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Mila Manojlovic

Mila Manojlovic

Practitioner

Study A research on creativity in Theatre


A research on creativity in Theatre


Practitioner Study

Mila Manojlovic

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Editorial Note It is true that books are written by their authors, but from the first draft they bring to their editor to a published volume, they change drastically. Where do the graphic designers come in? Of course, there is the cover - but what about the actual text? Can there be added meaning if the designer were to work closely with both the author and the editor? In the words of Marinetti, the Italian Futurist - “I call for a typographic revolution directed against the idiotic and nauseating concepts of the outdated and conventional book, The book must be the Futurist expression of our futurist ideas.. even more: My revolution is directed against what is known as the typographic harmony of the page, which is contrary to the flux and movement of style.� I chose this booklet, because of its subject and character - the research on creativity in theatre, to try and demonstrate this concept of expressive typography and assymetric grids. The title itself suggest it is a Study - but a practical one. After reading it, one must agree that it could never be presented on a static page.


The WH(Y) Icon In her thesis ‘The Elusive System of Acting’ Gordana Maric based her work mainly on Werner Heisenberg’s Principle of Uncertainty - which states that we cannot in principle know simultaneously the position and momentum of a particle with absolute certainty.

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Introduction My research on creativity brought me back to my theatre beginnings, where I again encountered my acting teacher, Gordana Maric. For the first time, I started to observe her work differently than before, putting an accent on the most abstract and most difficult to explain sections of theatre theory and practice, which she was interested in and even dedicated two theatre performances to this phenomenon. Gordana Maric is a person who has dealt a great deal with the elusive in theatre and from my journey into creativity, I realised that our creativity has a huge influence on just these elusive elements. Gordana Maric graduated in acting from the Faculty of Dramatic Arts in Belgrade, Serbia, former Republic of Yugoslavia, in 1978 and then commenced her rich life in theatre, on television and in movies.

I was interested to know more about the abstract and indescribable elements which form our creativity and make such a powerful input to theatre.

In 1983 she began working at the Faculty as a teaching assistant on the acting course; in 1990 she commenced her career as professor and, finally, in 1999 she became Head of the Department of Acting Studies at the University. In 1993 she defended her MA thesis

www.fdu.edu.rs

‘Development and Application of the Strasberg

www.theactorsstudio.org

Method in Actors’, as a result of her studies in Lee Strasberg’s Studios in New York. Gordana Maric is a visiting professor of acting at the University of Ricardo Palma in Lima, Peru.

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www.urp.edu.pe


Her teaching method always considered the abstract and elusive, as did her graduation performance The Elusive System of Acting. She wrote the text for the play, directed it and performed in one of the most famous Yugoslav theatres, Atelier 212. The play was also promoted in BITEF (Belgrade International Theatre Festival) and in various world festivals. Gordana Maric was awarded for the best text written in that year. The text is published in the book Panorama Monodrama and translated in English.

In the play, Gordana analysed her work during her four years of studies and used texts that she could not forget and their sentences were continuously coming to her mind, reminding her that they were an integral part of the process of her acting development.

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In the play, Gordana analysed her work during her four years of studies and used texts that she could not forget and their sentences were continuously coming to her mind, reminding her that they were an integral part of the process of her acting development. I liked the way she expressed one part of what she was analysing. She read somewhere that the German atomic physicist Werner Heizenberg showed that it is impossible to simultaneously determine the exact energy and position of atomic particles; this became known as the Heizenberg Uncertainty Principal. The reason is that the instruments measuring these quantities have a great influence on the particles. After having this clear, she understood the main obstacle she had noticed while acting on stage. We can never obtain an objective image of the microcosm because, as she says: ‘Observing changes and influences our behaviour.’ I thus found out that each observer influences our creation or even creativity.

‘Observing changes and influences our behaviour.’

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‘Observing changes and influences our behaviour.’ 9


Observing changes

I decided to interview Gordana and to ask her about her opinions related to creativity, but also to discuss retrospectively the lectures she gave us, her students, and to try to discover from these discussions as much as possible about the elusive elements of creating. They are very often hidden behind some more concrete and obvious theatre elements of creating, so my research helped me to, together with my teacher, highlight those elusive elements.

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our behaviour. 11


Am I Special?

I remember that during my studies Gordana used to say to us, students, that when the lights turn on, we become transparent, without the possibility to hide anything. My question, the same as Gordana’s some years ago, was why any of us would be so special and important to be observed and considered as being an artist at all. She believes in training and exercise but still there remained something untouchable and abstract that enables one to be original in his creation. She learnt during the first year of her studies that each artist should find his own, real self and employed the system later when she began her career as professor. Each artist, and especially an actor, is supposed to discover and to liberate his potentials and, therefore, has to spend one year practising the exercise ‘me in the given circumstances’, trying to produce honestly from his true self. This is again what makes one creator unique and different from the others.

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‘Me in the given circumstances.’

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How to concentrate?

Concentration was emphasised before each exercise we had to show in Gordana’s classes.

The remedy is to put oneself in the given circumstances, being very precise in determining the time and the place of the happening, as well as believing in the

Through discussion with Gordana I concluded that it represented one of the elusive elements of creating.

‘Magic If’ established by Stanislavski.

Stanislavski said that one can diverge from the audience only if one is excited by happenings on the stage. As the main obstacle to concentration, Gordana elicits the situations where one cannot be excited by what one see.

The ‘Magic If’ is perhaps one of the best provocations for our imagination. We can be concentrated on our persistence by trying to accomplish the given circumstances, such as:

What to do then?

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If I drank poison

If I were a train

If I were a statue

etc.

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According to her experience, considering such tasks as the ‘Given Circumstances’ and the ‘Magic If’, we can provoke our imagination to produce live and original pictures.

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Collecting such pictures and ideas leads us to the next elusive element of theatre creating, which is:

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Action.

She defined action as a series of activities, all of which lead towards the same aim. She does not believe in bare emotion in theatre. She always considered and asked from us, her students, that we have to be active for some given or chosen reason, from which emotions will arise. According to her and to her knowledge, only an action can provoke an emotion. We are sad because an action made us being sad. Just because of the existence of action, an actor can say the same text in an uncountable number of ways.

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Action.

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Where lays an actor’s might?

Researching the phenomenon with Gordana, we discovered a magic word ‘mana’, which was taken from the language of Oceania people by Jean Duvignaud, who passed it to theatre. The word signifies a supernatural power, which chiefs of Oceania tribes, their priests and wizards possessed. This power can be used for good and bad. It expresses attraction and repulsion, the feeling of admiration, as well as the feeling of fear. Gordana continued her thoughts with the psychologist Otto Finchler’s expression of the word ‘mana’.

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He believes that an actor’s being is a treasure test of a diversity of subconscious feelings, which can also be the case with all other people. An actor has a necessity to express those feelings through some other, imagined person’s self. I believe that such a theory can be applied to all other arts as an integral part of their necessity to create. Using their interior contents, artists beg for an audience. They want to transmit their emotions and contents to an audience, thereby achieving a unique feeling. This maybe an explanation for the necessity artists have to be observed. However, in addition to gifts and ‘manas’, Gordana Maric emphasises the role of training.

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Speech

One can understand something just in the area of one’s own ideas and experience.

My professor, as well as all the other professors of acting and theatre in general, insists on having good voice technique.

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The elusiveness of language lies in the manner of pronunciation. Words such as: gold, beauty, nature, faith‌ can produce huge disagreements.

According to Johan Lock, language is unperfected because it is not a fruit of nature but is created by humans.


Character

When Gordana was a student of the second year of the Faculty of Dramatic Arts, she encountered Brecht’s thoughts about characterisations.

We make creations which help us to achieve our personal goals and our own wishes.

Brecht considered that an artist who wishes to deal with the characterisation of personality should first encounter human nature. Not necessarily do all people know about it.

Creating or entering a character is a very individual and interior process and it belongs to each person individually.

We all are different and an artist should know how to observe and what to observe.

(Maybe, because of that, for me and my class mates that time, creating a character was one of the most difficult tasks to understand and to accomplish and we practiced it almost a year and a half.)

Different people react differently to the same impulse or a situation. This diversity enables us to create without the fear of the existence of limits.

ideas and experience.

Stanislavski has his recipe on how to successfully create. The trick is that, for example, one should look for good in a bad person. However, first of all one has to know oneself.

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Trans

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In the third and fourth years of her studies, Gordana Maric realised that people through the cult of the God Dionysus, the God of life, yet through drunkenness, through ecstasy did not change by a pure exterior travesty, but in self-oblivion, they left themselves and ceased to be what they were.

According to Gordana Maric, all artistic forms and theatrical genres possess a seed of ingeniousness, since they have been present in this world for thousands of years.

possess a seed of ingeniousness.

All artistic forms and theatrical genres

The necessity for art gives a shape even to the elusive and intangible in humans.

(This point of view sounds encouraging to me and gives a consolation to my fear of failure.)

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Pollution

Gordana relates pollution to theatre because she believes that the pollution of our planet, of our seas and the pollution that industry produces has its base in our polluted hearts and brains.

artists, provoke both admiration and disapproval.

An actor publicly makes a sin, thus helping others to liberate themselves from the same sin and to be forgiven. Actors are those who, more than other

She always tried to look ahead of her time and possessed the qualities of being curious and explorative.

All these abstract elements of theatre did not encourage Gordana to stop working. She always put training in the first place and few years ago, Also, Gordana always conside- in 2003, Gordana directed a red honesty and truth as being remake of her piece The Eluthe starting point for creating sive System of Acting but this time with three of her stutheatre and art in general.1 dents. She wanted to discover She believes that the position whether she had managed to of an artist through the yetransmit to her students the ars was always ambivalent in things she could not explain terms of the privileges given in pure language and words. to this artist.

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Teaching

All those elements, elusive and concrete, I mentioned while describing ( Gordana’s and my discussion) her research and talking about the material from which she created her play, Gordana considered when commencing working as an acting teacher.

Then, after commencing to understand such short tasks which deal with everyday and common situations, her students are invited to perform monologues and scenes from literature. She also explains the rules and intangible, small and delicate details for the production of a scene. Third year is reserved for learning the theatre genres, starting from antiquity. On enrolling into the fourth year, Gordana’s students obtain the right to create theatre performances and play in them.

During the first year of their studies, along with all the other practical and theoretical subjects, her students must find their real selves, they have to find the freedom to play again, to start believing in it, they are required She also insists on the physical to develop their memories and imagination preparation of her students, and to understand the term ‘action’. celebrating performance and In the second year, she teaches them to create all the forms of devising. One of the tasks she establicharacter, always trying hard to involve and shed for acting students at explain the abstract elements intertwined Belgrade University is ‘Circus’. with the rules of the craft. The journey on All students are requested achieving a true character commences with to create circus acts, bearing imitations and newspaper articles written by in mind the ‘Magic If’’. Each magazine consumers who either appeal for something or ask for help and suggestions and student is welcome to offer as with various improvisations, among which the many ideas as possible and is permitted to cast protagonists most popular are the improvisations of interfor his/her own show. views.

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Such a task develops ones imagination and enriches creativity. There are no limits‌ one can be anything one imagines. One can choose to be an elephant, or a horse, to be the strongest man or the fattest woman, to be the master of electricity, to fly on a magic carpet or to be an animal trainer‌

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She managed, together with her students, to create fantastic, rich, magnificent, interesting, realistic and huge circus performances which travelled to festivals and were always enthusiastically received by the audience.

As her student, I passed through all the phases I have described and can say that the processes she led were full of emotions, laugh and tears, tension and celebration, but she always wanted discipline and considered it to be an integral part of professional behaviour.

Her work, regarding its unison of traditional, contemporary and modern, always inspired me, encouraged my under-

standing of theatre and justified the artistic impulses I recognised within myself.


Contemporary Activities

Gordana Maric is at the moment working on a new ambitious project. Using all her connections and reputation she has established throughout the world of theatre, she is forming a mobile international studio. She is happy to have found centres in various locations in Europe, South and North America, Africa and Asia. Her company, while not being in constant physical cohesion, should represent a unique style, developing it, accepting various new influences and integrating them into their working style. I must express my enthusiasm about being invited to work with the company, which should help me in my own professional development.

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Appendix INTERVIEW

The Interview is a part of a longer conversation which served as a source for creating the Section Two – Practitioner Study. Mila Manojlovic - Interviewer Gordana Maric - Interviewee

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What is creativity, in your opinion?

become false, thoughts that we hear we are not allowed to hear, what we see we are not We are talking about creatisupposed to see, if something vity in theatre, in acting and has a bad smell, we pretend within our area of practice. I that we have not noticed it. refer to the creative thinking, This means that we are not to the spirit and mind, to the free…What kind of creativity subconscious impulse that are we talking about then? It provokes one to get wings, does not exist. So we just need to obtain power and imagina- to believe in organic nature, tion, and to start liberating which was first noticed and oneself. The most important then established in theatre for me is to be liberated on by Stanislavski. Different distage, to free myself from my rections of his theory started ego and not to be forced into to develop after him, such as a spasm, to be proud or enMichael Chekhov’s, Lee Stravious, with a sick ego, wisberg‘s method of acting, Grothout the possibility of seeing towski’s, Peter Brook‘s. further than my own nose. They all tell the same. They During the first year of your all believe in being authentic, studies, together we learnt which is the beginning of crewhat were the most important ative thought. An actor must things, i.e., to find one’s own liberate his sub-consciousness, centre, to remove all social to think from that part of his boundaries, to eliminate all self, to be the real one…and clichés, all the things that our after that occurs , his partner parents had told us we had becomes influenced by his to do when we first went to freedom and after the partner, school… If it were not so, we all the others, as well. would enter into a space where we could be anything but creative, because we would not feel free to be so. Our senses

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Appendix - Interview

What is more important for If you are a manager of a thea theatre practitioner, creati- atre, you have to think about vity or skill? Why? whole groups of people, to decide about the repertoire. You I am sure that in theatre skill cannot play one and the same can not go without creativipiece all the time. ty and that one cannot learn OK so, what is skill though? A just a pure skill without being cobbler is a craftsman, a cook creative too. When I was a is a craftsman, me as a traistudent and also later on when ned dental technician learnt I became a member of the what skill strictly was…I cantheatre Atelier 212, I realised not leave someone toothless that many actors, even stars because I do not know how to with leading roles, when asked make teeth, or a cobbler canwhat they were doing, could not let somebody go in shoes not explain… They just knew without soles because he does that they had done something. not know how to fix them. Skill should be like a kind of A creative shoe, what does recipe. One must acknowledit mean? Teeth made creatige the stages of his work. One vely, what are they? Are they should know what one will the teeth that can smile by be doing from the beginning themselves? You smile and it until the very end; to be aware seems that you have a hunof which text is one is working dred teeth in your mouth. It on, on which part of it. One means that no one can notice has to follow one’s creative they are artificial. The skill thought about why one decihelps you to create something ded to work on a specific text, that seems totally real. If for one should analyse it, point to example you have shoes, they the group to whom one will should not transform your address one’s project…It is the way of walking, or if you have most difficult to decide what dentures they should not dione has to perform. srupt your way of talking… Skill is a base. If we are honest

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Appendix - Interview

Skill should be like a kind of recipe. One must acknowledge the stages of his work.

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than we can always recall the skill we have, with all its rules… If a housewife forgets how to make a cake, she can look it up in the recipe. OK, there exist people who read, research and then ask questions, but the best way to obtain skill is when you discover the secrets that professional theatre practitioners are not very keen to share with others.

his working area. An educated theatre practitioner who knows about theory, who explores and works on himself, could be considered as being a problematic talent and it could seem that he reads more than he works in practice. So, we can talk again about the connection between skill and creativity. Before Stanislavski, people believed that a talent for acting came as a mysterious gift from God, that one either There are many mystifications received it or did not and the in our job and it took me a moment of enlightenment long time to find out that nei- would either come or would ther an actor nor a professor not. wants to give you the keys for a solution because he is selIs Chaliapin in a good mood fish and does not pay enough tonight, so will he release his attention to you, or maybe magnificent voice? because he just does not know An actor can not act just duwhat to tell you. Hmm… our ring these chosen days. An job is like…it is like ones nati- artist, a ballet dancer, for ve language. I cannot say that example, is not allowed to I do not know how to speak cancel a show just because she my language, but I am not as has got her period. The special good at it as someone who is moment does not exist … So, a professional linguist, who skill is really something preciknows about syntax, about se even if it has not been prelexis… So, a theatre practitio- cisely described in some cases. ner must be a professional in Every artist individually has

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Our individual art is our creativity. But one always knows what he is crying for, how does he prepare himself for a particular role… Which order of activities does he take? Maybe he runs, and then he takes shower, exercises his voice and articulation, and learns the text… This is not creativity; this is hard preparation. I remember that Richard Schehner once said at BITEF, that only a line of structured and established details could provoke freedom and, thus, creativity. Otherwise, one can feel freedom when going bare foot, naked… However, according to me, this cannot be considered as freedom and creativity.

You have already given me an answer but I have to ask you whether we can learn how to be creative? Yes. Yes. First of all we should learn how to liberate ourselves if we want to learn how to be creative. Lee Strasberg prepared a whole structure of exercises for it. Looking for the essence in any profession requires curiosity in thinking, our abstract ideas, fantasy that is strong and based on relaxation, concentration, discipline, will… and from there one obtains imagination, recognises it, exercises it, because it is ones personal creativity and when one is activated one can influence ones partner by not allowing him to be untrue, false and fake. You are the one who should recognise this creativity within yourself and then you shine. You cannot force anyone to do something or to believe in what you are doing, so you need a constant work and training to be trusted.

Appendix - Interview

his/her own art…but the skill should be accepted like the system of the notes.

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Michael Chekhov talks about physical body which through senses, through atmosphere and through specific exercises established by him, can achieve skill. These are tools and they help us to move towards skill. We must exercise and practice. And somebody who practices a lot and believes in it as the only way to success will be prepared for professional work.

So, we can definitively say that techniques for provoking creativity exist? Definitively. You already have mentioned some theatre creators, but can you emphasise some of the ones whose techniques you admire.

For me this is Stanislavski in the first place. Maybe we cannot always understand Honesty is also an important everything he wanted to tell aspect. What does it mean? It means having thoughts, words us, but somebody who reads very thoroughly, between the and actions in unity and harmony, treating them as being lines, who is interested and one. You are then an authentic really wants to understand, he can discover about what Staniperson who promotes truth and you are real and honest in slavski was talking and writing. I want to mention Shakeyour art. speare who wrote The Speech to the Players in his Hamlet‌ Shakespeare wrote it, maybe not as a theory, but from Hamlet we can clearly learn that he knew everything about acting. I would also mention Strasberg’s The Dream of Passion.

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Maybe I have a secret recipe? I have the good fortune that our Academy has set a rule that the Chairman of the Academy Admission Board, i.e., the person who selects new students, cannot admit a person who he/she does

not believe 100% to have the potential of being capable of developing himself into a good artist. I, thus, believe in all my students. I believe in human material primarily, in a person’s substance and you know it from being my student. But students are human beings, hence susceptible to changes. One can never know what could happen with a person who seemed nice. What can spoil a person is his ego. Such a person wants to be told the

Appendix - Interview

Which ways would you choose to help your students to develop their creativity? Are you doing it by techniques or you have some other secret recipe?

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Good question. They do not go backwards but they simply stop in their development. This is more than dangerous for the development of a personal and professional being. In our job, we are not allowed to build and force our ego. Sometimes actors can play

do not reflect the truth.

Does it mean that some of your students move backwards in terms of creativity?

The words he wants to hear

hear. Therefore, a conflict arises, because accordingly the words he wants to hear do not reflect the truth.

with ego. Al Pacino does it in The Godfather. He kills his brother because his brother does not tell him the things he wants to hear. We have as examples for built and forced egos the criminals and politicians around us.

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Appendix - Interview

In our job, we are not allowed to build and force our ego. 41


Is creativity in theatre strictly an individual thing or does team creativity exists?

intellectually, philosophically and, suddenly, all the meanings like fatherland, mother, brother, friend, wars, universe …come together…so sometiI think that creativity is an mes this artistic experience individual thing but, if a show can continue its existence for is good, then creativity becoas many as 10 days sometimes. mes a collective thing. Collec- We liberate our sub-contive creativity means that each sciousness and unite ourselves individual gives the maximum with an ethical and esthetical of his own creative potensense for the spirit, which is tials. Let’s take the example collective. of a good jazz orchestra. Every member brings his own maIs System Acting applicable terial but the group breaths to devised theatre? together. This is the top of art when individual egos cease Yes, because I consider that and we present our art togeStanislavski never forced anther without thinking of the yone to do something strictly members as individuals. as he wanted it to be done. He It is not important if the light was not strict. He enables us is better than an actor, or than and leaves us the possibility of a stage manager… reading him behind the lines. He believed in an individual The whole team has a wish to self, in a persona. He believed deliver art to the audience, so that each member of a team the audience starts living with should achieve drama technithe artists. This is the essence ques and requirements on his of artistic experience. There, own but should be extremely we have all the senses open open towards other members and something happens we and the group. cannot even explain. You can cry, you can feel and think

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Do you agree that System Acting can be applicable to all theatrical genres? Yes. I also think that Lee Strasberg’s acting can be applicable to all theatrical genres, even though many consider that this kind of acting can be applied just to movies. Maybe I am demented because I am a person who has always been fond of reading theory, thinking about it and training myself. So I have always been aware and can always tell what exactly I am doing on stage at a particular moment. Of course, I do not think about it all the time. The same is when I cook, I know recipes by heart. For example while I am talking to you I do not know what I shall say next, I do not have it prepared. My thoughts are just flowing… (laughter) this is the first time during this conversation that I’m listening to myself and to what I am telling you.

Appendix - Interview

In the devised technique, one is supposed to follow the creative process. That process needs some time to develop and one cannot strictly control it. One does not even want to control it. One should be patient as a fisherman who cannot order a fish to bite the bate. One cannot slap and beat actors to create. The process needs some time for the crystallisation to start obtaining form. Stanislavski wrote between the lines what I am telling you about now.

For me devised is …If we put ourselves in the spirit of Stanislavski… oh I simply adore

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Fake behaviour influences the other members of a team and disrupts the ethical codes, destroys the accomplishment of obligations. In the artistic sliding world, one must be in harmony with ones partner and cannot improvise. In devised theatre, discipline, will, desire and training standards are necessary. Only then can

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creativity begin to rise and then we can talk about devised theatre. The devised is not whatever, anything, anyhow with anybody. You must be well trained to obtain a high level of creative energy and confidence which help us to achieve intimacy with the group.

We look for a higher level in the most ambitious sense of giving, liberating, sharing of love, closeness.

him, so when I think of what devised is for him I believe that he really enjoyed the process itself. He even worked with opera singers. A very important thing for the process is discipline, as well as identification and empathy, which requires ones full presence. This is not easy and things like that happen to one only sometimes. That one who has discipline and inclines to identification transmits his energy to every individual. And the biggest problem today, in our circumstances, is that people do not have discipline, they are not honest enough to say, for example: “I am late to the rehearsal because I am not motivated enough, I am not interested.�


There does not exist other acting. Acting is acting. We can call it Mata Milosevic’s acting, Mila Manojlovic’s or Gordana Maric’s acting… We can just talk about our individual approaches to the same thing. A coat is a coat and acting is acting. I can say Diderot’s acting or Brecht’s acting, the V- Effect (Verfremdung – German word for alienation) or Living Theatre… there is also ballet acting. What is acting? Acting is when we repeat the same feeling we felt before when we evoked it. These are artificial forms and ways to evoke true feeling, here and at this moment. So we can say that only one kind of acting exists? The more techniques an actor knows, the better he is. What kind of acting does Benny Hill apply? He is a comedian, he provokes comical effects and he does not need acting. But, he also touches the borders of acting. He also has to be real,

believable and authentic, because otherwise his work is not good. People still do not know what it means when we say Stanislavski. When we mention Lee Strasberg, people usually start thinking of Marlon Brando and his characteristic breathing. This is passé. People in the UK have developed techniques of interpreting Shakespeare. When Shakespeare dedicated his text to actors through the monologue about acting which Hamlet delivers to his father in a pejorative way, he really wants to say that the king is indifferent to his son. Then why did Hamlet make a trap? To disclose his father’s lies. From the monologue we see that bad acting can provoke a tragic outcome. If we lie in real life, we shall be punished. We lie for our own interests but we lie to ourselves. People lie to get something. That can either be just for fun or to obtain a profit by cheating, stealing, robbing banks… What kind of creativity can we talk about then?

Appendix - Interview

Besides System acting, does other acting exist at all?

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If we are talking about professional acting, we are talking about the search for the truth. That one who is gifted to look for the essence of something, to search for the truth can create a portrait, a character and can try to transform himself into someone else… this is the heart of acting. How can we be someone else? With Brecht, for example, we deliver philosophical thoughts because Brecht tries to change the world. He has actors that sing, that appeal, that attack. They give us sociological and psychological advice.

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Can directing be learnt at school or just through experience? We can learn it at school. Why not? Directing also requires training. If acting can be learnt at school, directing indeed can. Learning to direct is also a process. We have to learn. There exist various theories, poetics, there are different circumstances. We have to read, to listen, to watch, but the most important is to develop confidence between ourselves and our teachers or the team we are working with and learning from. A theatre director must observe; he has to be very educated, well informed, visit libraries, film libraries, cinema; he has to know the work of all significant theatre and film directors. He cannot say: ‘Eisenstein, what is it?’ He must be historically educated.


This is a paradox, like the World which both progresses and retrogresses at the same time. I am a great optimist, like Antoan Artoud. It is really hard and difficult now-adays, so we need to develop our own happiness, we need to charge our batteries, start our engines and go forward up to the peaks of the highest mountains. Is this a principal you insist upon when working with your students? Yes, it is. Is there something else you insist upon? I believe in human progress, in development. I believe that if we run we develop our lungs and that we release our negative energy. I belie-

ve in training, in work. I believe that if we do push-ups everyday, we will get results. I simply believe in school. Is there anything that is forbidden to your students? My pedagogical and theoretical credo is that in my absence, my students always remember what I would tell them at a particular moment. Cheating is forbidden. You have to liberate your real self. You must believe in your personal nature. You must find your personal batteries; you must discover your own engines. You have to be positive, knowing the text and arriving first to the rehearsal room. If you notice that something does not go well, you should start working five times harder. Pretending that you are working, not giving your complete self is forbidden. Making some fake poses on stage, hiding younger and more beautiful actors than you is not allowed. I even hate it. I hate cheap entertainment and dilettantes. A dilettante is some-

Appendix - Interview

I know that you are interested in modern theatre happenings, so I would like to ask you whether theatre goes forward or is it exactly the opposite?

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A dilettante is one who does not have a clue about what is going on in the world around him.


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one without any profoundness, one who does not have a clue about the meaning of a text or about what is going on in the world around him.

Can you briefly describe the working method you applied to create your piece?

The piece was created from my search during my professional and student life, when Is your performance The I had already had main theElusive System of Acting atre and television roles and devised or a classical piece? was poisoned by the art of acting. I wanted to find the It is a devised piece. It is a meeting point where my unmodern piece. derstanding, my training, my We were talking about the knowledge, my style came modern happenings in thetogether. The paradox came atre. So what does it mean from the fact that the more being modern? I have always I was learning and training, been ahead of my time. That is less secure and self-confident in my character. What does it I was. I could not use old and mean? It means that I always already tested models for my go 30 years ahead of my time. future roles. I always had to I like to anticipate, because I start from the very beginning. do not like something already Because of that, I named my seen in art. I always look for play The Elusive System of something new and original. Acting. One day in NIN (maBeing traditional all the time, gazine) , I found a famous sticking to something tested formula that was established provokes average and medioby the German atomic physicre artists. I hate it. cist Werner Heizenberg about the uncertainty principal. The formula says that it is not possible to simultaneously determine exactly both the position and the energy of an

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suggests the policy: ‘I don’t give a damn for the world around me.’ That means being liberated from ones ego and working for ones goal. Grotowski says that we have to act for our intimate, hypothetical partner. This means that we can imagine anyone we want to be our partner. There are actors who like to peep through a hole in the curtains in order to see who is sitting in the audience. This is strange for me and I am not interested in it. It is enough for me to imagine that someone who can understand me is sitting in the audience. I taught you, you remember, that you are supposed to give 300% of your self.

Appendix - Interview

atomic particle, because the very fact of measuring affects the particle. This is an example for fluidity, for something alive. This is like when we fall in love, when our knees start shaking… we are nervous. The same thing happens to us when we see the lights of the reflectors and we know that it is time to go on stage. I ask myself, why is our kind of responsibility one which provokes our fear… Is it the fear of ourselves and of our imagination, according to which we are genius…What within ourselves makes us shake? This is the fear of something new and unknown, where we want to present ourselves in the best possible light. We need something safe, but we cannot have it. We cannot know who will be sitting in the audience. Now we can talk again about the different types of acting and the different types of ego. That one who thinks he is acting for the audience is a narcissus while, in fact, he is maltreating the audience. With Lee Strasberg, one has to shine. Strasberg

Your piece had two parts. Yes. The first part was my solo project, which I was creating for four years, searching for the answer which was bothering me in acting, in spite of all my awards and success. This is a clash between theory and practice, when you are floating around in vicious circles.

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You always have doubts about what you are doing, thinking you are getting good critiques just because the critics like you. You always want to be better and you can be, but you are never completely calm. This is our artistic way, a river with no return. The second part was created after 20 years. I got a possibility to make a replay of my piece and I had an idea to find out whether I, who was teaching acting and having all those questions, was able to teach my students how to become actors. I was curious to discover the level to which this phenomenon of acting could be understandable and approachable. I wanted to find out whether analysing every day banal things day and night could be of interest at all. And still it is impossible to get any answer and no one can be the best actor because we all are apples and pears. I cannot be a better actress than you, as we cannot be compared at all. What unites us then in this

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diversity? Returning to Stanislavski again, I can say that he didn’t invent acting, he just established some things that Shakespeare already knew, that Tespis and antique people already knew. We must believe in the power of our imagination. We must recall our senses and our feelings. Did your students bring ideas for the show? Always. The text depended on each of them individually. Each person creates his own story and beauty. Some people are really gifted but not interested in acting, such as people who sing brilliantly, but just like their mums to listen to them. My last question is what in theatre interests and inspires you the most, both as a professor and a theatre practitioner? As a professor I am interested in a programme. I want a simpler and more modern programme. Our 4-year scho-


Appendix - Interview

Another play of mine was about the use of acting and I created it with non-professionals. In this play I did not like professional acting. Professionals have expected reactions, clichĂŠs. I wanted to find out how actors can become their own controllers. It is impossible. We do not know who invented acting and why I want to be an actress. I do not know it.

We do not know who invented acting and why we want to be actors.

ol syllabus should be transformed in sense that would enable us to work faster as well as more and more efficiently. The first part of my play is one of the first world auto-performances. This kind of performance was established by Michael Kirby. I did it before they mentioned it as a form in the American Drama Review Journal. I analysed my work, researching it introspectively without any help from my professor. I gave different examples of how we were loosing our understanding through different theatre and TV forms. It was my authorial work. I was always inspired by such a kind of theatre. I also like to do it in a group, but I consider that this kind of work should start from one person, as a creation that starts from one person and can be developed with the help of others. There is no theatre without a clash. Cyrano has an amusing monologue, but he is addressing it to someone. This means that if you are talking to someone in the audience, there are already two of you.

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Author: Mila Manojlovic Art Direction: Koviljka Neskovic All photos are property of Prof. Gordana Maric All rights reserved. 2013.

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Practitioner Study

Mila Manojlovic


Practitioner Study