Attis Theatre Workshop Testimonials - Krista Apple
Greek director Theodoros Terzopoulos and his company, Attis Theatre, visited the Wilma during FringeArts in September. In addition to performing Ajax, the madness, Attis led a five-day workshop for twenty-five Philadelphia actors. Mr. Terzopoulos’ systematic, physically rigorous methodology was well-received by the workshop participants, many of whom continue to meet weekly to practice these exercises with Wilma Artistic Director Blanka Zizka. The participating actors were gracious enough to share their reflections with the Wilma.
Working with Mr. Terzopoulos and Attis, and having the chance to see AJAX: THE MADNESS, offered a new perspective and physical approach to the actor’s work. But the week we spent with the company has also radically changed my point of view on the purpose of an actor, the function of performance, and the responsibility of the audience. It has fundamentally changed how I think about, and approach, my craft.
The daily workshops focused on the power of the body. The power of the actor’s body. The connection between body, breath and will. It was physical training at its finest, connecting full breath work with mental discipline and deep core strength. For me, Mr. Terzopoulos’ method combines the best parts of many other physical acting techniques – Suzuki, Le Coq, and others – while maintaining a very clear and practical approach deeply grounded in the body. The work is more than breath and muscle; but Mr. Terzopoulos believes (and I agree) that the best mental and spiritual work is attained quietly and only through the body.
My body is changed, as a direct result of the work. I have a deeper understanding of, and connection to, my breath and focus, and how they inform and change my presence onstage.
But because of the workshops and because of the chance to see Attis’ work in context in AJAX, I now also have a different perspective on creating and watching theatre than I did before. I’m not just approaching the work with a different body; I’m also watching it with new eyes.
Listening to Mr. Terzopoulos talk about his approach, and watching AJAX, has left me considering how each theatrical event creates its own context and rules. And inside of that context, I can’t stop thinking that the art of performance is an act of sacrifice. It must be. That that’s the point. That the actors on stage – those taking action, those executing an event – are giving up/ releasing/ sacrificing their focus and energy for a sustained period of time on behalf of those watching – witnessing – in the audience.
The art of acting, for me, is no longer the art of creating a character. The art of acting is the art of embodying an experience. On behalf of those who choose to come witness the act. The chance to work with Attis Theatre and Mr. Terzopoulos has had a discrete, profound and immediate effect on my work and approach, and to say “thank you” can only begin to express my gratitude for Blanka’s vision in imagining the opportunity, and for the Wilma’s supporters for helping her make it a reality.
I truly hope that this is just the beginning of the Wilma’s relationship with Mr. Terzopoulos and with other international artists. I’ve been fortunate enough to participate in previous workshops as well – working with Andrew Wade in 2010 and Jean-Rene Touissant in 2011– and I can speak firsthand to the direct effect and influence that those experiences had on my work in the Wilma productions (Macbeth and Our Class) that they were artistically connected to.
But the training that Blanka and the Wilma are providing for Philadelphia actors is not just a service to the individuals who participate and to the Wilma. It is also a service to the Philadelphia theatre community at large. Those of us who have participated in these workshops over the past couple of years agree that we see the work and transformation having a profound and positive effect not only on our work at the Wilma but in all the work we do throughout the city and the region. The change is tangible, and we take it with us, move it forward and share it constantly. To Blanka and the Wilma: Thank you for valuing the artists of Philadelphia, and thank you for investing in us.
- Krista Apple