Sunday, February 1, 2009

An Interview with Guadalupe Durón (Part 1): "How González Caballero's Acting Method influenced my actor career"

A quick trip to Mexico (and an 18 hour flight) last Christmas forced me to think about how to maximize energy and information and use them for the improving of the González Caballero’s Acting Method Blog (1) (2) I have been writing in Spanish on the Internet since January 2007. I remembered that the main objective of that Blog was giving a first-hand testimony about the experience of the method, displaying it as it was, leading to a healthy discussion. The transcripts of the recordings I made of González Caballero during the 80s and 90s of the last century have been the real corpus of the Blog, but now I believed it was important to add the voice of those who helped to form this method and who were prepared by him, by González Caballero.

The plan then was to add some interviews with González Caballero’s direct students, and in such interviews to narrate, remember and bring back to life their experiences as actors, talking about the method, the exercises, the guide and about how they used to receive what was known as “la técnica”.

I thought Guadalupe Durón was the most indicated to start with these interviews because he was a very close friend of González Caballero (and mine) and a partner at González Caballero’s workshops.

Guadalupe Durón was considered by González Caballero as one of his real students, as an actor who worked with his acting technique, but also considered him as a rebel, an actor who was opposed to rules and structure; González Caballero said that Durón was using his method but always did what he wanted, with his own interpretation. This comments, strangely, are not against Durón, nor the method or Durón’s capacity on the scene; González Caballero gave an important role to freedom and creative interpretation, and Durón was his best example; he loved his work, his force and his projection on scene. Nobody denied nor denies that he was prepared with González Caballero’s acting method and many of his accomplishments are due to that preparation. González Caballero was his teacher in the whole sense of the word and both held each other in high esteem.

I decided to start this series of videos of Guadalupe Durón's interview with a description of how González Caballero’s method influenced Duron’s career. In this part Durón talked with his personal form of expression, his experience and feelings about building a character with the “Apoyos”. There is no analysis by me, I wanted to go directly to that recording as a testimony. I think in any case it would be interesting to compare the experience of this actor with the transcripts of González Caballero’s words I have published in the Method’s Blog.

The video is (of course!) in Spanish, but I made a free English translation from the video’s transcript (3):

"To begin... how did the master’s technique influence me? It was little by little. Er ... I remember that it was hard to build a character, but when he taught me there were Pesos, Introversion, that the characters could have a religion, that according to their Age they would walk, that they had a character (of the character), whether they were Introverted or not, and all that, I found a new world, a new world in which naturally he must have had more talented students than I, students who understood things better than me. Then I took two or three “Apoyos”, no more because I felt that it had become confusing, because they were many, many (Apoyos), which obviously I worked through but felt unable to use them all at once. So I used to choose just two or three (Apoyos): an Elemento, a part of the character ... and that gave me a different consistency than I had thought of a character, their attitude changed, blah, blah, blah.

"The sad thing about it is that the teacher didn’t leave a version of the method written by himself, in handwriting. Why? ... Because he had everything clear in his mind. And sometimes I wonder, why didn’t he write it down? if it was very important? And I realized that it is one thing to know what they say and applying it is something else ... Sure! That could apply to myself too. I mean, well, I'm putting into practice what he taught me. Sometimes I questioned myself - are you really using what he taught you? -

"Sometimes I write in my scripts, he has this element, it is blah, blah, blah ... and this and this and so on. As an artistic worker I have always this question: -Am I doing things right? - Well! I do not know whether people are fooling me or if it is because I am good! Or whatever! Once someone approached me and said, "Hey, I saw your work, it is different to what I had seen, I did not think that someone could make this kind of work, I did not know anyone”.

"There was once a man who stopped me on the street, and said, -"Hey, I've seen theater in Europe, I've seen theater in the United States, I've seen theater in Mexico, but this is just different from everything I have seen.”- That pleased me, but I always questioned myself about that, -Are you really using what you were taught you? ... As ... I used to take some notes at the beginning of my study, especially when I was with him (with González Caballero), then I had some reference; when I was in doubt I came back to those notes and solved the problem, but one day there was a flood in my home and it ruined all my notes, and blah, blah, blah... Since then I've done things as I remember, so I’ve always questioned myself: Am I right? "

(1) There is a plan to translate the whole Blog to English.
(2) Antonio González Caballero was known in Mexico as a playwright since 1960 and as teacher of acting since 1967. Until the year of his death, 2003, he had prepared hundreds of acting students and had a reduced number of disciples. Besides his first successful plays, "Señoritas a Disgusto' and "El Medio Pelo", he explored one acting method to help the young actor to reach "a total character" ("un personaje total") for the commercial acting field in theatre, cinema and television. The development of this exploration was too far from its first objective and gave as a result the discovery of the "Apoyos", a new way to take control of the different features of a character. 35 years of exploration gave around 50 Apoyos and one comprehensive review of the different needs of the players from the XIX century to the end of the XX century.
(3) Original text in Spanish:

“Empezar, ¿de cómo al técnica del maestro influyó en mí?, pues fue poco a poco. Eh..., yo recuerdo que pasaba muchos trabajos para armar personajes, pero cuando él me enseñó que había Pesos, que había Introversiones, que los personajes podían tener una religión, que según su Edad caminarían, que su Carácter, que si era Introvertido o no, y pues todo eso, me planteó un mundo nuevo, un mundo nuevo en el que naturalmente debe haber (habido) alumnos más talentosos que yo y (que) entendían mejor las cosas Y entonces yo tomaba dos o tres apoyos, no más, porque sentía que me enredaba, porque eran muchos muchos, que funcionaban evidentemente pero yo me sentia incapaz de usarlos todos a un tiempo. Entonces por eso nomás elegía dos o tres: un Elemento, una parte del Carácter,... y eso me daba una consistencia distinta de lo que había pensado de un personaje; cambiaba de actitud, blah, blah, blah.

“Lo lamentable de todo ésto es que el maestro no haya dejado de su puño y letra el método. ¿Por qué razón? ...Porque él lo tenía claro, o a veces me pregunto, ¿por qué no lo hizo, si era muy importante? Y me he dado cuenta que una cosa es lo que dicen saber y otra cosa lo que aplican... ¡Claro!, eso podría tambén aplicarse a mí mismo. Yo digo -bueno, yo estoy poniendo en práctica lo que él me enseño-. Yo a veces me cuestiono -¿de veras estás empleando lo que él te enseñó?-

“Yo pongo a veces en mis libretos, éste tiene tal Elemento, éste tiene blah, blah, blah,... y tiene tal Peso y ésto y otro. A uno como trabajador artístico siempre le quedará la duda, -¿estoy haciendo las cosas bien?- ¡Claro!, ahí, no sé si porque la gente se deje engañar o porque uno es bueno, ¡o por lo que sea!, alguien se le acerca a uno y dice, -Oiga, vi su trabajo, es distinto a lo que yo había visto, no pensé que pudieran realizar tal clase de trabajo, es más, yo no lo conocía-.

“Hubo una vez un señor que me detuvo en la calle, bueno, y me dice, -Oiga, yo he visto teatro en Europa, he visto teatro en Estados Unidos, he visto teatro aquí en México, pero ésto que acabo de ver está fuera de todo lo que he visto.- Eso me satisface, pero siempre me cuestiona eso de que -¿de veras estás usando lo que se te enseñó-... Como,... Yo tenía unos apuntes que fui tomando allá por los inicios de la carrera, sobre todo cuando estuve con él (con González Caballero), entonces tenía cierta referencia; cuando yo tenía alguna duda pues recurría a ellos, pero un día sufrí una inundación en casa, se echaron a perder lo apuntes, y blah, blah, blah,... Y desde entonces he hecho las cosas como me acuerdo, por eso siempre me cuestiono: ¿estaré bien?”

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