Tuesdays With Annie: Let’s Get Physical (Or, Why I Haven’t Gone To The Gym In Two Months)

Annie Paladino continues to have feelings about her last two months in the Bay Area, and continues to need to talk about them.

Let me assuage your fears right off the bat: I’m not going to even TRY to define or even accurately describe “physical theater.” I know what it means to me but trust me when I say, you don’t want me to go there. At the very least, it would cause me to start using words like “phenomenological” and “corporeality” which I suspect would make this blog post slightly problematic. (Uh oh.)

But I would definitely say that the piece I’m currently rehearsing for, Time Sensitive, should be described as “physical theater”. And as I am in the middle of 14 straight days of rehearsals/previews leading up to opening night, the “physical” part of that phrase is rather salient to me right now. So I’m going to talk about it. But because I am, how shall I say, TIRED AS FUCK, it’s going to be in list format.

This will probably be enlightening and/or cause you to think I’m an uncoordinated idiot.

TEN THINGS THAT HAVE HAPPENED DURING REHEARSALS FOR TIME SENSITIVE

1. Multiple hours learning and perfecting a box step/uppercut combo (plus jazz hands). Important imagery to help get the jazz hands positioning right: “HOLD TWO LIMES IN YOUR ARMPITS AND JUICE THEM!”

2. Excitingly rainbow bruise, obtained while attempting a two-person, slow-motion backflip.

3. Three days of complete inability to walk down stairs after a six-hour Saturday rehearsal consisting entirely of crouching and standing rhythmically

4. Among the many physical challenges posed by this process and my character in particular, wearing high heels is at the top of the list.

5. Despite not having been to the gym in at least two months, I am more in shape than I was when rehearsals started.

6. I was punched in the mouth. Or rather, I sprinted into my castmate’s outstretched fist during a moment of intense choreography.

7. On one page of my script, gestures and movements are noted by letter (A, B, C…) with a key on the opposite page – it goes all the way to Z.

8. It’s a regular occurrence for someone to fall off the stage.

9. On a whim, I ordered three jars of Tiger Balm from Amazon last week. It’s already coming in handy.

10. According to my boyfriend, a few nights ago in my sleep I exclaimed, “Use the full crash pad!”

Until next Tuesday, folks. And if you’re wondering about point #10…you’ll just have to come see the show to find out.

Annie Paladino is an actor, director, producer, and stage manager. Time Sensitive opens April 18th, and runs through May 18th — find out all about it at http://raggedwing.org/show/show_detail/28. You can find Annie on Twitter @anniepaladino.

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2 comments on “Tuesdays With Annie: Let’s Get Physical (Or, Why I Haven’t Gone To The Gym In Two Months)

  1. Yea for physical theatre, however you define it! We’ll miss you here in the BA, Annie…& my body def misses being physical these days. Only mouth’s s’posed to move in our Beckett processional, opening 4/19. Huge challenge for me. Will come see yours if you’ll see ours! ❤

  2. Adam Sussman says:

    Oh dear let’s not start talking about Beckett and physicality! (Although our dear and soon to be geographically departed Blogger has written an excellent thesis on that too).

    But it is surprisingly difficult to try and define Physical Theater as an aesthetic product. I suspect, this is true because Physical Theater is most easily defined through process rather than product.

    For instance, anyone who saw Pig Iron’s superb “Chekhov Lizardbrain” a few years back without any context could be forgiven for not thinking of it as a “physical theater piece.” After all, the show has a text which includes monologues and dialogue, tells a narrative, and no one in the cast does acrobatic movement or creates set pieces with their bodies (or a host of other cliches we associate with “Physical Theater”). Those in the know however understand that Pig Iron’s process is what anchors their work firmly in the realm of physical theater; using a “devising” process to create their work that identifies the body first and foremost as the generative motor of creating a piece.

    What do others think, is there a definitional aesthetic for physical theater that can be separated from the creation process?

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