Today in Company we went back in time to their freshman year in acting classes. One of the most common games played in any freshman acting class is Machine. The game is simple. One person gets up in front of the group and creates a set, repeatable, abstract gesture. Once they get the gesture going, they add a matching abstract sound to accommodate the gesture. Once both the gesture and the sound are up and running for this one lead person – another person in the group stands up and joins the original person connecting to them in someway with a new unique gesture and sound. Then, one by one, the group creates a large abstract working machine. The exercise has simple goals for freshman: standing up in front of others; being comfortable to make abstract sounds and gestures; figuring out how you can join others in a connected way, etc.
For Company, we are taking this idea to the next level. Using the guidelines of Viewpoints and the role of Expressive and Behavioral Gestures, I had half of the class create in one corner of the room a “war machine” and in the opposite corner of the room a “peace machine.” Once those two machines were created, I had the machine move. That was tough. Some gestures move more easily and some shapes created with others travel more gracefully. But, travel they must!
The final layer of complexity happened when I asked the two groups to move to each other, intermingle with each other, convert the other group and move to the opposite corner of the room. In short war had to teach peace, and peace had to teach war. Ominous, scary and quite wonderful to watch . . .