Students will be able to understand and apply Suzuki’s idea of presence by performing one of their lines from their competition pieces with presence and then the same line without in front of the class.
Anticipatory Set/Hook Review all exercises up until now. Practice using beats and calling out the exercises. Make sure to end with three minutes of stomping. (15-20 minutes)
Instruction: Today we will be focusing on energy. We’ve talked a bit about it throughout these exercises, but today it will be our focus. A huge concept in the Suzuki method is what he calls “animal energy” (write this on the Suzuki method chart). The performer has a sense of speaking through the gods on stage, but the deities’ nature is not prescribed. The gods are more energetic and physiological. The audience perceives this as an altered mood, a precise external focus and a physical intensity. Suzuki’s chosen mode of performing is energized, forward-facing and combative. The performer is exposed and vulnerable on stage in this highly charged state. Performers should not try to get rid of this energy through relaxation techniques. It should be cultivated and harnessed. (5 minutes)
Transition: So today we will practice harnessing this animal energy through an exercise called Slow Ten.
Guided Practice: The basic form is this – half the class watches, the other half does. Those who are up line up in two lines facing each other on opposite sides of the room. Find your focus, and get ready to go instantly. Once you are up, onstage, you are performing, so you don’t fix your hair, wipe your face, adjust your clothes. The music starts, and as it does, you “bring a gesture from the belly” this gesture does not involve changing facial expression or position of the torso, but really only involves the arms. Everything else stays in that focus. You begin walking slowly towards each other. Cross in the middle of the room, all the while focusing, performing the gesture, and keeping our internal image work going so that the gesture remains interesting. As you cross the room, there is a point in the music where you put both feet on the floor, freeze, and then swivel turn with both feet pushing into the floor, change the gesture, and walk back the other way. As you approach the other line, your instructor will ask you to change your focus so that you are focused on another person. You’ll freeze facing them “eyes to eyes, belly to belly” They may ask you to descend, and then freeze partway down. While you are stuck there, with your gestures, focusing on the other person – the instructor will ask you to begin speaking text – a line from your competition piece. It is spoken quickly, from the belly, with a pause for breath between each line of the speech. After you are done, hold for a moment, then relax, and then switch groups, and watch the other group do the same exercise. You can switch groups several times if needed. (20 minutes)
Side Coaching—during this exercise, make sure to point out when students are not relaxed in their upper bodies. Keep emphasizing the performing nature of the exercise. Help focus their energy and, when they are holding their gestures halfway down, ask them to “glow.” This is a word often used in Suzuki training that means to give off energy. A similar term used often in acting is ‘presence.’ The focus for today is essentially to have the actors give off presence.
Discussion: What did you do with your bodies to emote the animal energy? Where were you deriving your energy? How does this relate to presence in acting? What did you see as you were watching the other group? What was it like to add text for the first time? How did that change your energy and focus? (5-10 minutes)
Individual Practice: Have the students spread out in the room and practice the line they chose from their competition pieces with animal energy and without. Tell them what the assessment will entail and give them about 5 minutes to practice. (5 minutes)
Assessment: Have each student get up in front of the class and perform the line they chose earlier from their competition piece first without harnessing animal energy and then with the energy. Side-coach them if needed and let them try it again if they need to. Give each student 5 points for their participation and if you see a difference between the two versions of their line. (1-2 minutes per person)
Closure/Individual Practice: If there is time, let the students work on their competition pieces. Ask them to focus on how they can harness animal energy in their pieces.
As the students, leave …………..O-tsukare-sama deshita (oat-SCAR-ee saw-maw desh-taw).
Have each student get up in front of the class and perform the line they chose earlier from their competition piece first without harnessing animal energy and then with the energy. Side-coach them if needed and let them try it again if they need to. Give each student 5 points for their participation and if you see a difference between the two versions of their line. (1-2 minutes per person)