Action Theater™, a body-based improvisation training, expands individual expressive range, builds ensemble perception, and offers performers a clear, structured form in which to play with abandon. The training elevates vocal, verbal, and physical performance artistry, hones awareness and increases personal vocabulary. The work dives into the world of embodied presence and explores the agility of the imagination through exercises that are simple, playful, and challenging. The focus is on the inescapable musicality of the moment-to-moment experience and the passionate movement, voice and language that originates from the body. Devised by Ruth Zaporah, the form keeps evolving through the contribution of herself and the certified teachers.
Action Theater improvisation training is an improvisational body-based physical theater and awareness training process used for the discovery of new forms of expression. Employing the physical body as the resource for material, the training helps performers expand their physical forms and inhabit those forms with humanity. Through the practice of working solo and with partners, Action Theater develops a better understanding of ensemble architecture, the use of space and composition. In exercises, all action is broken down into shifts, transformations and/or maintaining frames. These exercises help establish the balance between inner and outer awareness. They specifically limit areas of action and response so that students open to the unknown, break free of fear and embrace the unfamiliar. Action Theater includes sound/vocal work, language and movement.
By bringing awareness to actions’ interior, Action Theater leads the performer back into the body — an endless source of inspiration — broadens the range and quality of his/her movement. It helps develop a unique and idiosyncratic vocabulary, frees the individual and brings each performer to a fresh, new relationship with their movement.
When improvising, thoughts occur inside of actions while the actions are taking place. These thoughts are energetic parts of each moment, similar to kinesthetic sensation. They can steal from the moment or add to it. If the improviser blocks these thoughts, then the improvisation stiffens and breaks down. If on the other hand, the performer greets these thoughts and incorporates them, the improvisation expands.
To improvise skillfully one must be aware of the responses that are available within each given moment. This kind of awareness takes practice, dis-covering and saying yes to what arises from the body and mind. If the performer doesn’t know herself, hasn’t investigated her quirks and desires, she will lose track of form and content. When the performer is seduced by form, she loses her awareness. Who is she when she is doing this particular movement? What does she sense? What feeling states accompany this moment? When she is seduced by content, spatial use will decline, articulate qualities of movement will be lost, the body may be forgotten. What kinesthetic sensation triggers the feeling state that triggers the action that triggers the kinesthetic sensation? How and when does this cycle occur and where does awareness enter?
Action Theater enters the performance process, quiets the busy mind and offers new choices. It helps the performer recognize her habits and moments of “turning off.” It builds performance skills and serves as source work for the creation of set pieces. It increases performers’ presence. Performers feel more connected to their experience, connected to their partners. They feel embodied and alive.
Other Teachers’ Descriptions of Action Theater
Action Theater™is a physical theater improvisation training which expands individual expressive range, builds ensemble awareness, and offers performers a clear, structured form in which to play with abandon. By integrating the kinesthetic intelligence of dance with the emotive nature of acting, Action Theater helps students access imaginative impulses while using the body as source material for spontaneous expression, physically, vocally and verbally. Its goal is to develop performers who possess the vitality, sensitivity, and daring instincts of great improvisers, and who can to translate those qualities into any creative work they undertake.
This physical expression workshop is designed to explore the numerous possibilities of the human body as an instrument for instant composition. Movement, voice and language are deconstructed, observed and combined in order to widen the compositional range of the dancer/performer. The training helps performers access the resources of the present moment and give them a form. Simple exercises are used to put the body in motion. Various aspects of the movement are investigated: shape, musicality/timing, space, direction, level. Several starting points – i.e. stimulating physical sensations or increasing internal awareness – lead to the production of movement. Understanding those movement principles the mover is free to constantly renew is movement vocabulary and find new possibilities. In the work, the relation between movement/kinesthetic sensation, inner state and thought is constantly interacting. Thoughts and judgments are integrated in the moment and used as a part of the creative process. You learn how the body affects inner states, how to use physical impulses and access imagination to produce text. Using text, spoken words, and vocal sounds you understand how the musicality of language is as important as the meaning itself. The practice strengthens your ability to listen, accept whatever arises in the moment and trust your body. It widens your possibility of choices and responses. This improvisation-based method is a tool to increase performance skills but also for the making of set pieces. It is particularly suitable for dancers wishing to develop vocal, and verbal skills or actors wanting to develop their physical/movement skills. However, anyone simply interested in playing, getting a better understanding of their body and increasing their presence is welcome to join.