Monday, September 24, 2012

Biomechanics Intensive: Arming the Imagination

Paul Budraitis will be teaching a Biomechanics Intensive this fall at Freehold. Here's some information from Paul on his upcoming class:
Biomechanics is a system of actor training developed in the early 1920’s by legendary Russian actor, director, and teacher, Vsevolod Meyerhold. Through this training, Meyerhold sought to develop actors whose work would convey a physical precision, an acrobatic lightness and agility, and a heightened rhythmic sensibility. The technique emphasized the development of skills from traditional, non-realistic theatrical sources such as commedia dell’arte, Russian folk theatre, circus performance, Japanese Kabuki theatre, east-Asian dance, and pantomime. Soviet ideology eventually put a tragic end to Meyerhold and his work. He was executed in 1940 for practicing “formalist” theatre (as opposed to the officially-sanctioned social realism of Stanislavski), which was considered “antagonistic” to the Soviet people. Although the teaching of biomechanics was officially forbidden, the system was passed on secretly as an oral tradition until the “glasnost” period and the subsequent fall of the Soviet Union.

The training is intensive and physical. Over the course of two intensive weekends, the class will explore a wide range of basic individual and ensemble floor exercises, individual and partner work with physical objects, as well as exercises that develop the body’s rhythmic and expressive abilities. Actors who undertake the training can ultimately expect to experience an increased sense of balance through awareness of the physical center, ability to move from the physical center, awareness and expressivity of gesture and physical form, heightened reflexive dexterity when working with partners and physical objects, and increased awareness and agility in ensemble work.

It’s important for anyone considering undertaking the training to understand that Biomechanics is not a system of acting or a method to create a certain type of theatre. Instead, Biomechanics should be seen as a valuable part of an actor’s personal palette of technique, helping to develop control of his or her body in an expressive and grounded way. This being the case, it can be rightly said that training in Biomechanics is beneficial to an actor’s work regardless of the specific aesthetic of any future project. From Miller, to Beckett, to Lecoq clowning, anything and everything in an actor’s future can benefit in some way from this work. It is in this way that training in Biomechanics is not unlike the honing of technique involved when a pianist practices musical scales or a ballet dancer puts in time at the ballet barre. One of Meyerhold’s favorite actors, Igor Ilyinsky, once said: “Technique arms the imagination.” This is ultimately what the training seeks to achieve, the “arming” of the actor’s imagination.

November 10 - November 17
Saturdays, 1:00 - 5:00 pm
Sundays, 2:00 - 6:00 pm
$220 Discounted
$265 Full Price
Tuition is based on household income

To register:

Paul Budraitis is a director, actor, writer, and solo performer, as well as a teacher of acting and stage movement. In Seattle, he has worked with On the Boards, the Degenerate Art Ensemble, Annex Theatre, Balagan Theatre, New City Theatre, and Cornish College of the Arts, among others. His solo performance (IN)STABILITY premiered at On the Boards in February 2011, and his production of David Mamet's Edmond received a Seattle Times' "Footlight Award" as one of the best productions of 2010

Paul was the recipient of a State Department Fulbright grant to study theatre directing at the Lithuanian Music and Theatre Academy (LMTA) in Vilnius, Lithuania, where he earned his master's degree under the mentorship of visionary theatre director Jonas Vaitkus. In Lithuania, Paul worked with the National Drama Theatre of Lithuania, the State Youth Theatre of Lithuania, the Kaunas State Drama Theatre, and Oskaras Koršunovas/Vilnius City Theatre (OKT). He has assisted directors Jonas Vaitkus and Oskaras Koršunovas, and worked as an actor on a contemporary re-imagining of Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard, directed by acclaimed Finnish director Kristian Smeds and performed both in Lithuania, as well as at the Vienna Festival. Most recently, Paul acted with fellow Freehold faculty member Marya Sea Kaminski in Riddled, directed by Braden Abraham.

As a teacher, Paul has worked as a lecturer in the acting and directing faculty of the LMTA, teaching acting and stage movement, and he is currently an adjunct instructor at Cornish College of the Arts, as well as a faculty member at Freehold Theatre Lab. He has taught the Biomechanics technique of Russian theatre director Vsevelod Meyerhold at the LMTA, as well as to students at Freehold, Cornish College of the Arts, and the Iceland Academy of the Arts in Reykjavik, Iceland.

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