In 2010, I was the recipient of an Emerging Artist Scholarship to study with pioneering performance artist, Rachel Rosenthal and her DbD (Doing by Doing) performance improvisation technique at the Rachel Rosenthal Company in Culver City, Los Angeles. The workshop ran from September 10th – September 12th, 2010. The Emerging Artist Scholarship was made possible in part with funding from Los Angeles County Arts Commission.
One of my big take aways was Rachel’s motto:
“There are no mistakes,
just bad follow ups”
From Rachel Rosenthal’s Wikipedia entry:
Rachel Rosenthal (November 9, 1926 – May 10, 2015) was an interdisciplinary artist, a teacher and animal rights activist based in Los Angeles, California. She was best known for her full-length performance art pieces which offered unique combinations of theatre, dance, creative slides and live music. She toured her pieces, with The Rachel Rosenthal Company, to numerous venues both within the United States and abroad. Theatres and festivals she visited include: the Dance Theatre Workshop and Serious Fun! at Lincoln Center in New York City, the Kaaitheater in Brussels, The Internationals Summer Theater Festival in Hamburg, The Performance Space in Sydney and the Festival de Théâtre des Amériques, Théâtre Centaur, Montréal. One of her key ambitions was to help heal the earth through art.
From “The DbD Experience- Chance Knows What It’s Doing”, Routledge, 2009:
The DbD Experience is a 34-hour intensive weekend created and taught by interdisciplinary artist Rachel Rosenthal. Ms. Rosenthal developed the method applied to the DbDX during the 12 years of training people for her Instant Theatre Company active between the 50’s and 70’s in Los Angeles. “Doing by Doing” is the underlying philosophy of the workshop, providing participants with a thorough hands-on experience covering all aspects of theatrical performance (body, voice, sound, music, movement, lights, sets and costumes), approached through exercises, processes and improvisations of solos, duets and group work. The nuts and bolts aspect of the work is technical and professional.
“What is played out in the workshop is the eternal dance between the “I” and the “Other”, the negotiations of power, the intermingling of passive and active, the focusing and diffusion of attention, the dialogue between “who I am” and, as Rachel puts it, the “givens” of existence.”
From the Rachel Rosenthal Company website:
Rachel Rosenthal, whose 50 year theatrical career was distinguished by continual innovation, founded The Rachel Rosenthal Company, a non-profit organization, in 1989 to work collaboratively with artists from all disciplines and to convey the tenets of her pioneering form of spontaneous collaboration (the DbD “Doing by Doing” technique) through her Company’s theatrical productions and performance workshops.
The Rachel Rosenthal Company is devoted to honoring Rachel’s legacy by redefining the boundaries of theatre; to present thought-provoking experimental works encompassing the visual and performing arts, and to communicating relevant social, environmental, cultural, gender, and spiritual issues to a broad public. The Company workshops offer emerging artists, young and old, an arena in which to create, hone and present original work.