The actor as ‘subject’: the Greek exercise
One actor in the middle and at least seven or eight others around her. She starts a movement and everyone else must use their bodies to help her complete this movement. For example, if she lifts a foot, someone immediately places his body under this foot so that the actor’s foot is supported. The protagonist extends a limb here, a limb there, leans this way or that, does – whatever she likes – and the rest of the group help her, inventively using their bodies to support her as she raises herself up, rolls on to her back, stretches out on her side, climbs into the air, etc., inserting themselves into the relevant space. The overall effect should be almost as if the protagonist was weightless, in space. She must always move slowly enough to allow the other participants (who must move quickly) time to discover her intentions, which should not be spelt out. To make it easier to discern these intentions, the actors must all try to be in contact with the protagonist’s body and translate the muscular messages they receive. The most important thing is to avoid manipulating the protagonist actor – it is for her to decide her movements, not for them to move her around. You can have two or more simultaneous groups, and after a few minutes ask the protagonists to swap groups without stopping the exercise – NB the protagonist should change groups, rather than the group changing protagonists, which would be manipulation. The exercise ends when the protagonist gently returns to the ground. Beware – once, in Italy, I said ‘Stop’ and the participants dropped the protagonist on the floor. That was a mistake. A serious mistake.