Rise

On the 15th of March I went to the theatre with both Merel and Jessi to see a show by the Belgrade Youth Theatre Company called Rise. It was a decide your own ticket price event to contribute towards their company. I had never been to the local theatre before and was so pleasantly surprised by the little theatre this show was held in. A beautiful large bare back drop, with seats spanning all the way around to end above the stage. For a small space it did not have a cramped atmosphere, rather it was so open from the high ceiling giving space for the set on stage.

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This show was a great example to see as an opposite to A Winters Tale by Cheek By Jowl. I was watching for the potential for movement, and found examples of how not to use this technique, also provided gaps where that moment of suspense was definitely needed. I am aware this is not a professional production, and in no way can judge the quality of the show up against a company like Cheek by Jowl, however for the purpose of this exercise I would like to point attention to a few moments in Rise where the potential for movement was an important factor that was lacking and could have transformed that scene.

In the very beginning scene the all female cast make their way on stage in darkness and raise a little white light in the air. Slowly one at a time they swap positions with one another remaining in the dark with the lights raised. It was a lovely image with the potential to go somewhere quite meaningful, however the pace remained the same. No one walked faster or slower, there were no pauses in between and afterwards the lights came up and they left the stage. There was no build in tension, no reason for me to sit forward and analyse what I was seeing on stage. I am a big believer in transitions between movement, it is what happens in the travel from one moment to another that make or breaks the highlights. I find it is the same for stage direction, there needs to be a thought out transition that is so smooth that you do not realise they are there. If they are missing those points of transition it allows for dropped energy on stage. It only takes one second as an audience to fall out of the story and continue to remain outside looking in.

This is the same for the general pace of this show. Every scene ran at the same speed with a continual flowing pace. There were no moments of stillness or silence, nothing out of the ordinary that would push an audience to sit forward and think ‘what will happen next’? It is so important to offer a variety of theatrical moments, simply for that reason. I found myself being lulled into a numb state, of watching the action on stage without taking active involvement in the development of the story.

I am very glad to have seen this show as I never realised how important it was for me to see an example of the potential for movement that was either non existent, or did not serve the purpose it was meant to. Particularly as it became easier for me to find the reasons why each scene had missed the mark. As I have said before, this mentality of the potential is quite abstract, however having seen two ends of the spectrum it has become possible for me to visualise the specific needs required and now understand its importance in theatre.

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Merel and Jessi ready for the show!

The Winters Tale

On Wednesday night I attended a show at the Warwick Arts Centre with Jessi. It was a Shakespeare show of The Winters Tale by Cheek By Jowl. My initial intention to see this performance was to continue my research on the ‘potential for movement’ and I ended up coming out with so much more. It was a full show, with laughs, dramatic moments of heartache and a general jovial sense of play.

The beginning image as people are filing into the theatre is of a person seated centre stage with their back to us knitting. Automatically I thought the sense of suspense of revealing an image and allowing you to ponder and analyse what it could mean, what is going to happen, soon it pulls you right into the action. Slowly I began to involve myself into the story, and make my own conclusions as to who this person was and why they were sitting there. ‘The potential for movement’ was already revealing itself in more ways than one.

As the lights go out the performers switch to present two men in stillness.They slowly look at one another, there is nothing else happening in the entire room, as everyone watches the breathe and eye line of these two men. Tension builds again but you’re not sure whether it is positive or simply terrifying. Suddenly the two men break into a fit of laughter and general horse play as they run around the stage.This was a another fantastic example of playing with stillness, particularly at the very beginning of a story, the audience do not know the characters and so are completely dependent on the initial action to reveal the first little nuggets of information.

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The Entire Set (In a little box)

The last strong example of the play with stillness, was a scene where two performers were placed in the centre of the stage seated facing forward completely motionless. They had no expression, no form of personality to perform for the audience. There was action happening around them, great monologues of power and fierce movement. However I could not stop myself from watching the two still creatures in the centre of the action. There was a certain power in their stillness, of being outside the confrontation. They were encapsulating, I wasn’t sure whether I was waiting for them to move or that I just wanted to join them in this peaceful moment of peace away from the complicated emotion of human beings. It reminded me of a time lapse in film where they place a person out in public and have them still as they film around them and then speed it up. So you are left with a lone person motionless around the busy lives of everyone else. It is a strong image that I feel carries out into theatre. It was lovely to see that this idea of ‘The potential for movement’ is relevant in how you place people on stage. The simple act of stillness can allow the audience to become involved, and leaves room for the imagination, rather being spoon fed every little moment of subtext.

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Jessi waiting for the show to begin

 

Pina And Her Potential For Movement

Having begun to set out my self study programme a few days ago I have started a few tasks to get me going for the following weeks.

Today I have been researching ‘the potential for movement’ and naturally I fell upon Pina Bausch. I think Bausch naturally plays with this concept of the moment before a movement in any work she has made. And cleverly demonstrates that it can be interesting on its own, without adding other layers of context on top. The Fall Dance is one example, in this clip a woman walks around in what looks like a park and suddenly halts to a stop and falls forward just in time for a man to catch her as she repeats this phrase. This piece already speaks many messages to do with gender, and the relationship between men and women just to name one. However the simple moment before the woman falls is for me the most electric moment. In a scene that is filled with movement, maybe small but movement nonetheless, it is the little pocket of stillness that is so soothing to the eye, you never want it to end. It is interesting to note that after the first fall you are aware of what she will do the second time, but it does not change the feeling of uncertainty before she falls again. That is what makes this short dance so interesting to watch as an audience, over and over again you find yourself waiting for that moment of still. To be locked into this sharp suspension of breath with the performers, it almost places you right in their shoes with them for the tiniest second. This is what Scott was explaining in the intensive with Frantic, the little moments that lead to movement are the most vulnerable and precious. As he describes ‘they are the times when an audience just want to jump out of their seat and say “kiss her!” as an example of these effective moments’.

As a simple example, Pina Bausch encapsulates this concept, and signifies the importance it has within any theatre piece. I would like to play with this specific concept of the moment before a fall, and see how it can be manipulated. To see if what comes out of the suspense is not a fall at all but something else. I am interested to know whether it is imperative to have the fall, and without it, the potential for possibility suddenly has less power. Or whether it can have the same impact if say an arm is lifted out of the moment of suspension.

Watch Pina Bausch’s The Fall Dance Here on Youtube.

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.