3rd Year Program
International Theatre School of Rome
Programs for the Actor European Training: Art. 7 of the 3/4/08
After a careful analysis of the greatest pictorial artistic movements - from Realism to
Expressionism, from Futurism to Surrealism –the course will focus on the existing binomial between artistic object and stage message. The search for the movement’s quality, the timbre, the words, the break-up or fading that can better express the instant captured by the brush: all these elements will create a work of poetry, music and image to represent the colour, the light and the environment conceived by the artist. In this way it will be possible to give a theatrical shape to Van Gogh’s tormented brushstroke, to Monet’s nostalgic atmosphere, to Chagall’s ironic and dreamy violets, to Picasso’s definite line.
Finally students will present, in small groups, a carrellata of “scenic pictures ” that represent different pictorial works, in a non casual sequence where the poetical apex will the passage from an artist to another.
We will see how the dramatic elements, when driven towards perfection and go beyond the powers of logic, border on mystery which represents the limit of human knowledge. Starting with Cocteau’s works, we will play a game of mirrors where the farce replies to drama; the tragedy to the comedy; reality to imagination and vice versa. However, in this purely intellectual journey, we look for the absolute and mystery in a game of symbols, which are reminiscent of the myth, the taste for surprise and the Dada experiences. The characters will be taken to the extreme and will leave an aftertaste that will sometimes reveal an over-emphasized cruelty and sometimes a soft irony, which will in turn reveal a hallucinatory truth. A logical succession of illogical circumstances that extends to the supernatural will outline the inspirational function of poetry.
Students will be able to recognize and analyze thematic and interpretative methodologies of the great psychological and moral themes of our era. The inability to communicate, loneliness, alienation, brutishness, cruelty, skepticism will be translated into an unreal, poetic dimension, which represents the existential reality of modern man. The emotional sphere is reduced, the gestures give weak signs, whose sense is often impenetrable. Objects lose their functional value, reality is distorted by insanity and everything becomes mechanical, illogical, and “absurd”. Then, in retaliation, madness invades reality; it creates new forms of communication which are emphasized by everyday frustrations. Behind the civil man there is an exited, solitary, fool person that wanders around in search of himself. The improvisations are based on updated readings of texts. Students will practice contemporary dynamics, which are made of actions, speed, fragments of gestures, images, emptied language where the strong presence of technology disguises a breakdown in communication and sends man into a state of loneliness.
Beginning from the ’30, Brecht worked out that original style of theatre which he defines epic theatre. It is aimed to provoke argument not emotions. In fact he doesn’t want to provoke suggestions but arguments, encouraging critical judgment and not identification which take the audience in a greater consciousness. The interpretative technique, detached and objective, provokes, in the audience, an effect of “alienation” towards what happens on stage, distance that amplifies putting in reflections and comments as stage directions, songs and notice that interrupt the event. The author gives up description of involving psychological conflicts in characters relations. This “cooling” assimilates the Brechtian poetic to “New Objectivity” and to messages of violent denounce just like Georg Grosz elaborates in his works during the same years.
The Bauhaus Theatre is based on similitude between art of construction and stage art: from here the idea of construct geometric shapes around the actor’s body, related to the space, these “costumes in volumes” are delineated by flexible structures that draw the outline with the help of projection and light technique effects. This artistic movement also was born with strong ideological assumptions: his creators are, for direction aspect Erwin Piscator and for the set designing Walter Gropius, one of the most architect of the age and founder of the Bauhaus. All the Bauhaus of the ‘20th and ‘30th was “a workshop of ideas”, a collective project that assembled the best European talents of design, applied arts and architecture.
Students will experiment the existing relationship between set designing and recitation, between the plastic arts and presentation. Stage designing will not play the role of a background frame, but it will have a "speaking" function. Thanks to the use of simple stage objects, raw materials (boxes, suitcases, newspapers, umbrellas, cloths, colors…) students will be able to see how the set dynamically interacts with the actor. The objects are taken and "inverted"; they have a form and function, which is easily recognizable but it is subverted. Their meaning is overturned; it is shaped and moulded, in order to assume a new semantic value.
How does the comic mechanism of the “theatre of the absurd” change when the audience’s eye is a videocamera? What changes in comic timing, in acting, in body, in face expressiveness? How to interpret character that don’t have a real “psychological” identity? Once again the study path is concentrated on differences inside the same style, between theatrical interpretation and cinematographic one.
This time our referent will be “the Monty Python”, one of the most desecrating team of British cinema. After visioning their filmography, students will have to create and interpret sketches on the absurd and “non-sense”, using, with the due sagacity, a specific cinematographic language. The study path theatre/cinema is at its third stage: from characters’ realism of the 1st year, to Shakespearean acting of 2nd year to alteration, absence and paradox of surreal characters and “non-sense”.
- E... ora qualcosa di completamente diverso (And Now For Something Completely Different 1971)
- Monty Python e il Sacro Graal (Monty Python and the Holy Grail1975)
- Brian di Nazareth (Monty Python's Life of Brian 1979)
- Il senso della vita (The Meaning of Life 1983)
- Un pesce di nome Wanda (by Charles Crichton, with Kevin Kline, John Cleese, J. Lee Curtis 1988)
- Frankestein Junior (di M. Brooks, con Gene Wilder 1975)
- Helzapoppin (di Henry C. Potter 1941)
The approach to the "Modern Comedy" will be expounded through the study and the processing of the playwright’s works of contemporary theatre.
Beginning with De Filippo’s plays, the themes and the improvisation techniques of the Comedy will be initially revised. However, the character will lose the animal instinct typical of the mask, in order to assume a psychological connotation that represents a "type", a perfect model of man. De Filippo’s characters are the result of the direct analysis of reality: he takes situations from everyday life and they become the representation of great universal dramas. The "tragic" aspect of modern man is released from the conflict between the individual and society.- Direction as an integral part of the text
- Humor of "movement" as opposed to the humor of “jokes”
- Vivacity of the character
- Tastes, troubles, vices of the lower middle-class spirit
- Use of fixed rules in humor
- Stage tension in the search for harmony
- Taste for the disguise
- Character’s connotation as a "fixed" tool
- Melodrama broken by continuous “qui pro quo”
- Sense of duty as solution of life
- Play within a play
- Humor of "situation”
- Humor of "repetition”
- The back-stage
- Rhythm and musicality of the character
In this period students will be asked to conduce another deep interpretative research. They will concentrate on different shades of comedy, exploring the cinematographic derivatives. The “noir” and the “ typically English ” humour, the brilliant comedy, the farcical comedy, the grotesque style, dwelling on cinematographic text and screenplays and on identifying coherence of characters. The chosen films are almost all “choral” episodes where there are many characters, each one with its precedent circumstances. Recovering Strasberg’s method, students will propose original and personalised versions of the analysed film, developing both theatrical and cinmatographic interpretation.
This period of study will be devoted to the study of Cartoons and the Comic strip. The actors will learn to be able to perceive and to act out mutant spaces, the disorderly tensions, the vital and frantic impulses, and the degrading and violent dynamics that surround us. They will create situations that contain the flow of images, the environment and the characters of contemporary society. Speed, which is the main feature of present day communication, will be the main theme, therefore, the descriptive or the linear slow pace of oral speech is abandoned, to give way to a new language of fast and easy, legible frames. The style of the white pantomime will be intertwined with the comic strip and cartoons, with their animated heroes and their onomatopoeic dialogues. The nervous gesture of the actor will express the plastic dramas of Superman and Popeye. These heroes, which are always associated with future time, are the result of the transformation of stereotypes into caricatures.
Pantomime of Comics- Language of gestures- Onomatopoeic sounds- Illusion of spaces, objects and characters- The mimed gangs- Study of caricatures- Mechanics of the comic strip character- Timing of "gags"- Distortion of the spoken language.
The buffoon is part of modern day society consequently the key in which modern life is interpreted now becomes ironic instead of humorous. The modern buffoon is a violent revealer of reality. He abandons the deformation in his appearance to assume a very biting psychological deformation. The parodies of the characters and the situations will be loaded with mocking comments, which are the mirror of hypocrisy and human weakness. The will to accuse is clear and evident. The buffoon’s manipulation of reality is devised to strike hard but the spectator is quickly side-tracked when the aggression becomes too strong.
Once more television programs, which are the deformed mirror of the trends in our society, will be used as pretexts for work on the modern satire. Students will present an imitation of TV programs: sports shows, quiz shows, soap operas, fashion shows and above all commercials and the news s. Using a fictitious theatrical game, the contemporary word is expressed in the tragic-comic paradox, the satire of custom and the modern grotesque. The theatrical writing will try to disclose the "hidden mechanisms" of television in an interpretation which is a grotesque caricature of TV characters. From the humor of the "dysfunction" game to the irony of the "parodic" game we will reach the absurdity of "non-sense". In this work, the study of the pantomime and the decomposition of movement will play a fundamental role in the relationship between image and frame. The student’s aim is to turn the stage into a real screen, by using "fade", "replay", "go back" , "slow down", "fast motion",
Finally, students will have to create “situation sketches” that will grow stronger the more characters will be “real”, progressively satiric tricks will be develop based on the multiples improvisations and writings elaborated by students and set up on stage.
During the 3rd year students will deal with the study of contemporary theatre. The history of theatre of the ‘900 pose the accent on centrality of the actor. With the historical avant-garde: Futurism, Dadaism and Surrealism, new form of theatre were born: the Antonin Artaud’s cruelty theatre, Bertold Becht’s epic dramaturgy, the theatre of the absurd of Luigi Pirandello, Samuel Beckett and Eugene Ionesco that modify the staging approach, process already started by Jean Cocteau, Robert Musil and Henrik Ibsen. Stand out, among others, for originality, Alfred Jarry, creator of Ubu Roi.
The Weimar’s Republic becomes the experimentation referent for many innovator authors: Brecht, Majakovskij, Piscator and Lorca while Kostantin Sergeevic Stanislavskij and his students, especially Mejerchol’d, will bring the attention on the director, who unites the classic functions of author and actor; an example are directions of Moscow’r Art Theatre. The theatre of words becomes physical and interpretative actor’s action. From here different methods will develop that put the accent on the actor identification with character (Stanislavskij ‘s method later reviewed by Lee Strasberg) and on the sense of trick, stage presence and listening (Jacques Lecoq’s method). Theatre of the ‘60th and ‘70th gets in touch with oriental theatre, yoga, martial arts, spiritual disciplines. Now, the actor improving is viewed as a personal growth. In Italy also, starting from the second post-war until today, the direction theatre will develop with great figures such as Eduardo and Strehler. The director’s function will define the structure of a play: psychological, ludic etc. and the interpretation methods: naturalism, extraniation, identification, osmoses with the stage etc. These authors will have a great influence on the post-war theatre, as demonstrated by the Augenio Barba’s Odin Teatret, the poor theatre of Jerzy Grotowski, the denounce theatre of Living Theatre of Julian Beck and Judith Malina, to end up with applications of the Actor’s Studio of Lee Strasberg.
- The Avant-garde theatre: Jarry, Cocteau, Artaud
- The Theatre of the Absurd: Ionesco, Beckett, Pirandello
- The Epic and social: Brecht, Boal, Kantor
- The Direction Theatre, pioneers and founder: Stanislavskij, Craig, Appia, Copeau, Mejerchol’d
- The Direction Theatre of the second post-war: De Filippo, Strehler, Visconti, Fassbinder, Dürrenmatt
- Critical Methodology
- Theatrical and cinematographic critic
In the 3rd year writing and direction have a fundamental role for students’ training and it stresses the figure of actor-author. Students will analyse theatre of the ‘900: from the avant-garde to direction theatre, from experimentation to satire, from farcical comedies to surreal ones, with possible cinematographic applications. Once again students will write and stage free adaptations of works by various authors and original text from surroundings, thematic and interpretative mechanism of non-sense, of theatre of the absurd, epic, surreal etc. They will experiment short adaptations of auteur comedies (De Filippo, Frayn) and will work on relation of theatre with visual arts building sequences of “moving pictures” that conjugate image to music and poetry. Finally students will write a sketch on costume satire that opens a new work: conceptual on “media”, technical on virtuous relation with image and photogram and interpretative, imitative-parodic, capable of giving life to and intelligent style of cabaret.
The conclusive phase of this path will take each single student to the ideation and presentation of a real personal project of writing and direction. The actors 4/6 students of the school, will interpret the different scripts under the “neo-director” of the moment. The project, with teacher help, will have different steps:
ABSURDITY AND SURREALISM
CINEMA AND TELEVISION
“The theatrical training”
“The theatrical lesson”
DIDIER GALLOT LAVALLÉE:
THE EVENT-THE CONTAMINATION
IMAGINE THEATRE - MOVING SCENOGRAPHY
HUMORISTIC AND COMIC-STRIP, PANTOMIMES AND SONORITES
ERIK DE BONT:
The lecture notes concerning programs of the International Theatre School of Rome is written by the theatrical didactic responsible of the school, approved by Program for Actor’s European Training (Syllabi for the Actor European Training): Art. 7 of 3/4/08.
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