I’m currently doing a course on Futurelearn called Physical Theatre: Exploring The Slap from the University of Leeds. It’s about Biomechanics in the theatre. As a writer my piece for it is a short story:
“If the actor remains on the bare stage, the greatness of the theater stays with him”, Jeff said.
“Ha?”, I replied, biting into another piece of my sausage roll.
We were in my boyfriend Jeff’s living-room sitting on his sofa. He rolled his eyes.
“Ah … yeah. Of course … Gorchakov”
Jeff laughed. He knew I hadn’t a clue.
“Come on Gavin. Stand up.”
“Have you ever heard of Biomechanics?”
“How the hell would I have heard of Biomechanics?!”
“A book maybe babe. Anyway you’ve heard of it now. So come on.”
“Oh alright.”, I replied standing up.
He twisted me into a position facing him.
“Meyerhold wanted to change problems in the theatre and all actors owe him a debt for that.”
“You’re an amateur actor darling. You stepped in once for Tony in West Side Story.”
“I said all actors honey for a reason. Anyway the point is he had three main principles, the laws of space, the laws of movement and the laws of reflexivity. Right Preparation to shake and shake.”
I could hear Shake It Out by Florence + The Machine in my head.
“Firstly Otkaz, intention, a slight shoulder move forward.”
He moved me into position.
“Next Posil, action itself, reaching back for the handshake … no Gav, I’m not over there. Put your hand this way.”
“Like we’re about to dance? Aw.”
“I suppose. Tochka, end-point, a pause at the end of the action. Lift the back of your foot up. Now Otkaz, intention, slightly dip your legs. Now Posil, action, reaching forward and we shake hands.”
“We’re a bit past that, aren’t we?”, I grinned seductively.
He smiled and blushed.
“We are indeed … finally Tochka, end-point, pause at the end of the action. Very good. Now there’s also The Slap.”
“That doesn’t sound very safe! You slap me and I’ll kill you!”
“Gav, I’m not really going to slap you! I want to live!”
“Ok, so what happens then?”
“Preparation to slap, Otkaz, intention, slight shoulder move forward.”
“Oh like the first time.”
“Yeah. Now secondly Posil, action, reaching back and high with the right hand.”
I thought he was going to do ballet or something.
“And Tochka, end-point, a pause at the end of the action.”
Now he was just off in his own world and it was so cute.
“Otkaz, intention, a slight dip in the legs. Bend your leg Gav.”
“When you are bossy it’s quite hot.”
“Thank you. I do try. Now, Posil, action, a slow diagonal move of my right arm which will end on your cheek. And Tochka, end-point, a pause at the end of the action. Right Otkaz, intention, the entire backwards and
forwards gesture of slapping. Now Posil, action itself, the non-contact slap. Now Gav, Tochka, endpoint, pause at the end of the action with your right elbow on your left knee.”
“Now the slap. I’m going to do the motions of a slap. You clap to make the noise of the slap.”
“Oh is that how they do it in the theatre and films?”
“I’d imagine. I only stood in for Tony once in West Side Story.”, he grinned.
“Part of you really wants to slap me for that comment!”, I laughed and he smiled.
“Now Gav, Tochka, endpoint, pause at the end of the action with your right elbow on your left knee. And there you have it. Not bad at all babe.”
“I rather enjoyed it actually. Who’s the geezer again?”
Jeff rolled his eyes.
“Meyerhold. Vsevolod Meyerhold”