Harare, March 20th 2016 | Lloyd Nyikadzino
My passion lies in primarily telling stories through the body. My desire is to see the body profoundly communicate that which we are sometimes shy or afraid to speak. I was honored to have been selected by Almasi Collaborative Arts to lead a seven-day physical theatre lab, an exploration focusing on character creation and development. During the lab, I invited the actors to walk with me in exploring this world, and in the process help them awaken the same imagination and magic that is associated in the character investigation process. I wanted them to become inspired to find and share their own voices and influence an understanding of the impact of their bodies in space.
The character development process was designed to address challenges in creating new works, with a special focus dedicated to being present and truthful in space. The analysis also dealt with kinesthetic awareness and maintaining vulnerability in creating a believable theatrical character. I provoked the actors to create breathing and living entities in space and time. It was an intriguing process of deconstruction, self-discovery, and embodying the other, as well as inhabiting the proposed space or circumstance. An investigation where darlings/self were discarded in order for the other to come to life. It was about letting go and discovering new worlds through the body.
Imagination had to precede analysis. I provoked the actor to not hold on to something precious or discoveries for too long because in the character creation journey, they will meet interesting dynamic dimensions to continue exploring. Everything had to boil back down to the core of their physicality, movement, intention and focus; how they inhibit space and fully live in the other.
It was paramount that the actor discover the other. They had to put effort in everything the character does, as the stakes continue to rise. They had to risk what they wanted as actors, to pay attention to what the character desires, and to satisfy the character’s appetite. When they let go of the actor and allowed the character to manifest, the momentum escalated and all was pleasurable.
The actors observed, imagined, explored and developed. It was all investigative and experimental. The actors were constantly challenged to play with ferocity and conviction to their proposals. Through different exercises, the actors were provoked to walk in the lands they had never imagined. Through their body and its capabilities they discovered strength, flexibility and balance.
The founder of Dell’Arte International School of physical Theatre once said Characterization must begin at home, in the body. Some of the actors in the workshop were not at home in their bodies. They had to discover what that means. Therefore the main emphasis of the actors’ work was physical self-discovery.
It was not about surviving the journey or getting it right, but about completely understanding their proposed character. They needed to put effort with intent, which influenced the direction and depth of their character’s life. It was all about continual discovery. No one in the room was the best. The process was in relationship with via negetiva approach, to think there is nothing wrong or right but to continue the investigation. It’s all about believing.
This investigation was about imaginations and wholly giving life to the other. The actors had to crave for more, flying high into the utmost point and see what they can become from being vulnerable in space. The characters movement and objectives had to live in space through needs, tension, weight, opposition, lines and shapes. They made imaginations live in space. They started walking into the world of endless possibilities.
The role of this physical theatre engagement was not only to emphasise on the aesthetics of the characters in space, but to profoundly explore the major social and political concerns of our time. The engaging yet thought provoking physical theatre lab performance TUMAINI revealed character stories centered on displacement, migration and transition in non-traditional theatre spaces.
It was a great experience.