Ashes

 

a physical theater and movement study directed by Karl Frost

… fascinating; awkward, tender, and violent movement combined with snippets of dialog and swiftly built-up characters and relationships, creating social and sexual conflicts with an almost unnerving intimacy… utterly compelling.

–Brett Fetzer, The Stranger (Seattle April 2004)
click here for full text of review

performance history

    • as duet with Monica Gilliam, October 2003, Lullaby benefit, Seattle,WA
    • as duet with Anna Peterson, January 2004, SALT benefit, Seattle, WA
    • as quintet with Anna Peterson, Aaron Schwartzman, Rikki Mason, Danya Elraz, in Edges an evening of two works by Karl Frost, RED Studio  March 2004 Seattle,WA

the crux of this work is a theoretical somatic-psychology exploration in theater.  In the context of proscenium performance, I have a specific curiosity in physical communication between performer and viewing audience… empathic communication and how it can be used and explored to generate possibilities of positive psychological and social development, whether it be in the simple celebration of body and beauty or in the processing of personal and social wounds or necessities of change.  Ashes hits multiple territories.  The piece is a study in which the performers have a set of very clear structures which they can choose from to generate their action choices.   The scores fall in 3 primary categories

    • release-based movement scores emphasizing openness and ease in the joints, especially in reaction to another’s touch (see release article for further info on the contact side of this exploration)
    • scores for physical manipulation of other performers
    • scores based around the identification of physical voices in the body –physical actions just below the threshold of activation based on personal emotional state, either from internal process or reaction to externals/other — and then the intuitive and immediate distillation and amplification of these “voices”

the theory is that the base in the first set of scores would, through sympathetic response, cause an openness in the audience a kind of vulnerability to empathy so that as the very body-based emotional voices arose and interacted, there would be several degrees less emotional armoring to get in the way of empathic response.  As the “themes” would be played out physically, the emotional body would be the primary avenue of communication (as opposed to the intellect).  The piece was thus aimed at making a deeply felt and piercing empathic connection between performer and audience.  We seemed to meet with some success in this investigation.

Looking at this work beyond the idea of “having an impact on the audience” and wanting that impact to be positively transformative, as director I was working in an intuitive manner that was reinforced by the theoretical frames of various somatic psychological practices when combined with theatrical research principles from Grotowskian theater.  Naming two which have been quite influential for me…

  • Peter Levine’s trauma theory and the idea of necessity for completion of suppressed action.
  • Arne Mindel’s theories of different voices in the body and the imperative for them to “move”. Dreambody work and Process-oriented Psychology.

For me, these investigations point interestingly towards a meaningful technique for a kind of ritual theater.  I hope to continue them in the near future.

 Posted by at 9:54 pm