Nigel Poulton walks onto the center of the stage and is quietly surrounded by others. As the speaker system plays an Eastern European violin melody, the group begins to move into outlandish positions.
This is an example of biomechanics, a system of theatrical movement, which is a way to connect movement to emotion, said Poulton, the director for the upcoming play “The Suicide.”
“The students will get a lot of value out of being exposed to this system,” he said. “It is very rare.”
Poulton said Tech wanted to give theater students access to things they might not have come into contact with.
“They get some really good training in this system,” he said. “The play will be dynamic, interesting and different.”
Sarah Flanagan, a first-year theater graduate student, said the biomechanics system sets this play apart from what most audiences might have seen.
“The system is about finding ways to take the guesswork out of acting,” she said. “Instead, we try to find ways to make it a repeatable process.”
Flanagan said that the system makes the play something new to most theater audiences.
“You might not be able to compare this to something you’ve seen before,” she said. “It’s a good opportunity to see a style of acting that doesn’t get publicized.”
This repeatable process is an exerting method, said Stephanie Hart, a first-year theater graduate student.
“It’s a very physical and external form of acting,” she said. “It strengthens and conditions the performers.”
She said the biomechanics system improves the performance of the actors.
“It solidifies the performers’ unity,” she said. “We’re listening. We’re more aware of each other.”
Hart said this system makes the play more interesting, especially for performers who haven’t worked with it before.
“I’m enjoying it very much,” she said. “I’m out of my comfort zone, and I like it. We need that kind of exposure to grow.”
Mark McGinly, a first-year theater graduate student, said biomechanics helps growth because it helps the performers develop focus.
“Focus separates a decent production from an excellent production,” he said. “Biomechanics helps focus your attention on moving precisely.”
McGinly said the biomechanics approach to acting is the opposite of the method approach to acting popularized by Constantin Stanislavski, a Russian actor and theater director.
“Stanislavski’s method was to draw physical movements from your emotions,” he said. “Biomechanics draws emotions from physical movement.”
Rowan Johnson, a first-year theater graduate student, said she was drawn to the production because of the biomechanics aspect.
“Understanding that it was going to be a movement-based production is what drew me in,” said Johnson, who will be serving as assistant director for the play.
Johnson said she has studied different forms of theatrical movement in Europe, so she has had experience with biomechanics before.
“I’ve had my fingers in many different things, but I haven’t had myself dedicated to one path,” she said. “I hope to use Nigel’s dedication to biomechanics as inspiration in my own life.”
Johnson said the system is useful for performances in an educational setting.
“Most of these students have never had the opportunity to study in a movement system before,” she said. “It gives the ability to focus, and a structure in which to play.”
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