Wednesday, June 02, 2010

necessity is the mother of invention: case in point

(If you just see a bunch of HTML below, click the headline above to go to the blog and watch the video)

the new new (acting) thing?

This article in the NY Times is not exactly new, but it does chronicle what seems to be a newish direction in acting training, dream work.

In the last decade, dream work, as it is known, has spread into actors studios and classrooms across the country, taking its place among the ever expanding techniques of actor training and in the long-running debate over what leads to the most authentic performances.

From what I have read, it is not a an approach to scene work itself, so much as a way of working on the connection to the role, i.e. your homework.

In light of that, I found this piece from the Guardian today interesting.

John Clare and Ali Zarbafi are psychotherapists and authors who believe it is vital that we remember and talk about our dreams in order to "discover the thoughts to which we usually have no access" – the "unthought known", as Christopher Bollas puts it — and find a new way of thinking, new ideas. Maybe social dreaming – a concept dreamed up by Dr Gordon Lawrence – is how to find this; Clare and Zarbafi certainly believe it is.

The Guardian points cites some of the major points they use to make their argument. Both are provocative:

Can it really be true that, in 1930s Germany, Charlotte Beradt catalogued hundreds of dreams and, on looking at them collectively years later, found early premonitions of concentration camps and other terrors which were to come? Clare – and the book he jointly authored with Zarbafi – say it is.

and, even more intriguing:

He then gave another example. In the 1930s, the Senoi tribe in Malaysia were found by an anthropologist to have had no war or violent crime for 300 years. He discovered that they were committed to dream interpretation and dream expression – they took their dreams seriously and believed in talking about them, with each family spending breakfast listening to one another's dreams, and the head of the household then taking them to a council meeting to report and discuss them.

There are reasons to be skeptical. For example, I suffer from something called Meniere's disease, which is a minor condition which can sometimes cause me to get attacks of vertigo, sometimes very intense ones. I have sometimes awoken from a dream in which I was on some sort of merry-go-round or something, only to discover that I was having such a vertigo attack. So the merry-go-round image in my dream would seem NOT to have been a deep message from my unconscious, but rather an effect of what I was physiologically experiencing. Ebenezer Scrooge famously dismissed the visits of Christmas ghosts as the result of "an undigested bit of beef", and it does seem likely that there is some link between physiological events and dreams. But it also seems likely that our psyche does make itself visible to us in ways it doesn't in the everyday world through dreams, and that studying these visions can be illuminating, or, failing that, at least provocative.

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