Acting techniques can be divided into those which work from the inside out (understand the situation, use your sensorial memory, feel the emotion and then let it be expressed outwardly) and those which work from the outside in (move, breathe and speak in a certain way and then let this affect the way we feel inside). Where do our experiences originate? A lot of the time it’s easy to think that it is the things happening outside that disturb our inner harmony. However, in a silent retreat in which the stimuli that usually trigger us are removed we can experience how our emotions move on their account. What is happening outside can be affecting me. What is happening inside me can be affecting the outside. In fact there is no beginning and no end, only ongoing feedbak.
Within artistic practice, feedback is an important tool. Giving feedback is not the same as sharing one’s opinion or saying what one missed. Feedback, like the word itself says, is about returning what we received, like a mirror. It’s saying what we perceived, what we noticed. Its equivalent in a conversation would be active listening. After listening to someone we repeat in our own words the essence of what the other said. If it’s not right, they can clarify it for us. Once it’s clear, the conversation can go on. In this way the conversation is a process of building common knowledge and getting to know one another. Every step is confirmed and therefore stable to continue building upon it. It’s amazing to discover what different meanings different people can give to the same words.
Showing an unfinished work allows live artists to get feedback and also a feel for how the presence of the audience influences the piece. Both things are valuable in continuing with the work. There needs to be something to be shown, some hypothesis, some prototype. Many things may feel dubious, but if they are done half-heartedly it is impossible to see how they work. Therefore, the performers need to commit to the performance as if it was the finished product while remaining open to the audience’s reaction. It’s a moment of vulnerability in which the achievement so far is presented wholeheartedly and yet as a question. Are we, as persons, ever finished? Like all living things, we are in constant transformation. At every single point along the process of our life we are work in progress. This is no reason to be unsure, but a consideration to allow us to be wholehearted in what we are at this moment in time yet humble.