Posting Date: November 3, 2008
Theatre scholar Per Brahe in residence at Kennesaw State
By Lauren Highfill
TPS students in one of Per Brahe's workshops.
Photos by Olivia Aston
On the fourth day of a unique week of workshops, Balinese music filled Howard Logan Stillwell Theater and an intimate group of students gathered and stood on stage. Visiting artist Per Brahe told the group to “just move” and focus on “opening up the spine.” The mostly barefoot students began to move their arms, legs and bodies fluidly, reflecting the influence of the music.
Walking among the students, Brahe held three brightly colored masks and stopped to put them on a select few. “Let the mask work for you,” he called, encouraging many of the students’ movements, the space they occupy, to change once they were masked. After a few minutes, Brahe approached the masked students, placed his hand on their backs, moving it up and down to encourage the opening of the spine. Each student onstage had the opportunity to experience moving with and without the mask.
This workshop occurred during Brahe’s residency at Kennesaw State for the week of Oct. 20-24. Brahe is an expert in the use of the Balinese mask and is a master teacher of the Michael Chekhov technique and has written many well-known scholarly works. He conducts workshops related to his mask work and to Chekhov’s acting technique at the Eugene O’Neill Center in Connecticut, and has previously conducted workshops at Moscow Arts Theatre, Yale, Brandeis and the University of Connecticut, among many others. Currently, Brahe is on the of the New York University Tisch School of the Arts
Two KSU members have preexisting connections to Brahe: Assistant Professor Harrison Long and Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Lendley Black, another renowned Chekhov expert whom Brahe has cited in his own scholarly work. Last year, KSU students had the opportunity to work with Brahe in New York City as members of KSU’s yearlong research project studying the techniques of Anton Chekhov.
“Per Brahe’s visit to KSU was almost preordained,” said Long, advisor of the Chekhov research group. “It’s an incredible experience to have him working with our students who have varying levels of experience.” During Brahe’s residency, Brahe worked with the cast of KSU’s upcoming production of “Lysistrata,” in addition to other theatre and performance studies students. “His visit has a direct application to this main stage production,” said Long.
Student Andrew Crigler took part in Brahe’s workshop series and said, “I’m honored to have been able to work with someone like Per Brahe. The opportunity to participate in his workshop was more than I thought I could hope for.”
Ralph del Rosario also worked with Brahe. “I found myself trusting in Per because he knew what everything meant and, as we dove into the work, all his words made sense,” he said. At the end of the week, “I hated to see him go because I knew all that I had learned from him in this short week had strengthened me as an actor.”
Long comes to a similar conclusion about Brahe’s time at KSU. “His visit will stay with us for months and months, partly because he leaves us with more questions than answers—which is the mark of a master teacher.”