Wednesday, July 11, 2018

problem solving & multitasking Part II

“Years ago, I remember dropping a glass with liquid in it on stage during a performance. I could feel the condensation on the outside of the glass slowly undermine my grip of the glass. As it was slipping from my fingers; externally I was presence, delivering lines and listening for cues. Internally however I was developing a process to deal with the glass that was about to break at my feet and the feet of fellow cast members. My mind was developing a strategy for how to clean up the glass.  I even considered going off stage and getting a dust pan between my lines. I was even deciding on how to incorporate the soon to be broken glass on the floor into the scene should I have to or need to. The glass did indeed break and all ended well. However, what stuck with me the most after the show was how ordered and calm my thoughts were.” …

“Play with knives expect to get cut.” = “Performing slapstick expect a bruise.”

“(Disclaimer: I am not advocating to push through injuries or to perform with a reckless mindset. What I’m entertaining here is that with a solid training approach, actors can safe guard themselves and be mentally and physically prepared for when things go wrong) “…

“Therefore; the trick is to develop exercises and tasks in training that replicate choices under pressure. The main principle of my approach is prioritising how to deal with; and respond accordingly to an issue or accident that arises. A way into this approach is to start looking for a range of variables within a spectrum of scenarios that an actor may find themselves in. By seeking the order in this spectrum of perceived chaos, one can start to reduce stress levels because a series of responses can be programmed in the conditioning training level.”

Part II

When contemplating and designing training exercises that help to advance problem solving & multitasking as an asset in the actor’s tool kit I naturally look to my own experience and how I honed those skills across the last 30 years. I fully realise that nothing will ever replace experience. My goal in the development phase of exercises is however to decode my skill base as a resource.

The key to problem solving and multitasking as I see it is: experience combined with an ability to see past problems and tasks. To train the eye to see pathways that lead to solutions rather than seeing a series of obstacles. The more time spent in a variety of situations the more likely one can see patterns and the range of variables that will present themselves. The development of this insight will lead to informed and calculated decisions that can be made more effectively under pressure. Worth noting when I say multitasking I know we are not really ‘multitasking’ but rather we are prioritising and switching between tasks. That said our ability to switch between tasks with accuracy is what we can train or develop.

Experience has also taught me to remain open as you move through your career to the full range of opportunities that are presented to you. Every performance, rehearsal or class is a chance to see the order in the chaos. This could be as insignificant as observing the differences between a sabre hilted sword landing on the ground as apposed to a rapier hilted sword. Noting how they behave differently as they land. Or something as insignificant as the tempo with which a chair falls backwards after it goes past its point of balance. Witnessing the way gravity acts on these activities. The smallest of details can be filed away. Each time they are filed away compare them to the last time you saw the same thing happen and note the differences and similarities.

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