The Position of Language

ART.ZIP: Apart from language, what other things would you say it’s quite different between western student and Asian students?

PB: Maria Huesca teaches singing on my course as a physical discipline and we believe that to sing you need to be in part an athlete. So dealing with muscle tension, dealing with pain may be an important part of singing. There was a very muscular tall student, who played rugby and football. Maria said to this man, ‘what we are going to do may be a little painful’. He said, ‘I don’t mind, I’ll be alright.’ Within five minutes, he was on the floor groaning in pain. Next was a Chinese girl I remember well, called Candy Ma, looking quite tiny and not obviously muscular. After 20 minutes, Maria went up to her and asked, ‘is it hurting?’ Candy nodded, still smiling but not showing the pain. So from this I understand many Asian students have great resilience: an ability to deal with such challenges which is more profound than the western idea of strength. There are many forms of strength which range from how to resist movement to how to bend. Knowing what sort of physical development to pursue affects what kind of performer you are and what skills you can master.

Now regarding thought-processes and emotional development, it’s something very different indeed. Yixuan Liu is my current student from China. She has had to challenge her understanding and use of facial expressions. At first, her face did not change much in class. There was perhaps a resistance to demonstrating her feelings that was cultural. But on an acting course control over your facial expression is crucial. And the change in a few months that I see in people like her dealing with, in this learning process, can be very challenging and very profound.

So what must the Chinese student show to get in this course? Number one, they must have experience in performing; number two, they must be able to stand in front of people, speaking or singing English and be understood. Those who also play any instruments, can compose or can choreograph would be particularly welcome. In our course audition we have 12 people in each time. They are all in front of each other for three hours. They do everything in front of each other with the singing teacher, the dance teacher, another director as well as me. And we give them a small version of what our course is like. In those three hours, they experience the course, a miniature part of it. So hopefully they understand better what the course is after the audition. So I recommended people to come to do the audition, because there isn’t an easy way to explain what we do. In some schools, you just stand in front of a few people, you perform and you leave, but we don’t do that. We have a very different approach exploring how to work together.

ART.ZIP: 除了語言之外,您覺得西方學生和亞洲學生還有什麼特別不一樣的地方嗎?

PB: 瑪利亞·修斯卡(Maria Huesca)在我的課上進行歌唱練習來作為身體訓練的一部分,我們相信歌要唱得好,你在某種程度上就得像運動員一樣,因為處理肌肉緊張和疼痛是歌唱的一個重要部分。曾經有位非常高大健碩的學生,他是玩橄欖球和踢足球的,瑪利亞跟他說,接下來我們進行的訓練可能會有點痛。他說,我沒問題的,來吧。五分鐘之後,他已經疼得躺在地上發出痛苦的呻吟。下一位接受訓練的是一位中國女孩,我記得特別清楚,她看起來很瘦小,一點都不強壯。過了二十分鐘,瑪利亞上前問她,疼嗎?她點點頭,還是笑眯眯的,看起來一點都不覺得疼。從這以後我明白很多亞洲學生具有極大的韌性,一種處理挑戰的能力,他們身體裡潛在的力量遠比西方概念裡的“強壯”要深遠得多。力量有很多種形式,包括如何抵抗外力還有如何屈伸。懂得如何運用身體來獲得某種效果直接影響了你是哪一類型的表演者,還有決定了你可以掌握哪一種表演技巧。




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