The Physical Greek Chorus
In Grottesco’s Chorus, the ensemble moves instinctively, as one organism, without choreography and supported by a physical and vocal language allowing each artist to “propose” the next step that the others immediately understand and are able to support in what might best be described as a physical composition, created in real time, much like a musical composition. This is a chorus without blocking or choreography that is completely alive and able to move as one entity.
This is the foundation of physical performance. The Neutral Mask connects the actor with instinctual response, rhythm, presence and an economy of movement. The Mask helps performers identify personal physical habits, a first step towards correcting them. Extensive work with the mask allows a performer to make every breath, movement and stillness a conscious choice.
Adjusting personal rhythm and instinct to the group. Group balance of space. Imagery through sound and movement. Focusing the audience by focusing the ensemble. Trust.
In 18th century France, as an effort to rein in the sacrilege of theater, a ban was placed on the spoken word in public places, except by the church. The theater community responded by developing pantomime blanche, a style of silent storytelling. A story told today might contain devices from film including pans, close-ups, slow motion, and pullbacks, where the actors are performing in miniature while creating full scenes through the use of sound and the portrayal of objects.
Percussion for Actors/Dancers
This workshop explores punctuation and timing, connecting with the environment around us, the language of breath, bones, the earth, the air and heart. Awareness of the levels of our force and how we impact the space around us and why. Participants will make music with others, without song or instrument. This workshop treats timing as the foundation of communication and stresses the importance of listening.
Discovery of Music
In this workshop, we assume that music does not exist; it is to be discovered. Participants will find the natural progression from noticing sounds, like the sounds of a construction site, to interacting with that accidental ostinato vocally, or with found instruments. Find the pathways to replacing familiar vocal expression with experimental vocal sounds, and discovering instrumentation. Participants will mark the distinction between being aware of the music made and unaware of the music made, and then play with that important distinction. Open to actors, writers, singers, instrumentalists, composers, poets and the like.
Conduction is a key that can open the door of musical potential. It is based on a lexicon of instructions which the conductor conveys through signs and gestures, and to which musicians or speakers respond with musical content. In Conduction, participants are encouraged to draw on their personality, history and skill and take part in a decision-making process which is collective in nature, and in which composition and performance become one. Teacher Dino J.A. Deane leads the workshop through a practical introduction to Conduction, delving quickly into the musical latencies of the group. More about Dino: www.jadeane.com
These are the large white masks originally created for Mardi Gras in Basel, Switzerland. They are often called larval masks because they contain only the slightest hint of form and expression. It is up to the actor to study the sculptural qualities of line and volume, in order to find the character of the mask. And then to endow that character with full emotional response. These are non-speaking masks that require a heightened sense of play rooted in honest human response while physically supporting a character.
Text for Dancers
Dancers have been delivering text in Europe for decades, but less so in the United States. This workshop is designed to open the door to text for dancers with physical situations that dancers can easily relate to, letting simple memorized or improvised phrases ride on top of dance phrases and discovering how text and movement influence each other to form multi-layered performance.
Clown is the most personal of the styles Grottesco teaches. The company specifies a Theatrical Clown as opposed to a Circus Clown. This requires a search for the vulnerability of the individual, the state of simply "being" on stage without "performing". In this state we see the humanity of the individual and from that humanity comes humor. There are no tricks taught in a Grottesco Clown workshop. This state of vulnerability has broad application to all theatrical styles.
This is a little known classical style based upon Medieval leper colonies and ships of fools, where those who were different were shunned from society. As Tragedy speaks to the Gods, Buffoonery speaks to the Devil. A workshop or masterclass includes the support of a physical disability. Developing a human state of being with reference to an animal base. The art of folly and mockery. Creating whimsical and dangerous societies very different, yet reflective of our own.
Tragedy & The Dynamic Space
Grottesco approaches Tragedy as a grand style. The Chorus is a dynamic ensemble in relation to the space in which it exists. Text is often delivered as declaration and must be sustained physically, so as to create "moving sculpture" on which the text rides. The individual within the chorus is physically ready for battle at any moment.
One of the best known and most difficult of the physical styles because it demands a rhythmic physical and verbal improvisation while supporting a mask. A workshop in the classic style includes a general history, repertoire of gestures, rhythms, and motivations of the stock characters. This can be tailored as a modern workshop focusing on translating the spirit of classic Commedia to contemporary characters including research of modern archetypes.
Gesture as Cultural Memory
This workshop begins with the premise that culture is stored in our genes as instinct. Glimpses of these memories can be seen as movement and gesture, many of them unconscious. Where language provides oral and written history and thought gives us our world view; movement and gesture, on a deeper and subconscious level, reveal memories of cultures foresworn, family and tribal histories, present pop culture messages imprinting without our awareness or consent, and perhaps even portents of the future.
Multiple Roles/Rapid Character Change
Body, gesture and vocal changes can happen in a split second. When done cleanly, an actor has performed magic. This work focuses on the quick change, physical precision and timing, inhabiting characters deeply, improvising solo and with other actors also working multiple characters. This work derives from Commedia Dell’arte and is best exemplified in modern theater by Italy’s Dario Fo.
Object theater is a relatively new style of theater, formally coming out of Europe in the 1980s. It is visual and poetic, using everyday objects in unconventional ways while creating ambiguity that requires audiences to make their own interpretations.
Creating Original Work
Any of the workshops can include a component of creating original work. A focused workshop is about creating non-text-based work using character, environment and dramatic situation. Participants will be expected to bring ideas for hands-on development of short pieces. Projects can be solo or multiple-actor. Texts are acceptable if they are utilitarian and not the major motor of the piece.
Theater Grottesco teaches mask-making for the stage in paper mache and sulastic. The work starts with the study of the mask as an object supporting the play of the actor by optimizing sculptural lines and volume. Participants learn the physicality of the styles they wish to work in and can create and perform with their finished masks.
Humanities-based curriculum accompanying each production, allowing company members to lead classroom discussions based upon themes presented in the productions. Discussions are placed in historical and multi-cultural frameworks.