Andi.jpgMy name is Andrea and I study Primary Education at Murdoch (2nd year). I believe that theater and drama can enhance teaching because it addresses the depth of the personality. It can be fun and a way to join the community and the self.
I was born in Hungary and moved to Australia 7 years ago. I am married but have no children thus I love to pay attention to the children in the family or in the circle of my friends.
I love Waldorf education because it involves lots of art. I participated in plays and workshops which applied Steiner's method but my drama studies at Murdoch are my first steps to gain a wider picture what theater and drama means today in the world.

Weekly Journal

Week 1

I was very surprised when we got the task to walk freely in the space. We do this exercise so often in Waldorf (even in a class without acting purposes). I saw that others were surprised too but for the opposite reason: many of them have done acting courses before but never seen this exercise. I am always fascinated with the profound affection that it awakes: we are bodies in the space (and how powerfully these bodies carry the personality, the spiritual richness of the human being. Through this exercise I became more conscious of my participation in this dynamic, unifying group existence which usually stays hidden behind the individual pursuits and daily activities. In this exercise I can easily forget the otherwise so dominantly arising sympathy and antipathy forces toward the other person and just sink into the connecting common experience that we all have bodies, we all use this space and this itself is interesting and challenging for everyone.

In the leading exercise I had to face a typical side of my personality. I got used to lead others very gently (sometimes with only one fingertip on the hand or shoulder) and I feel it comfortable. Now I needed quite a physical force to direct my partner. Being strong is not easy for me.

In the second part I was led by voice. I have never done this exercise. It was astonishing. Especially when I realized that my partner's voice carries so different qualities than my expectations; the first impression that my partner's outward appearance suggested was quite extravagant but his voice was very calm. I usually do not like going into psychoanalysis too fast but here the connection was so obvious. I have a broken relationship to my father and my stepfather because they treated me hard and criticized me often. Now I had to follow a male voice which was firm, kind and helpful which I could fully trust. It was a deep healing experience. How could it have been to grow up under such a wise guidance! Actually my relation to my inner voice is similar to the experienced one. I can patiently wait to hear it and it is a pleasure to follow it.I also experience much more sympathy in the realm of hearing. This space of sound without vision generates very different feelings compared to my general feelings which arise with vision in the same situation. Can I say that the word of sound has a sort of independence to the word of vision and is deeper connected to the soul life of men?

The running toward each other task was fun. I had no problem with yelling loud. To see these young guys who run into their partners even for the third time was hilarious. In the same time very awakening. I should do this exercise sometimes in my teaching. It makes obvious who are the students who cannot fully control their powerful forces. It was just cute this way.

Enjoyed reading about your background, and I'm pleased that you are finding the work valuable.

Week 2

I changed workshop group. This time the space walk was much more smooth. I felt comfortable and happy but looking back I must say it was less interesting regarding interpersonal relations. The meetings were less individual thus less sympathy and antipathy were stirred up in me - but the unity of the group was much stronger. It was like going with the tide.I kept watching myself: do I stay more on the periphery or am I brave enough to go to the center too? Yes, I went in and went out and it was not too scary. The triangle group movement showed that still there are strong personalities in the group. The calming effect of this exercise was amazing and also the attention and good will which prevailed in the group.

Resonating my own voice to the wall was one of the best exercises I have ever tried. It was new for me and I found it so useful. I used to do choir conducting and I know that loosing the resonance is such a typical problem with singers too. It was very interesting to hear the individual voices during the vowel-consonant exercises. I am glad that I did not have to speak because with my European background 'oh' and 'oo' proved to be quite difficult to pronounce in an Aussie way. I practice at home now. As a reflection of my own learning a see some development looking back for many years. I really start hearing when a voice is forced or there is a noise in it due to tensions in the body or in the throat. Of coarse it does not mean that I always can avoid it my speech.

Naming the objects was hard. I wanted to avoid the direct association which I make out of my own ways of thinking. I tried to silent my own thinking but in that noise it was not easy. I also heard other people's names and I found most of them so 'good'. Though it is so obvious in this task that there is no 'good' answer but still it was surprisingly hard not to valuate what came up to my mind. Oh, and the worst was when obscene associations came up. Though it is unavoidable in association games, it is so hard to step over that level. I think I have grasped what this exercise is for. However old - it seems that Stanislavsky had some good ideas. (I started reading our book, Actor training too.)

Regarding the theme of fourth wall - I think it is a symptom of changing trends. While theater was a dominantly social event and the themes were of historical heroic deeds, acting almost directly to the audience displayed the social importance and invitation for involvement. As the themes in the beginning of the 20. century turned towards the personal, psychological depth of the characters and events the fourth wall helped the actors and the director to take the brave step into the almost intimidating nakedness of the soul. It also leaves a little freedom to the audience to decide about the level of participation. I agree with Tim that it is not a simple thing on stage - theater will always stay a social event and a psychological journey in the same time and both sides necessarily reveal in the performance too.

Week 3

When we did the walking in our own house exercise, I did not think of the lecture about Stanislavski's method acting but indeed it was something where we had to use our memory to work from. And we had to use it in two ways: recalling the physical action and the emotional mood as well. I loved the choir version of the exercise when we had to find space for our saying to place it. I felt very comfortable to repeat the same gestures over and over again. I think I could play an insane person very easily :)

The stamping and marching in the free space walk exercise scared me though. Marching happily in a group just recalled the naci era too badly. When we fastened it became more playful and fun and left more freedom to us.

When we acted "Kiss my hand" out, I had to realized how talented people came together in this workshop. Unfortunately I do not know the names but some excellent acting and genuine, truthful ideas appeared on stage in a very short time. I love seeing others' works. It is inspiring. I am not fast so the short time stressed me, still I had a vision for my role though. It is interesting to observe that the open questions in me "How would this character behave in that situation?" clear up so well after a couple of trials. I cannot tell what is the genuine way before actually acting it out. I also observed that after I grabbed the basic personality of the character still it leaves lots of room for variations in action. That is where the director comes in and helps to form a unified flow of the performance where the characters support and explain each others' reality.

I did not understand "Kiss my hand" very well at the first reading. The woman seemed to be too intellectual for the violent situation and the man unreasonable. Pondering on Tim's comments and explanations just opened this piece up for me and I became really fascinated by its intricate subtext by the end.

Week 4

After the warming up exercises we were given the stage to perform the "yes-no act". There was the stage with not too many instructions and we had to use and fill in that space with action. We were given the freedom to go as far as we would like to and brave enough to go. I admired the colorfulness and emotions of the various adaptations. This is what I just cannot produce out of myself. I think learning acting is not possible in any other way - only in groups. And that is why every director must use the creativity of the actors to enliven the performace - thus soften the director's (necessary) one-sidedness.

The cheating theme and how it can turn into violence concerns me deeply because of my own experiences. Actually it happened some generations ago that my husband's ancestor killed his wife because he thought she had cheated on him. I was on stage twice and both helped me a lot to understand the underlying dynamics of emotions in the enfolding tension. Of course my best ideas occurred to me in the evening and next morning - but I know the inner work is the important in this case not the performance itself.

Absurdism did not say much to me in my younger age. Now I start seeing its depth and the opportunity that it offers in approaching a very subtle side of the human being. I never experimented with it and I am glad that this course pushes me into this 'realm'. Probably we will come up with a Brechtian style for the dialogue because putting the subconscious images on stage seems to be a bit too complicated - but Brecht's provocation can be reached by some associative or visual elements.

While reading "XXI Century Actor Training" I collected the guidelines which I found important in building up my approach to theater. I like Michael Checkov's approach. "Recognizing and accepting the independence of the world of imagination" - exactly what I am struggling with. Am I brave enough to let these pictures live on stage? How can I work with them in a disciplined way that the meaning is not lost in the flood of action? How can it stay meaningful for the spectator? I think I have enough to work on for the semester.

Week 6

"Yes, No, Sorry, Thank you" improvisation. Unfortunately I am not good at improvising but I truly admire those who can just come up with something surprising in a tick. Mitchel's story with the girl whom he wanted to clean the house was like a script. I remember the former task when we had to give new identity to the objects and my difficulty was to find something that is not an obvious association of the shape or the color. Here there was a pretty partner given to Mitchel and he was able to bring a unique idea which was so far from every natural association. I learnt a lot from all the performances.

Then we had the kissing exercises. Uh! The beginning was quite entertaining but it was hard towards the end. I feel how conform I am to the social conventions. Not that I cannot fall into the role and justify that it is still within the moral circle that I can accept but it is hard. We learn acceptable behavior so long and now we can start training to get rid of them again. I went to work with my partner from the dialogue. It was a very good move because it helped us to overcome the challenge of playing a love scene without knowing each other.

A couple of times a had a chance to observe others' work. Some of them was really astonishing. It is like a visible brain-storming; how different variations people could bring! Antony fell on knees in the husband's character. It was the very from my original view of the scene but as he built it up from inside with his own genuine motives it was very convincing at the end. I was not very happy with my own acting but I hope it is just my slow adoption to the situations. I need to feel the supportive community and know others a bit better before I dare to put out my ideas.

Week 7

We rehearsed our dialogues. Rayelene, my partner chose the text. I had the basic directing ideas because I had a very strong inner picture how to interpret the scene. I saw this woman in the play as a person whom the strange events push in a mid-life crisis unexpectedly. She suddenly realizes that though she took the possible best choices in life still it led nowhere. She is paranoid, scared, lonely and only keeping the convincing surface of her life. I really like the way Rayelene acts the woman despite that I am closer to the character's age. Never mind - I got the greatest challenge this way, because I have to play the 16 yr old Chinese guy. :))) It is interesting, I keep scrutinizing young men's gestures, postures and movements. It is so different from my own gestures. (I had to act animals in children's plays a couple of times but even that seemed matching with my own character better!)

I worked a couple of hours to create masks for the play. I really enjoy producing so different art then before - I thing the previous year at Murdoch and the inspiration from the lecture videos have worked a lot on me already. Similarly to Picasso I started as a realist in fine arts (and as a personality too) 20 years ago but as life passes I am obviously sliding into the free styles. Actually these pictures are really in Picasso's playful approach. My drawing has nothing to do with the date of the scene in the 1800's but its lightness definitely resonates with the sunny warm land of Hawaii.

A very competent and detailed journal...I like the fact that you comment on the theory, the practice and your response to both.

Week 8 - Rehearsal

After Serge first has seen our dialogue he seemed to be very enthusiastic that we were doing something good. I wondered of he was honest... He had completely different directions for the scene than my original view. His advice to elaborate my speech was very useful though and I spent time to bring my talk closer to real life emotions and speed.

Following are the things we did not agree upon:
It is an 19th century setting in Hawaii; probably a village where the workers of the sugarcane plantation live with all the services necessary for life, such as the pubs and prostitutes. "The average man is a pig" here - this is how the prostitute describes the place. The workers spend their money on opium, gambling and prostitutes. This tropical land is hot, wet, muddy, sweaty and has very low hygiene probably. This prostitute lived here for at least 15 years (she is in her late 30's) serving these men with her body.

I lived for a while in a suburb of Budapest (Eastern Europe, Hungary) where cheap street prostitutes lived. It was very far from seductive beauty or intelligence. It was much closer to disgust and mental illness. Dirty streets, staircase halls with the smell of urine and violent drunk men and women in the streets. I also have a friend on an island close to Hawaii. She has no car and told me that she has to carry her pretty shoes and dress in a bag for a party because they would get dirty by the time she walks down the hill where she lives.

In this scenario Serge suggested us that the prostitute should wear high heels and sexy Chinese dress. This was quite absurd for me, because the boy in the scene comes to visit her unexpectedly and late at night. Who wears high heals at home at night before going to bed and keeps on her full make up? Never mind.

Serge noticed that the prostitute seemed to be insecure in her own room - as we acted. The script suggests indeed that she is paranoid. In this sense it meant we acted well at first instance. Because of Serge's instructions we took away some gestures from the beginning of the scene which displayed her insecurity, but of course this way it was not understandable why she overreacted when the ghost appeared to her and why she went through a complete breakdown.

The plot of the scene is the following. Unexpectedly a 16 yrs old boy comes to visit this prostitute to have his first experience with a woman. They know nothing of each other and start the stereotypical small talk and behavioral patterns. The talk turns more honest after a while and the prostitute realizes that she knew very well this boy's dead father. Actually he was a man who meant a lot for her despite that their relationship always remained a business. That relationship was the greatest lost opportunity of her life; a relationship which never turned into love or support. During the years of survival her emotional life dried out, she is scared and have no future. How will she earn living when she gets older? She is getting old already and there is no one whom she can lean on.

The story has a mysterious twist. It seems that the boy believes that the unburried dead stays on Earth as a ghost. That's why he is undertaking the destiny to come here and learn what his father went through. In the same time he is angry that his father wasted his life and burdened his son's life too - because he never knew his father. The prostitute indeed sees the ghost in the last moments of the play. This also indicates a soft edge where mental illness starts. She just wants to get rid of the confronting situation and the boy, and pulls a pistol, but she has no inner strength to act collected. She drops the pistol and begins to cry uncontrolled. Her life's collapsed - she sees that her actions are illogical and led by fear only but she cannot do anything. She turns to the ghost and hugs him because still he is the only person who loves and understands her. (Because the father has a spiritual point of view after death. He also start grasping the idea that they have missed something important in life.)

Serge's instruction was to act the prostitute as a confident seductive women who leads the dialogue. Hmmm. I am not sure that Serge wanted to see more than the stereotypical beautiful prostitute from the Bond movies.
Good I see what you were getting at...

Week 9 - Dialogue performances

I think between the opposing directions our performance landed on the floor (between the two chairs - as Hungarians used to say). Anyway we both really enjoyed our rehearsals and were happy with our performance. We think it was unique and experimental. We did not agree with our mark but marking in art is always very controversial. I am glad that I am over of that age that a mark could alternate my love or interest.

Before the performance I hesitated how to make the moment very obvious for the audience when the prostitute suddenly sees the ghost. It is so unusual plot for our era that I do not think that it went through well enough.

If I have had more time and directed the play, I'd brought in more Chinese gestures and a sort of Chinese dance for the monologue when the prostitute talks about her past. I love the ideas of the Brechtian theater.

I had to ponder why the 2 popular dramas about aging women's problems were both written by men (Miller: A View from the Bridge and Ibsen: A Doll's House). Just on the basis of Serge's comments I am not sure that a piece written by a (non-Caucasian) woman, directed and performed by women will be understand the same way (by men) as if it was interpreted by men.

I put on stage the subconscious of a woman and it was regarded pointless by three men. Does it mean that it was well done??? I think we went to an associative and illogical field and were found lacking focus by our tutors.

I put on stage the subconscious of a woman and it was regarded pointless by three men. Does it mean that it was well done???
(the best quote from my journal)
Hi Andrea
What was being assessed was not "the subconscious of a woman", but the acting ability [on that time and day, and as part of the training process in an Acting and Production unit at Murdoch University]. I thought it was a difficult text that was well conceptualised...and in no way pointless. I look forward to seeing what you do with the audition piece. Serge

Week 10 - Study break

Week 11 - Tech lesson

The lectures about the technical sides of the theater production were very interesting; rigging and focusing the light during the workshop too. I think I saw and learnt a lot. I found Tim's talks very informative and entertaining.

Week 12

I felt so exhausted after this workshop! Absolutely in the positive way though. I start seeing that Serge wants us to speak clearly and act more freely on stage. He talked about timing, emphasis and I forgot the third one. delivery...Last weekend I went to see The Death of a Salesman in the National Theater. I was very interested in lighting and other technical ideas. I also observed that indeed the joint speech was the common on stage. The emotion of the receiving actor has been already acted out before he started speaking. He straight continued talking after the first actor even without having a gap for breath. It indeed created a strong tension, good pace and presence on stage. There is no time for the audience to lose attention. The talk on stage was going on for 2 hours with the same intensity! (The amount of text that the actors had to memorize was extraordinary.)

Interesting though that this technique causes a strange hick up. It is observable in tv shows as well, when the second actor knows that the speaker has an other sentence coming but stopped to take breath, there is a second of dead silence there (usually without any action and with rather dead facial expression from the second actor) - and a short sentence later there is again that intense spinning. I think it is good lesson for the time I have to write a play. Any time when the text goes from one breath (one sentence) dialogue to a longer sentence when the actor have to take breath it will impede the flow of the play. I think if the second actor is good he/she will react in this gap - similarly as we do in real life - with a gesture or mimic or shows why he does not react verbally, e;g; busy doing something else or considering what the other person told. This way the stage presence should not drop even for a blink of an eye :)

With my Hungarian accent I could not pronounce the vowels properly (though it was a bit better at home...) but I could join the previous persons sound fluently without any gap in one of the exercises. It was an uplifting success - it went well because I pondered on this theme and intensely listened to it the week before.

My monologue is from a movie; Hanna's monologue from Charlie Chaplin: The Great Dictator. It starts at 44.30 approx.
I looked at it with new interest in speech timing and emotional expression. Paulette Goddard acts Hanna. Yes, the emotional accompaniment of the sentence always precedes the talk. It is natural in everyday life, but for me it is difficult on stage. I am stressing about the next sentence and when it is told, the emotions intensify in me and start showing better. It was a bit better when I had to talk Hungarian on stage because the speech did not required so much energy and attention. I have to practice and be much more aware of my actions in English.

Probably that is why I liked the last exercise with the movement. I could relax a bit because we did not have to speak. It took a while till I got the idea what is expected of us. I think we have a very good group with great individuals who act so freely. It helped me to display my personality better too. The quick changes in the read text made the movement very colorful and enjoyable. I found new gesture which I have never used before. It really made me happy.

This is a very intelligent reflective journal....that suddenly ended. I particularly liked the way you explicated the workshop ideas...well done. D
Dear Serge,
I had hoped that you have not checked my journal yet. (It is 4am Tuesday morning.) I wanted to squeeze in a short summary of my monologue experience. The personal rehearsals helped me indeed this time. I knew that it was better to protest if I did not agree with your idea than to go home with frustration. I was very grateful that you gave free way to those ideas. I think altogether it was a very up-building creative process. I felt that my chosen scene got structure and dynamism by the end. Actually I realized that my natural English speech has fastened up since I have made the great effort of learning this text.

Looking others' performances and watching the video recording of mine right afterwards, made me aware how much I carry the Hungarian theatrical traditions though I have not learnt acting there only grew up as a theater loving person. I tried to figure out what was so Hungarian in that acting; the set of gestures, the emotional, physical features of the character. I looked at the original movie as well. In my acting it lost almost all that sweet American girlish character and did not go into the Aussie tough townboy style either. The unexpected emotional twists and continuously changing moods, the alternating practicality and intellectualism made the scene very lively. Of course Mitch gave his cute character too and half of the audience's laugh was due to him :))) Altogether it was a memorable performance. Thanks.