A World Full of Gods: active analysis, neutral mask and embodied inquiry in the rehearsal of Ted Hughes' version of Aeschylus' 'Agamemnon'.

A Wain

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    Abstract

    In this paper, I describe elements of the rehearsal process of a production of Aeschylus’ Agamemnon I directed with acting students at the University of Ballarat, while resituating the process in relation to contemporary transpersonal theory and practice. I focus particularly on the rehearsal devices which were intended to constellate the subjective experiential space of the actors and the audience. These devices were primarily drawn from ‘Active Analysis’ (the Russian actor training and rehearsal methods of Maria Knebel) and the Copeau tradition of actor training, which encompasses the work of Jacques Lecoq and my own teacher, David Latham. Knebel’s approach, a synthesis of various approaches within the Stanislavski tradition, interprets the text through the immediate, psycho-physical experience of the actors and emphasizes the development of the ‘second plan’ – the entire realm of experience that lives in ‘the zone of silence’ beneath the words of the play. The Copeau tradition, particularly Lecoq’s work, offers an understanding of the spatial and gestural dynamics specific to tragedy as a genre. This paper describes how I drew on these two traditions to approach, with the actors, the problem of a second plan ‘full of gods’, in which archetypal principles and personas are meaningful forces constellating both the inner space of the play and the physical space of the Greek theatre. I discuss the dynamic relationship that emerged between physical and imaginal space, and how this affected the actors’ psychophysical experience. I also consider how such an approach, which addresses both the spatial dynamics of acting Greek tragedy and the specific given circumstances of the world of Agamemnon, opens up fresh possibilities, both for playing Greek tragedy and interpreting The Oresteia.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-20
    Number of pages20
    JournalDidaskalia
    Volume7
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2009

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