VIEWPOINTS Theory


A Postmodern Acting Technique of composition that acts as a medium for thinking about and acting upon movement, character and theatrical performance.

THE ORIGIN:
VIEWPOINTS was developed in the 1970s by choreographer Mary Overlie as a method of movement improvisation, The Viewpoints theory was adapted for stage acting by directors Anne Bogart and Tina Landau. Bogart and Overlie were on the faculty of ETW at NYU in the late 1970s and early 1980s during which time Bogart was influenced by Overlie's innovations. Overlie's Six Viewpoints (space, story, time, emotion, movement, and shape) are considered to be a logical way to examine, analyze and create dances, while Bogart's Viewpoints are considered practical in creating staging with actors.

ANNE BOGARTS (and TINA LANDAU's)
system of Viewpoints for the stage

SPACE VIEWPOINTS: Gesture, Shape, Environment, Spatial Relationship and Topography

TIME VIEWPOINTS: Tempo, Duration, Repetition, and Kinesthetic Response

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THE VIEWPOINTS BREAKDOWN
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SHAPE
Definition: Contour or outline of the body in space.
NOTE: Made up of straight lines and curves (or a combo) Stationary or can move through space.
WATCH VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-foc7qAYmU

Exercise

GAME: "WRITE THAT LETTER"
Students go to the middle of the room in a crowd
The teacher stands on a chair, draws a line in front of him that becomes the "bottom of the paper" and he calls out a letter he wants the class o write with their bodies.
While standing the students move to form the letter by lining up together to make the shape of the letter.

WATCH VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EqGCzJt-Ncs

CHARACTERS have their own SHAPES that define them.

"MOTOR HOLD": Shapes a person or character physically returns to in order to be comfortable. 
NOTE: These shapes can be affected by the given circumstances of the scene and the person.




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GESTURE
Definition: A movement involving part of the body
***Students take notes***

2 TYPES
#1.) Behavioral - Conveys information (pointing for example), a thought, or an intention.
      Specific to: culture, background, character, mood, time of day...etc
      They are direct and functional gestures that give specific info

#2.) Expressive - Conveys and inner state or emotion (clapping for example),
      Abstract, universal, timeless..gestures that reflect our emotional state


#3.) Private Gestures

#4.) Public Gestures

ACTIVITY:
Find a partner and sit in chairs facing each other

STEP 1
Have a quick conversation about an experience you had recently and notice the types of gesturing going on. What does your conversation partner use to give information and what do they do to express emotion when it comes to their physical actions.
EXTRA THOUGHT Do they have any mannerisms?

STEP 2
Play out a scene and try to keep your mind on the givens.  Play for truth!!!

Two people, who enjoy each other's company having a very expensive dinner.
THINK FIRST: What are the givens?
DISCUSS QUICKLY (with partner) to agree on some givens for the scenario.

START the scene at the bell.
A
Try and get a waiter's attention but struggle
B
One of you spills your water on the other.

DISCUSSION
-"What were some of the behavioral gestures used to get the waitor?"
-"How were they affected by the location and other givens?"
-"What where some of the expressive gestures used when you couldn't get one to come by?"
-"Same two questions regarding the water spilling"

STEP 3
Find a new partner

Two people who are meeting at a dirty dive of a diner to discuss business.
THINK FIRST: What are the givens?
DISCUSS QUICKLY (with partner) to agree on some givens for the scenario.

START the scene at the bell.
A
Try and get a waiter's attention but struggle
B
One of you spills your coffee on the other.

DISCUSSION
-"What were some of the behavioral gestures used to get the waiter this time?"
-"What where some of the expressive gestures used when you couldn't get one?"
-"Same two questions regarding the coffee spilling"


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TEMPO
Definition: The speed in which we accomplish an action - (keeping all of the givens in mind.)
NOTE: A Character's TEMPO should change throughout the play as the givens change.
***Students take notes***

#1.) EVERYDAY "NORMAL" - The tempo we naturally move in during the day.
      Good Theater  KNOCKS us out of the everyday tempo - (faster or slower)

#2.) Character Tempo - The characters speed of movement

#3.) Scene Tempo - The scene's speed of movement or the pace (influenced by the actor/director)
       Remember: Different places have different tempos as well

ACTIVITY
Form groups of 3, two chairs, and find a space

Step 1
"Morning routine": assign parts and improv a "normal" day
*Keep the tempo "normal"

Step 2
Given: "The parent is going to be late" - adjust the scene to the new given

Step3
Everyone must justify an exit


#4.) Inner Tempo - The speed of our hearts, thoughts and breath

#5.) Outer Tempo - The speed of our physical movements

ACTIVITY
Students sit in a quiet room, plug their ears and listen to their internal tempo for 2 minutes.

WATCH VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFC572kjIT8

TEMPO
Affects how fast or slow a character processes new information.
Affects how your character reacts to a new situation.
Affects how fast your character changes thoughts.

ACTIVITY
???

NOTE: When characters enter and exit a scene actors may unintentionally begin to match tempos with whoever they share the stage. Stay focused and keep your character's tempo in mind.

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SPATIAL RELATIONSHIP
Definition: The distance between things and their orientation to each other.
NOTE: One body to another or to a group of bodies.
Depends on the situation and the given circumstances - a lot based on society and culture
WATCH VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50NYTw0Rdho 
***Students take notes***

2 TYPES

#1.) POLITE Distance - normal everyday distance we keep in our lives (what's expected).

#2.) UNCOMFORTABLE - breaking the normal distance expectation (too close/too  
                                                far/frantic...etc.) This will usually cause a reaction

SPATIAL RELATIONS - positioning, direction or orientation of the objects can also influence the way we communication through the viewpoint.

ACTIVITY
Students partner up and use a least one chair. 
PERFORM the following prompt ignoring the other groups in the room.
"Two people meeting to discuss the sale of a ring...(a car, a dog, a bird, a book, a map...a diary)"

STEP #1
Start with "Polite Distance" 

STEP #2
Allow the scene to evolve into one character or the other breaking the norm. 

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ENVIRONMENT
Definition: The space around the character and how we interact with the environment.
NOTE: Connect with the environment and have the environment connect with the character all depending on the given circumstances. ***We have a "relationship" with the spaces we occupy.***
WATCH VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLzgKYpIE6I&t=327s
***Students take notes***

The "Physical" Space 
Shapes, Textures, Lighting, and color 

EXERCISE

Students sit in a circle and we play out the scenario in discussion.
BRAINSTORM Character enters a NEW Environment...(pick one and go!)
QUESTIONS TO ASK  
"How does this environment affect the people in it?"
"How do people interact with this environment?"

ACTIVITY
COMEDY BUILDER
  1. Put a character into an unfamiliar environment (example: surgery)
  2. Break the environment (you're not a doctor and you do the operation)
  3. Try to fix the environment (attempt to sew them back up...badly)
Play with other suggestions too!

ACTIVITY
Spacial Metaphors can come to life with the physicalization of the environment.
Create a stage picture for 
"on top of the world" 
"between a rock and a hard place" 
"nowhere to run, nowhere to hide"

AS THE ACTOR IN TRAINING...
LOOK AT THE WORLD AROUND YOU AND TAKE NOTICE OF HOW WE REACT TO THE DETAILS OF EACH ENVIRONMENT WE INHABIT 
AND HOW THAT ENVIRONMENT REACTS TO US.

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REPETITION
Definition: The repeating an action, creating a pattern or routine with actions.
NOTE: Characters are defined by their actions and the actions they do most often.
WATCH VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bc1CZ178Flo&t=1s
***Students take notes***

Used in Storytelling (and comedy): Setting up patterns and then breaking them.

Used to build character: Creates Habits and Personality

2 TYPES

Internal Repetition: Repeating something that comes from within ones self.

External Repetition: Repeating an action that someone or something has done (by mimicking)

ACTIVITY:
Students find a partner and get into their own space.

Step 1
You are both across the table from one another in a very large science lab.
GIVEN: You are all super smart scientists- you must save the city.
Think of all of the other givens before you begin...
Now come up with an objective for your lab table...

Step 2
Start the large group scene. Focus on the actions and not the words. Each pair should begin creating their own scenario and circumstances. This should lead the partners to a series of actions that both partners use a routine to accomplish their objective (at their lab table)

Step 3
The bell rings and now people can start shifting to other tables. Bringing the actions from their table to another table. Allow your table to evolve it's purpose and let the routines begin to morph. Allow the givens to change.

After about 3 minutes end the game...

Step 4
Now repeat and put yourselves on an archaeological dig... 


DISCUSSION:
- "What was the struggle?...what was most challenging about building the scene?"
-"Did you find yourself focusing on the actions and not the situation? vice versa?"
-"How well did you keep the actions integrated between partners? What's more interesting?"

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TOPOGRAPHY
Definition: patterns we create with movement in the space
NOTE: Not just the "footprints" we make...the whole body
WATCH VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQ_4xufgWU0
*Students take notes

EXAMPLE:
Typography of LOVE - (unbound by the freedom that comes with true love)
Movement for this typography would be: curves, detours, jumps, large gestures
*This will be different for everyone depending on the givens.

Exercise
Step 1
In the video footprints appear on the screen.
Step 2
The students WRITE a guess :"What story do the footprints tell?" - (3 examples given in the video)


ACTIVITY
Students get on their feet and find their own space

STEP 1
Begin moving around the room.
Prompt: "What is your typography?"
Move in the HIGH, MIDDLE and LOW spaces
Move in the HIGH, MIDDLE and LOW tempos (full range of fast to slow)
Move in the WIDE, and NARROW spaces

STEP 2
  1. Freeze! 
  2. Look at the space you are taking up in the room.
  3. Slowly expand to as big as you can and take up the most room possible.
  4. Now collapse into the smallest space you can take up.
  5. Slowly expand back into your own normal amount of space 
  6. Begin walking again with your natural typography.

STEP 3
The instructor throws out a suggestion...
Thrilled 
Exhausted 
Cold
Impatient

The students begin to move with the suggestion as a springboard.
Prompt: 
"What is the change in typography?"
"How are you taking up space differently?"
"What kind of character begins to emmerge?"

STEP 4
All of the students circle up

 - Half of the circle starts
 - One by one they build a sculpture in the middle of the circle
   at least one part of each person's body physically connected.
 - Hold the piece still.
 - The remaining students move around the space and observe the work.

Prompt:
"what is the shape?"
"What is the story?"

STEP 5
The observers now manipulate one part of the sculpture
moving the body parts into a new pose.

STEP 6
Bring the actors back into nuetral and back into a circle.
Repeat the exercise with the next grouping

STEP 7
The whole group builds a sculpture adding into the space one by one.

Prompt:
"Pretend the sculpture has come to life....move across the room"

WATCH VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=An3rvm3ALi0

DISCUSSION:
- "What is the purpose of studying topography as the actor?"
- "How much is the job of the actor and how much is the job of the director in deciding this?"
- "How do we note this in our scripts?"

WATCH VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=An3rvm3ALi0

SPACES HAVE TYPOGRAPHY TOO!!!
Look at the spaces around you and the ones you pass during the day and see how people relate to them and how they also interact with people.

ACTIVITY

Step 1
Students all go on one side of the room except 6 students.
Those six stand at stations throughout the room.
They quickly come up with a fast physical routine for their station.
The rest of the students go through the course and do each of the routines in the room.
Switch out the stations and run it again.

Step 2
Students all go to the boarder of the room.
They must all move into the center of the room together.
Then reset and do the following:
- one by one fast to the center - slow to the boarder of the room
- in pairs random to the center - everyone at the same time on tippy toes back
- in connected clusters dancing to the center - walking slowly backwards back
-everyone skips holding hands to the center - hands flailing back
-everyone twirls in circles to the center - small leaps back
- everyone implode to the center - explode back

STEP 3 - quick assessment
Form groups of 4

Exercise

CREATE a short scene with the first line being...
PROMPT: "Where in the heck did you find that?.. and what do we do with that in a place like this?"

THINK/DISCUSS (quickly): what are the givens? (who, what, where?)
FOCUS of the scene should be on the activity and the movement created in the space

REHEARSE on feet for 5 minutes
PERFORM the scene for the class

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