In a speech by Brecht to Danish working class actors on the ‘Art of Observation’ he said:
‘In order to observe
One must learn how to compare. In order to compare
One must have observed. By means of observation
Knowledge is generated; on the other hand knowledge is needed
This quote is taken from ‘Twentieth Century Actor Training’ edited by Alison Hodge (Routledge, 2000). This book is an excellent resource for teachers, as it outlines the key theories and methodologies of twelve key practitioners. Exercises are included to enable students to compare the work of different practitioners and acquire knowledge about each so that they can be informed audience members and critics of their own and the work of others.
If teachers plan to use the above mentioned book then some key texts that I would recommend for teachers that are looking for resources are:
1. BRECHTIAN epic theatre elements can be found in ‘Vinegar Tom’ by Caryl Churchill. This play has all the elements of epic theatre including songs, and could be used as a vehicle for Gestus, the alienation effect and addressing issues through theatre.
2. STANISLAVSKY’S SYSTEM could be explored through some of Joe Penhall‘s work. His plays such as ‘The Bullet’ and ‘Some Voices’ contain characters of depth and some wonderful monologues that would lend themselves to the System.
3. MEYERHOLD writes in his work that the actor needs to move and to think. A play that demands the actor to step in and out of numerous characters physically and mentally, plus demanding that the actor plays with rhythm and choreography, is ‘Shakers Re-Stirred’ by John Godber and Jane Thornton.
4. To focus on JACQUES COPEAUS’s techniques of breathing and authenticity of gesture and movement then Complicite’s ‘Mnemonic’ is a suitable and demanding text, with a vast section of narrative at the start that would be a challenge for a student actor to rise to.