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The Craft

Techniques to Help Physical Performance

Techniques to Help Physical Performance
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Performers know that too much thinking can be artistic quicksand—the more you intellectualize your choices, the more paralyzed you can become.
Writers sometimes write in a stream-of-consciousness mode, throwing caution and grammar to the wind, to get into a zone of automatic creation. When your art begins in your body, what techniques can you use to physically “free write” your way out of an intellect-induced black hole?

In my Physics of Play workshops, my focus is facilitating a bodily stream-of-consciousness through tasks designed to heighten bodily awareness. A simple example: Touch all four sides of the room—only, while you’re walking, each step must be different from the step preceding it. Imposing limitations can force the body to do the work, which circumvents the self-editor and reunites inspiration with spontaneity.

These sorts of games get us out of our head and also give a few laughs along the way. The entertainment industry can feel like serious business, and it is, but the human body is a highly evolved, ultra-responsive instrument that all too often becomes strangled by intellect. By respecting our senses, abandoning control, and embracing play as a natural response to the physical environment, we can access the childlike fearlessness that liberates expressiveness and fuels creative endeavors.

Peter Musante is a Brooklyn-based theater artist and educator performing Off-Broadway in Blue Man Group. He makes original works of physical theater and has toured with director-choreographers Martha Clarke and Yanira Castro.

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