Sunday, 23 January 2011

Bagshaw family photographs

The aim of the day is to create some family photographs for the Bagshaw family. These should resonate our findings from the previous day where we have explored the conventions of this kind of photography.

Following a warm up I ask the performers to create freeze frame tableaux of 'kodak moments' in the Bagshaw's life. Jonnie and myself leave the performers alone to create the images.

When we re-enter the room we are shown the images and we have to guess from the performers physicality and body language what is happening in the photograph (hence the need for the 'box of emotions' exercise on the day before). My instruction to the performers prior to them undertaking the exercise is to focus on the aesthetics of the tableaux rather than the story behind it. They have exceeded my expectations, I was looking for something quite superficial in the first instance but the performers present well thought out tableaux rich with character/relationship politics. Jonnie and I enjoy working out what is going on in each 'picture'. It's not easy but we are clearly establishing a shared understanding of the language of family photographs because there are recognisable features that we can identify.

(I'm still interested in establishing some very superficial tableaux and I think the way to restrict the thought behind it might be to stay in the room as they are constructed rather than giving the performers space to discuss. Also I could restrict the amount of time to set up the tableaux.)

In the interests of recording process as well as capturing the 'pictures' we photograph the results.

The next phase of the workshop is to establish the circumstances leading up to the moments captured in the 'picture'. Again Jonnie and myself leave the room so that the family can construct a shared understanding of the back story.

When we return to the room we re-assemble the tableaux/pictures and 'hot-seat' the performers (collectively) as they hold the still poses. We keep them in the poses because it is likely that we'll present the material in this way as part of the performance - as a speaking photograph (with the speech pre-recorded and played over the live 'picture') and because it gives the speech a stilted, stiff quality that we like. Jonnie records the hot-seating with his sound equipment. He moves the mic around to indicate who should speak next. He gives the performers plenty of time and space to think. His decision of who to interview/hot-seat when is instinctive. I also ask questions as in the traditional hot-seating context to probe into the back story.

Recording the hot-seating means that we capture the details, we also have sound bites that we could potentially use in performance to play over the live 'picture'.

It becomes apparent that we need to do more work on Harriet's interpretation of Jean and how she speaks as we have used the recording from when we had Tanja in the cast to date.

The family dynamic is much lighter during this workshop and this also needs to be re-established as we move forward...

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