Pushing against each other
This is a very important exercise, above all because it shows physically what the actor’s maieutic18 action should be during a Forum Theatre session when responding to spect-actors’ interventions. The exercise is about using all one’s strength and still not winning!
(a) Two partners face each other. With their arms always in contact, the partners must make movements with both arms, at the same speed (a slow rhythm in order to avoid injury) each trying to touch each other’s face. Each person’s arms can slide over the other’s arm, the important thing is that they should always be in contact and moving with a constant rhythm; speeding up or coming to a halt is forbidden. The movement should be flexible, and should never involve the imposition of force. This should not become an Indian wrestling match – any movement the partner offers must be accepted, the only method of self-defence being to twist away from it, never to block.
(b) The actors arrange themselves in pairs, facing each other, and place their hands on each others’ shoulders. There is a line (imaginary or real) on the ground between them. They start pushing with all their strength. When one person feels that her ‘adversary’ is weaker and that he is going to lose, she eases off so as not to cross the line, so as not to win. If the other person increases his pushing, the first does the same, so that together both are using all the strength they can muster. This is exactly what the player should aim to do during a Forum session: neither giving way too easily to the intervening spect-actor, nor overwhelming him immediately, but rather helping him to apply all his strength. Of course, in the Forum session, one or other party may eventually win.
The same thing, the actors bottom to bottom, heads facing the floor.
Two actors back to back, leaning against each other. Gradually, never breaking the back contact, they walk their way down to the floor, so that now they are sitting back to back. Then, without using their hands, they walk their way back up again, to end as they started.
Back-dancing. Two actors set themselves back to back and dance, without music. Each must try to intuit what the other wants to do, and where he wants to go. Back to back contact must never be broken.
See-saw. In pairs, facing each other, seated on the floor, legs apart and slightly stretched, knees bent, soles of the feet flat on the floor and close to the partner’s feet; the actors take one another by the arms (not just by the hands, which is much more difficult) and brace each other feet to feet. First one partner rises, pulled by the other, and then, as she goes down, the second one begins to rise, in such a way that at a given moment, both will be halfway up – just like two children playing on a real see-saw.