To act, you must first listen

If you thought that learning the art of acting involved using only your mind, actress Jyoti Dogra’s five-day workshop might compel you to change your, erhmm, mind.

The actress believes becoming aware of the body, or the physical self, can boost an actor’s creative output. “The workshop is about trying to find a strong connection with the body and being more present,” says Jyoti.

Jyoti Dogra in the play, The Doorway

Traditionally, actors tend to focus more on dialogue delivery and on conveying emotion. Jyoti believes, however, that the body is a storehouse of memories and it is by accessing these memories that an actor can improve on his or her craft.
“Everybody has their own unique inner resource. You have to try and engage, trouble and wrestle your body, shut down your mind, though not completely, and follow the body rather than the mind,” she says.

Dogra uses the example of an approaching train that compels one’s survival instincts to kick in and to react “without thinking”. “By utilising the power of the body for acting, you then try and utilise these intuitive ways of reacting and convert them to physical and vocal actions,” she says.

Jyoti stresses that while the approach is physical, the method is not just about testing one’s flexibility or ability to move. “It’s about changing your mind-body relationship.”

Dogra first came across the technique at a workshop that she attended after graduating from school, and has been employing the technique since. “I used it in my plays, The Doorway and K Raised to Zero,” says the actor who has worked in Hindi films including Gulaal and Hyderabad Blues 2.

Theatre v/s film
“Theatre and film are two very different disciplines. The unity of time and space makes theatre more supportive for an actor, whereas in film the actor has to collect himself, as it is not shot in a linear fashion.”

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