PEP | Performers Exchange Project

PEP offers Physical Training Workshop

We are offering a workshop on the methods PEP uses for actor training and building work. Martha Mendenhall will be leading the workshop the second weekend of each month, March through June 2013. We are asking that participants sign up for the whole shebang as each month will build on the work that came before.

There will also be an optional two hour training session every Thursday during this time, facilitated by Siân Richards and Kara McLane Burke. These are included in monthly training cost.

Here are the details:

March 9 & 10
April 13 & 14
May 11 & 12
June 8 & 9

Saturdays  12pm-4pm
Sundays  9am-1pm

Additional Thurs training:
March 14, 21, 28.
April 4, 11, 18, 25,
May 2, 9, 16, 23, 30, June 6th.

Miki Liszt Dance Studio (our gracious sponsor)
McGuffey Arts Center, Charlottesville

$60 for each month,which is a total of $240 for the series.
Due in advance or in two installments (Thursday training included.)

Registration closes March 1st.

Whether this is completely new to you, or you want to go deeper with the training (Madwomen and men!), we hope you consider signing up.  Below are some of Martha’s thoughts on the value of this training, and what you can expect if you join us.

Please email us with questions at

All the best,


The three cornerstones of the training we will pursue are:

1.  PRECISION. The precision of the form – training exercise, etude or set
group form — is the first step.  This means learning something
completely and thoroughly by heart, which is only really possible with
lots of repetition.   Strive to reach the place where you can execute
the form without having to grasp for/worry about what comes next and you
have mastered the form’s elements.  For training purposes, an element
is any piece of an exercise, etude or form.  I usually refer to an etude’s
elements as physical material.  Your combined physical material makes
up the personal material that has been created by you.

Keep in mind that:

Each element, each part of the whole form, must be thoroughly comprehended.
A useful treatment tool for developing precision is honing in on one
element within a form and repeating it numerous times and/or executing
it backwards as well as forwards.  You can also deepen the specificity
by asking yourself questions such as:  Where is my weight?  Which part
of my body is leading?  What is my hand/foot/head doing at this moment?
No matter how much treatment (use of a tools such as speed, size, etc.)
you apply when working with a form, the precision of each element must
not be lost.  If precision gets fuzzy, drop the treatment and go back to
simply executing the form.

2.  TRANSITIONS.  It is generally common to rush through transition moments –
the moments that come between the individual elements – assuming that the
transition between elements — the journey — doesn’t hold the same value as the
gesture itself – the destination.  Making use of the moments of transition
between elements is the key to allowing opportunities for change and
surprise into your work.  Often, it is the transition between elements
that holds the potential, the moment of possibility in which the
audience will either be fascinated, wondering what will happen next, or
bored, already a few beats ahead of what is about to, predictably,
happen next.
Begin by identifying natural transitions.  In physical work, natural transitions
occur when you change levels, begin or end a piece of material, or just
before or after you step or leap through space.
As your work develops, it will become vital to challenge yourself by avoiding the
natural transition points and, instead, investigate less obvious (even
self-imposed) ones.  Playing with the placement and timing of
transitions will increase the rhythmic possibilities in any action.  The
use of pauses comes in to play here, and we will also address the
notion of sats, as it relates to transitions.
At first, transitions are about the ability to consciously manifest change, an
internal event.  Ultimately, transitions are about receiving an impulse,
instigated by an external event, to change.  You will begin by
consciously identifying or choosing points of transition, but the real
goal is to remain open to the impulse to change that is given from
outside – other performers, sounds, etc.

3.  TREATMENT. Treating your material is all about the how rather than the what of
your physical material.  At first, you’ll be treating your material in
order to expand the range of possibilities that you employ in your
performance work.  Actors (as does everyone) have natural affinities for
certain speeds, sizes and ranges of sound and movement.  Your first
task with any treatment should be to explore the extremes – from very slow to very fast,
very large to very small. This will obviously push you past your comfort zone, but it will
provide you with a much wider physical and vocal rage of possibility.
It will also increase your stamina.  Working at the extremes challenges
you to invest yourself 100% in what you are doing.
Working, at first, with extremes in treatments also makes it easier to keep track of
what you are doing when you change from one treatment and another.  At
first, stick to working with only one or two types of treatment each
time you go on the floor.  In this way, while working, you will be less
likely to loose track of or forget what you are working on.  There will
always be time to become more complex.  Keep it simple.  You want to
have control of your work, not allow it to frustrate or stymie your
ability to experiment.  Simpler, at this stage, is probably better.
Treatment tools include:
Reversing the sequence of action
Intensity or force
Rhythm (examples:  flowing, staccato, chaotic, or lyrical)
Working with sats
Physical dynamics (more on this later)

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