Here’s a chapter from the GHP Experimental Theatre Manual useful for those attempting the Vocal Sequence Tutorial:
This exercise involves a cycle. The second wheel of this cycle was added by the 2003 class.
To do a Breakout means to internalize something you have discovered while performing the Vocal Sequence. In other words, you transform what may be a very extreme vocal, physical and psychological expression into a realistic aspect of a realistic character. So yes, a Breakout means to take inside. A paradox. And the first wheel of this cycle involves engaging in the Vocal Sequence and moving to a Breakout when asked to do so by one or more watchers. You work with the sequence until someone shouts “Breakout!” At that moment you take your Vocal Sequence “fixation” (a call for “Breakout” implies you have arrived at something interesting) into an expression of a real person, saying real words, following real intentions. This real person should be based on your Vocal Sequence discovery, on some vital rhythm, some psychological gestalt of character, some acoustic particularity.
The cycle is complete, gaining a second wheel, when someone shouts “Breakdown!” At that point you return to working with the Vocal Sequence, beginning from wherever you were in your realistic performance. The watchers wait for something newly interesting and call for “Breakout” again. You can ride this Breakout/Breakdown cycle until Breakfast if you so choose.
It can be a bicycle for two. Two can begin working the Sequence, separately or in a mirroring relation, and begin a “scene” when someone calls for the Breakout. A variation on this involves the two performers going into a round of “Hysterical Hygenesis” while in Breakout as their new characters.
Could this cycle be for more than two? Try it and see.
(The mysteries of the symbolic: Originally this section was going to be called “Breakdancing.” As I began writing I changed it to “Breaking Away” because the dance reference felt like I was an old geezer trying to hard to connect, and still not being contemporary. The notion of the exercise as a cycle came forward and then the impulse to pun on the two meanings of cycle. Once I began writing I then remembered that “Breaking Away” was a film from the late Seventies about a teenager who wants to enter the Tour de France, a bicycle race. From a Lacanian psychoanalytic point of view this is an innocent example of the material and signifying nature of the Unconscious. The “cycle” was already contained in the connections to “Breaking Away.” Or was I thinking about “cycle” in some remote way and, consequently, “Breaking Away” immediately pedaled into view, beating out “Breakdancing” as the somehow more appropriate title?, still a “dated” reference; the joke’s still on me. In either case, “it” was doing the “thinking” for me. Just show up. If you feel a task is beyond you, sometimes just showing up is still the best thing to do. If you show, “it” will inevitably show you something. Somewhere in that you’ll find a key to creative process and an improvisation tip.)
Comments are always welcome at the Performance Group Potlatch.