long periods, obstructing expression and finally obstructing the person from expressing themselves freely and truly.

In acting and other performance art environments, a comfort zone can be seen in the form of an actual acting method or technique, as the individual needs to feel that there are certain and specific steps they can follow, in order to express themselves. Also, the fact that techniques are chosen and followed by so many artists at the same time, gives the artist an even more secure feeling, as they are not alone in this.

That being said, a technique or a method in acting ends up meaning more than the actual actor’s voice to the actor, who loses touch with their unique voice and way of expressing themselves.

Recognize the patterns. You’ve seen them before, you know them well, they have been there for quite a long time, repeating themselves in circles as life goes on, waiting for you to let them in or even letting themselves in, whenever you are most off-center and afraid, when overthinking has set you weak and insecure.

Recognize the patterns and break them.
Insecurity creates the need for a performer to rather be in a comfort zone, follow the steps of an acting method or technique they’ve been taught so as to express themselves, in order to feel “safe” on stage. But, this is just another trap that keeps you away from your center, that weakens your instinct, that takes your true voice away. Add technique to your values, instead of setting technique as your values. Technique is there to assist you express your values. Let method boost the instinct. If not this way, then you might feel safe, but this is not your voice.

Self-observation.

Some of the most easily recognizable characteristics of a pattern while performing, is the rhythm and the musicality of the speech, the choreography of the body, as well as, the rythmique of the breath. Feel the beat and break the pattern right at the moment it starts to feel familiar and puts you in a comfort zone. This applies to both, body and speech. Break the rhythm, break the pattern.

"Insanity is doing the same thing 
over and over again and expecting 
different results", 

Rita Mae Brown
(it wasn't Einstein who said this, sorry..)

So, if you find yourself trapped in a character, trying to express yourself through a certain form over and over again and it doesn’t feel nice, break the pattern, break the rhythm. Breathe, pause, reset, listen to the flow and continue. But, whatever you do, don’t stop breathing. 

Stay connected to the flow. Be the flow.

When you figure out how a pattern works, 
you can explain life. 

RHYTHM, MELODY, HARMONY

This is about the miracle of music. It is about the use of music as a tool to attain the largest understanding of speech in terms of Rhythm, Melody and Harmony.

Silence is definitely part of the partitute.

Music is now here to remind to the rhetoric all the functions that spoken word has always had: Rhythm, Melody, Harmony.

Musicality preexisted in words. Let it be revealed.

Music is everything.


MUSIC <= GRAMMAR

ALL YOU NEED IS ALREADY THERE. ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS DELIVER.

Musicality is a symptom of the performer’s accurate delivery of what was written – no less than that. The performer is responsible for being a great connoisseur of Grammar. Putative links, time adverbs, adjectives, question marks, negations, commas, periods, exclamation points, the vowels and consonants. They’re all there, already.

Etymology will help you connect to the root and the foundation of the words, and discover them.

All that the actor needs to know, is on the paper, already written.
Tell the story. Truthfully. Literally. As it was written.

Grammar and Syntax are responsible for musicality in spoken word.   

If you’re missing musicality, apply Grammar.


REVERSE DRAMATURGY

Reverse Dramaturgy is an exercise about the revelation of the character through the relationship.

Relationship happens through dialogue, in order for the characters to reveal themselves and for their unique structural and behavioral traits to blossom.

Relationships can define characters. All you need is a simple shape and a clear axis between two or more people. It’s all about perspective. It’s about the Architecture of Relationships.
Without the relationship, there’s no story.

A unique characteristic of this exercise is the verbal overlap I’m suggesting during the dialogue, trying to eliminate the time of reaction for the participants. The performers are called to listen to each other, react and tune in. This is based on the “Forced Oscillation and Resonance” field in physics, which results to the tuning of the objects that are parts of the oscillating system -the relationship.


A MONOLOGUE IS STILL A DIALOGUE

Feedback is inevitable.

There is no such thing as “my monologue starts here” or “this is my first line” and so on.

Everything is a continuum, a result of constant feedback. Everything is a dialogue.

Time was before and will be after.
You are part of the flow, as everything is part of the flow. There is no beginning or end.

My answer to the question: 
“When does a performance begin?”, is that: 
“It has already begun.”

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

What has been written on the paper is ‘the answers’. Ask a question for every line of your text that you need to deliver. Attach your speech to the need that a question creates; the need for an answer. 

Don’t bring up lines that come out of your mouth like announcements, like words and phrases that have no roots, that there was never a need for them to be expressed and spoken out. Speak because there is a question to be answered.

Whenever you feel off-center, 
you’ve probably answered the 
wrong question or no question.

The annihilation of the ego shall set the basis for this work. Knowledge visits the actor who needs to tell the truth every moment. A team has only one need: the team’s need. Come in bringing your personality, as the team needs your personality, but not your ego.

For society, humility is a sign of 
weakness. 
For Humanity, it is the basis for 
creation.

Ego is an obstacle to the ability to understand and share the feelings of another human being. Ego is an obstacle to empathy.

This is not about acting. It’s about living together.


ACTING IS NOT ABOUT BEING SMART. IT’S ABOUT RE-ACTING.

Let the body show you the way. 
Overthinking is the enemy of  your true voice.

Modern Western societies suffer from thinking too much. Overthinking becomes an obstacle between the delivering body – the free body – and the audience.

Let the body show you the way. 

In this class, we will try to eliminate the reaction time through the “Reverse Dramaturgy” exercise.

Actors often feel that they have to do “something” or be “someone”, on stage. Actors often complain that once they have achieved to speak in freedom, they felt as if they were not doing much or even that they were doing nothing. This is exactly the point: Nothingness.

Being is reacting to the moment.

You don’t have to speak because Shakespeare wrote it and it’s your turn to speak.
Listen carefully and according to the frequencies you are going to find, see if there is any frequency missing there, for you to put in. If there is nothing you really see or hear missing, give it some space. React with silence.

Do nothing. Let the ‘intelligence’ of the body lead you. Stay open. Re-act. Deliver.

SILENCE IS STILL NARRATIVE. 
IT IS PART OF STORYTELLING.

Pause is definitely same ​​material 
as speech and movement. 
Don't be afraid to pause.

There is always a calling. 
Hear it and react accordingly.

If you didn't hear it, 
it wasn't for you. 
If you heard it, don't ask if 
it was for you - just, react.

DON’T FORGET TO BREATHE.

First, we breathe.

Inhaling air, exhaling sound, words, speech, melodies.

Let’s apply organic speaking. Let’s invest in the flow of breathing.

The most minute amount of air is sufficient to cause vibration to the vocal cords and produce sound. If there is no air, there will be no sound.

Don't push words.
Let the air do the job.
Instead of pushing words,
you can just exhale them.

{Even feelings -
Don't push them, 
let the body exhale them."

This way, the actor will delve into the understanding of the fact that the spoken word is a result of breath itself.

Breathe in air, exhale words.
Sound is air.

Don’t push the words out. You only need to breathe the air in. Then, you’ll have exhale the air, inevitably. Let it happen. I know, I’m repeating myself now, but I do have an important point I want to make clear: Let the air do the job.

Your voice is the lightest thing on you. 
And that's how you should treat it.

Don’t speak the words. Exhale them.
Whatever you do, do not hold or block the air as you exhale.

Breathe and, by the way, speak.
Speak as you breathe. Don’t breathe as you speak.

Also, If you lose your flow on stage, invest in breathing. When you feel off-centered, go back to breathing. When you make a mistake, keep breathing. When you fail to do the exercise, don’t forget to breathe. Breathe till the end of the world. Breathing will keep you alive and tuned.


BE TIME.
BE THE FLOW.

Try understanding rhythm as an axis, as a constant, as the in relation to, as the here and now. Time was before, and will be after. 

Be with time. Synchronized. Together. Not faster, not slower. Synchronized. With time.
Be the flow.
Stay open. Stay centered.

Every action is part of a continuum. Stay tuned. Be synchronized.

 • syn = with, together, in Greek --> συν
 • chronized comes from chronostime, in Greek --> χρόνος.

 Synchronized = with Time.

Quiz (sort of): If you’re not sure whether you managed to “become Time” or not, just see if you can stand silence. Can you?


THE PERFORMER AS A CO-DRAMATURGE

How would it feel like, if the words that you went up on stage to speak were written by you?

You are a co-dramaturge, either you wrote these words or not. If a chef cooks a great recipe and the server takes it to the customer an hour later, it is no longer a great recipe, but only a cold plate that was supposed to be eaten hot. Be there on time and that’s what it takes for you to be a great delivery vessel.


A GREAT DRAMATURGY STARTS FROM YOU BEING CONNECTED TO YOURSELF AND YOUR MEANS OF EXPRESSION COLLABORATING WELL WITH EACH OTHER. 

SPEECH AND BODY AS ONE INSTRUMENT. ONE SOURCE OF INFINITE MANIFESTATIONS OF EXPRESSION. 

IF YOU CAN’T SPEAK YOUR WORDS, DANCE THEM. AND VICE VERSA.

IT’S A COLLABORATION. 


THE AUDIENCE IS NOT ALONE ANYMORE

Everything is part of the project.

Ludwig Wittgenstein asked: “If I’m singing and nobody listens, am I singing?”

The audience and the performer are in a constant dialogue giving feedback to each other. A spectacle is valid only when seen. A sonic fact is valid when it’s heard. An artistic product is valid when it’s presented in front of an audience. The audience is not there to judge you – not anymore. Everyone is there for the experience – the Duende. To share, to give feedback, to continue the dialogue. It’s a relationship.

The audience is part of the Dramaturgy, 
as everything is; including time and space.

THE PROTAGONIST IS THE WORK ITSELF, NOT THE ACTOR. 

The performance as a result of teamwork. Think project, not role. Feel the heartbeat of the project.

Don’t be jealous. Don’t be alone. Jealousy is the most obvious sign of fear.


 
DON’T BE DESPERATE FOR GOOD MOMENTS

When you achieve a good delivery in your performance with freedom and truth, you’ll feel its greatness. The most common reaction then, is trying to find a way to capture this, thinking about all the “right” moves that you did and brought you to that and so on.

But, you know what?
You cannot capture freedom, as this would be the ultimate tragic irony of our fate.

Also, you cannot repeat truth, as truth is always new, always unique. Truth is now.

Don’t try to repeat truth, but always tell the truth.

Instead of trying to capture and take notes about the moment of freedom you just experienced, release it. And let the body remember the functions that brought you there.


A MISTAKE IS A GIFT.

Dare to make mistakes during the exercise.
If there was no mistake, there would be no evolution in Humanity.

Evolution as a result of mistakes. 

A mistake in society is a 
reason for punishment. 
A mistake in Humanity is one step 
before a lesson is to be learnt. 
One step before evolution.

In this class, the “good student” is not the one doing no mistakes, but the most involved one. 


EMBRACE FAILURE AS PART OF THE GAME

The game is about moving forward, no matter what. Falling down is definitely part of the game. Sometimes, the lesson one learns from failing is vastly more important than the one that comes from any type of success.

Trying to be a good student, you’ll do anything to avoid failing. And you might, indeed, make it today. That sounds like too much stress here. Allow yourself to make a mistake. Learn from that and move forward.

EMBRACE SUCCESS AS PART OF THE GAME

Success is not some peak one must reach. If that’s the case, then good luck with peaks. This totally sounds like Westernism in its lamest. A constant contest about, more or less, everything.

Life is about the game, not the peak. The game involves failure and success, both as stages of moving forward. It’s a win-win situation. Think about it.

In this exercise about freedom of expression, you succeed right at the moment you choose to be involved. 

The exact moment you find yourself standing in the center of the circle, this is already a success. There’s only one way for this exercise to fail: to fall down and stay down. 

That being said: flow is the only aspect. Because: LIFE. 


WHENEVER YOU’RE READY

One of the most common traps of the constant contest process around you, might be that you will believe you that have to make it today or that you have to achieve what the person next to you achieved today.
This is a huge misunderstanding. You’ll make it whenever you’re ready.

Work hard having faith to your powers and you’ll get there on time.


DON’T LOOK FOR THE RESULT. FOCUS ON THE EXERCISE.

Stay here, stay now.

Don’t get trapped in the future. 

You cannot predict any result neither during the rehearsal nor in the actual performance, on stage. 

All that the actor should care about is the exercise, the functions that brought you as far as here, not the result. Even in the performance – especially then.

Don’t fall in the trap of pre-deciding the mood or the feelings of the character. Don’t worry about the feelings. Feelings cannot be pre-decided, regardless.

Interact with the here and the now.

Just follow the words and the needs created by the words themselves, and you have it all. Deliver now. Do the exercise. You’ll see the result in a video later on.

The era, which is progressing faster than ever, invites us to stay open for all the updates and upgrades it has to offer to us every second.


THE BAD LIAR, THE GOOD LIAR AND THE ONE WHO TELLS THE TRUTH.

WHO WOULD YOU RATHER BE?

The bad liar tells lies that won’t work with the audience. Bad liars won’t express themselves nor will they make the audience happy, after all.

The good liar tells lies, as goodly as lies can be told. Good liars won’t express themselves, as it is not possible to express oneself by telling lies. They will make the audience happy, for now. For how much longer, though?

The ones who tell the truth will express themselves and their concern won’t even be to please the audience neither to receive any kind of acceptance. They have taken care of that earlier by accepting their own self.


We live in the era of the creators. The performer is a creator.

Nonetheless, the nature of every human being is to create, to give birth.


YOU ARE THE TEACHER. I’M YOUR ASSISTANT.

In this class, you are the Teacher. You lead. Show me your vision, let me know where you’re aiming at and I’ll assist you accordingly.
 

All the responsibility is yours, all the choices, all the failure, all the success.

Thank you,

Labros Filippou
Teacher of Drama and Stage Performance

Greek born / NYC based