This April, master teacher Meade Andrews will return to Studio Theatre Acting Conservatory to teach a weekend workshop on Viewpoints. Over the course of 21 years at the Conservatory, Ms. Andrews taught Movement, Alexander Technique, and Improvisation as well as being the creator and teacher of the Actor’s Process curriculum.
For the last 25 years, Viewpoints training has ignited the imaginations of actors, directors, choreographers, designers, and writers. Viewpoints work has been incorporated into the curriculum of many major theatre schools, universities, and theatre companies and has become an essential tool for assisting the performer to become more fully present and alive on stage. The Viewpoints are a systematic exploration of the nine essential elements of performance training: Tempo, Duration, Kinesthetic Response, Repetition, Spatial Relationship, Gesture, Shape, Floor Pattern, and Architecture. These artistic tools inspire the individual performer to create unique artistic choices in terms of building stage presence, creating character choices, as well as providing the glue for creating a strong ensemble of actors for performance.
Each of the nine Viewpoints is presented in a step-by-step fashion, allowing the performer time to explore and understand each Viewpoint in depth. The explorations are carried out via individual work and in small and large groupings. Then the Viewpoints are explored in combination, creating artistic presentations known as Open Viewpoints.
The Viewpoints serve as a grounding device for the actor, helping the actor to locate himself/herself on stage with a strong sense of presence and creativity via the support of these nine elements. The Viewpoints build confidence for the actor on stage by offering a series of performance tools to choose from in developing stage presence and creating character possibilities.
There are many forms of improvisation: movement improvisation, focusing on the enlivening and enriching the performer’s coordination and physical choices via a series of explorations; improvisation for the actor, involving structures designed for character work, and for relationships between characters in a play; improvisations designed for creating a coherent ensemble of actors for performance; improvisation structures designed specifically for a particular play or artistic themes. At Studio Theatre, I taught Improvisation as a means of exploring the performer’s artistic potential via a series of movement explorations, in relation to anatomical principles and spatial design. I also formed an improvisational company, Full Circle, which developed and presented performance pieces based on that material. Starting in 2002,when I discovered and trained in the Viewpoints, I found a new, detailed, and profound container for all of my earlier studies of improvisation. The Viewpoints connected and consolidated all of the earlier material I had studied and utilized in the classroom and in performance. The Viewpoints are unique; they teach the performer to trust the inherent creativity residing in the body in relation to time and space. They provide a powerful artistic container for the actor or dancer, creating a foundational training that is completely dependable in rehearsal and performance, unlocking habitual mental and physical tension, and igniting the performer’s ability to radiate a complete and powerful presence on stage.
The Viewpoints offer a complete and highly dependable vocabulary of movement choices in time and space and increase awareness of what it means to be present, alive, and aware in any given moment; they do not require an extensive background in theatre or dance to be effective as tools for living more dynamically in the world. As movers, speakers, performers, and even in our daily life, we want to develop supple, available, responsive, expressive bodies. To do that, we must identify our habits of thought and movement, the body myths that govern our lives and prevent spontaneous responsiveness. Via the Viewpoints, we become free to relinquish old habits that do not serve us and to make new choices in life that allow us to be truly and joyously alive and creative in any situation, onstage or off.