This workshop will introduce participants to explorations and experiences of Rasaboxes, a suite of psychophysical exercises that train performers in the aesthetic expression of emotion, feeling and action.
Inspired by Artaud’s dictum that the actor should be an “athlete of the emotions,” Rasaboxes exercises are based on ideas drawn from the classical Indian treatise on dance/music/drama, the Natyasastra, and contemporary studies on emotion from research scientists such as Paul Ekman and Michael Gershon, among others. This approach trains participants to work holistically with mind, body, and emotion to produce work that is viscerally engaging in a wide range of performance contexts— from the subtlety of film acting to the boldness of commedia dell' arte.
Rasas are distinct "flavors" of emotional energy one perceives, or “tastes,” during an artistic performance. Rasas refer to eight key emotions (love, sadness, anger, laughter, wonder, courage, disgust and fear).
Through the use of body and the breath, we begin by finding form for the eight basic rasas, or emotional states: fear, rage, love, wonder, laughter, the heroic/courage sadness/pity, disgust, and their combinations. As the work progresses, Rasaboxes exercises range from the very simple and personal expression of each rasa to complex combinations of rasas performed by several people simultaneously.
Rasaboxes is an improvisational method, but offers performers specific tools and techniques for finding fully embodied sensations and expressions of emotion through direct physical engagement. It integrates rather than separates acting, movement and voice, engaging the whole performer in one approach. In this 24-hour hour workshop, Paula Murray Cole, a developer of the Rasaboxes, will lead participants through the basic steps of the training and its application in performance work.
Rasaboxes trains participants to work holistically: the body/mind/emotions are treated as a single system accessed through sensation, breath, body, voice and imagination. The work integrates relationship to self, others, and the environment.
In practice, Rasaboxes produces performances that are viscerally engaging and useful across a wide range of performance contexts.
August 9th-12th, 16th -19th, 2021
4 days a week: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday
24 hours of instruction total
10:00 AM-1:00 PM PST LA
1:00 PM-4:00 PM EST NYC
5:00 PM-8:00PM BST UK
Rasaboxes workshops begin with a brief introduction to the ideas used to formulate the practice with a primary focus on learning the basic vocabulary of the work by means of drawing, breathing, sensing, physicalizing, vocalizing, and relating to others.
Training includes work with the breath, voice, body with a focus on psychophysical integration. Somatic, experiential work combines with expressive, relational work. Ensemble exercises prepare the group for work with Rasaboxes exercises, the main feature of the workshop. Invitations to devise solo and group composition work will be offered in order to meaningfully apply the workshop material to the performance work of the participants.
Participants learn to apply the Rasaboxes work in performance compositions by mixing, layering, and scoring the eight rasas in ways to create complex expressions in any form of performance. Workshop sessions include discussions about the theories that gave rise to the formation of Rasaboxes, and theories and researches that continue to foster its development as an approach to performer training.
Who is this course for?
Open to all 18 years of age and older, and targeted for performance practitioners and teachers: actors, directors, performance artists, musicians, choreographers, playwrights and drama, movement, and dance teachers and/or therapists, and those from other fields interested in working with the aesthetic expression of emotion using performance methods. Participants with disabilities are welcomed and accommodated. Instruction is given in English.
“Paula inspired my artistic vision by opening a new entry into emotion and performance. Her generosity is beyond compare and her artistic insight transforms both the theatre space and the students into a collective artistic environment of courage through an expansive lens of emotional landscapes. Working with an artist of her generosity expands one beyond the limits of time and space it’s an artistic awakening!"
Janice Orlandi, Artistic Director Actors Movement Studio NY
"Learning Rasa boxes with Paula Murray Cole was a rich and rewarding experience. It really helped me develop organic improvisation and presence. She’s a great teacher. "
Jessica Beck, Certified Teacher Feldenkrais Technique Emotional Body Facilitator
American Theatre Magazine:
“....Schechner's theoretical précis Rasaesthetics blends the Natyasastra's performance theory with contemporary emotion research, neuroscience and Antonin Artaud's Western call for "an athlete of emotions." ~ ATM January 2011
Paula Murray Cole is Associate Professor of acting, voice and movement in the Department of Theatre Arts at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York (USA). Cole acted in Richard Schechner's productions of Three Sisters and Hamlet with East Coast Artists. Her professional work is centered on the development and dissemination of Rasaboxes and The Performance Workshop curriculum. She has taught this work at New York University, Brown, Cornell, UC Berkeley, University of Tennessee at Knoxville, Rose Bruford College, Central Washington University, The Dell’ Arte International School of Physical Theatre, among others. Cole has presented Rasaboxes at conferences in the US, Canada, Turkey, Singapore, China, Israel and Poland. In 2009, Cole produced the first documentary video recording of Schechner teaching his intensive Performance Workshop, Crossing the Line: Inside Richard Schechner’s Performance Workshop. Over 100 hours of footage will become a digital archive so that scholars and practitioners may see Schechner's exercises as he presented them in 2009. Cole is a member of the National Alliance of Acting Teachers (USA); The International Society of Researchers of Emotion (ISRE); a New York State Licenced Massage Therapist and a teacher trainee in The Alexander Technique since 2016.