Guest post from Assistant Professor of Acting, Kerrie Seymour:

“I was so excited when I heard about Susan’s project. I mentioned to her that I often have wanted to use art pieces as a jumping-off point for movement work with my acting students. Susan and I then began a conversation about how some of our acting students here at Clemson could become a part of Tempos: Muse and Motion. And that is how the Viewpoints experiment was born.

Viewpoints is an approach to movement that was originally developed in the 70s by Mary Overlie, a choreographer. The Viewpoints were later expanded upon by theatrical pioneers Anne Bogart and Tina Landau, who took this dance-based approach and created a new vocabulary for actors and directors in the theatre.

There are a variety of Viewpoints that can be explored and used to create stage compositions, a physical language and an expressive world. There are Viewpoints of Space, Shape and Time, and among the Viewpoints of time is the Viewpoint of Tempo. This Viewpoint, as you might imagine, immediately jumped into my mind when I heard the title of Susan’s exhibit.

I told Susan about the Viewpoints, specifically Tempo (which simply means how fast or slow something happens in space). I wondered what would happen if a group of students gathered together to examine one of the pieces in Tempos: Muse and Motion, listened to the pace of piece’s assigned tempo on a metronome and took all of that information to create a physical, theatrical response to the artwork.

Using the gallery space, the students and I gathered to examine three different pieces. As we looked at the pieces, students reacted with different ideas, emotional reactions, and sometimes even with a sense of story. We began doing some open Viewpoints (moving through space with regard to spatial relationships with each other and the architecture of the space) and then added in the tempo assigned to the piece of art we were exploring. It was remarkable how the tempo set by the metronome informed each movement experiment we conducted. Each time, though the experiment kept things quite open to the interpretation of each individual mover and viewer, it was fascinating how relationship and story would emerge through the movement, the tempo and the relationship between the actors and the space.

This was a tremendous opportunity for our students who often approach much of their theatre work very literally and linearly. Through this kind of exploration, using art as source material instead of a script, our students were able to unlock their imaginations and creativity in a novel and rich way.”

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