ABS Thursday Notes- January 31, 2019

Thursday Notes                           

Published for the Arts Based School Community                                                             January 31, 2019




How We Do It and Why

By Mary Siebert


“Men acquire a particular quality by constantly acting a certain way.” – Aristotle


Substitution is an effective technique for an actor. It is the practice of replacing the fictional events in a play with one’s responses to a real situation. The practice was advocated by the famous acting teacher Uta Hagen, who dubbed it “transference.”

You probably find yourself using this technique to relax in your day-to-day life. For example, before you endure dental work (or something equally as fun,) you might imagine you’re lying back on a sunny beach. Your body responds with lowered blood pressure and steadier breathing, and you refrain from biting down on the dentist’s hand. It’s simply practical application of well-placed imagination. But skilled actors know when to use it, what to substitute, and how to use it with full commitment, to make the technique powerful.

One well-known example is the suggestion attributed to actor/director John Moffatt, who was working with an actress portraying the evil Salome. The props team had created a very realistic severed head, which her insane character was supposed to receive on a platter with evident delight. The actress struggled with this moment, until Moffatt suggested that she imagine there was an adorable puppy on the platter. She was then able to greet the offering with coos and caresses, to the horror of her audience. The audience, of course, did not know her secret transference. In her mind, she was petting a wiggly puppy, not a gruesome head.

When fifth graders at ABS prepare for their show: Romeo & Juliet on the Border, they use substitution to execute the brief (but critical) moments of lovey-dovey stuff. Students are asked to imagine a surprise that would fill them with joy. They have many ideas: airline tickets to visit another country, their own horse, a sports car, a room full of cupcakes, an opportunity to bring peace to the world. One year, Juliet said that she’d like a unicorn. Romeo dreamt of an elephant. And so, when Juliet spies Romeo across the room for the first time, she does not think “what a handsome man!” because we are fifth graders, and we don’t do that stuff yet. But she might think “Wait!… is that… a unicorn? and she breathlessly moves in closer, hoping that the unicorn might be just for her.

Students discover how much their intuition and their bodies already know about acting, when they play this “what if” game. For the audience, it’s magical. The feelings they play are real, but unless they care to share their secret, you’ll see only the true love, not the unicorn.


Parent-Child Retreat at ABS

Mark your calendar! Saturday, Feb. 9th from 9:00am to 12:30pm will be our ABS Parent-Child Retreat!


This special program will be a fun-filled opportunity for parents and their children to enjoy some high quality one-on-one time (without younger siblings who are also vying for your attention). Children and parents will both get to know each other better than ever before. There will be plenty of laughter, several special touching moments, and hopefully at least one breakthrough in solving a problem that has been nagging for a while. We will play creative and cooperative games, while having conversations from the heart about what matters most in your relationship. Parents will also get a chance to meet other parents to share what works (and what to do when it doesn’t work!).


You can register you and your child to attend at the front desk. Please include a $10 donation to help cover the expenses, but full scholarships are available if needed.


Please enter through the cafeteria door at 8:45am on Sat. Feb 9 so we can start promptly at 9:00.


Crosby Scholars enrollment extended!  Though the enrollment period has ended, we have a special opportunity for 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students who wish to join Crosby Scholars.  Please see the attached flyers for more information, and contact Scott Ertl (sertl@artsbasedschool) or Amanda Sullivan (asullivan@artsbasedschool) for more details.



Around Town:

VEGcetera produce boxes

A new produce box program has arrived, and the pickup point is just a few blocks from ABS. You can order a nice box of veggies, plus lots of great add-ons to save you trips to the store (milk, eggs, bread, coffee, chocolate….). Sign up for alerts at www.VEGcetera.com

Questions? Matt Mayers: VEGceteraIQ@gmail.com or 336-865-1955