my artist statement
Since the beginning of time, theatre has been the forum, the structure and the container for storytelling. As humans, we have a fundamental need to tell stories. They keep history alive and we learn from those who came before us. They keep cultures thriving as they pass down traditions. Theatre is a highly collaborative endeavor and is communal in nature. Stories connect us to one another and build relationships. They inspire, teach and alter our points of view, making us more compassionate. The space can be anywhere; it doesn’t matter if it’s in a black box, a bathroom or a backyard. The only integral, uncompromising aspect of theatre is the actor-audience relationship. Without this, there is no theatre. Although theatre does have the power to teach, I would argue that the theatre that is really important is the one in which both actor and audience learn together. It is a communal experience. Together, we learn more about ourselves and our existence on this earth. Theatre has the power to reveal truths about ourselves that we seem to hide or repress in our daily lives. It should tear our masks off and exposes us for who we really are. It should invite us to investigate what it means to be human. Why are we here? It encourages this communal sense by revealing that we are all in this together: every story is unique and important and makes us who we are. Theatre has the power to transcend all race, gender, status, religious beliefs and is boundless in its creative ability to do so.
In terms of the art itself, I do not strictly adhere to one methodology over another. I believe that they all have valuable tools that the actor can put in her kit and pull out when necessary. However, I will say that my beliefs are rooted in those of Stanislavski’s ‘System’: the fusion of personal experience and the magic ‘what if’. Acting that is experienced, not representational. There are no recipes for perfect acting. It is the actor’s responsibility to search for the truth of the moment, and use whatever tools will aid her in her quest.
Actors must be fearless. And not fearless by the means of being extroverted or an exhibitionist. Actors must have the courage to expose and reveal themselves. They must have the bravery to shed all their comfortable habits and tendencies. They must have a savage imagination and a relentless curiosity. They must take risks and not be afraid to fail, because that is part of the work. They must have a heightened sensory awareness of themselves and their environment. Actors must commit themselves fully to the given circumstances; emotionally, physically and mentally, yet all the while staying present and connected to reality. They must never allow the work to control them. Acting is not therapy, and must never be taken too seriously. Acting is play. Acting is also hard work and the actor must be disciplined. It is the actor’s duty to take great care of her physical and emotional health. The actor’s body is her house; her instrument. This is where all the work happens. Without it, the actor has nothing. Actors must be professionals. They must always live in a state of readiness for the work. They must always have their pot on simmer, ready to increase the heat to boil when necessary. Their craft takes an extraordinary amount of hard work. An actor’s training is never done and they must continually renew themselves for they are ever evolving beings and that in itself directly affects the work. They must not allow themselves to become lazy, or rely on divine inspiration for the work. They must develop and hone a daily practice that shifts and transforms on a regular basis depending on what their body needs. They are always searching for new ways to best maintain an open channel in order to allow impulses to move through the body at lightening speed. Spontaneity and discipline are essential qualities an actor must embody, always approaching the work with a beginner’s mind.
Theatre that turns me on is theatre that originates in the body. Our bodies are instruments with limitless scales, accents and notes. The body is infinite in its expressive possibilities. Movement is the most powerful means of theatrical expression. Transcendental theatre is beyond linguistics. Our breath connects us all and moves our bodies through space. A person’s body language can speak more to us than words would ever be capable of. Words are the containers for emotions and should only be voiced when there is the need to speak them. Physical theatre has the power to move masses as it asks people to listen, see and feel with their heart, not their head. Physical theatre is captivating theatre when it is motivated, honest and imaginative. I despise ‘physical theatre’ that is void of emotional truth, motivation and narrative: theatre that is complicatedly abstract, pretentious and superficial. Theatre should stimulate the voracious imaginations of its audience.
This is not to say that text based theatre is without it’s merits. This theatre is possibly even more powerful when the words are filled with integrity, truth, and the burning need to speak them. Shakespeare’s words are a perfect example of this. When spoken flippantly, they make no sense, but when an actor imbues them with vivid images and the need to speak, those words become powerfully crystal clear for the audience.
I care about theatre that is rooted in truth. I want to be taken on a journey and somehow transformed by the end of it. I want to watch theatre that makes me question myself and my existence. Clear narrative is important to me, as well as complex characters and relationships. I want to be entertained. I’m not interested in naturalism- in the humdrum of every day life. I want to see characters in crisis. I want to partake in one’s life changing moments as they unfold on the stage. I want to watch a character fight for something they’d die for. I want to see myself in that character’s shoes and be moved with them by the experience. It is my right as an audience member to use my imagination. Theatre that forces me to do that is the most exciting kind. I’m not interested in being spoon-fed. I don’t want to see exact replications of living rooms and kitchens and offices on the stage. I don’t even need to see costumes. What I want to see is a bare stage with the most minimal amount of props. I only want to see what the actor’s body has to tell me. I want to see the savage imagination stretched to its limits in order to tell the story.
In a perfect world, I would start a long standing theatre company comprised of a small group of theatre artists dedicated to the pursuit of making physically based, imaginative, detailed, compelling theatre that tells stories compassionately examining the human condition. Of course, in the perfect world, this would pay the bills and allow for limitless hours of investigation, practice and play.
After I have seen a brilliant piece of theatre I leave the theatre filled with a sense of limitless wonder and a heart so full it could burst. Theatre has the power to move people, making them more tender, compassionate and tolerant. It has the power for social change. Compelling theatre is revealing and can leave us feeling vulnerable and empowered all at once. Theatre is vital to our community and we are the more refined for it.
My life in the theatre, as an actor, opens my heart, my eyes and my mind to all other aspects of my life. My sensory awareness of myself and my environment are heightened because I am an actor. I aspire to live in the moment because I am an actor. I am a healthier, more socially aware, and devoted member to society because I am an actor. I am a more compassionate human being because I am an actor. I embrace each day filled with a sense of wonder, a thirst for life and a sound humbleness because I am an actor.
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You’re currently reading “my artist statement,” an entry on Ktkate's Blog
- December 6, 2009 / 10:10 pm