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Summer SAVY, Session 4 Day 1, From the Page to the Stage (7th – 8th)

Posted by on Sunday, July 7, 2024 in blog, SAVY.

Students of From the Page to the Stage, thank you for our first – and fabulous – day! I so enjoyed meeting you and getting to know you as young, thoughtful artists and creatives. You’ve left me eager for the week ahead.
Our morning began with a handful of exercises and games, informed by the work of Anne Bogart and the Viewpoints aesthetic practice. We explored a variation on the 5-4-3-2-1 centering technique, and a wicked counting game courtesy of the Canadian playwright, Adam Lazarus. And we introduced “Pew! Pew! Pew!” I tell ya, someday I’m going to write my book on theatre-making, and when I do “Pew! Pew! Pew!” gets a chapter.
We then performed the first of our Daily Pages, a practice adapted from Julia Cameron and her book, The Artist’s Way. You heard me say several times today that I reject the notion of Writer’s Block, and Daily Pages are a great way of bolstering this position. Every day, you will write, and I promise you that this regular practice will yield interesting and unexpected results.
We spent some time defining our community agreements. I won’t list all of these here, but highlights include:

  • Brave. Patient. Kind.
  • No is nothing, yes is everything.
  • We must always tell the truth.
  • Lerman whenever possible!
(Do be sure to tell your parents about the Liz Lerman Critical Response process, and how we implemented this tool during today’s session!)
You introduced yourselves to your cohorts, centering the conversation around a personal item. With new discoveries in hand, you then created our first pieces of theatre! These weren’t long in scope – micro-plays, if we’re generous – but they were creative, collaborative, and wonderfully surprising.
We explored four precepts, each derived from the words of an important 20th-century voice:
“Every day when I sit down to write, I can’t remember how it’s done.” 
Suzan-Lori Parks
“Writing is easy; all you do is sit staring at the blank sheet of paper until the drops of blood form on your forehead.”
Gene Fowler / Various
“It’s very important that we tell the truth. Don’t tell everything you know, but do tell the truth.”
Dr. Maya Angelou
“The whole story is about you. You are the main character.”
don Miguel Ruiz
You discussed and debated these ideas, working collectively to craft these words into physical artifacts. Then, with our precepts as a springboard, we dove headfirst into a session of the Long Table. Quoting from the materials of the Live Art Development Agency:
“Conceived by Lois Weaver and inspired by Marleen Gorris’ film Antonia’s Line, the Long Table is an experimental open public forum that is a hybrid performance-installation-roundtable-discussion-dinner-party designed to facilitate dialogue through the gathering together of people with common interests.”
I love the Long Table. It’s a great way to facilitate dialogue and a fun way to engage with big ideas. It’s also a cool tool to create theatre that challenges our preconceived notions of what a theatrical experience is and can be. Thank you for joining me at the Long Table. Thank you for being witnesses.
Our day ended with a lecture/symposium-style discussion about Aristotle’s Poetics, the earliest known written record of the practice of theatrical criticism. Written in the 4th century BCE, Aristotle defined what he considered to be the six hierarchal elements of theatre:
  • Plot
  • Character
  • Thought
  • Diction
  • Music
  • Spectacle
As a preview of things to come, I’ll tell you that the first four elements of Aristotle’s hierarchy will be the focus of our work for much of this week. To that end, we discussed Aristotle’s structuralist approach to storytelling, as well as how his three-part model is in conversation with those of other contemporary dramaturgists. I’m glad we got to talk about Blake Snyder today; we’ll talk more about his Thesis, Antithesis, and Synthesis in the morning.
Rest well, my young scholars. There’s theatre-making ahead!
Captain Hawaiian Shirt