Research
Invoking The Wild Man (in process)

An inter-generational, moving exploration of American, male-centered rites of initiation.

Invoking the Wild Man seeks to empower and give voice to America’s male youth and elders through the development of population specific, communal ritual. The project consists of four parts, including: interviews, explorative group workshops, an informal community performance, and a formal staged performance developed from stories and experiences excavated from the previous two parts of the project. The aim of Invoking the Wild Man is to provide a vehicle for male elders to find renewed purpose in life and for male youth to consciously develop a sense of self and purpose within a society that denies them support and guidance. Rites of Passage from various world cultures are explored to inform the creation of a framework upon which a uniquely American ritual might be developed to facilitate the transmission of cultural wisdom from elder to youth.

This project will focus primarily on youth and elder males living in the United States of America and the unique sets of issues that shape the construct of manhood in that country. Rites of passage from various world cultures are explored to inform the creation of a framework upon which a uniquely American ritual might be developed to facilitate the transmission of cultural wisdom from elder to youth.

As the process of becoming a man is rooted in ones sense of self and cultural identity, the means by which a rite of manhood is developed must be both culturally and personally relevant. Therefore, the development of such a process must arise from the community being served and not from one that is prescribed. The purpose of Invoking the Wild Man is not to develop a complete “one size fits all” process, but to illuminate how dance and ritual might inform the process for each unique community and individual who might choose to adopt such a model.

Photo Credit: Zachary Handler

Moving Character (in process)

Embodying character through the use of Laban/Bartenieff Movement Studies (LBMS) in developing character movement profiles.

More often than not, through my observations and experiences within the realm of dance and theater, it has become painfully apparent that many an actor and many a dancer has little to no understanding of how their character moves. Rather, characters seem to mirror, in movement, the same mannerisms, the same choices, which define the actor or dancer attempting to portray the character. This appears grossly in less experienced actors, and with more subtlty in actors with a great deal of experience.

I see the role of defining these character mannerisms and movement choices that of the playwright and/or choreographer. The playwright/choreographer who wishes to maintain the integrity of their vision of a character has at their disposal many tools to accomplish this task. However, as I have gathered from a survey of these tools, the most underutilized and perhaps the most effective is the Laban/Bartenieff Movement System (LBMS).

A quick Google search of Laban for Actors will produce a hefty list of applications of LBMS within theater. However, though aspects of LBMS are utilized in some theatrical applications, oftentimes this is limited to the Laban Movement Analysis (LMA) category of Effort, which though extremely important to character dynamic and intent, only offers a one-dimensional picture of a character. Further, in most of these applications of Effort, there tends to be a favoring specifically of Action Drives. This fragmentation of the LBMS ignores the holistic necessity of the system and is much like attempting to bake bread with only flour. Because of this oversight, the actor studying this abridged method will find that they are missing conscious access to Flow, the Flow Drives, and the States. When one considers this being left out, it becomes clear that the expressive quality and potential of character is drastically reduced and stunted. The only clear way forward is to utilize the entirety of LBMS, both LMA and Bartenieff Fundamentals (BF) to explore and define the movement choices, affinities, and dis-affinities of character.

Therefore, the central purpose of this project is two fold. To develop and refine character movement profiles, and to utilize these profiles to allow performers to better realize and embody the characters they will portray, both through the application of LBMS.

To that end, I have completed the first phase of this project in using LBMS to develop detailed movement profiles of characters that appeared in my MFA thesis concert. Having focused on two of the main characters that inhabited the world created for the dance theater work, I used each movement profile to coach the actor/dancer selected for that role, on how to fully embody the essence of the character they eventually became on stage.

Having entered phase two of the project, I am currently analyzing the process and results from my thesis process/concert as I seek to impove the my approach.  

Eventually, this process will form the basis for the development of two workshop series. One for actors and dancers, that I will offer on how to discover the complexity and fullness of character personality, movement choices, and affinities in the absence of a movement profile or coaching from a playwright or choreographer; and one for playwrights and choreographers on how to explore and define character movement profiles.

© 2019 by Curtis Stedge.

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