Posts Tagged ‘viewpoints


Michelle Lamarca does Zen Zen Zo




You’ll remember Michelle Lamarca from her very saucy portrayal of Anita in West Side Story at Noosa Arts Theatre. She also won the Sunshine Coast Theatre Festival’s Adjudicator’s Award last year.



Michelle REALLY wanted to do some “warrior training” with Brisbane Physical Theatre company, Zen Zen Zo. She travelled through peak hour traffic and FIRE to get to her first class…








I found out about Zen Zen Zo through email conversations with Margi Brown Ash, who had kindly given me the 2014 Adjudicator’s Award at the Sunshine Coast Theatre Festival! (Of course I’d hit her up for some advice on where to train in Brisbane).


As a performer I have always hit on the same problem and that is not feeling connected to my body on stage. Sometimes I feel uncoordinated, distant and most likely the one to make mistakes or get myself injured. I hadn’t heard of Zen Zen Zo but I had heard of the Japanese acting method of Suzuki through a performer friend and was interested to learn about this system too! Zen Zen Zo training is a combination of Suzuki Method, Viewpoints, Butoh and Composition.




I contacted the company ASAP and it turns out the “limited” beginners classes are on my day off too – win! and at a reasonable time, so I can get the car from my partner when she finishes work and then hit the road to Brissy from Noosa.


My instructions were to bring water and a pair of socks. I carefully programmed my GPS, packed my dinner and was ready for my adventure. Not being aware of Brisbane peak hour traffic I arrived late in the city and pretty much got myself lost in the one way streets. And I mean lost! I missed the class. I felt defeated, upset and extremely pissed off. I emailed Lynne Bradley that night (the company director) apologising that I won’t be able to get to Brisbane in time and unfortunately will not be doing the classes. It wasn’t meant to be and I put the experience down to just that.. an experience. And maybe I should consider moving closer to the city.


Lynne replied the next day with a lovely email. She was impressed with my dedication to drive all that way and invited me to attend the advanced classes, which didn’t start until 7:30. This would give me plenty of time to arrive on time even if I did get lost! Advanced classes!!! On one condition: I don’t miss any classes and come with an open mind and socks.


I thought to myself I will swim through floods to get to these classes!


The following Monday I was prepared! My partner printed me a map with pictures and was by the phone with Google Maps to guide me. All was going to plan when suddenly I hit a traffic jam near the airport. I’m sure the cars ahead heard my swearing. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me! There was a grassfire dangerously coming across the road that I had to drive across. I had never seen a fire so big and followed the other cars through some of the flames! I laughed to myself.


I had actually driven through flames to get to these classes!


And it was well worth it! Zen Zen Zo’s The Actor’s Dojo is held at the Judith Wright Centre. I arrived with plenty of time to find a park and enough time to introduce myself to the other classmates who were warming up ready for their session.



I love acting classes of any sort! I love the people, the conversations, the clothing…



Artists need to be around fellow artists to feel normal, inspired and to have a sense of belonging.



The advanced classmates were very friendly and supportive, reassuring me that I would be fine and to just enjoy it. Lynne introduced me to the class and explained my situation and I felt a warm welcome from everyone. Some students have been studying for 11 years and were kind enough to share some tips with me. Most of it went over my head!




We started the class by taking off our shoes and socks to warm up around the space, stretching and moving. It felt quite normal to me and I started to feel safer. We paired up in a line and started what seemed like a dance with stomping. I tried to keep up with the other classmates.


I consider myself to be not too bad with fitness but after about 90 seconds I was completely covered in sweat and knackered! With the music and intensity I started to lose myself in the movements. I felt like a warrior. The energy around me was electric and I felt very inspired! And aware! Aware of my body and the space around me! BINGO!


Anyone interested in physical theatre or improving themselves has to give this training a go!


Coming from a martial arts background I noticed similarities to how the core is used and how important breathing is, and the centre of gravity. Like karate, I felt healthier and empowered! I noticed too that different exercises had different energies too. next we moved onto “viewpoints” Lynne asked anyone who wanted to get up to find a space on the floor , I didn’t hesitate (I drove through flames! I may as well give it my all!). I ran to a corner and stayed still not really knowing what I was doing. Then suddenly we had to change/move! Fast! So I ran to the other corner, again…still. A student ran full speed up to me face to face, staring me in the eyes! It should have been intimating but I decided not to think. But to just be.


The class spoke about tempo, spacial awareness and response.


It was explained to me that if you can train to look inwards at yourself but from an audience point of view (I forget the cool Japanese word for this), you can utilise your space to be more appealing and create a great performance.


I can see why artists love to practice at Zen Zen Zo. There was talk about shapes, stillness, energy.


A lot of it went over my head and a lot I felt I resonated with. every student was involved and passionate it was infectious! yes my mind was totally blown there is so much to learn in Zen Zen Zo! In only one lesson I felt confident as a performer and felt I haven’t even scratched the surface with what the body can do. An hour and a half went quickly and we all finished the class sitting in a circle talking about what we had learnt. I thanked Lynne and my classmates and drove home looking forward to the next lesson.







zen zen zo actor training: week 2 (STOMPING)

Uh-oh. Cathy is hurting.

But she’s sticking with it. This week it’s Suzuki. Yikes!

(There’s plenty about Suzuki method online and clips from Zen Zen Zo’s shows – complete shows are available to purchase – but I like the way Martinez explains the basic stuff in this clip – and this one – in case you’re still wondering what Cathy’s talking about. Below is Zen Zen Zo’s Training Room Doco to give you the company’s POV).



Now. Got your Bingo card out?


Got any questions?





the method gun

Guest blogger, Mary Eggleston, saw The Method Gun and, after an intensive series of workshops, performed in Time, Space and the Body 

The Method Gun

Created by Rude Mechs | written by Kirk Lynn | directed by Shawn Sides

Brisbane Powerhouse

Reviewed by Mary Eggleston

The Method Gun was a relentlessly inventive exploration of the creative process and the ecstasy & excesses of performing. At times hilarious and at times painfully intimate, this story is about an ensemble of actors, abandoned by their sage, Stella Burden.

It begins with Ms Burden, training guru of the 60s and 70s and at first I was unsure if this Stella was a real actual person. I had never heard of her but was it just another hole in my theatrical education? To my relief, this “other Stella” was indeed a creation of Rude Mechs. She was a shameless lie, invented to tell the truth.

Attracted by the idea of risky training methods for actors and the cult like power of theatrical companies over their members, The Rudes wanted to know if it were possible to act oneself to death!

After Stella’s mysterious disappearance into the South American jungle, her devoted disciples decide to continue their 9-year process for a high-concept production of “A Streetcar Named Desire,” to be performed without the main characters (Stanley, Blanche, Stella or Mitch).

Rude Mechs company members re-enact the final months in this grueling 9-year-in-the-making production of “Street Car”, by using text from the journals and performance reports of Stella Burden’s company. This dramaturgical layering was superbly orchestrated, as was their awe-inspiring final scene. My heart was racing as the cast pulled off an amazing “ah-ha” moment, choreographed to perfection among swinging pendulum lights.

The fact that much of its content was (as an artistic co-director of my own company and physical theatre performer) a little “close to the bone”, only heightened The Rudes’ intention to demonstrate a “…sense of desperation, inadequacy, and frustration inherent to the process of creating meaningful work for the stage… and a longing for the return of inspiration and a more believable presentation of self in everyday life…”

The World Theatre Festival finished at the Brisbane Powerhouse on Sunday (26th Feb. 2012), so if you didn’t see The Method Gun, sorry but you missed it. Yes, it’s a bit sad but I’m still buzzing! Not only ‘cause I got to see the fabulous Rude Mechs theatre company from Austin, Texas but this year I was lucky enough to be part of the fun. I was able to learn from and create with an amazing collective of local artists under the expert guidance of Barney O’Hanlon (USA) and Laura Sheedy (AUS).

These two acclaimed artists graced the Brisbane Powerhouse over a four-week period to instruct Time, Space and the Body, an extended exploration of The Viewpoints and Composition.

Long time SITI Company (NY) member, Barney O’Hanlon and ex-pat, Laura Sheedy (The PIT – NY), lead 22 wonderful local actors, performance artists and directors to a final showing of our work on Sat 25th Feb in the Turbine Studio.

The studio become our home for the time and proved itself as a very adaptable and workable space. Time & Space collides with the human body in every moment of our lives and The Viewpoints method is able to change the way you see the world – forever.

It is not surprising that Barney O’Hanlon is an old friend of the Rude Mechs company members and it was Barney who lead a Q&A after The Method Gun on Friday night. All in all – I had such an amazing WTF with y’all!

Special thanks to the Brisbane Powerhouse.


Featuring: Thomas Graves, Hannah Kenah, Lana Lesley, Ernesto Jason Liebrecht, Shawn Sides, Heather Hanna

Design: Katey Gilligan (costume), Graham Reynolds (sound/composition), Brian Scott (lighting), Leilah Stewart (scenic)

The Method Gun Q&A: Ernesto Jason Liebrecht, Thomas Graves, Shawn Sides, Barney O’Hanlon, Hannah Kenah, Lana Lesley


ZEN ZEN ZO Actor Training Week One or Ouch! How Much Will This Hurt?

My friend, Cathy Sheargold, decided to take on some awesome personal challenges this year. No one put her up to it, she’s just that kind of chick. I wonder how amazing we’d all be if we regularly took on similar “impossible challenges”. Not only physical, her latest self-set challenge is a giant mental and spiritual leap as well. Cathy is training with world-renowned physical theatre ensemble, Zen Zen Zo.

The company’s artistic vision is intimidating enough! The training is based on the Suzuki Method of Actor Training, the Viewpoints and  Butoh dance-theatre.  I’ve heard about the strenuous exercises and mad discipline for years, from many friends and from my sister (the one who ran off with the circus). I’ve seen the shows, by Lynn Bradley and Simon Woods’ and I am in awe of many of the performances. Their production of Cabaret won the Greenroom’s Groundling Award, voted for by the people, this year for Best Musical. I’m excited to see the direction Zen Zen Zo will take this year, with that dynamic duo at the helm, Michael Futcher and Helen Howard. Check out the company showreel. Cathy did. And she was afraid. Very afraid.

When Cathy told me she was about to commit to the series of workshops for adult actors, I asked her to vlog about it. Who could resist hearing about how much it hurts? With any luck, and with our interest and support, Cathy will continue to vlog weekly, her experience at Zen Zen Zo’s physical actor training sessions.

Come back every Tuesday until the end of March to find out what’s happening and exactly how much it hurts. Ouch!

Please leave you comments and questions for Cathy. And get ready to play the game!