In 2018, the studio of a Theater Academy is obviously not a jungle where trainees need torun away from predators to save their lives.
There is artificial light, a roof over their heads, heating and no predators looking for food; the life of a theater trainee is not in danger as itmay be for a man alone in the savannah. Nevertheless, the workshop The Urge of Being tends to put the performer’s organism inthe condition where its homeostasis is continuously challenged to quickly self-regulateand react to the immediate moment. The training attempts to generate a mental, physicaland emotional off-balanced state in which the trainees are required to make decisions and actions very quickly, based on physical impulses.In a real situation of danger these impulses are the impulses to survive and develop into running away, killing, eating, etc. In the workshop these impulses don’t develop into these type of actions but the source of energy is the same: an urgency. In the workshop the impulses come rapid-fire from an inner intention but they are not yet visible as emotions or complex movements, but they have the potential to develop into a more readable expression. The artistic survival mode is therefore the condition in which the performe consciously generates her own urgency and works with inner impulses and energy in a conscious way.
From a biological point of view, urgency can be understood as the basic motivation that pushes living creatures to verbally and non-verbally express themselves. The more the urgency, the more effective the communication and the higher the possibility to survive.To better picture this equivalence one can think of a newborn baby crying for hunger or cold; his vocalized call for food reaches the mother or the people who immediately provides food. The child instinctively modulates his vocal expression depending on the degree of the urgency of his hunger (Linklater, 1976, 20).
>> In the workshop urgency is triggered and maintained in different ways:
• Fatigue and high concentration
The high speed of the work, the absence of long pauses (maximum three-four minutes) and extended duration sessions of work, together create the first support for the insurgence of fatigue, followed by the urgency to constantly rearrange the organism in response to it.One of the concepts that have led to the development of the approach and the exercises of the workshop, is that in a situation in which fatigue, tension, relaxation, anticipation, drive – the background emotions defined by Damasio (see Damasio, 1999) - are solicited, the organism self-regulates and adapts to these conditions by investing a type of energy connected to these emotions.
• Instruction and suggestion given by the trainer.One of them is “you have to fuck yourself”. This expression may sound aggressive at first, but far from being offensive, it is an invitation to explore the unknown by breaking the physical, emotional, spiritual, relational cliché and limits, by consciously generating a condition of unpredictability for oneself and for the group.“Fuck yourself” becomes a sort of mantra to refresh the work, to generate syncopations, to break the physical rhythm that corresponds to breaking predictable thought patterns. Paraphrasing the expression one can say: “fool oneself into going beyond oneself to find a new self”.
• High energy level and dilatation of energy.The trainees are asked to mobilise a huge amount of energy and to experience the extreme possibility of expression in order to face their own limits, overcome them and gain energy from their limits. Once they have accessed this dynamic of energy, the trainees are requested to dilate the energy and transform it into an artistic process, rather than liberate it as it is. This dilatation and transformation creates the
difference between a liberation (sometimes therapeutic) process and an artistic one: in the latter, inner impulses go through a conscious transformation and are shared through an artistic language which is comprised of movement, actions, text and voice work.
• Group and partnering work.Urgency is also triggered by work in and with the group and in partnering and by the give and take process, all elements that require a high level of alertness and reactiveness to external impulses.