Provocation 5- Building Blocks

During the two week intensive with Frantic Assembly, we focused heavily on particular building blocks for devising movement specific to Scott Graham’s work processes. Many tasks were very similar to ones I had encountered in my dance work, but ultimately they served a different purpose, and that is how they differ.Most tasks began from a very simple place, and the mentality was always to always layer onto what you have. For example the connect, affect, disconnect task was to have one person in the centre of the space and one by one everyone has a turn to connect to the central person, affect them in some way, and disconnect after. They began as simple arm movements, and as everyone became a little more comfortable we started to experiment with how you could affect the body. By the end we had a phrase of movement that connected and flowed and eventually looped over and over. From that simple phrase we could then play with the task, with speed, pace, proximity, levels of movement. They would all add another layer of information to give the movement more detail.

It is at this point within my own dance practice that the movement would immediately take a much larger turn, to not resemble any natural human gesture. This is neither good nor bad, however I am simply pointing out the fact that I am realising there are many more options to play with movement that does not need to go straight to what looks like contemporary dance. There is a possibility to add intricate layers to a sequence, while keeping a real human tenderness that is vulnerable and real. Finding that middle ground can become something beautiful and I think Frantic have on a few occasions found that spark.

The most challenging aspect for me when working in this way, is when it is further on in the process and you have completed multiple tasks that it is harder and harder to find a new starting point for movement. Particularly as they all begin with the hands, I find myself repeating what I have done and constantly denying my next idea believing it to have already been explored. I know this comes from my own mind and not the task, this challenge is not new and can be very real when you are pushing for some new material. It is a fear that will never go away as it’s a part of the creative process and it’s important to push through these moments in order to find the little surprises.

Over the past couple of weeks, I have had the opportunity to go into a studio and play with a few little gems I picked up from the intensive. There were things that continued to pop up through my play in the studio. I have discovered the basic form of the body can be the most interesting place to play with. Breath, posture, pace, and speed, watching how the body responds to the information laid upon it, without consciously deciding those things beforehand. They are important and I have been so quick to discount the natural and unique patterns of the body.

 

Week 4 Provocation: Sharing Blogs

This past week I have spent some time weaving my way through everyones fantastic blogs and have come to realise that I love this world of blogging! It reminds of the myspace era, where you could personalise and make your own little pocket of the internet personal to you. At the same time you could so easily connect and communicate to others (hopefully innocently) and feel like you could travel anywhere in the world in you own home. Now it is much different and networks like Facebook have become increasingly more rigid and we as people are completely desensitized to world wide web. However I have found my little pocket of me in this blog, and I am thoroughly enjoying my journey through everyone else’s little pockets as well.

I wanted to point out a few little nuggets of inspiration I received when reading the blogs, as they were things that I had either forgotten about from the two week intensive or it was something that had not occurred to me at all.

Jessi

I was on Jessi’s blog and came across her post she had written about her one to one with a yoga teacher. It was so interesting to read this information from a complete beginner and to notice that yoga can be so accommodating to anyone. I remember having a terrible back injury at uni and had complained to my yoga teacher about it, she said that it was important for me to continue moving however small, and so she had me performing little yoga exercises in the corner that had me stretched and warmed up for the day. Jessi reminded me of that day and the power yoga can have on anyone when taught the right things properly, it is not just about strength, yoga comes from a confident calm you must find in order to have peace in the body.  It was one of the most popular warmups we did in the intensive with Frantic, as I was not competitive and did not rely on a pumping sweat warmup. Everyone could take the time to do what they needed for them, while also being encouraged to work hard.

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Gavin

Gav made a post about his workshop he had done with a group of people, exploring some movement devising exercises. From his previous post Gav talked about coding and his fascination with bringing that into the creative process. He then reflected on the workshop beginning from the coding to layer movement onto those symbols. I was really fascinated by this way of directing and creating movement, something I had never thought of before. By watching the videos Gav had posted it was clear they had found some really interesting phrases to play with. I would love to think about something like this in the future, maybe playing with the alphabet and adding a movement to each letter. To then present a list of words placing the moves that fit to each letter to discover a phrase hidden behind every work. I am interested in the idea of cutting off one aspect of the creative process to find potential in another that you may have missed. So while focusing on the way a move looks you can be missing out on playing with the order of things or finding detail within each little movement. This is another exercise I could play with in my movement directing study plan.

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Fiona

I made my way to visit Fiona’s blog which is made of lovely song lists and words that say cake which already have me hooked. I was truck my Fiona’s honest account of her progress and pin pointing areas she needs to improve on. It is something that is missing from my blog at the moment. I have found it harder to reflect on my own personal experience than to explore different ideas and exercises and break down how they are or aren’t useful. However after starting this module I have began looking into what it means to reflect, and one important aspect is to dig inwards and identify how you are within a practice and understand why that is. So in the spirit of that I will begin to always reflect on my personal experience of how I felt when in the moment of what I am writing about.

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I enjoyed the provocation this week, it allowed me to check in and learn a little bit about everyone. Each blog is totally unique and completely theirs which is lovely, their individual passion shines through.  I will continue to stayed connected to all of the blogs as the module progresses and hopefully to follow through after the course finishes and into big wide world!

Provocation Week 3, Guest Artist

Over the two week intensive with Frantic Assembly we were introduced to a group of outstanding practitioners currently working within the theatre industry. They all came from various disciplines, from lighting and video designing to composing and sound design. My two favourite guests were Simon Stevens the playwright and Stephanie Connell a producer for Frantic.

For this weeks provocation I would like to focus on Stephanie, as I learnt many incredibly interesting things about her job role that I didn’t realise I had no previous understanding of what exactly a producer does. In the past I generally did not work around any producers, usually the companies and shows I worked for did not have enough funding to pay a producer. Hence this role fell by the wayside in my continuing observation of theatre. I am glad I got to sit and listen to what exactly they specialise in.

Stephanie explained that a producer is present in every step of a creative process, from the beginning seed idea to the final show.They are responsible for the general financial aspect of a production particularly as they normally write up the initial funding proposals.They are in charge of the network and communication with company partners.The marketing campaigns are their domain, they are expected to generate the initial advertisement for a new show.Day to day they liaise with the creative team and production manager, to settle any disagreements and to keep communication flowing.Lastly they are responsible for general administration and management of contracts and fee agreements.

These are just a few aspects involved in a producer’s job description. However even the list above is more than I had previously thought a producers job list involved. I always had the mentality that the creative leader particularly in smaller budget shows, were expected to not only create the show but also front the majority of the administration and advertisement as well. I no longer feel this way, and would love to look into finding a producer to collaborate with in the future. They are an integral part of a creative process behind the scenes that I was not aware of, and have a newfound respect for what they do.

I can imagine when creating a show to have the support of a producer that is capable of advertising your idea not only to funding institutions but also to the general public, it can relieve much of the pressure on your shoulders and your confidence in that it will be done right.

It was an incredibly informative discussion that I am glad I got to be a part of. I have been thinking about all of the amazing creative collaborations possible to artists these days, and now have broaden my view to collaborations behind the scenes that are just as important. If not more so, as without someone like a producer you may not be able to put a show on the stage.

Provocation 2 and Outline of Self Study Programme

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From the two week intensive with Frantic Assembly and the one on one tutorials with Simon, Scott, and Andrea I have now identified three areas I would like to focus and develop on over the next month. I will create a weekly list of tasks to complete and ultimately post onto this blog, to demonstrate my progress. There are many more things that I would like to continue looking into, however for now these are the important points that resonated with me.

The first is to do with directing, the intensive was highly focused on tasks that can be used to create movement, and interpreting how they come across from an outside directors perspective. I was very intrigued to find out more about the role a director. And am left with many questions. How do you facilitate a rehearsal? How much time is spent with the performers in the early stages of developing a work. Are they there from the beginning, or just for the practical aspect? How to develop a rehearsal schedule, that will be effective when put into practice. I understand everyone has a vastly different way of working, and I feel its important to branch out to find what might work best for me.

The other aspect I thoroughly enjoyed in the two weeks, was the collaborative nature of working with my colleagues. I so enjoyed creating and learning, particularly as most of the people were new to movement. It was fantastic to see that with the correct facilitation and movement tasks that anyone can create a phrase. I would like to focus on this further. By spending time with both dancers and actors, I would like to find out whether it is possible for me to create that same environment that is open and judgement free. Also to see whether I can get actors to find ways of moving they had not experienced, and for dancers to break some of their habitual ways of moving and approach creating from another perspective.

The last goal I have for myself, is actually a principle that Scott had discussed while breaking down a phrase someone had created. It is called ‘The potential for movement’. The idea that the moment before a movement of any sort be it small or large is what holds an audience, the special secret that holds the most potential for any possibility. I am going to look into this aspect of theatre, to see where it lies. Whether it can be found in other elements of theatre not just movement. I would also like to personally spend time finding where it does fit when creating movement.

 

These are the weekly tasks I have set up for myself. At the moment they are a broad example for every week, and will be broken down as specific events are organised.

Find three specific directing techniques for creating work that fit into my own practice.

  • Email artists to ask whether I can observe and discuss their personal ways of directing a show.
  • See some live shows and attend post show talks to find out more about their process.
  • Research and gain a greater understanding of preconceived structured directing roles. Where they come from? Practically how it works? Why it is an effective way of directing?

 

Develop my own experience within movement directing and experiment with a mixture of creatives who are and are not comfortable with movement.

  • Create a conversation with both the dance and drama department at Coventry University and see whether I can connect with some of their undergrad students to come together and create movement.
  • Build a personal warmup and movement devising plan to use within workshops.
  • Document any personal or group practical research, to keep track of development.

 

Research and analyse the idea of ‘potential for movement’.

  • Research shows that play with that moment, and analyse whether these moments are in fact important and if so how are they relevant.
  • Create weekly phrases from my own movement play or with others, document, and anaylse whether they were successful or not.
  • Create conversations with both dance and theatre practitioners, discussing this very aspect of movement creating.

The resources I will need for these activities mainly lay within Coventry Universities studios and technology. The city is close to both Birmingham and London, that have a plethora of shows and rehearsals to observe. I will also be in communication with both the theatre and dance department at Coventry University and also Frantic Assembly as a starting point for contacts.

Reflection Provocation 1

This is the first provocation following the two week intensive with Frantic Assembly. These are questions that are there to be analysed and reflected upon. This first task is asking to analyse the intensive and what has been gained from the experience.

What skills, knowledge, and/or learning have you gained from this?

I have begun to look at movement in a different way. I do feel this has added another layer of understanding in my movement practice, and to be honest I did not fully expect it. The ability to strip a move back to its basic form and explore what every little moment could be expressing is a great way to form a scene. Particularly if you are playing with individual characters, this allows the space to play and experiment to see how two or more people are communicating.

How to collaborate with other artists, is a topic we discussed in the intensive and I certainly learnt a thing or two. Talking to other practitioners in the industry, it was lovely to know that they need to be heavily embedded in the creative process from the beginning. This is to allow them to gain a real understanding of the what work they need to create themselves. Additionally, that it is okay to not know technical jargon of another discipline, that if you can get your vision across they will bring the expertise required to fill in the rest.

I have also gained a better understanding of how to work and create with people who do not have a movement background. I have realised it is a rewarding experience to play and encourage creatives who do not necessarily feel comfortable moving. Frantic have found fantastic strategies and tasks to approach moving in an alternative way. And I am so interested to explore this process further, and possibly find ways that could work within dance.

Where do you see your strengths to be? What areas would you like to develop?

I am incredibly excited about exploring the movement aspect of developing work, as this is something I am quite comfortable with. I consider this to be my strength, and I am excited to explore this further. I have also enjoyed creating and playing with everyone these last two weeks. I do believe I have a strength within collaboration, and do enjoy the physical process of play with ideas.

However the other side of directing, particularly when it comes to text and scene development, is something that I need to build on, and gain a better understanding of how it can work for me. The intensive gave me a new avenue to approach a scene and character work, particularly through movement. I think with this new understanding I can explore directing that makes sense to me. However at this moment I am still very much out of my depth, and will need to focus on this aspect of theatre if I hope to direct work in the future.