Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Presence, Stage and Otherwise

I think we've all experienced a performer who walks onto the stage (or whatever performance space) and fills the room with her/his presence, yes? We tend to call it "stage presence."

What is that?

Their finite, physical person does not expand, and yet their presence is "felt" some distance away. Some people come to it naturally---it's been a constant in my life that people tell me I have it---but I wonder what it is. If I have it, are there things that I have done to cultivate it?

Up until now, I can't say it's been any kind of conscious cultivation, but in retrospect, I think there have been practices that may have contributed to my stage presence.

So part of our practice of making Jill Alexander Essbaum's Necropolis into a stage presentation has been something I call "practicing resurrection." It's a movement meditation, bits of which I've stolen from here and there and woven into my own experience and theology/understanding of resurrection.

Because surely stage presence has to do with the spiritual nature of our being---that we're not only matter/stuff, but also spiritual. And if stage presence is a spiritual expression of our beings, would a spiritual practice of some sort help build stage presence in someone who does not have it?

I'm working with experienced performers who already have certain amount of stage presence. Still, I ask them to "practice resurrection" before each rehearsal. I want them to be fully alive, fully present to the task at hand. I want them to fill the room with their presence.

And this is the sort of thing I'm hoping to explore intentionally as I develop the company. I want to develop a practice for performers. I want to explore theological concepts in the context of art making. I'm a process person and a theologically trained process person. To some extent, I can't help it. I've done it for some time.

This is the first time I've asked people to come along . . .

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