Look. See. React.
Isn’t it strange how an automatic human process can become lost between counts of eight? We get so swept up in technique and timing that we forget to tell the story. Or worse, we tell a story no one believes.
When I was a student (many moons ago) (just kidding) (kind of), I never liked character class. It felt boring and rigid and too much like time wasted (oh, if I could only convince 13-year-old me to pay more attention to the cruel but crucial csárdás). Once a month, though, character class became my favorite hour of the week. Every three weeks, one class was devoted not to character dancing, but to characterization. For that hour we were not students but princesses in old, dirty sash-dresses, angry sultans with old, dirty sash-turbans, or my personal favorite, the “keepers of hope”. On the “keepers of hope” nights, the entire 60 minutes was spent on one simple acting exercise: See a butterfly. Catch the butterfly. Peek at the butterfly. Let it go. Watch it fly far away. Again and again we would repeat this exercise, breaking down the expressive details and facial nuances to bring them back from balletic to believable. Our teacher would remind us-once a month-not to anticipate the story. He would place our minds in that of the audience, urging us to keep seeing that butterfly for the first time, every time. Sense the feeling, feel the sensation, respond.
Look. See. React.
During the 7 short days Ilya has been in the studio so far, he has repeated this intention to us quite a few times. Each reminder brings me back to my butterfly days. Back to telling the story. Back to the mind of the audience. Back to keeping the hope, and, hopefully, the authenticity, too.