Action Theater 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 new material, the training helps performers expand their physical forms and inhabit those forms with humanity. Action is broken down into shifts, transformations and/or maintaining frames. All exercises help establish the balance between inner and outer awareness. They specifically limit areas of action and response so that performers open to the unknown, break free of fear and embrace the unfamiliar. Through the practice of working solo and with partners, performers develop a better understanding of ensemble architecture, the use of space and composition. Action Theater includes sound/vocal work, language and 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 kinds of 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. By bringing awareness to actions’ interiors, the work guides the performer back into the body — an endless source of inspiration — broadens the range and quality of his/her expression. It helps develop a unique and idiosyncratic vocabulary, frees the individual and brings each performer to a fresh, new relationship with their performance abilities.
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.