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Hankie Pankie

Eduardo’s turn today.

Purple yoga mats are introduced to the team, pulled out of the cupboard at the corner of the room.

The deep puce colour contrasts dramatically as they are placed on the black darken floor.

As Nina Simone’s ‘my baby don’t care for me’ croons through the speaker at the end of the room, I can’t help but notice that nearly everyone, despite their current engagements, is tapping or shaking along to the tune. Including myself it seems as I look down to see my foot tapping rhythmically.

Back to the actors.

I see different interpretations of this piece of music. Different stories.

Each is in their own bubble.

They each start using props to add to their pieces.

A coat stand.

A tissue.

A yoga mat.

As they start to get closer to each others spaces, they start to invade albeit incorporate themselves into each other's stories.

‘The connection should be physical- a connection between the two people- explore more’.

The spontaneity of these pieces make watching even more interesting.

Two perform a zombie like dance, making the other impassable.

One takes sudden interest in the yoga mats.

Sliding them one into another across the floor.



‘Be careful with your movement-don't be sloppy- pay attention to detail’.

Two on the floor now. Dragging. Paralysed.

They become involved with each other when they want to.


Then together.

Her story becomes theirs.

Two lives conjoined.

Three lives conjoined.

The three sit in the middle of the floor.


They cocoon.

They separate.

Passing ships.




‘What is the most difficult thing to do when we’re acting’?

Eduardo paces.

He looks round expectantly.

‘Relaxing’. ‘Corpsing’. ‘Revealing’.

He stops

‘Say that again’.
‘Revealing’? ‘Revealing’.

He repeats nodding.

‘I think this is the most difficult'.
‘What do you think is most difficult, from observation’?

It takes me a moment to realise that this question is aimed at myself and everyone is looking at me.

I wrack my brains.

‘To remain spontaneous?’.

Jo nods beside me.

‘Yes- Not to do, to just be’.
‘In karate, it's all about movement- to just be present-that's why meditating is so difficult’.
'A time to act, a time to react, a time to just be'.

'Being on stage and doing nothing- it can be really interesting to see a body, doing nothing, there’s a lot to look at, a lot to experience.

‘Observing. Am I going to interrupt? There is life in this space- fans props,people.

How do I interact?

What questions do I ask to this relationship?

How do I observe and engage?

The next stage resolution, let go, something else has to be created.

That is the process of performance.

Contrast and stillness.

He pauses. Looks up at the clock silently ticking on the wall.

I’ve talked a long time.

He produces a hankie and holds it up to the light of the window.

We hold with bated breath,

Expecting some sort of magic trick.

‘Balloon and pin’.

He says simply.

‘When is it interesting?’


‘When the pin hasn't touched the balloon. The suspension’.


He nods.

‘After the BOOM, we need something else. It’s gone.’ ‘How do I analyse this...’.

With that he drops the tissue, letting it feather slowly to the floor.

‘ terms of movements?’ 'I want you to recreate the movement from this….what do we call it'? ‘Tissue’ ‘Hankie!

I pipe up.

He smirks.

‘That’s rude isn't it?’ ‘No that’s hankie pankie!’

Jo giggles.

The CD player is flicked on again.

Gentle acoustic music sets the tone nicely.

Each tissue floats gently down to the ground.

Like the uniqueness of a snowflake, each fall is different.

They are mirrored through movement.


Sometimes it falls like lead.

Sometimes slowly.

Feather like.

It performs, its copied.


‘This is the moment of balloon and pin'. Paper dropped ,paper on floor, its a moment. 'Analyse that.'


I can see the point of this exercise is to observe and feel. All actors need to feel their character. It’s not quite empathy. It’s the ability to copy, to understand. Movements, motivations,

From what I have learnt briefly in A Level Psychology, we are all built with what’s referred to as a ‘mirror neuron system’. When we watch movements performed by others, the movements code is mirrored within our own brains. We are, almost, given the instructions to mirror the action.

Obviously in relation to the tissue as Eduardo pointed out

‘We are limited with our own bodies to perform its movements precisely’.

He resolves this by adding a second part to the exercise.

‘We have 3 moments, I want to add another- you freeze in the middle- then resolve-  there is always one moment that is more eye catching- I choose this movement to stop in  then resolve. Choose one movement, freeze then resolve.’ ‘My tissue is broken’.

Slavka holds up her limp tissue.

'My heart is broken'.

She cradles it.

‘You’ll get used to it’.

At the absolute, they freeze, the peak of interest, then they fall.

They experiment.

We stop now to reflect.

'I grew attached to my tissue.'

Slavka says simply.

Is that because you were copying its movement’?

I ask.

'I don't know,yeah.' 'You became one'.



Says Jo.

I reflect. As an actor, I appreciate how difficult is it to play a role when you have not seen it being performed. You make it your own. There is no one to copy. Hence why activities such as our first exercise are so important. To be spontaneous. It gives them to chance to think with their own minds. To come up with their own emotions. Ideas. Character. But also to copy is to feel. It’s not empathy you feel. There is symbiosis. You are able to interact, relate, be it object or character.

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