Ensemble

July 27, 2010 at 2:44 pm | Posted in creative process, creativity, Ensemble, Physical Theatre, Psychophysical Training, Theatre | Leave a comment
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We’ve been pushing with more detail into the process of actually forming an ensemble. An ensemble is not just a group of people who work together. Nor is an ensemble a mechanical unit in which individuality disappears, a unit that requires personality to disappear and for everyone to become interchangeable.

So far so good – that’s what an ensemble isn’t. But what is it?

For us, as we train in the studio, there is a clear sense that what is happening between us, in the gaps between each unique individual, is real, though invisible. The ensemble, increasingly, exists and we know when we are working as an ensemble and when the interconnectedness fractures. Yet, it eludes definition. It is real and yet undefinable.

Years ago when I began to train the Quiddity Ensemble in Melbourne, I use to talk about ‘IT’ being in the room. With five people there would be six performers – the five humans and IT. IT had its own desires – if you learn to listen to the ensemble it reveals that it has a logic, a dynamic, a direction. Something happens in the room, inside a simple exercise or as an improvisation unfolds, which is beyond the will, the control or the understanding of any one individual. IT lives. Yet IT does not, in reality, exist (if by that one means that IT can be defined, seen or understood). The heart of ensemble is utterly mysterious, yet utterly real.

Part of the underpinning of this mystery, ( and what makes it possible for me specifically to train ensembles, for you can only train what is open to manipulation and development) lies in the relationship between the individual as ‘provoker’ and the individual as ‘reactor’. Part of the discipline of being an ensemble member is about learning an appropriate balance between following your own pleasure and responding to the offers that others have made in following their pleasure.

To inhabit an ensemble requires a complete giving up of ego and a complete commitment to one’s egos. It requires strong individuals who are willing to follow their own path or walk meekly along paths forged by others.

To be in an ensemble requires learning to listen with all of one’s senses. Listen to what? Listen to IT.

ps. As I wrote this I heard Michael – our extraordinary chef for our time at Whitestone – say with all seriousness to Judith:’ Don’t worry, salad can be anarchy…’. Things are hotting up….

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