Loving Me Some Robyn

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My marvelous GF introduced me to this awesome song.  Six months after, still jammin’ to it.  Though I love this song, I won’t be doing this anytime soon:

Robyn’s Call Your Girlfriend

Heartache. Betrayal.  Loss.  Awkwardness.  Sick jams with slammin’ moves.

You go, girl.  You go.

Keep jammin’, all.

-K

On Acting

Theatrical Process

The hardest part about acting is not being oneself.  Certainly, it is impossible not to be oneself when one does something, but then, one is, often enough, not being oneself.  Often, people do ‘perform’ for other people, employees treat their bosses differently than they do their coworkers, friends treat strangers differently than lifelong buddies, a spouse treats their partner differently than their parents or their children.  Confucius had categorizations for various relationships among people, and Jesus of Nazareth stated “Give Caesar what is due to Caesar, give God what is due to God,” which implies two different relationships between different types of perceived authority. In light of all this social evidence of people ‘not being themselves,’ or at least putting on different airs for different people, the hardest part of acting shouldn’t be that hard.

The more appropriate way to phrase the earlier critique would be that the hardest thing about acting is know what comes from oneself and what comes from the character.  What parts of one’s acting are habit, for instance?  Is there a certain bias to the ‘neutral base’ that actors take?  Is there a given impulse which an actor often plays?  The better actors know themselves, the better they can make choices that create characters.

One excellent model for this process is Brechtian theatre.  It encourages actors to at once be themselves and play a character.  The character can be created through a series of indicative actions or ticks or gestures which give the audience cues as to the character.  The actor themselves can comment on the action occurring before them while still ‘playing’ the character.  While this may not always be the best ‘product’ for an actor to achieve, it does make for a good method of understanding what parts of performance come from oneself and what parts come from a character.

The danger of breaking down oneself into a series of understood actions is that one can lose self confidence.  If an actor is never themselves, then they must always reject their personal neutral in order to take on a character.  This is an unhappy extreme, even less happy than the extreme of always playing oneself, an extreme in which there is incredible self – trust and confidence.  A happy medium can lead to added growth both in an actor’s repertoire and in themselves.

Often, in Western Theatre, there is a drive to comprehend the text, and in various methods of script analysis, character can emerge.  In the plot of a play, actors can undertake a series of actions which reveal their characters.  However, this series of actions is not enough to fully convey a ‘real’ person.  The text alone, the lines and actions and subtext behind a verbal enaction, are not enough.  The voice does not only speak through the body, especially in a gaze centered medium such as theatre.

The whole person is viewed onstage.  The face, the hands, the feet, the legs, the hips, the back, the armpits, the groin: all visible, all judged, all symbolic onstage.  The way an actor can give more than just the plot, the method by which an actor can convey a deep and lasting story, is through the body.  How does a character carry themselves?  Does it have old injuries, fears, role models?  What do these conditioners do to the body and the way it is carried, where it holds stress, how it gestures, what way the fingers touch?  In this analysis of character, that tells back story through the body, actors must deconstruct themselves in order to realize what patterns that they, as people, carry by habit, rather than by choice.

To clarify: acting is not pretending to be someone else or to ‘make believe.’  While these elements become part of being an actor, the key to noun is the verb: act.  To take action, to execute a choice.  And so, before one can act, one must make a choice, and then carry it through with confidence.  For this reason, actors break down text into beats, actions, verbs, text and subtext, in order to choreograph their designated image.  So I say, the better an actor knows what they always do, the better they can make a choice that is not themselves.

To clarify further: no one is never entirely not themselves.  Even socially, people perform certain aspects of themselves.  Philosophically speaking, no one is ever anything more than an aspect of themselves, and so at all times, one is being a certain side of oneself, never the entire thing.  So it is with acting.  The better one can make choices, the better one can act.  So, what is a well-made choice?

A well made choice has a trigger, its verb, and an end.  This end becomes the trigger for the next choice.  Triggers can be anything sort of input: a visual trigger: an object, an action, an event, and so forth; an audio trigger: a phrase, word, or a sound; a tactile trigger: temperature, exhaustion, touch, pain; an olfactory trigger: any scent; or a taste trigger: any taste (this ties to scent). The trigger begins the choice.

Once the choice’s trigger has been activated, the verb must be enacted.  If a sight is repulsive to a character, they must react accordingly until they receive a new stimulus (external or internal).

The duration of choices can be long or short, depending on the set circumstances.  Often, a series of complicating circumstances may cause an initial reaction to be stifled and then covered, leading to a series of choices: reaction, revelation, stifling, cover, or: cover (until a complicating circumstance is gone) then react.

This rapid pace of clear choice changes demands that an actor both understand their own physicality and their own mentality: where does the person go as a reaction?  What are the person’s feelings about a stimulus?  What are the common choices the person makes as a reaction to given triggers?  How are the character’s physicality, mentality, and choices different?

It is important for these reasons to work on character from the outset.  While I recommend trying a series of characters and choices in order to find freshness and vivacity, I also recommend solidifying character early enough in the process for the physicality and mentality of the character to be easy to access.  Notice I do not say natural – the person is natural, the character is artificial.  The character should never become ‘natural,’ it will lend itself to the person enough.  The character should be easily accessed, however.

For helpful methods on character work and choices, as well as character awareness, I recommend the works of Konstantin Stanislavski and the acting method called Archetypes, based on the psychological work of Karl Jung.

Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis

Plans

So,

Rocket Science and Theatre never really seemed to gel.  Until I got to thinking:

a) what is it that Engineers can’t do that theatre people can?

b) what is it that Theatre People can’t do that engineers can?

a) socialize.

b) tech.

by socialize, I mean, Theatre People (actors especially, also dancers and other performers) are taught to Improvise, get in touch with their Emotions and even be able to call them up or, if feeling them, Analyze the Feeling.  they are studied in the Manipulation of their Selves – both Feelings and Physicalities – which enable them, if they so choose, to Express themselves articulately and effectively.

by tech, I mean Engineers are trained to work with Mechanics, of whatever variety, and Understand how the World around them works.  They can Manipulate space and time (or use their advanced Understanding of the interaction between the two) to Change the World around them.

Theatre People don’t always know how to change the world around them, but they certainly can express themselves.

Engineers can do wonders with technology and comprehension, but don’t always know how to say the things they mean to say as they mean to say them.

Synthesis: An Acting Therapy Group designed to help engineers which also gets tech- savvy people interested in local theatre endeavors and gives engineers a Productive Hobby.  An eye for an eye helping the world see better, if you will.

The overall idea could be very cool.  I wonder if anyone is already doing something like this… research time!!!

Macrocosm

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On The Human Thought

This essay focuses on the use of human invention and culture as part of the human animal function and how humanity is naturally aimed at space travel.

A human being, at its most biological level, is an animal.  It needs food, drink, shelter, and reproduction.  Unlike most animals, however, human beings have a highly advanced capacity for the use and creation of tools.  Indeed, after a certain point, the evolution of the human race can be tracked more by its technology than by its biology.  In addition, following the evolution of Humanity by Technology raises fewer ethical questions than following its Biology.   When looking at the progress of technology, one regards the phrase  ‘necessity is the mother of invention.’  What does this mean?

What is necessary?

If we look at humans as organisms, we find, as mentioned, that food, water, shelter, and reproduction are necessary.  Thus, all inventions should aid in one, if not all, of these categories.

As humans invented tools, they also invented societies and rules and religions and governments and culture.  Throughout history, culture and invention have driven each other’s focus.   The invention of the telescope, the astrolabe, star charts, have all bred controversy and confusion as man began to comprehend the universe beyond Earth.  This led to a changing understanding of not only the philosophies and religions of the world, but also of the means to navigate the globe and reach new lands.  An improved understanding of the heavens led mankind to better navigate in unfamiliar territory, to expand societies and cultures which were growing beyond their borders.

Societies have always had an expansionary tendency.  In the system which has dominated most of human societies, the most celebrated civilizations were those whose reign encompassed the most land, who demanded tribute from the most cultures.  With this as a marker of success, humanity has found itself at a strange new equilibrium: most of the world has been discovered.

To be more accurate, the surface of the land has been generally taken over.  That endless horizon after which pioneers have chased has vanished – horizontal expansion has ceased.  However, vertical expansion is still possible.  People can live in higher and higher buildings in more and more clustered groups, making cities and societies.  The problem with such areas is that it reduces a human instinct: survival.

The culture of the city is different from that of the country.  In cities, populations have exploded, crowding occurs, and the drive to reproduce is reduced.  This leads to views that encourage longer lifespans, more varied ways of life, from cultural awareness to sexual enlightenment, but also reduces the drive to create new life.  In more industrial societies, the nuclear family has become a model – fewer people in families with fewer generations raising children and fewer chidlren being produced.  The number of single parents is higher in cities.  The use of contraception is encouraged as a means of reducing disease ( a problem more rampant in urban centers).

With this in mind, in the advent of a global village, the entire world has become a city.  The ideas of first world nations now tend toward those of the city – more nuclear families, fewer children, less drive to reproduce.

In many circles, the act of sexual intercourse has become a stimulant rather than a tool.  The idea of the large family is not the first-world citizen’s idea of success.

Economists have noted that the most severe problem facing mankind today is the threat of overpopulation.  Food is not necessarily the problem: transport and resources is, however.  With more people, the expansive tendency becomes a warring tendency as more and more bodies vie for space on an increasingly ‘smaller’ planet.  That horizontal urge that humans have for ‘space’ is conflicted by the dangers of a global urbana.

Some theorists believe that humanity is reaching its peak population.  This is a problem: never in its history has humanity had a ‘peak population.’  If a place becomes too populated, people move outward, they travel, they settle elsewhere.   With all the societies and cultures in existence today, that same solution of moving has many more complications.  Immigrants the world over face oppression and alienation.  As societies become more and more tied to their citizens, the hope that lies in immigration is reduced.

Humanity should not have a natural peak.  Throughout its history, mankind has always found new horizons and new places to live.  All we need do now is switch from a horizontal expansion to a vertical one.  As technology evolves, the habitats which humanity can safely occupy expand. Human life can exist in deserts, under oceans, in the stars, even.

The rapid development of communication and data technology allows for ideas to be transfered faster, and so technology and culture continue to ‘evolve’ more rapidly.  However, the current culture is concerned more with lamenting overpopulation and complaining about use of resources than it is with continued expansion.

If humankind becomes a starfaring species, then many problems will be alleviated (although not eliminated).  Earth is a finite place, but the universe is ever expanding.  If humans need more room, if a population is becoming too great for this one world, why not populate more?

Travel across the stars has been the subject of fiction for years, and has even, to some extent, been acheived.  Satellites that orbit the planet show that space is a frontier which mankind is ready to explore, and the Hubble and other explorative satellites encourage expansion into the rest of the solar system, the galaxy, and the universe.

There is no reason that mankind should reach a ‘peak population.’  If our only solution to ‘overpopulation’ is to stop reproducing, then why not simply expand?  We can go further, we can gain land, fame, and that ever-fascinating horizon line by becoming frontiersmen once again.  The human need to reproduce is reinforced by space travel, and as such, it is natural that the human race should expand into space.