The Art of Transformation

Instructor: Janice Orlandi

To be held online via Zoom: 

A two-part movement course for actors. Sign up for either Part A or Part B independently (5 weeks each), or join both for the full 10 week term. You may join Part B without taking Part A:

FALL 2021: Chekhov on Chekhov
The Playwright and the Actor: Anton and his nephew Michael 

Using monologues from the major plays and short stories of Anton Chekhov as our texts, this class explores creating a Chekhovian character utilizing Michael Chekhov’s “psycho-physical” approach to acting as outlined in his book, TO THE ACTOR. Monologues from Anton Chekhov plays will add a classical period speech to your arsenal of audition selections.

Each class begins with a warm-up specifically designed to develop the organic connection between your inner life, creative imagination and expressive body. Through the rigorous practice of Chekhov’s core principles and exercises you explore:

  • Activating the body for acting practice & warmups
  • Creating the imaginary body of a character and world of the character
  • Atmospheres of character: personal, environmental & scenic
  • Atmospheres of the play: emotion, time and place
  • Archetypal and psychological gestures
  • Activating sensation & emotion with sound, gesture and movement
  • Activating the five senses and creative imagination
  • Awakening inner and outer images or objects
  • 8 Rasa emotions in Indian drama and music
  • Archetypal emotions, mask, breath and posture in Indian drama and practice
  • Imagining the world and dreams of the character
  • Awakening radiant presence
  • Radiating and Receiving
  • Imaginary Centers
  • Character Portrait
  • Qualities of Movement
  • Expansion & Contraction
  • Imaginary Palace

We explore scoring the overall and scenic atmospheres of the play, character atmospheres and archetypes, leading to the character’s psychological gestures. We will also incorporate Williamson Technique to explore Period Character and Movement, including deportment, silhouette, manners, protocol, period costumes and period props, in order to set the Chekhovian characters in the era or period of the play. Michael Chekhov and Williamson techniques consist of a wide variety of effective acting tools, which can inspire endless exploration and possibilities for ensemble building and enlarging the actor’s physical ease, creative imagination, transformation and artistic expression. The actor can then bring this sensibility to the creation of a character, exploration of the text, the acting ensemble in rehearsal, and inspired performance.


WINTER 2022: “The Lost Art of Letters”
Creating Character Portraits through their Letters. 

This class lays the foundation for performers to create, write, self direct and incubate a Character Solo Performance through the exploration and dramatic form of letters. Taking place online over Zoom in our virtual studio, we will make the most of the opportunity to play with the framing inherent to the medium of live video. 

The epistolary form adds a confessional reality to a story and demonstrates differing points of view and dramatic content. Actors will explore and research powerfully inspired and passionate letters of love, celebration, joy, grief, forgiveness, compassion, anger, despair, romance, friendship, and more. Inspired by Michael Chekhov’s Character Portraits exercises, we will incorporate character transformation and embodiment, physical dramaturgy, historic research, costume elements, props, set, lighting, sound and music, to fully realize solo moments and performances presented as choreographed portraits through letters. 

You will create a character and their environment through exploring: archetypes, atmospheres, inner objects or centers, imaginary body transformations, movement and vocal qualities, animals, objects, age, status, historical period style and physical states or conditions. We will utilize character development tools for transformation including exercises and approaches developed by Michael Chekhov, Stanislavski, Uta Hagen, and Loyd Williamson. 

Letters will be drawn from many sources, including letters to and from; artists, historic personages, the press, family, lovers, poets, actors of cinema and theater, leaders, prisoners of war, letters from the front, and others. The possibilities may include for example, letters to and from: Frida Kahlo & Diego Rivera, Isadora Duncan, Ida B. Wells, Georgia O’Keeffe, Oscar Wilde, Ira Aldridge, Rudyard Kipling, Anton Chekhov, Marilyn Monroe, Tennessee Williams, Zora Neal Hurston, Ernest Hemingway, Lorraine Hansberry, Lillian Hellman, Anne Sexton, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Queen Elizabeth I, Mozart, Nicholas Romanoff, Pushkin, Vincent Van Gogh, Anne Frank, Florence Nightingale, Abraham Lincoln, Dorothy Parker, Michelangelo, Chief Seattle of the Duwamish Tribe, and others discovered through research and personal connection.

“How can you buy or sell the sky –the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us. Yet we do not own the freshness of the air or the sparkle of the water. How can you buy them from us? We will decide in our time. Every part of this earth is sacred to my people.”  

Chief Seattle of the Duwamish Tribe, 1855


You may join Part B without taking Part A:

Current and Upcoming