The weather in a new place is always a surprise. Prague is an odd climate- yesterday, it was cold and rainy all day (about 68 degrees Fahrenheit) and today it was sunny and 90 degrees, until it began to rain at 9PM and then turned cold again. Coming from the tropic climates of Florida, I am better suited to heat than cold. I lived in New York and Chicago for a combined two decades and never got used to the cold. I was always the first one in ear muffs in any given year and the last to put them away in spring. And the grey skies are torturous- I was finally diagnosed with seasonal affected disorder (SAD) and spent some hours in therapy, which consisted of my sitting in a room with special lighting and simply being exposed to artificial sunshine. I’d love to say it worked, but I can’t. Mostly, I felt a bit foolish.
Happily, Prague is a pedestrian tolerant city. I wouldn’t go so far as to say “friendly”, as there is quite a bit of traffic, but a classmate of mine and I are able to walk in to the theatre from our respective housing and enjoy a bit of a physical warm up before starting a 12 hour day. Physical movement and exertion goes a long way in combating depression and fear.
We have been in several physically based classes, something I really needed and wanted to do- I have become enamored of Shakespeare’s fools and clowns and being able to express them physically compliments the timeless words these often wiser- than-others characters are given to speak. My favorite class yesterday was in Comedia- from the theatre of comedian del Arte of the middle ages and beyond. Archetypal characters, very bold and distinct movements and amazing focus work. Physical work also tends to take an actor “out of their head”, meaning the character is living each moment as it comes and not mentally planning ahead for their next line.
I am very pleasantly surprised at how the physical aspects of theatre have been introducing themselves to me over the past several years. I would say I was a cerebral actor- very comfortable with the psychology and motivations of a character, but often locked inside my own physical being, strangling full expression of the character. Becoming physical, accepting and using my body, enjoying the feelings of the physical life, have really allowed me to create more full and interesting lives on stage. More on Comedia to come!