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RasaBoxes Classes Start Tonight at the PlayGround Theatre

Once, while watching a basketball game, Richard Schechner, a Tisch professor and artistic director of East Coast Artists, had an idea. If players could go from total calm on the bench, to completely in the game once on the court, then why couldn't performers? Schechner devised RasaBoxes as a way to help performers channel emotions.

RasaBoxes training teaches people to embrace the eight basic emotional-energetic states (or rasas): love, laughter, fury, compassion, disgust, horror, heroic mood, and wonder. The intensive classes with use breath, body and voice, exercises. They will teach how to incorporate these practices into creative work.

Starting tonight, the PlayGround Theatre will host RasaBoxes classes by resident artist Fernando Calzadilla, who is one of only four licensed RasaBox instructors in the country.

Cultist: What is RasaBoxes?

Fernando Calzadilla: It's an exercise that was devised by Richard Schechner. It's a training

exercise. But it has been used for actors, and people working with

therapy for performance and visual artists. It works with eight basic

emotions which are taken from the Navya Shastra, a manual of how to do

classical theater in India, which is 2000 years old.

We go from box to box. Schechner combined the idea of the Navya Shastra

and the idea from Antonin Artaud, who said that the actors should be an

athlete of emotions.

It's to get the actor to know the breeches, to know how to get to the

emotion quickly and safely, and also how to return back from the emotion

quickly and safely without being hurt by the emotion, because you work

from the outside to the inside.

RasaBoxes work from finding sadness in the body as an abstract idea.

Where do I feel the sad? Is it in my elbows, knees, eyes? Whether you

feel it or not is irrelevant, it's about how you show it.



What did you find appealing about RasaBoxes?

I think that they're a very useful language for actors and directors

about how to approach a scene. I think it's very safe. It doesn't hurt

you emotional. You can work with a very high intensity emotion and it

doesn't hurt you. You don't get emotionally involved. And also, it's a

very therapeutic exercise.

You find out where you blocks are. Usually

your blocks are in your body, not your mind. With RasaBoxes, you learn

how to trust your instinct, with your body. Your body tells you what to

do. It's about learning where you're holding tension and why.

Emotions are culturally

learned. We learn how to express our emotions; it's how we communicate.

The idea of the RasaBoxes is to learn those emotions and how to extend

them. It's how far can I stretch that communication. Can I convey to you

that I'm angry, without failing into the stereotypes of anger?

They give you the space and structure to experiment and to find out, in

yourself, how you do that. So I found that it's a very useful tool for

actors and directors, so now we have a language to communicate with.

So how do classes run?

We literally draw boxes on the floor with masking tape. Once you cross

the line, you are in that rasa. And it's just by crossing the line that

you access that emotion. Of course this is a gradual learning process.


Classes take place at the PlayGround Theatre (9806 NE Second Avenue, Miami Shores) on tonight through Saturday, July 30, 7 to 10 p.m. Registration costs $90. Visit theplaygroundtheatre.com.

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