Term 2 at Lispa has started, and in the blink of an eye, we are already at the end of week one. I am very happy to be back in school, and as the week goes on, I could feel my body getting into the rhythm of classes again. The familiar aches and pains, the long stretches of intense focus and attention, the occasional pangs of hunger. It is really nice to be back in the company of other Lispa people, to work together, to be in the space with each other once again.
This term, we leave behind the neutral mask, and move on to murkier, more challenging territory. As Thomas tells it, we will be embodying everything from everyday objects to colors, paintings, even music. We’ll look beyond obvious, superficial qualities of these different objects and uncover the movements within. How it movies, or, what moves it. It will be hard, and we will probably get frustrated, ending up with lots of questions that we have to try and answer ourselves.
Right from the get-go on Monday, we delved into the investigation of everyday things – how they move, what happens when they are manipulated or changed, how their state is in stillness. And then we try to put that into our bodies. What happens when a piece of paper is crumpled, then dropped to the floor? What does a balloon do when it is pumped full of air, then let go? What are the processes set in motion when a drop of acid meets a piece of iron? As we tried to embody different substances and play them, it became obvious that there was inherent drama in there seemingly banal everyday objects. Just try crumpling a piece of paper and throwing it to the ground. Then watch. The paper trembles, then stretches itself out, bit by bit. A corner twitches, then another. Then another. Just when you think it has stopped moving, it starts, and shifts its weight just a tiny bit. Little by little, the paper tries to straightens itself, yet you know no matter how hard it struggles, it will never go back to the pristine, white, smooth state it was before. It is in this futility that lies the tragedy of the crumpled paper – the passiveness of being crumpled and abandoned by unseen hands, then the impossibility of returning to what it once was. Its heroic efforts to unfurl, to stretch, to right itself only makes it all the more tragic.
In pairs, we took turns in “crumpling” the other person, then pushing them to the floor, watching as they try to recover. It may seem silly, the idea of playing a piece of paper, but we are not embodying paper simply so to play a convincing piece of paper in future theatrical endeavors – we do it so that we are better able to understand the physical truth of everyday things. So that when the occasion comes to transpose it onto human situations, it may illuminate human truths as well.
Every Wednesday, we have class with Stephanie, a lovely petite Australian. She is a very warm person with a sparkling personality and the cutest mannerisms – I can’t help but smile when I’m in class with her. This week, we worked with her on things that stretch, things like elastics, rubber bands, sponges, and springs. There is often a comic quality to the way an elastic moves, how it appears to be reaching so hard, going to extremes, then abruptly releasing and reverting back to its original noodle-like state. When you put an elastic between two people and ask one to go as far from the other as possible though, it becomes a different story. The tension generated is so palpable, you can literally feel it in your body. Either the forward person has to go back, the one left behind has to follow, or they have to meet in the middle. Or the elastic will break. Such a small thing as an elastic, yet such a rich metaphor for human relationships.
To end the class, Steph read to us the following poem:
“The Amazing Reality of Things is My Everyday Discovery”
Everything is exactly truly what it is and it is hard to explain to
Anyone how glad that makes me
And how it is enough for me
To exist is enough to be fulfilled
Sometimes I start looking at a stone
I don’t start wondering whether it feels
I don’t lose myself in calling it my sister
But I enjoy it for being a stone
Other times I hear the wind passing
And I find that just to hear the wind
Passing is worth the trouble of being born