A Day in the Life of the City

Living Theatre Actors and Students creating a Play

In this workshop Living Theatre actors and student participants create a play together. The workshop requires five four-hour rehearsals, usually Monday through Friday, with a performance of the play on Saturday.

As in all our workshops we:
• Discuss Piscator and Brecht’s idea of political theatre and apply it in our workshop.
• Teach Meyerhold’s Biomechanics as a form of expressive movement and apply it in rehearsal and performance.
• Expose the students to the work of Artaud and give them the opportunity to experience his ideas in exercises, in rehearsal and in performance.
• Introduce the students to audience participation and the idea of non-fictional acting.
• Participate in classes including theater, dance and interdisciplinary classes.
• Relate all our work to practical aspects of performing in traditional as well as experimental forms.
• Perform with the students at the culmination of the workshop.

At the first rehearsal we have a discussion with the students. We talk to them about Piscator and Brecht’s idea that if you are going to get up on stage you must have something to say, and we ask them what they want to talk about in their play. We then take five or six themes that come up in the discussion and create scenes on each one of them. We usually end up with personal topics, local and global issues and universal themes. In the past we have done scenes about self-image and sexuality, technology’s effect on society, racism, binge drinking on campus, the war in Iraq, America’s class society, family relations, violence towards women and everything else you can imagine. People can choose which scene they want to work on. During the five days of rehearsal, we cover a lot of Living Theatre history and take the students through exercises we use to create staging and text. We have a form that we then plug the five or six scenes into and it creates about a one hour long theater piece.

The workshop takes one week but can be expanded to two weeks depending on the amount of rehearsal time available and culminates with the performance, or performances, of the play. The performance requires no set or costumes and minimal lights when performed indoors.

We need at least 20 participants and can work with as many as forty. Sometimes it’s more difficult for schools to find time when their students can devote a week to a workshop than it is to come up with the funding. Twice our workshop was expanded to two weeks with four performances and made a main stage production.