The Conscious Body Workshops
The Conscious Body Project explores the somatic body through respiration, tension, and relaxation, the identification of our own reactions, and the investigation of our fears, beliefs, physical and mental limitations, with the aim of finding a flexible, present, sensitive, solid, confident and free body. Only then, we will be able to offer truly genuine and intense work, loaded with emotion and truth. Also, a work full of contempt, both for the spectator and for the creator.
The body reflects the emotional and mental states of a person. If we are worried, stressed or scared, the body becomes tense and will inevitably show this tension. If we feel calmed, confident, quiet, the body will relax and become present, attractive, surprising and poetic in its movement and responses to the environment.
The body is an invaluable and unique path to work with any aspect of the actor onstage. A relaxed body will allow you to easily access your full physical and emotional spectrum. You will be able to deeply understand the dramaturgical circumstances of your character with no effort. You will access a quality of work in which you will transit with no effort from one emotional state to the next one. A flexible and open body is ready to adapt and respond to any stimulus or event in a gracious, truthful, intense and surprising way.
In this first workshop, we will learn how to deeply relax our bodies and the great implications this has at both mental and emotional levels. We will also have a taste of how relevant a relaxed body is if we want to become permeable and sensitive performers, and how important these qualities are in order to become, inhabit and live, fully and without effort, our scenic life.
“When the actor’s instrument —his body— is tuned by exercises,
the wasteful tensions and habits vanish. He is then ready to open himself to the unlimited possibilities of emptiness. But there is a price to pay: in front of this unfamiliar void there is, naturally, fear.”
In front of a challenge, the body naturally grows tense. The mind speeds up. Our attention may get partially or totally paralized with beliefs, conclusions and expectations about ourselves. Fear floods us.
In this workshop, we will investigate this phenomenon that we will call reaction. We will work with reactions we feel in our daily life, as well as reactions that we feel when we go onstage by identifying the set of tensions, beliefs and emotions these reactions are made of. Then, we will choose a major reaction that limits us in our scenic or daily life and we will learn how to stop it.
Stopping a reaction will allow you to release not only the physical tensions associated to it, but also the emotions, beliefs and limitations in your perception that come with this reaction. If my main reaction is to feel that I’m not good enough, after stopping it, I will have a chance, if only for a few minutes, to experience myself without the physical and emotional weight this reaction creates in me.
Stopping a reaction brings a sensation similar to dropping a weight off your shoulders: all the energy invested in holding the reaction is freed up. The body recovers its true, original lightness, creativity and perceptive potential. A new spectrum of possibilities open up that you might not even be aware of.
“This feeling that you’re no good, which is a holdover
from way back when you were an infant,
can be a potent force in your acting.”
One of the most relevant somatic functions that determine who we are and how we act is our attention. It’s through my attention that I can deeply understand my scenic circumstances and find the emotional state of my character. A high level of attention will allow me to perceive, from moment to moment, every new stimulus or change in the circumstances with subtlety and accuracy.
Out of unified attention, I will be able to fully be onstage and fully become my character. Attention is the key that makes a difference between pretending and doing — the reality of doing. A high level of attention is, probably, the most important quality that drives a good into being an outstanding one.
Non-unified attention will dilute your energy into different objects that often become obstacles in your stage work: self-observation, critique, and self-consciousness. Non-unified attention becomes evident in the level of presence of the actor, in the emotional depth she is able to reach, as well as in his ability to adapt quickly and creatively to changes in the circumstances.
We will tackle the phenomenon of attention from different perspectives, with exercises that will allow us to meet, control, and enhance our level of attention. The exploration of techniques such as passive and active meditation will help us understand this somatic function which is essential to attain a truthful, intense, surprising, and creative stage work.
“The seed to the craft of acting
is the reality of doing.”
4. The Conscious Body
In the West, we often associate consciousness with a function or a phenomenon that emerges in our mind. However, when we pay attention to many situations of our life, we realize that we know many things without even thinking about them —sometimes, before we can even truly figure out its parts or significance. This is what is commonly called intuition, gut or embodied knowledge.
In this workshop, we will explore the body’s ability to perceive and understand its environment. We will explore the hypothesis that the body may be aware of its own existence beyond the intervention of the mind. The aim will be no other than to gain confidence and experience in the use of an ability, intuition, that we all have and that will open the door to a work onstage of extraordinary quality and sensitivity.
Becoming aware of the body’s consciousness will help us to leave behind the mind control, allow uncertainty, and access the full perceptive and sensitive potential of our holistic being. Grasping this potential will allow us to go deep into the realm of creativity, taking the first steps to a new and surprising kind of performance, full of contempt, both for you and your audience.
“When I’m at my best, I don’t even know what the next line is. It doesn’t matter how familiar I am with the script. I have to put myself in a place where, like the character, I have no idea what I’m going to say next.
And then the words come. But it’s a very risky place to be.”