This will be a 12-part online notes / reflection series of the theater arts classes I’m taking with Philippine Educational Theater Association; which is not only one of the premier theater acts in our country (and the world), but also people I’ve personally admired for years.
I paid good money for this and I want to get the most out of it. If you’re curious what you can learn from class, or want to gain new perspective, read on…
pt.1 EMBODIED INTROS
The class starts with ice breakers and getting to know each other. What I love about it, (and why I would recommend this to all those classroom teachers who make us boringly say our name upfront), is that it’s so embodied. Like kids playing games.
You see, involving kinaesthetisia or our sense of touch and feeling, forces us to hold another human person. Forces us right smack in the face of their body language and other non-verbal communication. It’s like a hormone induced crash course of getting to know the person, and gamifying it makes it automatically participatory and FUN GOOD LORD.
For all those teachers wanting the students to get to know each other fast you do it like this.
Make us sing leron leron sinta, while playing nanay tatay gusto ko ng tinapay hand clapping game and then answer a speed-dating esque question like: what’s your favorite color?, do you have any pets, if yes what are they and what’s their name ? and lastly, when was your last heartbreak/love life/ boyfriend or girlfriend.
(( I DISAPPOINTINGLY HAD AN ANSWER TO THE LAST QUESTION. got basted/busted by my best friend a few weeks ago, and I had to say this to this cute young guy who went all aww shux sorry to hear about it and I’m all like – why am I this damn honest?? ))
Also go play bahay tao bagyo bahay tao bagyo, shaggedy shaggedy sha po po or doctor quack quack just to get everybody loosed up. If y’all from another country, just do the best kids games you could think of that would be good for the size of your group.
And then we had the name memorization games! Make us form a circle. Make us all shout our names one by one. Make us do 1 dance move every time we shout our name. then 2 dance moves, then 3 dance moves. Then 4 with sound effects and moving into the space inside the circle. The moves make each person memorable but also builds confidence for people to be in their own skin.
Next have us in a circle again and make us shout our names again (encourage us to do it with some interesting tonality). Have one person name another person across the room and run up to tap the person. Other person will not want to be tapped and names another person across the room. Continue ad infinitum until the pressure of being tagged just forces everyone to remember at least 1/3 of their classmates names. it works.
Finally! Make us break into groups of around 5-7 people. We divided our class of 26 into 4. Make each of us bring out one sentimental thing we always carry in our bag that’s really important to us now. Make us share stories and reasons with our groupmates and encourage us to ask leading questions.
((My answer to this is pretty weird I brought my wallet and said money has been really important to me lately. Other people brought their phones, family photos or a sentimental performance that represented them overcoming their stage fright or the functionality of the phone storing their memories and their work… I’m like. oh I’ve been struggling with the idea of making a living for myself while I work in an NGO -as i’ve mentioned here and here– money has been a weird topic for me so yes my answer is my goddamn wallet.))
Next metacards! Make us hedge out our own expectations for the class. What we can offer to the class. Our own limitations. And our definition of theater (or whatever subject you’re teaching). This is helpful because you don’t only get a barometer of who you’re students are and what they expect of you, you’ll also be getting the underlying beliefs they have about the subject matter and that’s always a beautifully related way to introduce theater or any of your subjects. How to do this? Make us answer the following questions:
1.What do you expect from this class
2.What can we contribute to it
3. What are our limitations
4. What is our definition of theater
Make us share it in the small group so that we can connect better to each other. And make us creatively report this in class. Provide art materials and have us make a poster that will help us explain and synthesize what we’ve discussed.
Unfortunately for our group, we liked talking so much that we barely had time for the poster. But the poster making and reporting is important because it doesn’t only make it easier for the teachers to hear everybody but it makes us think critically about our shared themes and connections with our classmates.
Personally I have high expectations from PETA because I’ve been watching them since highschool. I’m impressed by them because they don’t only write NEW plays, it’s in filipino!! and musicals!! and the topics they broach and talk about are deep but the quality is not sacrificed. This is from someone who likes watching virginlabfest (absolutely new theater pieces festival here in manila) and university plays regularly. I RESPECT THESE GUYS. And I’m sort of sad that a lot of my classmates haven’t even watched any of the PETA plays when they’re all SO. GOOD.
A lot of people also came and took the classes as an outlet for mind deadening jobs and I’m like. Oh. Um, I probably already have too many creative outlets, but these guys are one of the best at what they do and we’re really coming from different perspectives aren’t we ? I answered for ‘what i can contribute’ is my ‘pagkatao’ or my human-ness, beingness. HAHA. MMMM
My limitations is that I have really bad dysmenorrhea right now and I’m a busy gal and I’d probably be a little high strung and stressedt than I should be. We had a girl in our group who has split personality disorder and can hear voices. I non-chalantly said i can hear voices and see things too, I told her everything is alright and she shouldn’t beat herself up about it. I remember struggling with it to, and to be honest I’m so done with the judgement of having psychic senses, if I can help the troubled girl out so be it.
While we were reporting, sir Phil was jotting key words on a white board by the side. He grouped these key words into three groups. He wanted us to see how we all alluded to these three concepts and processes that PETA does engaging at anything.
The first group of words had terms like theater as a way of seeing and understanding the world, yourself. dealing with issues. The second group had words like expressing yourself, learning techniques and being creative. The third group had a bunch of our expectations like collaborating and working together as a group and having fun and making friends with each other. The key terms he was all leading us to were:
OAO as a framework taught in PETA that they apply to their work and their life.
What’s your orientation ? Anong kwenta ng pinagsasabi niyo ? What’s the point or the use of you even talking about this ? Where’s the meat of your material ? How does this reflect and discuss within larger society ? Where are you coming from? who are you speaking for ?
Next. How did you artistically express and translate this message or viewpoint. Paano mo sinabi ang gusto mo sabihin ? Did you render it well ? Is it effective ? Is it a good, well-crafted show ?
Lastly. How did this leave you as an artist and as an organization ? Are you friends or rivals by the end of it ? Was it an enjoyable and healing process or not? Or were there just fights and zero sense of collaboration, learning and camaraderie ?
Sir phil points out that you can have one without the others, and having all three is really the goal for each endevour. You can have amazing organization – super bestfriends almost family bonding like energy towards a project, but the play is bad, and it was pretty useless and forgettable. Or you can have a bomb ass spectacular show – that meant nothing to people, that people hated on working the whole time. A show can also have a wonderful and provocative message but the people working on it failed to translate the concept into something legible for their audience, plus the work was oddly boring.
**what’s interesting for me here is that sir Phil mentions that as a senior director (OK LET ME JUST SAY THIS: he directed one of my bomb awesome favorite plays called juan tamad at ang limang milyong boto so I have capital Respect for this guy).. is that he directs a weekly mainstream (drama? I’m guessing) TV show that he says – does not reflect the grander issues of society and that he must do it for money. and I was surprised ???
***I always thought that teleserye people only had bad quality because the people who worked on them were bad. And I see this amazing director admit that he makes them like that intentionally and I’m like. OH. OH. that can happen. (?)
Next, few short powerpoints on the PETA center and it’s history and founder. Very breif then we broke out for lunch. Where I just kep staring at food and I slightly regret that I picked such an old and unflattering photo of myself for our class ID.
pt.2 AFTER LUNCH.
Excellent body warm up exericise idea #427: (also a good party game)
Paglagas ng ahas (snake shedding it’s skin). Have the class split into two teams and have each team hold each other’s hands in a straight line. Assign each person a number. State a GAP, for example ‘between 4 & 5’ and have both ends of the line, run under these two people’s hands and go return to being a straight line. Once you’re finished – the group sits down. THE FIRST group that unravels itself WINS.
The group that loses must crawl under the winner groups legs. HAHAHHAA. This y’al gonna wake you up whatever your lunch is. Personally our group was good at the start but struggled when there were consecutive multiple instructions, (4-5, 2-3, 11-13) cause everything just got crey. Still fun though!
Body & Space awareness exercises!
Next senior choreographer, teacher charlon (am I spelling this right) asked us to form a big circle again. He proceeded with exercises that made us more familiar with our own bodies and the space we’re moving in. If you want to try this in class this is how you do it.
Have us write our names using each body part. State a number working from something 1 to a 100, progressing us into using “100” percent of our bodies. Make us write our name with out shoulder, our head, our hips, our butt, our arm, everything. Have us define what 100 is like “todo” “give your all” “high energy”. Make us define what you’re trying to get out of us when we’re still fricking shy.
Then tap on each one of us to enter the space inside the circle to write our names there. Have us use the space. Progress to adding more people in the space. two people at a time , four then five. For each person entering the space ask the class to observe what the person is doing. For the person inside the circle, have us state our name and recite each letter for everytime we move to create the letter in space.
Prompt us to get more creative.
Ask us what we’ve noticed or observed with our classmates, like.
They’re not moving from where they’re standing.
Everyone is using hands.
All the letters are standing up none are lying down or 3 dimensional.
Make new rules for every observation, okay no hands now, no standing in place. Make the person STOP, when they don’t follow a rule or when they’re being highly repetetive. For the whole class, sir Charlon was making people stop if they kept starting by standing and facing ‘front’ as if he defined a front when he didn’t. I noticed this and I kept mouthing to the people to face another way but they didn’t really see me or get it. He only said ‘good’ when a person did something that was out of the ordinary and showed the class a different way to approach the exercise.
NEXT. Have the class split into three and have large swaths of people do the exercise together. Add music, change up the music, again prompt everyone to OBSERVE, and learn from each other.
I already told kuya charlon that I had really BAD. dysmenorrhea. It was so bad. If anything I already partially bled into my pants (oh yeah I’m not backing of from telling very real events that women experience everyday suck it) so can you imagine how self-conscious I was moving – and HE EVEN MADE ME do solo for almost an ENTIRE SONG. BUT , well I guess I’m flattered. But obviously that’s also because I’m a dancer, a freestyle dancer, so I’m the only one using the music and ofcourse I’d be more dynamic with the elements of my movement.
I live for this shit ,and boy was it tiring and exhilarating to be put on the spot like that. I’m so out of shape. I’m typing this the day after and my thighs are crying. I want to practice the exercise at home with songs I like but my body is telling me. no hoe. go cry and sleep you have menstruation HAHEh.
Courtesy of sir phil now. Divide the class into three groups, and make them create the following objects WITH NO PEOPLE in the picture. Give the prompts, chandeleir, jeepney, tricycle, type writer, piano. Have other groups try to play the piano keys, use the typewriter. Have people engage and ‘test’ how good these tableaus work and have the students learn from each other.
Next, give each group a story to tell the other groups. Have them do this with a 5 minute rehearsal period. story 1: can of sardines is opened, cooked in a pan, and served on a plate. story 2: open a fruit, placed it ina blender, serve in a glas. story 3: breaking eggs and mixing dough, baking a cake. NO ACTORS ACTING AS PEOPLE. you may use sound effects.
** this was harder than I thought, the no people part was tricky but the sound effects was really fun. a group had to redo their’s when no one could guess what they were doing. I loved that they were given another shot.
After this sir phil asked us what elements in the exercise helped communicate the story. What details of it made it particularly look like a fruit, or feel like a typewriter? He lead us to the following list:
- Elements of artistic expression
- I THINK I FORGOT ONE.
He also talked about the insturments of the actor which he listed as
Mind (-I’d rather this be soul but I get the intent)
Next week we’ll be having
- crash course on philippine theater with a guest speaker
- watch a play at dulaang UP called Kundiman Party
- homework: Research and listen to some uyayis/lullabies (well look at abandoned babies OHMEGAD I want to do a mind map of this)
I MIGHT BE CLIMBING MT. PINATUBO THOUGH. Because my dad’s office is doing an excursion and this is the Big Opportunity to climb that famous mountain.
Also baka magtampo tatay ko , which roughly translates to my dad would really want me to be there even IF. learning theater is absolutley not-boring and something I actually enjoy and am slightly good at and something I value and find very interesting. Also if I miss two classes, I’m dropped out of the class. I love how serious these guys are and I still can’t bring myself to text that I’m gonna be absent against my will.
til next week loves!