The philosophical axis of this work is the ‘out of comfort zone’ condition and its purpose is freedom of expression. The exercise I suggest is called ‘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. It balances on an axis that goes from the center of the Earth to the center of the Universe. You can consider this to be either wrong physics or meta-physics. Either way, this thing works. It’s about re-acting.
Architecture: Relationships can define characters through a simple shape and a clear axis between two or more people.
Grammar is responsible for musicality in spoken word.
Music consists of Rhythm, Melody and Harmony, which is everything.
ARTISTIC EXPRESSION NEEDS TO BE NURTURED
WITH TRUTH AND FREEDOM.
In this class, every and any umbilical cord associated with social syndromes, forms of society, rules, prejudices, methods and techniques is dismissed, in order to provide space for the creation of a ‘personalized form’ for the performer, based on their timing, perspective and personal need in regards to expression.
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-technique, which is only interrelated to that which will arise, after the actor has understood in depth the meaning of the words through Grammar, Syntax and Etymology, which are, more or less, the roots of language itself and the structural nature of language, as it was born and formatted, when humanity first started responding to the purest need in the history of needs; the need for communication.
This new form is truth. Always new, always unique. It is not about intelligence. It is about wisdom.
Language is the proof of the need for evolution and the consequence of it.
But, it was never about words, sentences and paragraphs.
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.
Now, let’s agree on this; throughout life, we’re dealing with conscious and subconscious behaviors. One is filtered behaviors (culture) and the rest is truth.
What would our acts look like, if we would be born and raised in an environment where there would be no fear?
TILL FREEDOM BECOMES THE ONLY COMFORT ZONE
Choose freedom or freedom will choose you, eventually.
Ask your body, not your mind. The body cannot lie. Stay centered and ask yourself from the center, if you’re looking for a true response.
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 is the 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 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. By the way, 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. The ones that need to break are the those that obstructs evolution, expression, freedom.
Freedom as the only comfort zone is another expression for ‘Freedom of Chaos’. This is where I’m inviting you to –the absolute exposure. This is a very interesting condition to create in and probably the most productive environment for a body to be in, as the survival instinct takes the lead. Do you have a stronger argument than that? Now, imagine an actor on stage led by those kinds of instincts. This is a performance I’d love to see!
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.
But there are also those other patterns that are born due to insecure feelings and other needs which are rooted to fear and guilt. Those patterns become parts of the life of an individual, sometimes for very long periods, obstructing expression and finally immuring the person. Those are the actual patterns which cause the need for comfort zones, when the individual has to feel that state of pseudo-security, as they are not ready to ‘hold responsibility’, yet.
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 — and those steps aren’t even created by them. Also, the fact that techniques are chosen and followed by so many artists at the same time, gives the artist-in-comfort-zone an even more secure feeling, as they are not alone in this.
That being said, a technique or a method in acting ends up worthing more than the actual actor’s voice for the actor, who cannot even remember how they wanted to speak or what they wanted to say in the first place.
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 it’s not you.
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", said someone. (it wasn't Einstein, 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 understand the mechanism of a pattern, when you figure out how a pattern works, you can explain life. And this is as specific as it gets.
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.
Let’s work with speech and music in parallel action. What happens when music stops, having already generously given the actor its functions? The actor now becomes a mature creator, a maestro who conducts speech, words and phrases, bringing in thousands of different versions of expressing oneself through the truth of musicality and the flow of freedom.
Organic speech is a musical and full of frequencies speech - even in silence. Organic body is a dancing body - even in stillness.
Music is now here to remind to the rhetoric all the functions that spoken word has always had: Rhythm, Melody, Harmony.
Musicality pre-existing 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.
All that the actor needs to know, is on the paper, already written.
Tell the story. Truthfully. Literally. As it was written.
Grammar is responsible for musicality in spoken word.
A performer is responsible for being a great connoisseur of Grammar.
If you’re missing musicality, apply Grammar.
This class is an exercise about freedom of expression and an educational task about breaking free of all the behavioral patterns and comfort zones that obstruct expression.
‘Reverse Dramaturgy’ is an exercise about the revelation of the character through the relationship.
The approach of the relationship happens through the condition of dialogue between the characters, in order for the characters to reveal themselves and for their unique structural and behavioral traits to blossom.
It is a Reverse Dramaturgical Analysis and Approach, where the performer won’t get in the on-stage relationship obeying to all the characteristics that the theatrical condition suggests nor will they walk according to the theatrical forms that “make sense” due to the genre, era etc. of the theatrical, musical, dance or so act.
We won’t “get in the shoes of the character” to find the core of the relationships within the scene or the play.
The performers will walk on stage naked and clean from all the pre-decided characteristics and behavioral elements of the role, in order for them to witness their own revelation by engaging in the relationships through dialogue. That’s how the story will be delivered better.
This revelation will “dress the performer up” with all that the here, the now suggests.
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 “forced” to affect and get affected by each other, until they listen to each other, react and tune in. This is based on the “Forced Oscillation” field in physics, which results in the tuning of the objects that are parts of the oscillating system – the relationship.
A MONOLOGUE IS STILL A DIALOGUE
The dialogue within the monologue is unveiled.
There are no monologues. Everything is a dialogue.
Feedback is inevitable.
Dialogue is the symptom of the relationship.
The relationship is the subject – the main and only concern for the performer.
EVERYTHING IS FEEDBACK.
There is no such thing as “my first line” or “I start speaking first” and so on.
Everything is a continuum, a result of constant feedback. 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.”
QUESTION AND ANSWER (QnA)
What has been written on the paper is ‘the answers’. Ask a question for every line of your text, which is every ‘answer’ 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 as announcements, as 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, so that your words are answers to a request, always.
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.
For society, humility is a sign of weakness. For Humanity, it is the basis for creation.
The actor will become the perfect medium to transfer the text from the two dimensions of the paper to the three – the least – dimensions of the story.
This is not about acting. It’s about freedom of expression.
ACTING IS NOT ABOUT BEING SMART. IT’S ABOUT RE-ACTING.
Let the body show you the way. Overthinking is the enemy of the instincts.
Modern Western societies suffer from thinking too much. Overthinking becomes an obstacle between the delivering body – the free body – and the audience.
Do nothing. Let the body show you the way.
In this class, I’m trying to eliminate the reaction time. This is clearly applied also in 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. Being without having to do anything. Not because what is there is enough, but because it is complete.
You don’t have to say anything 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. Give it some 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.
Again, organic speech is a musical and full of frequencies speech – even in silence. Organic body is a dancing body – even in stillness.
While the mind tends to live through the guilt of the past, predicting the catastrophe of the future, the body can only be in ‘the here, the now’. The body can only be in ‘the here, the now’.
There is a calling, always. Hear it and re-act 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 breath.
In the beginning there was air and then there was speech. 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.
Why push words, reactions, feelings, when we can just exhale them?
This way, the actor will delve into the understanding of the fact that the spoken word is a result of the breath itself.
Sound as a result of the air. Air becomes sound, speech.
Speech as a need to exhale words, speech as a sigh.
Breathe in air, exhale words.
Your voice is the lightest thing on you.
Don’t push the words out. You only need to breathe the air in. Then, you’ll have exhale the air, inevitably. Air with sound is speech or singing. 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.
Don’t say 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 THE FLOW.
Understanding rhythm as an axis, as a constant, as the in relation to, as the here, the 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 act is part of a continuum. Stay tuned. Be synchronized.
• syn = with, together, in Greek --> συν • chronized comes from chronos = time, 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?
DON’T PAUSE LIFE TO BEGIN ACTING.
There are no starting points. Just a continuum called “the flow”.
Even if you stop speaking, even if you stop moving, Time will keep moving forward.
You are the flow. You are Time.
As you start speaking, you just start speaking, not existing.
Think of “start!”, “action!”, “go!” as “keep going!”.
Don’t cut the flow to begin the flow. It doesn’t make sense. Just continue. Keep breathing, listen, take everything into consideration and we take it from there.
Whatever you do, don’t stop breathing. Don’t hold your breath thinking what your next move is, as you’ve probably just blocked your next move. The only way for the flow to cut is when one stops breathing. Don’t hold your breath. It’s unnatural and this is the 21st century. We need to breathe.
THE PERFORMER AS THE DRAMATURGE
Speaking the words that the playwright/dramaturge wrote, like they’re yours. As if you’re writing them now, as if they’re coming out of your mouth as a result of a need that equals survival. I’m not referring to anything more than the everyday life and the everyday needs. Just think of the moment you have to go to the bathroom and do your need. You’ll either do it or you’re in big trouble. If what brought you on stage was less than that, then it was not a need.
This is the same need that made the dramaturg compose the play you call a masterpiece and chose to deliver today.
Become the dramaturge as you deliver.
This is about taking all the responsibility of a perfect delivery. You become a co-dramaturge, either you choose it or not. If a chef creates 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 time and that’s what it takes for you to be a great delivery vessel.
Trust your neurons, trust that the mind already knows every word of the text, as you have been rehearsing on it for hours, days, maybe months.
Still, speak through a body that knows nothing, a body always ready to discover, to move forward. That’s the dramaturgical vessel that you are.
DRAMATURGY STARTS FROM YOU BEING CONNECTED TO YOURSELF.
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. Even in cinema, considering the audience absent while shooting a film is not a valid thought. 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 – 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 one body, the project.
Don’t be jealous. Don’t be alone. Jealousy is the most obvious sign of fear.
Whatsoever, we own nothing in this world.
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 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.
Freedom is your 100% choice. It’s complete. It’s real.
Instead of trying to capture and take notes about freedom, release it. And let the body remember the experience as clear as it gets.
Stay open and be generous to yourself.
A pregnant woman told me once: “If I could keep my baby inside me forever, that’s what I would do.” The next morning she was scheduled to deliver her baby to this world.
As for the good moments on stage, bring them to life and set them free. That’s a great way to invite them again.
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 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 or a hundred. Let the mistake lead you.
EMBRACE SUCCESS AS PART OF THE GAME
Success is not some peak one must reach. If that’s the case with life, 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 about the peak. The game involves failure and success as different stages of moving forward. It’s a win-win situation. Think about it.
If your aim is success itself, you may succeed or fail, as well.
But this exercise about freedom of expression, succeeds 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, the flow is your one and only choice.
There’s no other choice.
DON’T LOOK FOR THE RESULT. FOCUS ON THE EXERCISE.
The term ‘result’ is a bit old for the 21st century. While you were bothering about the result, iPhone 19 has just launched.
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.
What will be, will result from the unconditional involvement of the actor with the telling of the story. All that the actor should care about is the exercise, the functions, not the result. Even in the performance. Especially then.
Don’t fall in the trap of pre-deciding the mood or the attitude of the character, describing their feelings and all the sentimental and psychological layers. Don’t worry about feelings. Feelings cannot be pre-decided, regardless.
Interact with the here, 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 draw no more conclusions and make no more theories. Let’s stay open for all the updates and upgrades it has to propose to us every second.
A MISTAKE IS A GIFT.
Dare to make mistakes, as many as you can.
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 trying to be right, but the most involved one.
Focus on the exercise. Stay open to see the lesson.
Let the mistakes happen, leave space for them to show you the way, to reveal the need.
LET YOURSELF BE YOUR TEACHER
Self-observation may point and reveal whatever your stage presence needs to borrow from your presence in life. What would you like to borrow from your life? Which functions? What is it that you mostly miss from yourself on stage?
Art and life as one channel. Borrow from life, not art.
Stay open. Let the truth reveal.
THE BAD LIAR, THE GOOD LIAR AND THE ONE WHO TELLS THE TRUTH.
WHO WOULD YOU RATHER BE?
The bad liar tells lies that are neither pleasing nor convincing. Bad liars won’t express themselves nor will they make the audience happy.
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.
Nudity and not wearing clothes is not the same thing. One is freedom, the other is guilt.
There is theater with and without guilt.
A song with and without guilt.
A meal with and without guilt.
Life with and without guilt.
We live in the era of the creators. The performer as 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, where you’re aiming at and I’ll assist you accordingly. You lead, though. Always.
All the responsibility is yours, all the choices, all the failure, all the success. This is the world I’m talking about.
– out of comfort zone –
Teacher of Drama and Stage Performance
Greek born / NYC based