Extended Ensemble

Extended Ensemble

Born in Lisbon 2017, The Extended Ensemble (EE) believes in the encounter of the Suzuki Method and the Viewpoints as the support of their work and the development of their aesthetics to allow each of them to deepen their art and their human existence.

It is an ensemble made with performers, movers and creators that are articulated within the triangle: Training -­‐ Research -­‐ Creation.

link to our work in Lisbon 2017 video made by Miguel Martins Pessoa.

(edit video: Joeri Bleumer)

In August 2018 I created space to come together again . In collaboration with the University of the Arts in Utrecht we opened up the room for art students and alumni with a theatre and dance background.  The trainers who shared there knowledge together with me were: Judith Sleddens( Viewpoints) Carl Anders Hollender ( Suzuki and Viewpoints) and Gabor Viktor Kozma ( Suzuki ) 

Read the review here from Helen Tennison

Transformational Training
Review of Viewpoints and Suzuki training with JUDKA Theatremakers and the Extended
Ensemble in collaboration with HKU Utrecht.
August 20 th -24 th 2018

Looking around the room, I see people with bright, focused eyes, open glowing faces and
responsive, centred bodies. I feel no nerves going into our improvised sharing, secure in the
knowledge that we trust each other as an ensemble. I feel excitement at the creative
possibilities. Only five days ago this was a group of strangers, various ages, nationalities and
different theatrical backgrounds. With 16 in the group it felt as if there could be too many
of us for an intimate company spirit to evolve. Yet is has. And that is down to the
extraordinary effects of this training.

The weeks training was facilitated by Judith Bruynzeels of Judka Theatremakers who
created a positive, clear and disciplined space in which we could challenge ourselves with four inspiring practitioners, all of whom made it clear that their job was to share and facilitate the work, whilst we, the participants embarked on our individual research. This ethos was itself a part of the training, when not leading a session,
each would join the group as participant. By experiencing our ‘teachers’ as members of
the company we form a stronger ensemble. By engaging in the work as personal research,
we take responsibility for our own learning.

‘Viewpoints is a set of names given to certain principles of movement through time and
space; these names constitute a language for talking about what happens on stage’.

But I find it hard to define Viewpoints, they work though the actors body, reflexes, self and,
as with many great training techniques, are better when experienced than discussed. When
applying them in my work as a director they allow me to provide a clear framework,
consistent with my vision, within which the actors can play in an aesthetically and
thematically useful fashion. Viewpoints are particularly useful in my site-specific work,
giving the actors tools to find the full creative potential of this increasingly popular
theatrical form. When teaching I see that it gives actors the skills needed to make
meaningful and inventive choices within an ensemble awareness.

Steeped as I am in the classical theatre tradition, it is extraordinary
to experience the clarity and creative possibilities that come from allowing these to be part
of the mixture, rather than the dominant ideology. This deconstructive, non-hierarchical
approach from the US is still unfamiliar to me. But seems to be an apt reflection of the
modern world, and therefore a necessary tool for contemporary theatre makers.

In her work with SITI company in New York, Anne Bogart brings together the trainings of
Viewpoints and Suzuki, within a philosophy of lifelong training for performers. The two
techniques are complimentary in their differences and we followed this model during our
week at HKU.

From Japan, created by Tadashi Suzuki, this training is ferocious. I began most exercises in
the resigned certainty that my body was simply too old to endure them; only to come out
the other end sweaty, exhilarated and definitively disproved. Suzuki thrives in that
creatively vital area where the performer feels themselves to be on the edge of their ability.
With a basis in martial arts; the rigor, discipline and approach to voice work are all very
different to the techniques used in European theatre training, and therefore ones we stand
to gain from. The sheer physical challenge pushes your voice, self-knowledge, and
emotional connection to new creative possibilities. This training can achieve the goals of
grounding and centring, that in my experience as both a performer and educator, take years
with other movement techniques. In essence Suzuki training seems to intensify and expand
the performers presence with the potential to lift it from the domestic to the poetic. 

Suzuki sessions with Gábor Viktor Kozma utilised the actors imagination. During physical and
vocal exercises we focused on a vision of something we wanted, these objectives were epic
and archetypal. The effect was a powerful, linking of mind, body, breath and emotion. As I
watched the rest of the group grapple with this challenge, I was moved by the vulnerability
and strength in their performance, impressed and inspired by how far we had all come in a
short time. The stakes are high in Suzuki. It teaches an extraordinary focus. Each day in
those exercises I met my own excuses and demons, worked through physical and
psychological barriers on my way to a sense of authentic presence, where the work and the
ensemble were of primary importance. Where I, and it seems many others, achieved far
more than we had imagined ourselves capable of.
After five days of this combined training I was aware of deep shifts within my body, I felt
reconstructed as a performer. The had training reframed and re-invigorated my practice.
We finished the course with an ‘Open Viewpoints Session’, an improvisation using the nine Viewpoints,                      in front of a small audience. Waiting to begin, I look around at this, now
familiar, ensemble. We are open and focused, we are ready.

Helen Tennison
Theatre Director

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