“Ours is not a deductive method of collecting skills. Here everything is concentrated on the "ripening" of the actor which is expressed by a tension towards the extreme, by a complete stripping down, by the laying bare of one's own intimity - all this without the least trace of egotism or self-enjoyment. The actor makes a total gift of himself. This is a technique of the "trance" and of the integration of all the actor's psychic and bodily powers which emerge from the most intimate layers of his being and his instinct, springing forth in a sort of "trans-lumination." - Jerzy Grotowski
There is a common misconception among my actors that being BARE - as in The Bare Character - is the same as being EMPTY. Not only this is far from true but … could anyone really be empty?
I know the word “bare” and the expressions I frequently use: “nudity of the soul”, “stripping down to your Bare Character” … not only could be intimidating for a freshly recruited actor but also, could carry the wrong sexual connotation but, like Grotowski, Meyerhold, Brook and many others before me, BARE seems to be the best word to describe the exposed state required of an actor in order “to perform an act of self-sacrifice” (Grotowski) on stage. But, in a world where the words nudity, bareness, exposure … on a casting call demand a disclaimer, explanation and, sometimes an apology, any word I choose to describe The Bare Character is bound to be frightening.
The truth is, I find that for many actors, exposing their true self on stage is the real reason behind their fear and their discomfort with the word BARE is just a reflection of this. Sometimes I’m led to believe that some actors would prefer if they were indeed EMPTY rather than expose their souls to the world.
So, unfortunately, the easiest way to clarify the difference between BARE and EMPTY is by using a “physical nudity” analogy. If you were to take your clothes off in front of an audience, you would be exposed … BARE … but, unless you were the invisible man I believe you could never be EMPTY.
A less intimidating thought … we are all familiar with the expression: “I need to CLEAR my mind”. Does this mean that the person is looking to wipe out the contents of his mind … to EMPTY it? Like in this case, when I ask my actors to “strip down to their Bare Character” all I’m requesting is for them to FOCUS on a single emotion, feeling, thought, impulse … primordial instinct … to CLEAR the clutter in their minds and delayer themselves down to their true selves.
MORE TO COME
The Sensory-Somatic Approach to The Bare Character.
TO BE CONTINUED