Studio activity

July 23, 2010 at 2:17 pm | Posted in creative process, creativity, Ensemble, Physical Theatre, Psychophysical Training, Theatre | Leave a comment
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As we start to settle in to the rhythm of this residency, which in itself is the first part of the creation of ‘The Shattering Man’, what are we actually doing?

I am resisting the urge to start work on anything to do with the script, or even yet on anything that could be within the world of the play. I’m not even really working on developing the performance style that I imagine the final piece will require.

At the moment we are concentrating on meeting each other – at an instinctual and perceptual level. We are beginning to experience the particular network of relationships that form the underpinning of this particular ensemble. We are engaging in a process of training that allows each individual to check in with where he or she is, in terms of their mental and physical discipline, and perhaps to set themselves personal objectives for the work over the next few weeks.

Each morning I run 3 – 4 hours of training. This involves people throwing a lot of bags (and sometimes sticks) around (anyone who has worked with me in the past will know exactly what I mean!). We work with a small number of other exercises, most of them designed to help the performers see themselves and see their fellow performers more clearly. Much of the work is based on the mental discipline of being absolutely present in the moment. At the moment I want us to ‘be’, so that we can learn to be truly live in front of an audience.

And we improvise – in pairs, trios and as a whole group. Physical, dynamic improvisation which demands people really pay close attention to one another and learn to respond instantly to the offers that others make.

In the afternoons we are currently working on skills development -which other members of the ensemble are running. Eilon is working on developing a sensitivity to (and ability to work with) rhythm. Eva is working on core physical skills of lifting and carrying. Aliki is teaching singing, based on traditional Greek songs. Chris will soon start to run voice work as well.

These core skills sit alongside the psychophysical development that the morning work facilitates, to generate an ensemble with shared performance languages and shared attitudes to work. It combines the development of performance skill with the cultivation of a core ‘purpose’, or a common intention which is so fundamental to a genuine sense of ensemble.

The fact that we are living and eating together means that people can,collectively or just in private conversation, reflect on a days’s work and so, through reflection, embed the learning of each day into their psyche to be retrieved the next time the same exercise is undertaken.

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