What Does A Clown Know… part 3 of 4 – Time

By Ira Seidenstein

June 14, 2023

Photo: THE CRACKUP SISTERS – Creator Amanda-Lyn Pearson (white hat) with Bianca Mackail

Part 3: TIME

This Is Mighty Exciting

Conversation Thursday 4thJune 2020

Welcome Dr Seidenstein back to zoomland for our next conversation in the series on Creativity, Culture and Wellbeing through the lens of The Four Articulations. The third articulation is Time. Yes the time is right to explore Time. It’s interesting that Life threw in a few little things unexpectedly this morning. I really appreciate your flexibility. I noticed while realising I’m going to be rushing to attend to some other things that have come up, that I started to have this panic and realised to be able to show up and do this conversation in a good way, I needed for our time to be shifted, or otherwise I wouldn’t be in my best capacity. Timely that this has come up as my relationship with time is tricky. I easily lose track of time, I used to feel behind time, especially when my children were much younger, there were never enough hours in the day. Now I’m very much on a journey of learning how to find peace with time.

What is your relationship with time like?

Ira: I think my relationship with time is flexible in that I don’t feel pressured or dictated to by time. Although, subconsciously I think it’s driving me in a way to conjure my energy. It is a motivator.

Now that I’m getting older one does become aware of time in a new way. Anyway, I work with time in a lot of different ways. I think time is very important, and valuable. There are also different ways we can look at how we work with and use time.

My feeling is we are caught, not caught in a negative way, but we exist automatically in a double standard of time, especially those of us who live in a modern Western society. Everything is dictated around the digital clock, but also as a human we are aware, we are receptive to: the time in the sunrise and sunset; seasons; the wax and wane of the Moon; how that affects all creatures, how it affects the earth and our experience.

There are many levels of time but the first thing I am talking about is the duality of the modern concept of digital time, and coupled with that is the indigenous and natural flows of time and seasons.

The clock itself and watches have their own interesting history: the sundial was one of the first clocks. In Prague they have an astronomical clock from 1410. It is mounted on the Old Town Hall in a central square of Prague. The clock includes an astronomical calendar dial.

Watches began in the 16th Century with only an hour hand. Later the minute hand was added, and then the second hand. Now of course we have digital watches and atomic clocks. Usually when we consider time on a daily basis, we think in terms of what time it is in digits. For example, it is 10:42.

For aeons time was not conceptualised in terms of calculated numbers in minutes. Our modern existence has a pervasive digital sense of time. We also have our body, our physiology, which is subject to the astronomical sense of time and its relation to our physical changes in response to our position relative to the Moon and the Sun.

If I could add something else; as a different, cultural, and indigenous perspective? A calendar is another way of recording time. Different Cultures have different calendars and some have different dates for their new year day. In fact, culturally speaking most of the world does not celebrate new years on January 1. They note it as the general world commerce works via the Gregorian Calendar, nonetheless most of the world population does not celebrate January 1 as new year’s day. For example Hindu’s don’t nor do Muslims or Chinese or Iranians or the Aboriginal Australians of the Murador people.

The Jewish culture has a couple of different calendars. The basic calendar is luni-solar! The months are via a Lunar calendar whereas our holidays are seasonal so they are via a Solar calendar. The season dating though is relative as it is based on the homeland of the Jewish People, thus the Northern Hemisphere’s seasons. The Lunar year generally has 12 months. But, just as the Gregorian Calendar (a solar based calendar) has a Leap Year every 4 years for mathematical reasoning; the Jewish Monthly Calendar (a lunar based calendar) mathematically has 7 leap years within a 19-year cycle. Mathematically, periodically leap years are required in various calendars to balance the long term calculations.

We also have a weekly calendar that is related to our sacred texts. Each week has a different sequential text that we are meant to read, study, reflect upon, understand and integrate in practical ways.

We also have the rosh hashanah (‘head of the year’), the Jewish new year. But that doesn’t actually occur in our first lunar month, so that’s quite unusual. We also have the holiday marking the giving of the Torah (which means ‘instructions’). Within Torah is an initial instruction about the Shabbat (Sabbath). Shabbat and our holidays and our days start at night. In Western nations the new day starts at Midnight. Yet in our minds and conversations it is more normal that we think the new day starts with Sunrise. It does and it doesn’t.

In the Jewish Culture the start of the new day begins approximately when 3 stars become visible (moments after Sunset has concluded). What happens if it’s cloudy or raining and you can’t see the stars? Our Culture has the lesson of relativity – one has to estimate and there are different instructions how to do that. Those instructions all have theological reasons which have also been seen over time to be practical, within that Culture’s established norm. Or we can say the first reasons were practical and later we came to understand or imagine there are theological reasons?

Although, speaking of relativity, as in Life, the practical is not always visible. Inventions such as telescopes, microscopes, and X-rays prove to us that what is practical is not always visible, at least not with the naked eye.

Culturally I have a number of different references to time. Globally everyone has learned via Einstein and others that time is relative. I’m also saying that in our culture time is quite relative in a lot of different ways. Our operative words would be ‘maybe’; ‘depends’; ‘sometimes’; and our proverbial questions: ‘according to who’?; and ‘for what purpose’? I propose asking those questions within theatre fields which I am connected with including Clown, Shakespeare, and Commedia; and so-called ‘physical theatre’.

My culture frequently has two or three sides in operation at once. 1) One is mechanical and a precise use of time. Due to the ever-changing time of Sunset Shabbat’s start times actually changes weekly. Shabbat might be 6:03pm one Friday night and the next Friday night may be 6:08pm and a week later may be 6:12 pm etc. 2) Additionally Shabbat begins differently in different places on the planet according to the relative positioning of that place on Earth in relation to the Sunset and the first 3 stars. So time for us culturally is relative. That is a few thousands of years of tradition and an understanding in human psychology that time is relative. So, when I consider time, I also am coming from a type of indigenous cultural background. 3) Time for me is three worlds: it’s the natural time; it’s the Western digital time; and, it’s also cultural time. In other words, time is a relative experience.

In my experience of visiting people of different Cultures they also often are living in a state of relative time.

That teaching of Time’s relativity is philosophically a conscious choice and a practical metaphor into the essence of how I teach Acting, Theatre, Clown or Creativity. Clown, for example, is too often taught in a sometimes not too subtle dogmatic way. Clown is relative. Relative to: a) the individual artist’s preferred aesthetics; b) the individual artist’s perceived career path; and c) the audience in front of the artist.

Consider time’s lesson of relativity as a great metaphor and valuable practical insight for teaching performing arts including Clown.

Naree: When you first spoke and you said you don’t feel pressured or dictated by time, my head was thinking, how is it possible? Who do you think you are that you are allowed to not be dictated by time? But the more that you spoke in relation to the cultural influences that have shaped your experience of time, I reflected for myself on the overriding cultural message about time in my growing up was that time is boss. We are in servitude to time. Time meaning the scientific and mechanical view of time. And in the environment I grew up in, we could never be late. It was never an option to be late. It was a rigid view of time. That’s fascinating because now I understand why I discover such peace when I work with food like sourdough bread, because it gets me in touch with this other aspect of time. Internally I’m not in conflict because I’m working with the natural rhythms.

It’s not about the linear, getting things done, but the allowing of things to arise as they need to. There are definite steps, interactions of elements and a respectful use of inherent timing, I find will bring about a good result, if you respect those things.

Could you speak about time in relation to the creative process?

Ira: This will be somewhat different from what I was explaining before. In the theatre, Time is of the essence. If you have a performance and the show is meant to start at 8 o’clock, it needs to start at 8 o’clock for various reasons. The paying patron has agreed to an 8 o’clock start and some of them need to be out at the planned time so they can get their transportation home if they are on public transport, and if they need to get up in the morning and get to work. So, time has a constraint in a very practical way in performance for the viewing public.

Generally speaking most of those people have to get up and go to work and be there on time. So that is a very practical side. Along with that, it is very important as a teacher, if you are a person’s first teacher in the theatre, it is absolutely crucial that you help that new person to learn to respect and be knowledgeable about how they use time in the professional theatre sense. The learner could be a mature aged person coming into the theatre.

“I wonder, put a thought in here, that keeping time means we can be synchronised – we do things together as intended – when the classes start on time, both the teacher and the pupils are there to start the class at the same time – one does not have to wait for the other. I think it amazing, that I can make an appointment a year ahead, and then without further communication (maybe) both I and the other one can turn up at the same place together.” Our Editor Dr Jim Pickles

Interestingly, I used to start my classes exactly on time.

In fact I would watch the clock. I can’t say that I would see the second hand…

I would watch the clock and when the hand came to say ‘9 o’clock’ I started.

I had a number of colleagues in different situations, especially in all types of performing academies and schools, who couldn’t understand how my classes were well attended and they couldn’t understand why the actors came on time to my class.

I wasn’t one of these teachers who locked the door. I didn’t.

Usually from day one I announce, if you’re late just come in and start when you get in. A lot of times some people aren’t used to a disciplined use of time; especially when you’re talking about time in creativity.

But I started on time, so they soon realised that if they started 7 minutes late, I wasn’t concerned, in fact, I would usually say hello and I’d welcome them in. But no big deal. I wouldn’t stop what I was doing. I’d just say “Hi George, come on in. Come on in when you’re ready.” I wouldn’t try to make the person feel not guilty, but at the same time they did feel guilty because the guilt was for themselves and in themselves.

They missed the beginning of the class and they knew they missed the beginning of the warm up. And in my work the warm-up is integrated into the day’s work. In minutes it becomes apparent that they missed something. It was all happening and they had to be on the run to try and find a space on the floor, they had to get with the program. So it was normal very soon, usually within a couple of classes people got the message and everyone would be there on time.

Of course in accredited tertiary courses almost all students come on time because they are continually threatened with the ever present possibility of a Fail mark; or with getting suspended from the course or from a production. Additionally many teachers in tertiary performance courses love to present themselves as The Gatekeepers to the Industry and many love to laud that power (real or false) over the vulnerable performing arts students.

And you might have a person who is just there on time and they were running to make it because they wanted to be on time. And that’s all part of it. Many of my colleagues in different places couldn’t understand how attendance to my classes was usually the full group and on time. But many teachers did not start their class on time. So it was actually the teachers’ fault that they signalled to the learner that time doesn’t matter. But time does matter in all forms of theatre.

Yet it is also relative. Now let me explain a bit about that. First of all I am explaining it is important to be on time. But I can also adjust that, at once, I can start on time and I can also welcome the person who is late. I don’t have to discuss their being late with them. After that happens two or three or certainly four times, that person within themselves grapples with their lateness and they almost always will resolve it.

There was one exception. Not in a course per se but in a project. There was one person who always came late to rehearsal by a minute, maybe by two minutes at the most. She was perfectly reliably late. She was a terrific actress and wonderful to work with. She would come busting through the door, she knew she was late, and she would jump in and she was professional. It was just her thing. So, consistently late, always within a minute or two, she came in and was ready to work and excellent to work with. That’s ok. She just had a quirk.

She, Jo, also came in with a drastically different outfit and look every day. She was in our project when I directed Shakespeare’s Henry the Fifth with 12 women. The whole play, uncut. One day Jo was several minutes late. The building door slammed. She then appeared through the studio entrance. Due to the loud door noise we had already paused for Jo’s entrance and this time she had an entrance line: “Well, I did it!!!”. One of the actors said “Well, Jo? What did you do?” We had no idea what she was so stirred up about. Jo, the storming actor said “I caught my boyfriend kissing some chick and I threw him over the hood of the car”. Then being the wonderful trouper she was, Jo added “Well? What are we working on”? And she was in as usual immediately and 100%.

Naree: What I’m hearing you express is that as the teacher, as the facilitator, for the overall running of the space, the holding of the space, you become the centre point in relation to time. You are holding the timing which means then that everybody can relax into what their timing is. You are not behind. You are not behind time. If nobody is holding that time space then the time becomes confused.

Ira: Absolutely. You have that in the indigenous world. It would look to us as Westerners as if nothing is happening and it’s all too loose, but an elder who had the responsibility would just nod to the person who is meant to take the action to start the event. The elder would nod, now is the time, and they would activate the action for the ceremony or ritual or communication that was meant to happen.

So in fact there was an elder who did exactly what you’re saying, they held the time. What they were holding to, they may have been feeling for the energy, they may have been waiting for the light as I said in my indigenous culture, Jewish culture is indigenous just as are travelling indigenous peoples such as Gypsy (Romany); Bedouin, Berbers, etc. That if three stars are not visible on Shabbat then it’s up to the person who is responsible, maybe the rabbi, or any person who knows how to sense that it’s time to start. It doesn’t have to be the time within a second, the time is in a sense relative. You try to be accurate but it is still relative. Yes it’s true somebody needs to hold the space, hold the time.

That can also be as a teacher or as a director I’m sensing where the group is at? It’s not about me holding space and time as a dictator. I’m holding it as a sensitive person, I’ll say ok let’s start, I’ll call the actors together, “How are we doing today?” Very often in many of my workshops, in the past I would start at 9 o’clock with the first exercise.

Now I’ll still start on time, but very often, I’ll bring the group together and we’ll stand in a circle and we’ll do a completely informal check-in. Nothing official but I’ll say how are you doing, and just hear from people. I listen – audibly and internally. We are coming together, we are holding that time in a fluid way together, I am the one who says ok, come on in. I think it is really important what you are calling out. Somebody needs to hold that time.

But I am saying as a person who is time conscious the time also depends on the energy in the group, and I’ll deal with it. If it is a group that is very loose, I’ll be very strong and I’ll pull it together and I’ll start on time. If I need to do that that ‘strong’ act the whole week or 3 weeks of that workshop because there may be some elements pulling us away from the intended path.

You might have an individual on the very odd occasion who really likes to control the time and manipulate the whole group. I will be adamant, I won’t say anything to them because that is just their personality, I will be adamant to start on time. That person has to get their lesson. That lesson is not from me. The lesson is from watching a group move forward without ‘your’ control. It has nothing to do with me, it is their lesson that you cannot manipulate the situation here except for the fact that I have to respond to that form of manipulation by doing my own manipulation called Starting On Time. It has been rare that after three or four classes would there be an individual coming late. Obviously I am not discussing all sorts of life events which can certainly affect any of us at any time.

Naree: It’s such a challenge to collaborate and work with other people. The complexity of different personalities, different needs, different individual relationships to time, is very different. Then finding within a group, working towards an ensemble where you can build and get all of those elements coming together; because if you can get those elements to come together in your work, then I think it is possible to tap into a completely different aspect of time.

That is going towards more like what is created in rituals. In theatre, you are working with these elements and if you can get cohesion you can create a sense of timelessness. But to get to that point of things being able to flow so freely, there’s a whole lot of mechanics going on, pieces being put in place to be able to open time and for things to become timeless.

Ira: In my overall method Quantum Theatre: From slapstick to Shakespeare, there are 10 principles that I like to present. They are concepts, they are ideas and they are numerical 1-10. There is the principle of 1, the principle of 3, principle of 10 etc. The Principle of 3 is a central one. That is Time, Timing and Timelessness.

Time as we have been discussing generally or I was discussing first start on time. Then you have a limited amount of time; you have perhaps a two-hour rehearsal that day, or the performance might be two hours on stage, with or without an interval. Interval has to be held tight as well, you can’t have the interval going on for an hour; so you have a 15 minute interval, or at 15 minutes they ring the bell, people are seated by 20 minutes and the second half of the show starts. The company is time conscious and there is a small adjustment that is the norm. Also it is the norm in a lot of countries that if the show is to start at 8, then it starts at 3 past 8. Three minutes allows for late comers to settle. Some countries, if the advertised time says the show starts at 8, then it starts at 8. In such countries, people know they have to be there and seated on time. So that’s Time in The Principle of 3 – Time, Timing, Timelessness.

In Timing, if there was an emergency in the theatre, maybe somebody fainted; the actors would be told backstage there is going to be a 5 minute delay. “Somebody has fainted, there is a medic attending to them, so we are going to start 5 minutes late”. It might then turn out that it is worse, and there is an extension in the delay of starting the show. Now that is timing. It depends. I worked with two dancers who created cabaret shows together. Small real show business style with tight choreographies, tight change to next act, and tight flow through the whole show. One night a member of the audience in the front row died. The show did not stop. Attendants of some sort came and took the corpse out. That occurred in Auckland, New Zealand in the late 1970s. Timing.

That’s Timing in The Principle of 3 – Time, Timing, Timelessness.

Time is a clock issue. Timing is how we deal with all the elements; the clock is integrated with the situation. And Timelessness is the objective. Even if it is a country that starts exactly at 8 o’clock, the objective of the play, the objective of the show, is to bring the audience and the actors, the artists into an experience of transcendental awakening be it joyful, dramatic, flippant, or deeply meaningful; all of those can also bring the audience and artists to a sense of Timelessness. In the theatre there are always those 3 elements of time and they are always overlapping in their relationship. Time-Timing-Timelessness – The Principle of 3.

I would say the same is true within my method, in my exercises I love saying – just do this for about 10 seconds; or, just do this for about 20 seconds; or, about another exercise I’ll say this is about 40 seconds. I do that intentionally, tauntingly. At the time I mean 10, 20, 40 seconds. Yet, the time is relative and I try to assist the actors to get used to timing themselves. Now I’m the person holding the time so sometimes I say “about a minute” and I’m teasing and the actor doesn’t know when I’m going to stop it, and they know it’s been more than a minute. But sometimes something else is happening and when really good things are happening I won’t stop it, I’ll let it keep going. Other times an actor will be doing something that is quite magical and I’ll stop them and nobody can believe why would you stop that, and I’ll ask the actor to do the exercise again, straight away because I want them to have that feeling of how you get into that magical state, all the time. So I have different ways of taunting the actors with time, the meaning of time, the experience of time, the use of time. I use time in numerous different ways, and the different exercises use different timings.

Naree: When I’m teaching theatre classes I’ll expand or contract the use of time depending on what is taking place. I will give more time if the actors are working well.

Ira: Yes. That is good to hear. I will do that with people also, I’ll ask do you want more time? Sometimes when we are in the creative process I’ll give people 10 minutes to explore something or I’ll negotiate the time with them, and I’ll look at the clock or put the timer on, but I have to remember to press start.

Naree: I sometimes do an exercise where actors are standing in a circle, and their objective is to step into the circle when 1 minute is up. We are getting a sense of linear time and our internal time. I’m timing it. The first person perhaps stepped in at 35 seconds, the last person stepped in at 1 minute 30. It’s really interesting to gauge how we each experience linear time.

Ira: Yes we all experience it in different ways. That is very true. We all experience linear time in a relative way.

Naree: So a minute has multiple meanings.

It has been very common in your workshops, say, if we have been doing a solo exercise, you will say “Take your time.” Usually when you have said this I have noticed that there is often panic generated in me. I start to worry, not knowing how much time I am really allowed to take. I am not clear on what “take your time” actually means, when I am in a space with other people. I worry about taking up too much time and space.

What do you mean when you say “Take your time”?

Ira: I actually mean, take YOUR time, and it is about YOUR time, and if for some reason, I find that you are working too quickly, or too slow or too long, I will say that. That’s my time. That’s my perspective but it is really important for the actor, the artist, I’m particularly talking about a creative artist, creative actor, that their time is of the essence. Their time is important and their sense of time and timing is important. Again if I’m operating, working with a group of say commonly 15 or 20 people in a workshop, then it’s not just about your time, except in that exercise it is about your time, and if it is taking too long, I will also say I’m speeding you up because I need to move on for other people.

Sometimes I will say to people you’ve got to own your time, own your space, do the exercise again. You only took a minute, the exercise should be at least 3 minutes, take your time, try it again. I do assist people but it’s really important as you stated, the one thing I say, I might say it 100 times in a workshop, “Take your time” and I mean it, yet it is relative to the whole of the workshop or rehearsal.

An artist has to learn how to use their time. Let’s say a painter; and they have their studio, they learn how to use their time.

There was one writer, Neil Simon, who was a great comedy writer, playwright, great writer for the theatre, a screenwriter as well. He had a tiny office in New York City, and he was there for set times, I think from about 9am to 4pm, Monday to Friday. He was there for set hours. Now he might come in on time as usual but maybe not start writing until 11:30 that morning, maybe at 1 o’clock he has lunch, reads the paper and has another cup of coffee. He doesn’t get back to writing until 2:30. He was clear that he needed to treat it like a job and be in that space, face his own demons so to speak in set working hours. But how he used that time was relative to daily timing.

Many writers, if I understand correctly, that I’ve read about, have very clear disciplined use of time. They might have breakfast and then by 8 o’clock they are in their studio and begin writing, and they might have a determination to write 10 pages. Some of them have a determination that they are going to have one good page by the end of the day. Some of them determine that they are going to write for 3 hours in the morning and then have lunch, then they will write for 2 hours in the afternoon. So I’m just saying there are many different ways that I have read about very successful writers and I think all of them have a great deal of discipline around time, but they all use it in different ways.

They all use time in a very structured and disciplined way. That puts the pressure on them. Notably they all use digits, numbers, integers i.e. something concrete number and timewise to objectively keep an eye on themselves. I use that same principle (digits, numbers, integers) so that each actor can develop and hone their own objective self-reflection.

The thing I think when I hear you ask with some of the questions relating to yourself personally it’s really also about you dealing with pressure. Not only inside pressure but also outside pressure. In performance, in the theatre, the artist must learn to build up our resistance to pressure, inside and outside, and learn how to deal with that.

As a teacher and director I will play with that in a lot of different ways. So if I say take your time I mean it. On the other hand if I feel that the actor is too slow, meandering often, lost, ineffective in their use of time I will broach the subject. And I will do so not timidly.

I also know many directors and many performance teachers they say things to the actor or to the learner and they don’t mean what they say and THAT causes a lot of problems in professionals because they’ve had signals from directors and they’ve had signals from teachers who said things they didn’t mean and weren’t going to be true to.

When I say take your time and that is usually the last thing I say to a person before they do the exercise. Because that’s me trying to help them understand that it is your workshop, your practice, your exercise and I want to assist you by repeatedly encouraging you to take your time. If I have a problem as already said, with how much time you are taking, then that’s my problem and I will explain I need you to do it a bit quicker or I think it will be better for you to take more time.

Naree: You’re stating something very sincere. There is an energy that comes with sincerity. I’ve had many experiences in my life where those words “Take your Time” have been used and the person is not sincere about meaning for me to take my time. There are other agendas at play and it actually becomes a power game. Being in situations like this can cause a whole lot of complexities in relation to the disconnect between what you are feeling and what you might be physically doing. For example you might physically need to do something and feel numb. Or I’ve had experiences where I’ve been so overwhelmed by feeling, there is this big disconnect between the inner and the outer and I’m not in tune, I’m struggling, I’m out of time with myself.

How do you suggest working with this disconnection to bring alignment between the feeling and the action? Alignment between the inner and the outer?

Ira: It’s really important what you are saying and I think as an artist we face that difficulty, challenge anytime we do anything. The inner and outer challenge is permanently there. That is why we call it performance. That is why it’s called a professional who does the performance. It doesn’t matter how they feel, they do the performance. Or they know how to awaken the feeling that they do need even when they don’t have that feeling; they learn how to wake up that energy, so they do have the feeling to do it well or do it and enjoy it. It’s one or the other, they either shut up and do it or they stimulate themselves in such a way that they are ready. As the old saying goes: ‘Fake it ‘til you make it”.

I would say my exercises, particularly as we are talking about The Four Articulations for Performance, the name of the training template, i.e. all of the exercises are there for the individual to learn how to encounter themselves with the internal and external pressure. That is my intention for every single one of the exercises.

And that also includes when there is a duet, the creative duets; those are there to further learn how to negotiate that internal external situation. You really only learn that lesson – of the inner/outer – when you are having to deal with another human being, because that increases the pressure, which increases the learning which increases the capacity and capability that one has within oneself. But that inner/outer is challenged to awaken your capability, your capacity.

In The Four Articulations, let’s say the solo warmup starts off with The 3 Loosenings, takes about 5 minutes. Then comes the next section, The Core Mechanics, which is meant to take about 10 minutes. Then comes a short vocal warm up, which is meant to take 3-5 minutes followed by a few minutes of individuals’ Cultural Singing. Then The 7 Solos section that takes about 15 minutes. That whole selection of the solo exercises should take approximately 30-40 or so minutes. It doesn’t have to, just approximately.

Admittedly, I’m always excited when after just a few days of learning the template that a group starts to take more time. That is a good sign that they, as a group, are engaging with the material and themselves. A few years ago two people came from overseas to work with me intensely for about 8 months Monday to Friday. They were wonderful people to work with and talented, creative actors.

Early on their 7 Solos were seeming to last longer and longer. I let it go like that for about 2 weeks. Then one day I thought I might mention that. But first I needed to time them. That 15 minute section was 45 minutes. I let them go because they were as always clearly involved with their creative research. I asked how long do you think The 7 Solos took? They were dismayed as to why I would even ask. Each said they took 15 minutes. They were amazed to hear they took 45. I assured them it was a good sign they took so long. But I also knew they were no longer getting the succinct version’s benefit. So the next few days I asked them to try to do the 15 minute version and see how that feels. So, in fact even though it is the same set of exercises the experience of the concise version is distinct from the ‘take your time’ version. One is not better than the other. They are different.

Going back to the whole group of solo sections helps a person to learn about longer time. 3 Loosenings through 7 Solos is intended to be about 30-40 minutes of time. In order to do that in 30-40 minutes you have to move along. And in the process of moving along, you are learning to develop your capacity to deal with the internal and external dilemma. And if a person wants to take 45 minutes, or an hour, or an hour and a half for that same thing, that’s their business. But I have set it up and I have given certain time suggestions about how long it should take. That’s to create this positive i.e. forward moving energy. If you do it in the proposed time, about 30-40 minutes, you are moving along at a good pace and at the end of the 30-40 minutes, then you have the positive energy. If you dilly dally at 60 minutes or more, you may or may not have good performance energy at the end of an hour. You may have dissipated your energy. The artist just thinks, oh, I should follow my instincts – maybe, maybe not.

Naree: Sometimes our instinct can be right off. We can be kidding ourselves. Our timing is not sharp. Sometimes we need to sharpen it but sometimes we do need to ease off. There are many factors.

Ira: Absolutely and I’ve always said – on your own – if you need an hour then you should take an hour, maybe you do it that way for a couple of weeks, then come back and see what it feels like when you do that solo warm up training and do it within 30 – 40 minutes. See, how does that feel? You start to know for yourself, it is not right or wrong, it’s different.

I’m just explaining a little bit further how I also use time in my training, which is inherent in The Four Articulations training. After just teaching for a couple of days, the actors – begin – to know the exercises well enough, and I tell them: ‘you’ve got so many minutes to do the whole thing now by yourself’, and I’ll wait, and I don’t have a problem waiting. Yet, The 7 Solos are meant to take about 15 to 20 minutes. Or if it’s going too long, if they are taking too much time from the class, I will say to them there is nothing wrong with what you are doing but I’ve got to move along, I’ll stop you there; even though they haven’t done all of The 7 Solos; they’ve done maybe 5. Sometimes I’ll see a person dawdling about, repeating something, so I’ll go up and I’ll ask “are you ok” and they’ll say “yeah, I just can’t remember this step.” So I’ll clarify it with them. Then they get through that and move on. There are a lot of relative factors in my approach to the method. But I am always there if they have a question and if I see them struggling unnecessarily I just go up to the individual and ask if they want any clarification.

It’s our acronym time. If you were to use the letters T.I.M.E to create an acronym to encapsulate this phenomena called Time, what would it be?



Naree: That’s a great energy and it’s a big contrast to the energy I often experience in relation to time.

I’m thinking of the Laurel and Hardy Exercise for two clowns. The final line in that exchange of dialogue is “This is another fine mess, you have gotten us into this time”.


Naree: THIS TIME is mighty exciting.

It’s time, it’s time for my final question.

I find there is a big discrepancy between the speed of my mind and the pace of my Body. The mind and the Body operate in 2 very different time zones.

How can we bridge these 2 different time zones to find harmony within ourselves?

Ira: Again I would reference my method because I address that particularly in Core Mechanics, which takes about 10 minutes. It’s not just the movements themselves, the movements are all very simple and you recognise them from other modalities in movement. It is the mechanics of the body, so they show up in other types of physical training, whether it’s sport or ballet or dance or martial arts. But there are hundreds of counts within that 10 minutes of Core Mechanics. Once you know it you don’t have to think all the time for those hundreds of counts, but the counts count. The counts are helpful for learning. And what you are learning is to put your mind in your body. So in other words there is a way of integers and numbers that has been used in meditation for aeons, and they are used in ballet. So the integers count. The counts count, they bring your mind into your body. One of the best ways to develop the ability to align the mind and the body is, through The Core Mechanics, and paying attention, not just to the movement but to the counts.

And if nothing else, If I roll down in 6 counts and I roll up in 6 counts, even if you don’t count the 6 down and 6 up, you do know that you only do that movement 3 times. The first movement you do 3 times. But then there is a 2nd part to that exercise! That you also do 3 times. And the next exercise has 4 parts but you do it 4 times. Even if you don’t count but you just do the movement you still have to remember that you only do that exercise 4 times. And the next movement has 5 parts and even if you don’t count and separate the 5 parts, you only do it 5 times. Do you see what I mean?

So even if you don’t do the hundreds of counts, but you do the minimal counts you are still putting your mind in your body and this is one of the quickest ways to help a person to harmonise their mind and their body. Those 2 time zones that you described.

Now that’s not denying the physiological phenomenon that you said that the scientists and the professor acknowledged that the mind is operating 10 times faster than the body. It’s not denying that but to bring harmony, the integers assist us. I think it was Pythagoras who is first noted as aware and teaching about the power of integers? It is not higher mathematics, it is the use of the integers. Integers and numbers can help us. Buddhists know that as do Ballet dancers as do Kabbalists and Chemists.

Naree: befriending Time.

Ira: What I’m saying is keeping track mentally with integers also helps to harmonise with time. So if we say The Core Mechanics should take about 10 minutes. But, if for example you do the first exercise 2 times and you do the 2nd exercise 8 times and you do the third exercise 7 times etc. then it is going to take you a lot longer than the 10 minutes. In that series, more is not better. Succinct yet thorough is the objective. The integers help us harmonise with time and the time also helps us to harmonise with our mind and body time zones as you described it. There are also in The Core Mechanics elements of intellectual and concentrated focus on the various parts of the body which the mind moves through for the duration of the 10 minutes. There is no significance to the 10 minutes per se except that it is an approximate length of a Clown act or a scene in a play for example. Additionally there is no reason that Core can’t be done longer or shorter except that for the purpose of generating energy the 10 minute version is an ideal average pace.

Naree: If we use it well and we train ourselves to use it well, efficiently and effectively

Ira: For me these are tools that I’ve provided. Use them first as intended step-by-step and then the next thing that you do has a very different feel, flow, and purpose. The next part is The 7 Solos. There are 7. Not 8. Not 5. There are 7. If you don’t want to do them all you don’t have to. If you want to do one of them many more times than I proscribe then that’s up to you. But I’ve said that there are 7 solos because it is teaching the actor to understand that I do 7. It is the integer of 7. In The 7 Solos; the first exercise The Creative Twist you do 3 times. The second exercise is The Nothing Exercise you do 3 times. The next exercise, The 3 Walks, the basic version you do 3 times. The fourth exercise is The Mime Exercise on the spot and you do it 3 times. What I’m saying is there is a relation, with mime and time, and it’s about the integers, and the integers assist us to use time in a better way i.e. in a conscious way. (All of the exercises of the whole template The Four Articulations for Performance are described step-by-step in Chapter 2 of the book Clown Secret)

Naree: I’m just wondering if the word integers is related to the word integrated. Integration.

Ira: I guess so. You look that up. But, yes, you hit it. Yes, intelligent intentional use of integers can help to integrate the mind in the body. Other exercises I do not use integers so intensely as in Core Mechanics. I use integers in a variety of ways. So it is not just using integers. Not at all. “Intelligent intentional”. In the process of The Four Articulations for Performance offers much more to the actor, performer, teacher, choreographer, director than the deceivingly simple steps of each exercise. Do it and you will know it. The intuitive hit in the Metro of Paris came 36 years after I started in the Theatre. That was 36 years of all sorts of experiences and experiments and reading and thinking and seeing all sorts of performances and engaging with all sorts of theatre people.

Naree: It’s very interesting and for me it’s the idea that in the part there is the whole. Through looking at one part you get an understanding of a greater whole.

Ira: The hologram. It’s also yin/yang, It’s also a microcosm/macrocosm. It’s also inherent, apparently as we are told from science, the atom, electron and neutron for example, seem to replicate what appears to go on in the cellular level and in outer space in stars and through the universe? The nucleus, we are told is like the Sun, with the electron moving around like the planets,

Naree: Thank you for your time today.

Ira: It was a pleasure.

Parts 1, 2, 3, 4 below:

Part 1 Body

Part 2 Space

Part 3 Time

Part 4 Space-Time Continuum

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Ira Seidenstein