Read Empty Space by Peter Brook excerpts.
Read: “Visits to a Small Planet” by Elanor Fuchs.
Post: Response to both readings on the blog.
I am not at all an actor, nor a theater director, nor do I have any formal training in theater or extensive knowledge about theater history, maybe I am just a spectator who has witnessed innumerable theatrical circumstances in which the interpretation that a director has created from a set of words that have been previously written come alive on a stage. In the book The Empty Space, Peter Brook makes an examination and classification of the different moments that the theater can contain, dividing it into four categories: A Deadly Theater, a Holy Theater, a Rough Theater, and an Immediate Theater.
Through the reading of the Deadly Theater chapter, I had to scrutinize my own life experiences to find an example in which all the circumstances that Brook observes and analyzes in his text in reference to the reality that surrounds the world of the theater could have a point of comparison within my own universe. This complex and moving environment is synchronized second by second and changes repeatedly in the orchestrated work of the director, the actors, the audience, and the architecture, among many other factors that significantly imply the creation of a new and refreshing piece of theater work.
For me, the examination that Brook pronounces was painful at first since it presents many paradoxes of life that entangle my own observations and contradict my feelings about what is true in my own theatrical universe. Was it really the many operas that I saw an impasse of a Deadly Theater? Or were the plays and musicals in which my daughters took part a foolish idea of an artistic representation? But, what if none of these had ever existed? what would be my perception of the theater? or my opportunity to have been exposed to it? I faced through the reading of the Deadly Theater chapter a burning process in which I searched eagerly for a metaphor that I could make understandable and relatable within my own bubble.
During the chapter Immediate Theater, the exhaustive explanation of the many roles and relationships involved in a theatrical production put me in a different perspective; the equation "Theater = Repetition, representation, and assistance" allowed me to untangle the knot that Brook's voice presented in my mind and I was able to find a path that made sense within the bubble of my own experience. I would say that this equation can be implemented equally in many instances of my life, but the clearest example that I could gather during this reading is the accumulation of the experiences that I have collected as a competitive swimmer. Only by means of innumerable repetitions could I control the movement of my arms to perform a butterfly swimming stroke, in which the synchronization of my breathing techniques and my kicking, the forces of water, the dragging, and the physical reaction of my body sliding into the water with the sole purpose of reaching the other side of the pool, play a fundamental role in the game that the clock runs to judge in a lapse of time of each one of my swimming races. In each of these races, there is a representation that will define if my practice and repetition have been mastered to excel, to create a new space of time that is surrounded by new players every time I face a new body of water.
In each race, my swimming skills have been tested by external factors that may differ from the water temperature, the initial referee, the functionality of my googles, or the enthusiasm of the spectators. But the most important factor that I can recount is the adrenaline that has driven me to stand in that initial starting block, I remember how my heart beats at a very fast pace, and in the same fraction of a second, my mind is quickly monitoring the length of the lanes while I memorize the repetition of that particular swimming style, which I will have to perform in the earsplitting moment of an explosion that resonates on the air after the GO signal is dictated by the judge gun. At that same instance, all my nerves are alive again as I react to the taste of the water, the time goes by and at the end, there is only a big black electronic board on the wall that records the time of this event and truth that I have to face when I get out of the water. At this point, I can plagiarize Brook's final statement "A play is a play" ...or conceivably in my own bubble "A race is a race"?
In Another hand, Elinor Fuchs's essay "questions" are related to the mental exercise that I have constantly formulated during my swimming career. The exercise consists of visualizing a mirror at the bottom of the pool in which my image is reflected to show me the swimming mechanics I implement through the water, this vision of myself, provides me with a space of introspection and observation of my own swimming style, which generates questions such as: how am I moving my muscles? Am I reaching the water for the full extension of my capacity? Can I improve my breathing? Can I create a muscle memory? Can I swim without thinking? Is this my second nature? Who is watching me? Can I improve my personal best time? Can I be faster than my fellow swimmers? ... all this interrogatory exercise is presented again at the beginning of each race when I climb to the starting block and in a fight with the adrenaline of the moment, I furtively try to relate the words that my body will have to spell in those foreign waters that are waiting for the silence of my breath. And at the end of this race, I wonder what has changed? I followed the rules necessary to move from one side to the other side of the pool, to conclude that the only thing that has changed is time. It is my personal best time? that is the question!