Milikin Student Blog Post: Reflection

After only one week of being immersed in the Margolis Method with Kari, I have learned more acting techniques and devices than I can count. I never knew just how many facets of the “acting diamond” there were. Learning about usage of the core, emotional vulnerability, the pendulum, and some of the other concepts we have discussed in class were some that I had heard about before and more or less understood, intellectually. Actually EMBODYING them, though, especially all at the same time, was difficult to say the least. But once I started getting a couple of them down, I had a kind of “aha” moment. Why had I never thought about this or done this before? I felt so connected to body and my actions, and it seems like that should have been happening every other time before, but it did not until I brought my full attention to it. With each new lesson, I feel more and more prepared to take my new knowledge outside of the classroom and I am excited to put these devices to work in a show.

I can tell that the countless stomach crunches and leg lifts (down to go up, of course) are seriously strengthening my core. Ever since walking on my feet wrong when I was little, I have always been somewhat unbalanced, but increasing my core strength has helped me center myself and I find myself having less troubles. Then, in terms of art, focusing the energy in my core and allowing it to flow and INSPIRE my movement reduced mindless gestures, which I have also struggled with. I thought gesturing for every thought meant manifestation, but unless the energy of the core inspired it, the gestures were dishonest.

Thinking back to shows I have seen, I remember that the most touching and memorable moments were not those where a character displays great strength, but those where a character was vulnerable, going through great change in the story because of it. I did not know how the character would handle the changes that needed to occur, and from the eyes of an audience member, it seemed like they as the character did not know either. That was what made it so exciting. So when we learned in class how to catch the energy and really ALLOW it to take us places, a sort of other-worldly feeling really overtook me. An example was the head-chest-waist-pelvis exercise. I knew that the energy was going to move downward through my body, but HOW it was going to arrive at its destination could change depending on how it fell. I was steering, but my energy was the foot on the gas, and it felt surreal.

The pendulum concept is one of many parts to the equation of creating vulnerability. How strong an acting beat is and how long it lasts is within my control. The effect is INvoluntary, but I can set up circumstances that can possibly create the outcome that I desire. For example, if I create an acting beat that inspires little movement, like flicking the pendulum, there will most likely be little change. But, if I inspire great change in an acting beat, like shoving the pendulum, the momentum will create drastic movement. The chair exercise was the perfect example of this. I should not have been focused on how I intended to say my number (my acting beat) but instead on how I could inspire change among the other characters/actors. What effect would yelling create versus whispering, or a quick start compared to an elongated start? We as actors do not want to give an audience everything they expect, but if we do not follow the momentum of the acting beats, we lose the audience entirely. This was one of the most helpful and important lessons for me to learn, personally.

Performing in front of people when I could see them staring at me used to be something I dreaded. But the more I learn about and practice these devices and tactics, the more prepared I am to manifest my creations and lead audiences on a journey. That, in and of itself, has made this class completely worthwhile, and I cannot wait to complete the second half of it.
— Marielle Tepe