Bogart was passionate about making theatre that would “reclaim theatre as an arena for action in which audiences are communally engaged” Challenging, p. 288). She did not believe in theatre as being a sort of pre- packaged product to be ‘sold’ to audiences and easily digested. She wanted to invite her audiences to really become active receivers of the theatre, rather than be passive spectators of a pleasant show.
Anne Bogart founded and became artistic director of the ensemble-based theatre company, the SIT (Saratoga International Theatre Institute), alongside Japanese director Dadaist Suzuki in 1992. Here, the two creative director’s practiced and combined their actor training methods, specifically Suzuki training and Anne Boast’s area of expertise and system of creating theatre: the Viewpoints training.
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She has also co-written a book which identifies and outlines the primary Viewpoints, which acts as a practical training guide about theatre-making based on the adaptation of the Viewpoints training system by herself and co-author Tina Landau. Characteristics of her work: Anne Bogart was highly interested in creating bold new productions using avian-garden, or the experimental/innovative theatre-making techniques, as she wanted to be able to push the boundaries of conventional theatre.
Bogart ally literalism the idea of ‘taking the audience on a journey’ when she would stage productions in strange locations (IEEE. Street corners). She had a fascination with using daily life environments for theatre rather than conventional stage locations in order to give the audience a sense of real life, and yet also a strange sense of displacement while being theatrically entertained somewhere other than the theatre. She most successfully known for her work in elaborating on choreographer Mary Overlies ‘Viewpoints’ training.
The ‘Viewpoints’ are essentially an outline of stage-movement scapulars, which can be utilized to aid actors in connecting physically and emotionally with the theatrical space, as well as the other actors. Bogart believed that directing should be about the kinetic qualities involved in staging and even more specifically, the timing of kinetic response -? she intended theatre to be about specific ‘moments’ IEEE. The moment a person arrives at the door or the moment when two people look at one another.
Working Methods: In their book, Bogart and Landau identify the main Viewpoints as being related to Space and Time, as well as having included the Vocal Viewpoints – which offer to Pitch, Volume and Timbre. Scott Cummings (2006, p. 6) noted that Bogart ‘directs plays with the mind of a choreographer, scoring the motion of bodies in time and space with a keen eye towards rhythm, visual composition, and other formal principles. ‘ The Viewpoints of Space include: Shape, Gesture, Architecture, Spatial Relationship and Topography.
The Viewpoints which relate to Time include: Tempo, Duration, Kinesthesia Response and Repetition. Each of these Viewpoints have specific exercises which can be used either individually or collaboratively to create a dynamic environment or actors to experiment with the ever-changing aspects of theatre. Exercises in Viewpoints training can assist actors to discover new ways to establish relationships with people on stage, as well as recognize their responsibility in creating a group dynamic. She invites her actors to generate their own group devised blocking and movement through specific improvisation exercises.
As an example, a simple exercise is used to help isolate kinesthesia awareness, involving working in an ensemble where each performer is given a ‘lane’ or ‘line’ of an invisible grid on the stage to work within. The actors are given a series Of simple action instructions (IEEE. Standing sitting, squatting, lying down etc), and are asked to carry out any of the actions whenever the urge is felt, or the other players influence your decision. New elements may be added such as pieces of set (chairs, etc) or vocals after the group has experimented with the more simple actions.
The exercises force actors to act and react in the moment, as they do not allow for any prevailing. In this way, actors are required to almost exclusively use improvisation skills on stage, being given only a limited set of physical instructions in regards to the viewpoints. In other words, this method teaches actors to let things happen, see them happening, and then respond simultaneously until relationships are built and the mini-dramas are established and played out (Challenging, p. 296).
This is the main component of the Viewpoint of Kinesthesia Response. In her directing, Bogart combines these ‘choreographed’ movements, which are improvisational developed by the actors in rehearsal, with the more conventional psychological character development work in order to create harassers which are unique to each individual actor (Lamp, 1992 p. 21). One Production: In 1 996, the SIT Company first performed what could most accurately be described as a performance essay, which was both conceived and directed by Anne Bogart.
The Medium is inspired by the lift of, as well as a dissertation on the work and ideas of Marshall Mclean, who was a Canadian philosopher of communication theory. The show, although presenting the real information from Macaulay’s studies, has many unconventional and innovative theatrical techniques strewn through it. The piece is a great example Of Boast’s interest in the idea of presentational staging, where the stage space alters to become invitational rather than simply a storytelling environment.
The rhythm of the show is in the style of ‘channel surfing’, as the character of Marshall himself shifts the scenes using an anachronistic remote control. The use of a loud, surrealist sandpaper throughout the piece is used symbolically, representing the ‘media buzz’ which is constantly ‘drowning’ us. It is these techniques which immediately suggest to the audience that this is not a ‘conventional’ piece of heater, let alone the fact that it is written in the form of a theatrical essay.
We see the use of ministering theatrical techniques such as ensemble, mime, puttering, Merchandise Bohemianism, slow motion, image-theatre, dance, montage, symbolism and theatrical subtleties which enrich the avian- garden nature of the piece. Bogart, however, does not claim to present completely original ideas in all of her works. In fact, she openly admits to borrowing ideas from numbers of sources and recreating them in her expressionist structure and style. Influence on my work: Mary Donahue (1997, p. 48) recognized Anne Boast’s insecurities about working as a female director, in terms Of the challenges of being in a power position over actors. Although this is not such a problem in today’s society, I personally am able to identify with the difficulties of rising to a position of authority, especially in a field am less experienced in. I can also identify with Boast’s expressions of holding greater strengths in the area of collaborative theatrical work, as opposed to acting as a fully dictating director.
I believe that his quality is often what makes strong female directors – the idea of theatre as a collaborative, creative endeavourer between director and cast. Rood Challenging (p. 297) also noted Boast’s expression that the idea of ‘listening with the whole body’ is vital to the work of the actor. The idea is to find a balance between being in control of the action and lettering of all control in order to create spontaneity. This is an idea which I am still attempting to comprehend: however, it is something which I would like to work on in my own acting practices as well as with my actors in future projects.