Illusion

Photo by Robert Castle

Illusion The space becomes a canvas, our hands and bodies the paint.

Keith Berger’s masterful approach to Space-Work, or, the study of Illusion, gives students an expert level set of skills for creating objects out of air and the illusion of reality. These illusions have two purposes on stage. The first is a very practical one in which the illusions add rich details to create a physical sense of place and add nuance to the characters. Imagine a bare stage with a single character that has been stranded for days without any food or water and finally discovers a watering hole. How can the performer communicate this condition physically and emotionally to the audience? On that same bare stage, how can an actor find his or her seat on a moving train carrying heavy luggage? Physical Theatre relies on rich details in order to bring the characters out of a two-dimensional world and into a multi dimensional one where the audience identifies with each character’s situation on a more personal level. The second purpose of creating illusions on stage is more ethereal.  To see an object appear out of thin air is to witness a tiny piece of magic. This magic momentarily awakens our childlike sense of wonder, tickles us, fascinates us, and at the same time stimulates our very adult preoccupation with the eternal existential question, “What is real and what is an illusion?”

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