Using technique to perform

Technique and  structure may seem opposed to free flowing creativity. However in Crease and Lutterbie’s text, technique at its best provides structure that allows for more creativity and more encounters with something new. It allows us to “get something we couldn’t possibly get with what we have” (4), and to “deliver us over to a situation where a new kind of performance ability […] is possible” (9). While one cannot bring “the pure impulse” to the stage, actors can learn techniques to create “an illusion of feelings spontaneously overflowing as if for the first time” (9). We see this type of technique in action with Gaga: Five Foot Two, as Stefani’s meticulous rehearsals led to a Super Bowl halftime show that felt emotional and energetic. We also experienced technique’s value firsthand when creating the “future self” videos in class.

Lady Gaga’s halftime show was critically acclaimed. Time called it “among the very best in the history of the form,” praising its quality, energy, and emotion. As the documentary reveals, this emotional performance did not come spontaneously, but relied on technique and repetition. In the documentary, we watch as Stefani prepared for her Super Bowl halftime show. We see her exhaustion and the toll that performing took on her body. We watch her careful rehearsals, in which she obsessed over small details and disruptions. For instance, her jacket during dress rehearsal was the wrong material, and she explained how this disrupted the way she moved and set herself up to take a breath. Her focus on details demonstrates how structured and scripted her Super Bowl performance was, and how this structure may not be “natural” but it still led to a performance that was emotionally powerful. This emotion was felt not only by audience members, like the Time reviewer, but by Stefani herself: Stefani explained in the documentary how, when performing, she is able ignore her injuries and become energetic and emotional.

Structure and technique also helped my group decide how to perform during the “future self” exercise in class. We relied on the familiar role of interviewer and the familiar structure of an interview for the exercise. Once we had a structure in place, we had more time to focus on Jeen (the interviewee), her narrative, and her performance. Because we have an idea of what an interview looks like, the interview structure also helped set the tone for our performance, making us feel more serious even though our topic was outrageous. Rather than limiting our creativity, technique helped our creative process by narrowing down the focus of our imagination and creating a certain affect between interviewer and interviewee.

One thought on “Using technique to perform

  1. I really like your points about how technique can provide a framework! I think this is very true, and the lack of a framework is what initially turns people off from all sorts of mediums. Be it baseball of drawing, odds are that the first time you try it you will not be an expert. With technique and practice comes a baseline knowledge which allows for execution. However, in the case of creative rather than mechanical fields, this provides a baseline for improvisation, rather than being the desirable end in itself. This is necessary in the initial creation of an artistic piece, but may not be present in the depiction itself. When performing a song, how much am I just reciting mechanical movements versus engaging in an act of creativity? I watched the Jim and Andy documentary instead of the Lady Gaga, but in this film it is clear that he is using his internalized framework of Andy Kauffman in order to create a style of performance which extended beyond the reaches of the film. How does this method of acting, wherein you are behaving in the mindset of a set character but making actions of their own accord, differ from engaging a wholly pre-scripted creative performance? Is one inherently superior to the other?

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