Viewpoints: a philosophy embedded in a physical practice.

In the spring of 2002, my friend Kirsten Collins gave me a copy of Anne Bogart’s A Director Prepares: Seven Essays on Art and Theatre.  I had heard of Anne and her theatre company, the Saratoga International Theatre Institute (SITI Co.), but this was my first exposure to her work.  The book is wonderful, and I recommend it heartily to every human being on the planet.

Later that summer, I had the opportunity to attend The Steppenwolf School at CSU Summer Arts for the first time.  This was a a 7-day-a-week, 10+ hours a day, 2 week intensive held in the sweltering Fresno heat, and it was a life-changing experience for all involved.   Our guest artists were Jeff Perry, Sheldon Patinkin, and Kim Rubinstein–all complete gurus of the discipline.  We took scene study with Jeff, theatrical improvisation with Sheldon, and Viewpoints with Kim–the three-pronged foundation for the Steppenwolf School’s approach to ensemble training.

That first exposure to the Viewpoints was monumental for me.  It unlocked a whole new vocabulary and gave me instant access to my body and emotional range.  I have been studying and working with them ever since.

In 2004, I had an absolutely amazing experience: I was back at CSU Summer Arts in the Fresno sun, but this time, I was taking a two-week Viewpoints intensive.

I was so nervous and excited going in to these two weeks, because Anne Bogart was to be our guest artist for the second week.  Our first week, we were going to be taught by Mary Overlie, the Mother of the Viewpoints.  You see, although Anne had rearticulated the Viewpoints in the 80’s/90’s to the version many are familiar with today, Mary was the originator and innovator of the original Six Viewpoints.  Both variations deal with the essential elements of narrative–space and time–but the approaches are distinctly different, as are the phenomenal women who have given them to us.

Since I am beginning my drop-in Viewpoints series this week, I thought it would be fitting to share with you the link to Mary Overlie’s site — where you can buy copies of her brilliant book on the Six Viewpoints — so that you can learn more about the origins and foundations of this unique and powerful technique.

Happy learning, lovely humans.

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