Wooster Group performing BRACE UP! is a radical restructuring
of theatrical experience and referentiality. Video unhinges
the proscenium's discourse. Pictured left to right: Beatrice
Roth and Kate Valk. Photo credit: Bob Van Dantzig.
FOR TV AS MEDITATION
1. You must never
watch TV without thinking of something else at the same time.
If you lose the simultaneous thought/image you must change
the channel immediately and start again.
2. Flip through
the channels and pick something that interests you to watch.
When your interest is at its peak, change the channel and
3. Pick a channel
and watch it until you are convinced the program is speaking
directly to you.
4. Try to have
a real conversation with the TV pretending that the people
are ignoring you and so dont respond.
5. Turn to a program
that interests you. Try to watch the program and not
hear what is being said and not see what is
6. Turn off the
sound on the TV and make up the conversations by dubbing in
your own agenda on the spot. Do this alone.
7. Watch a "nature
program" and project a classic play onto the animals/insects/birds.
BRACE UP! NOTES
are written down mostly after the fact. They were developed
during the rehearsal process of the Wooster Groups BRACE
UP!* and they are subject to constant exception and reversal.
To forge for
oneself iron laws if only to obey or disobey them with
All quotes are
from Robert Bresson, Notes on The Cinematographer.
This is indispensable
if one does not want to fall into REPRESENTATION. See beings
and things in separate parts. Render them independent in order
to give them a new dependence.
see each other.
hear each other.
has his/her own space, her own set of actions, her own "frame."
Performers on TV
develop relationships with stage performer through the aural
Performers on TV
develop all relationships through a language of vocal and
spatial displacements, i.e., the Baron speaks to a specific
point on the up stage left wall to indicate that he is "speaking
to" the Doctor.
Performers on TV
are also seen on stage from the back and in profile -- and
simultaneously on TV in close up. When the performers on the
TV engage the lens directly, they are referring to the stage
performers who spoke before them or after them.
UP! is a theater piece based on Anton Chekovs Three
Sisters. It was completed by The Wooster Group under the
direction of Elizabeth LeCompte in 1991.
do not look at each other when they speak to each other (except
in rare moments of convergence.)
dont say their lines to other perfomers, but to points
outside the stage space (they can imagine the other performers
in their heads) or to the stage narrator.
are occasionally seen on the TV in long shots.
barbarity of dubbing. Voices without reality, not conforming
to the movement of the lips. They have mistaken their
occasionally "live dub" lines onto random "dead"
TV images, (i.e., Masha "dubbing over the Monster
The stage is divided
into "zones" which employ different performance
modes, and different formal devices for both the TV and the
Zone 1: The stage
performers speak to the audience or to a "false audience"
beyond the real audience. The TV performers are framed in
extreme close up with at least one major feature out of frame.
The TVs are occasionally placed on diagonals on the stage.
Zone 2: Stage performers
orient themselves on diagonals and parallels according to
different floor pasterns and in relationship to different
props and objects (not according to where the audience
is). The props, TV wires, and performers are periodically
reorganized. The performers on TV "follow" the actions
on stage with their eyes.
condemns CINEMA to cliche, obliges it to display things as
everyone is in the habit of seeing them. Failing which, they
would appear false or sham.
Zone 3: Employs
the conceits of "Naturalism." Small gestures. Performers
speak "to" each other. Much of their dialogue is
"overheard" or "partially obscured." Performers
are far away (the microphones have a different sound, and
the sound comes from a different place.) The performers on
TV are framed "full face."
Zone 4: Upstage
"live TV" corners, stage right and stage left. TVs
move on tracks upstage and downstage. They swivel from side
DO NOT TALK TO TVs. They "refer" to TVs.
Performers on TV
"talk to themselves" (on the monitor), or to the
camera person, the wall, their own image, or to someone in
The actor must
make himself as in a mirror.
The TV monitor
is visible to the TV performers and is used as a mirror of
themselves. The mirror/monitor is used as a means of transformation
from self to "more self."
The real is
not dramatic. Drama will be born of a certain march of non-dramatic
business" is equal; the re-plugging of a mic cord, the
moving of a TV from zone to zone, and the delivery of a cup
of tea -- all have the same weight -- the same stage attention,
an accumulation of "real" work detail and "indicated"
work detail makes up the stage life.
On stage a horse
or dog that is not plaster or cardboard causes uneasiness.
Unlike cinematography, looking for a truth in the real is
fatal in the theatre.
The TVs are used
as "masks," they emphasize the stillness
of the performers. They are also used as background noise
and as contradictory information (information that disturbs
the linear narrative), and as confirming information (images
that enhance the stage mood.)
on TV are shown on "strobe" in order to flatten
TV space, and to make TV space easier to comprehend at a quick
The performer on
TV uses "eye focus" with aural focus." For
intimacy she focuses on something close (her own hand held
up out of frame, small eye movements.)
If dominant stage
action is at stage left, then the TV performers "gaze"
must be towards stage right -- always pulling the center away
from itself as soon as it forms.
In his film
X displays things having no appropriateness to each other,
and so without bonds and so dead.
TVs, when not used
as a "mask" are used as "filler." Random
images from our library of material, collected in tandem with
the rehearsal process, are used but they have no literal relationship
to the form and content of the Chekhov text, (i.e., the Godzilla
imagery substitutes for the missing Solyony character.)
-- only monologue and space.
Actors are searching
for masks of themselves -- not for character. Who they are
on the stages is who they are on the stage -- period. They
must be more "themselves" than in life.
Approach the play
as a monologue of the playwrights, not a dialogue among
A director drives
his actors to simulate fictitious human beings in the midst
of objects that are not so. The false which he prefers will
not change into true.
Masha wouldnt do this" (i.e., speak to a lamp).
There is no "Masha" on the stage. There is
only the actor/performer. The audience makes "Masha"
from the actors actions and the images which simultaneously
occur in the stage world. The character is an accumulation
of fragments of which the performer is the initiator. The
character is a "moment in stage time" -- not an
make me believe the words are your words and that you are
saying them for the first time.
Performers on TV:
make me believe the words are your words and that you said
them exactly the same a thousand times before.
The things we
bring off by chance -- what power they have!
TV as random interruption/punctuation.
A series of interruptions, both "signed" and actual
interruptions, i.e., the loops of the fork falling to the
floor with and without sound.
(who cannot see or hear all of stage action) intercepts his
own series of images with "fork" loop inserts. These
appear at random in the stage action but they are not random
to the video operator, they are part of his improvised score.
Be as ignorant
of what you are going to catch as is a fisherman of what is
at the end of his fishing rod. (The fish that arrives from
The stage narrator
has the power to move and rearrange the space at will, hunting
for the "performance" each night. Each night the
performance is new.
are needed in order to make a film, but only one who makes,
unmakes, remakes his images and sounds, returning at every
second to the initial impression or sensation which brought
these to birth and is incomprehensible to the other people.
The director must
be in the theater every night as though each performance is
a new round of dailies.