How long does it take to make a sandwich? What kind of sandwich did you make? Where do you keep your bread? Your jam? Your knives? How did the handle on your drawer feel? What shape did your hand make when it pulled the handle? How did your sandwich taste? Did you put the lid back on the jar? Did you wash the knife? No? Why not?
This week in my applied theater class we began work on distinction between symbolic action and realistic action, striving for the latter. A slice of bread cannot simply appear. The lid of a jar cannot change sizes as it’s being unscrewed. A refrigerator door doesn’t close itself. It was especially exciting to see some of the wildest students take careful care to put back in the breadbox their imaginary loaves of bread. To lick and wash their imaginary knives. To let the taste of strawberry jam and peanut butter radiate up into their faces as they took their first bites.
Theater class is always about maintaining high energy levels and directing that energy in a positive direction. The ideal class, in fact, is something like directional chaos, so I was thrilled to have a surplus of energy from the start. This week provided the first opportunity to use the energy.
In an exercise to develop bother projection and enunciation, we’re learning Robert Frost’s poem “Fire and Ice” word by word. As I stood across my students in a field behind the center in Grand Gaube, each learned to over-enunciate every syllable of every world. By learning to over-enunciate counsciously, my students will be better able to enunciate unconsciously when speaking English. Now we’re up to “SuhMuh SayEH THuh WerlDuh Willuh EnDuh INuh FffiRe..” (Some say the world will end in fire, in case you didn’t get that.) With the word “fire” I insisted that every student spit. Most were reluctant to do so, even outside, but eventually they relaxed and were spitting all over the place. Unfortunately there was not enough saliva to extinguish the pile of burning rubble that so appropriately lay next to me.
I’m thrilled with our progress so far. We have quite a lot of work to do with formation of the “th” sound. Although, I imagine my French “R” sounds quite a bit worse than their “TH.” I’m confident that with a bit more screaming and spitting I’ll have a class full of stars. And maybe some really good imaginary sandwiches.
(Waiting for class to start, across from the center in Grand Gaube)