Celebration Twentieth Anniversary of Le Centre du Silence
By Samuel Avital, Boulder, Colorado 1991
The last 20 years of my life have passed like a fleeting moment. Thinking of this as we enter the 1990s, especially in the light of the changes I have observed and experienced in the last few years, I must honestly admit that there has been immense effort and work invested in many people who searched for self-direction and meaning through artistic metaphors.
I have had the privilege of knowing and sharing with you precious and valuable experiences. I participated in your lives and contributed to your attitudes, techniques, tools, performances, philosophies, and points of view, all based on sound, beneficial, creative, and healthy premises, so that you could make productive choices while loving the beauty and the process of life.
In this column, I intend to write about my experiences in America, people I have met, remarkable students, and stories that illustrate my becoming what I am today and will be tomorrow. I especially want to write about my 'newly' discovered philosophy of sanity based on a fully integrated honesty that has been a part of my life and work all along.
Only now, have I finally grasped the realization of these changes, and I want to articulate certain aspects. These were the basic values I grew up with and lived by, although they were not talked about.
To illustrate one essential guiding principle of my teaching and being, I will take you with me for a moment to Paris, France during the late 50s and early 60s. One thing that attracted me to study the art of Mime with Etienne Decroux and Marcel Marceau was the premise of independent artistic freedom and the desire to implement this fully in my life with a sense of self-identity and integrity.
In my theatrical experience, I have spoken the words of the author, followed the director's mise-en-scene, worn the clothes designed for the role, acted as the interpreter, and learned to work in an ensemble which was exciting, creative and elating.
But, I noticed I was the mouthpiece of the author, the living instrument of his or her expression in the play. Well, something in me rebelled against this submissive role of broadcasting the author's words.
So that is when I consciously asked myself, who am I? What am I doing here? And, where is my director? (This was asked with gratitude and the realization that what I was learning was valuable and of substance). After experiencing the shallowness of words, I began to look for my own self, to look after my own self and being. Then, I turned my attention to movement, dance, and mime in order to discover what lies beyond words and how to express this analog, 'I', and then I finally chose Mime as the focus of my artistic exploration and identity.
Now in mime, there is no one to tell me what to do, to 'guide' me, so I have to be my own author, scriptwriter (without words), director, interpreter and performer. I have to discover my own way of thinking. Imaging-- a whole mini-theatre is embodied in one sole being. What a richness of self-expression! Later, I encouraged my students to 'be the Shakespeare of yourself', to be self-directed and self guided.
So basically my teaching and way of life have been a conscious choice which embraced the following premises:
In order to be a happy and creative artist, performer, independent individual, and integrative thinker, one must realize the ideas of personal freedom on a deep level, based on objective reality. This is a philosophy of sanity, and a passionate love of life, a sense of self that is free of imposed conflicts. The analogy and the metaphor of theatre and life should also be kept in mind along with certain aims. These are:
1. To learn and write your own (life) script.
2. To be the author of your own performance (the book of life).
3. To be your own director, with self-confidence, earning self-esteem by being responsible for your own thoughts and actions.
4. To be the ACTOR - the leading actor - in your life, interpreting events with objective intelligence, and not just by means of your feeling.
5. To be in close touch with your physical body, senses, and biological needs, and to exercise and train the body to act in alignment with your intelligence. This is your natural state.
6. Integrate the left and right hemispheres, the natural and healthy way of living.
When you honestly integrate these aims into your life, you gain many advantages, which activating your ability to 1. Reclaim your individual integrity by identifying and rejecting the old programming of nonsense mystical traps that are based on irrationalities. And 2 Eliminate laziness from your thinking, Investing honest effort by being a productive, prosperous, and creative individual.
These are the basic benefits you gain when you integrate the principles of personal freedom in your daily life, being an artist and shaping your life however you want it to be. Realizing who you are and loving what you do.
I now call my work - BodySpeak™! the Avital Method*.
It is based on ten principles and concepts. BodySpeak™! is designed to activate the natural integrated thinking and doing through effort and honesty.
These principles are the core of my teaching in Boulder, CO. over the last 20 years.
I will elaborate in the future on other aspects of this healthy and integrated philosophy of being real in an unreal world, and free in an unfree world.
*See What is BodySpeak™! article