Using Henri Bergson’s concept of the human body as an ‘interplace’, an ambiguous ‘place of meeting and transfer’ between materiality and culture, this paper examines the actor training practices of Yat Malmgren. Malmgren’s technique of Character Analysis sets particular movement and vocal patterns for trainee actors to perform, based on its traditional underpinnings from German expressionist dance. Integrating the phenomenologies of Bergson and Merleau-Ponty this paper illustrates the complex modalities of embodied experience inherent in actor training and Malmgren’s training in particular, where actors become keenly aware of corporeal dimensions of expression. Structural elements in the Malmgren technique highlight the chiasmatic relationship for actors of being both the viewed, constructed surface body of contesting discourses, as well as being the viewer, an embodied agency with direction. The resultant ‘excess’ or lack of congruency between these positions enables new movements in physical expression and language, as well as revealing sedimentations of habitual modes of engagement with the world. Malmgren’s emphasis is on otherness. In this actor training context otherness is first experienced as the intertwinement of the actor’s sense of self with the materiality of her own body, reflecting Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy of alterity.
Hayes, J. E.. The 'inter-place' in actor training: Yat Malmgren's character analysis. University of Otago. 30 June to 3 July. 2008.