Working with Rodrigo


   Working with Rodrigo Toscano was an experience that has deeply impacted my views on performance poetry and introduced me to an art form I feel is revolutionarily beautiful and effective: Collapsible Poetics Theater. Essentially the people performing are not actors, but simply people or “players”. They can be played by any gender; race or origin and are encouraged to bring themselves into their “character”. CPT is a form of theatre where the poem is accentuated by movement while keeping its poetic nature and luring the audience’s attention.

            I had the pleasure of participating in two different CPT pieces: Cardoned and Pig Angels of the Americlypse. These two drastically different performances used two very different methods. But, in both performances we were instructed to keep our faces expressionless, but to still portray ourselves within our “character”. I feel as though CPT is filled with contradicting instructions that only begin to make sense once immerged in the performance. I came to understand that these senseless directions were given in order to guide us into harnessing out personal energy, for the sake of making the performance that much more impacting.

            In Cardoned, we received scripts and were to memorize movements that corresponded with a poem written and read by Rodrigo. We later found out that a video would be accompanying us, and were only showed this video the day before the performance. I wasn’t sure what, but I knew there was some sort of tactical approach behind revealing the video so late into production. I personally felt as though it solidified the intensity of the piece in addition to revealing a couple new underlying elements. 

            In Pig Angels we received our scripts on stage to read off of, as opposed to memorization. In this piece we had no accompaniment and spent most of our time on the floor exhibiting mindless obsessive acts. Initially I was fairly uninterested in this piece because I had no idea what it was addressing, but as we continued rehearsing my opinion was altered. Like in Cardoned, the more we practiced, the more I felt connected to the piece, but with Pig Angels it was more cognitive. I was able to develop my own theories and opinions on the piece, allowing me to be fully capable of performing at my highest caliber and with the most energy.

            As we immerged deeper and deeper into the quarter I immerged deeper into these CPT poems. As we continued to rehearse, I practiced and developed diligently, and the pieces began to mean more to me. I began to understand and feel connected with what I was doing, as opposed to doing it absent-mindedly. But I feel as though everyone gets something different from this experience and these pieces, which might be the reason we’re suppose to let it all unfold on its own.

            To be honest, I felt as though the whole experience was very organic and spiritual. Rodrigo and Maxwell expressed to us a great deal that we were not to talk about what we were doing to the class, and I’m not sure I could have even if I wanted to. I feel as though we were instructed to do so for the sake of our “character” development, in order to contaminate our relationships with the pieces. In addition, I feel that in describing the process and poems we would disrupt the organic essence of CPT, hence the reason I’m being fairly vague. It was also stressed to us that all the rehearsals were to be done at about 80% energy level in order to harness that energy for the final performance and put forth all we could into the last experience

            This experience has without a doubt been one of a kind. I would say more but I feel as though working within CPT is an intimate experience, one in which secrets must be kept. It is partially the element of surprise and confusion that makes CPT successful, and I feel obligated to be respectful of that and Rodrigo. 

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