Returning to the Source of Ancient Hellenic Theatre
Segments of text and specific roles will be drawn mainly from Euripides’ tragedy Orestes. These will not only serve as our primary foundation for scene analysis, but we will explore how the text in its native tongue can be broken down and transcribed phonetically and acoustically as texture and tone, rhythm and breath. Its use as raw material for vocal training and ancient solfège will reveal both meaning and action naturally and directly to the participants over the course of the workshops, and transform the text into a simple playable score through the engagement of the intuitive mechanisms by which we shape and articulate sound into intelligible speech.
Depending on the choices and specific goals set by the workshop leaders, each Laboratory Workshop may either begin or culminate with these components. It is out of the poetic text distilled into sound and breath, and out of the amphitheater space’s action as a geometry of presence that the encoded technique of the ancient actor springs forth as a set of formal demands which it places upon us as contemporary practitioners of Ancient Greek Theater.
Each laboratory-workshop will use one or more of these dimensions as an initial entry point into the tradition, to explore and build its relation to the others. At the end of the workshop, its participants will arrive at one or two demonstration pieces to be presented and recorded in the spaces of the ancient theaters.
Each workshop will elaborate a specific approach that will provide the tools and means to its participants for exploring these performance dimensions, as led by a master instructor in his or her particular field of expertise. Workshop leaders will be assisted by specialists in any complementary areas such as language, music, etc. In this way, we will preserve throughout each workshop an organic experience and view of the whole as we build to our final demonstration pieces, which will be recorded in the ancient spaces themselves.
Our focus this year will be on exploring acting approaches in pre-expressivity, bio-mechanics and organic-sensory this year’s workshop leaders will help us to identify and gather the raw materials and establish the creative conditions for accessing the dimensions of mind and body demanded by the spaces and the texts. Thus, we will have the opportunity to follow such artists as Phillip Zarrilli, Atsushi Takenoushi, and Gennadi Bogdanov who will lead us, in collaboration with the members of Imalis, in the re-discovery of the performance dimensions of ancient drama. Each of them is the holder of very rich performance traditions which in our estimation are of great relevance to the revival of Ancient Hellenic Theater because of the tools which each has to offer to the practitioner.
1 Imalis’ research extends the linguistic methodology initiated by Demetrios Lekkas in the realm of music and language into the structural relationship between language and action, drama and poetry, sound and movement, all of which act as operational terms or propositions. These form a system of mappable isomorphisms that engage the total human agent, from the sensori-motor level to the levels of logical discourse and figurative and symbolic representation, and back again. Because in the theater as in life it is just as true that actions speak louder than words as it is that the tongue, as we say in Greek, though it has no bones, has the power to crush bones. Thus in the Stanislavsky tradition, sense-memory and the techniques of the actor’s subjective instrument (their inner life), follow logically and developmentally upon the logic of the scene, which follows upon the action and the premise of the character in the construction of the role, just as surely and inevitably as syntax and grammar upon phonology in language —and not the other way around— as Dimitris never fails to remind us. But that is the subject of another Imalis publication to follow shortly.