CAST (Creativity in Acting, Storytelling, and Theatre) IN ACTION
“It gets the creative juices flowing!” Sandy Clifford says of CAST activity at BOLLI. “It’s great fun making new friends and begging part of a creative team. It’s also challenging and educational kind of self-discovery–in an environment where taking chances is supported.”
It’s a typical CAST adventure. The group gathers for a “Warm-Up Walk” around the Gathering Space. They are instructed to focus on the space itself, the intersection between themselves and their environment, and then, the nature of their movement.
The instruction to “Walk like an Egyptian” brings the expected laughter as actors try to move as if they are one or two-dimensional beings. Then, they take on the characters of individuals with unique walks: clown, deep sea diver, tightrope walker, toddler, ballerina. “How has the environment and years of this activity affected the way you walk–on the sidewalk? Across a room?” They move throughout the room, finally coming to a stop to see what might be coming next.
Mimed activity–jumping rope, playing tennis or volleyball–might lead to creating tableaux or “Photo Album” in which one member turns the pages of an imaginary album, narrating a memorable family outing or celebration. “Oh, here we all are at Uncle Elbert’s barbecue,” the narrator indicates, for example, as the group quickly compose themselves in a frozen scene.
Next might be an exercise in improvisation. In “Job Interview,” an employer engages a potential employee in conversation about the position for which he or she is applying. The catch? The potential employee doesn’t know what the job is and must rely on the other player to guide her or him to that conclusion with well-constructed clues. In “Congratulations on Your Retirement!” a group of party-goers try to determine what each other’s 50-year careers entailed.
An exercise in dialogue might follow. “The Ten-Line Trip,” for example, provides players, in pairs, with a generic ten-line dialogue which each pair particularizes by creating a unique environment in which it takes place, As in…
On occasion, a rousing rendition of “Chopped Props” ensues. The players are divided into two groups, and each is given a picnic basket or grocery bag which has been filled with identical prop items. The groups then have a prescribed bit of time in which to create a scene in which all of the props become essential elements. As in…
Props can be used to inspire solo storytelling as well–as Marty Ross demonstrates.
At times, too, the group deals with scripted material–as we will do starting next month when we begin to prepare CARRYING ON, the world premiere of a collection of short plays for senior players. The production will be presented at a Lunch & Learn session during the last week of the fall term.
Newcomers are always welcome. Margie Nesson tried her hand at the acting game this summer, reporting that she enjoyed “yet another new experience for me at BOLLI!” New BOLLI member Mark Seliber says that, during the first session he attended, he was intrigued by how just movement itself can set up a scene. And Jan Burres, who dropped in recently, says, “It was fun! We laughed. We played. We even learned how people in theatre can cry, night after night, when necessary. I felt welcomed and delighted in the real sense of camaraderie in the group. And I’ll be back.”
And it just doesn’t get better than THAT, now, does it?
For over 40 years, Sue taught drama to students in kindergarten through college (but mostly in middle and high school). Working with BOLLI players has been “absolutely the best,” she says. “Unlike adolescents, this group isn’t worried about looking silly in front of their friends–they just go for it! And, as a result, their growth as actors is exponential in nature.”