Relational Impulse Cultural (RIC) Training for Artists

Painting done by Christine Sharp

Painting done by Christine Sharp

Relational Impulse Cultural Training (RIC) is a postmodern training for actors and acting ensembles, developed by Margi Brown Ash, while working over an extended period of time with Brisbane actors (including Gone to Earth ensemble; Mouthful of Pins ensemble; Imaginary Theatre; nest ensemble; 4change workshops; and colleagues (including theatre practitioners Dr. Leah Mercer and Dr. Mark Radvan and psychologists/narrative therapists Glen Guy and Kay Philp) and friends.

While the traditional view of the self is singular and bounded, postmodern philosophies refer to the self as relational (see Ken Gergen’s “Relational Being”). What if the self was an culmination of stories that continually change depending on the surroundings (including the people around you)?

To borrow from this profound shift in therapeutic approaches, Margi has created what she calls RIC for the acting ensemble. It is not just a set of techniques, but rather a way of being, a PHILOSOPHY OF BECOMING in the rehearsal room; a process of empowerment with enormous creative potential. Just as in psychology/counselling many practitioners have shifted from the modernist lens (including the medical model) to a postmodern understanding of self, in the rehearsal room RIC shifts the focus from the bounded character to the relational character on and off the stage. By employing these postmodern principles actors not only create rich and potent work, but at the same time develop resilience, belief in their own personal abilities and grow their potential. They build on the offers of others; they notice very small changes and grow them; they are no longer forced to be creative, rather they are moving, transforming and breathing the creative space. Actors move closer to Generosity and Open Heartedness and these qualities then transfer to their audience.

For this to occur, the rehearsal room becomes a container of Trust, and this requires addressing implicit and explicit issues such as Power, Intimacy, Social and Cultural Discourses, Language and the Multiplicity of Selves and Stories.

Often these concepts are left unexamined in the rehearsal room because of time restraints.However, when things are made explicit, when the Ensemble’s group norms embrace Transparency and Vulnerability, the work and time on the floor seems to be more economical and profound.

A detailed ‘check in’ invariably means a succinct and powerful rehearsal period. A reflective ‘check out’ sets up a reflexive process to deepen and embody the rehearsal experience.

When the Ensemble becomes aware of all of these things, Trust develops and Risk can enter without harm, an essential ingredient of Creativity. This process empowers the actor/artist to take on the role of Creator. It is work that only the courageous embrace. The actor trained in this way is Risky, Brave, Compassionate, Loving and Generous. They do not accept the traditional ideas of Ego and Competitiveness. Rather they value Relationship and ‘The Space Between’.