'Gestus' in the extreme

Aislinn Brophy '17 At the One Year Lease Apprentice Program in Greece, actor Aislinn Brophy '17 finds an emphasis on the physical.

By Aislinn Brophy '17
Artist Development Fellow '15

'Gestus' in the extreme

During my time at One Year Lease Apprentice Program this summer, we lived and rehearsed in Mikro Papingo and Megalo Papingo, two villages in the mountains of northwestern Greece. Quick Greek lesson: "Mikro" means little and "Megalo" means big, so I spent around an hour to an hour-and-a-half walking back and forth between big and little Papingo every day. (Walking up a mountain at midday in the Greek summer sun is an experience that leaves you deeply grateful for the swimming hole halfway between the villages.)

Work by Aislinn BrophyIt’s not only the walking that challenges me physically, however. I can honestly say that  this program has brought me in touch with my body. One Year Lease emphasizes the highly physical nature of the work they do here, but even though I had been told of this before coming I couldn’t have anticipated exactly how true that was. Not only do we walk the (mile-and-a-half) between the villages multiple times a day, but we have also gone on two fairly intense hikes. The first of these, which happened to be my first ever hike, was through the deepest gorge in Europe.

This emphasis on the physical extends to the theater we create here as well. We—the apprentices—spent the first week doing a workshop exploring "gestus," which can be simply described as gesturing in the extreme or more complexly described by watching me walk around as a half-ostrich, half-koala hybrid. We worked on distilling the essence of something into a gesture, then used the different gestures we developed to create a series of movement pieces inspired by the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur.

During our time here we also put on a play called Slay the Beast, written by Kevin Armento. The play is a comedy centered around the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur, as told by a Greek chorus that departs in many ways from the chorus of classic Greek myth. The chorus is divided into three groups that question Theseus’ heroism and eventually deflate the myth in a way that has irreparable consequences for Theseus’ character. The movement and gestus work we did in the first week was extremely useful in creating the world of the play. We didn’t have much by way of conventional stage sets, as the show was to be performed outside in the village squares of four neighboring villages. Thus, the majority of the stage magic was created from our bodies rather than from literal set pieces.

In just over a week we staged the last three-quarters of the play and memorized the entire thing in Greek. It seems crazy now, but it came together somehow!

Aislinn Brophy ’17, a resident of Adams House concentrating in English, was awarded an Office for the Art/Office of Career Services Artist Development Fellowship to attend the One-Year Lease Apprentice Program in Papingo, Greece. Aislinn, currently serving as Campus Liaison on the Executive Board of the Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club, has participated in over eleven theatrical productions on at Harvard as an actor and designer. She intends to pursue a career in acting after graduation.