This January, Kari taught an intensive two week residency at Milikin University. Kari has taught there several years and has developed a strong relationship with many of the amazing young artists she has had the pleasure of working with. We are happy to know they can continue to work all year with the brilliant Denise Myers, a professor at Milikin, who is a Level III Certifying Margolis Method Professor. This year, the students put together a blog as a tool to track their thoughts and growth as individuals as well as a group. Over the next few months, we'll be cross posting their writing here. The sharing of thoughts, ideas, and personal processing can truly help training sink in, and these students have set a phenomenal example of how to approach one's personal growth.
Thank you for the contributions:
Theater that speaks to an audience on a deeper, more metaphorical level, engages the audience in a creative living ritual experience. It is here that we can communicate in the universal language of all humanity; a language that goes beyond culturally specific gesture to speak to the souls of the spectators and stimulate their imaginations. It is this interpretive “underbelly” that makes theater a living communal art form -- and not simply a literary one.
Millikin University Immersion 2014 / Residency
After five harrowing days of battling a blizzard and icy road conditions we made it to Decatur, Illinois, the home of Millikin University and our beloved host Professor Denise Myers (Denise is completing part 2 if her Level III Margolis Method Professor Certification). Each January Millikin University holds a series of Immersion Courses where students can earn up to 3 credits during their winter break. This year is the fifth time I have been lucky enough to be invited to lead a Margolis Method Immersion. Residencies like these are magical mini universes, where nothing else exists outside the four walls of the studio. In this case our universe was the "Old Gym," an ancient indoor running track that today is supposedly haunted. I love this old space, perhaps because it holds so many wonderful...Read More
The laws of physics are the fundamental building blocks of all communication, intrinsically connected to everything we do. The laws of physics are universal not idiosyncratic, tangible not esoteric. By giving weight, force, and time to emotions, an actor can embody the laws of physics. We can look at an object and assess if it is too heavy for us to lift, moving too fast for us to reach, or leaning too far for us to keep from falling. In the same way, we can assess people’s moods. Perhaps they seem too stuck in their ways to be open to a new idea, too vulnerable to hear bad news, or too far gone to receive any help. By learning to embody the laws of physics, the actor will develop a more sensitive instrument with which to communicate emotions and psychological states without having to gesticulate or indicate.
By developing a hypersensitive instrument, we can track the growth of an emotion and control its path through a character’s body. By doing so, we will include the audience in a character’s emotional/psychological journey and actions will no longer be just gestures that indicate, but become poetic public manifestations of internal desires.
Instead of thinking that we can teach acting, what we need to do is build actors. When built to do its job, an actor will innately know how to act. Consider a sponge. We don’t have to teach a sponge to absorb up water -- it is built for the job. At the fundamental core, actors are storytellers; storytellers that can manifest the metaphysical in the physical realm, giving tangible life to thought and emotion. Therefore, actors must be able to muscularly embody emotions, physically express the seed of ideas, suggest multiple options and give meaning to a character’s ultimate choices. Actors must have complete control over the specificity of their physical choices or they may inadvertently communicate unwanted information or even a completely different, unintended story.
Margolis Method exercises work, through repetition and practice, to build an actor who can control the audience’s focus, affect them viscerally and bring them into the inner soul of a character so as to better understand and question their choices. No concept about acting has value unless it can be practiced and honed.
Like the fractured reflection of a broken mirror we are many things, and life becomes complicated when our illusory selves are revealed. The tight quarters of the Kowalski’s steamy apartment with its bare light bulbs and lack of privacy becomes the battlefield on which each of the characters fight to hold onto their own version of reality. While it is Blanche who publicly descends into madness, the sparring matches, manipulations and deep seeded needs of Stanley, Stella and Mitch, reveal how they, and ultimately all of us, walk a fine line between fantasy and reality. It’s a precarious high wire act, and when jostled...Read More