Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Day two at Bradford Theatre in the Mill

Lessons learned
Be wary of voids in the rehearsal room.
Void characters – don’t let them be voids for long periods. Effective in very small controlled portions.
Void set/furnishings (table – maybe need it for final performance but maybe shift it away in rehearsals – maybe take chairs away too – currently sucking, draining energy)
Void sound/atmosphere – silence sucks the energy out of the space. Want to incorporate music into the rehearsal room
Warm ups important to set the tone at the beginning of the day. I feel it’s important as team leader to participate in them but at the moment am too busy doing other stuff (setting up & working on script).
Need to factor scripting time into the process – time to review footage and to extract script from it.
Questions asked so far (keep in mind for feedback after the showing)
How can we blend old material with new material?
How can we access the characters internal worlds?
How can we take the characters to their breaking point?
How can we re-establish what we had without losing what we have got now?
How do we rediscover the emotional core of the characters?
Tuesday
Preparation for long form improvisations. Family items/birthday/Christmas gifts wrapped up so actors can be surprised and give a spontaneous response.
Not entirely successful. You can try to plan/prepare but have to sign-post the long-form improv to get what you want. I let the performers long-form to discover what they need to and try to capture what they say as they improvise in an attempt to create a transcript that I can draw from.
Transcribing during improviation
I’m still not getting to their internal worlds, i’m still seeing safe and comfortable and I realise that what I’m asking the performers to do is very difficult. I’m asking them to access challenging emotional places while at the same time thinking of words to express this.
I realise that a text is required to liberate the performers so I compile one from the transcript of the first improvisation of the day (which is supposed to be birthday/Christmas but doesn’t turn out that way as I haven’t made my instructions clear enough. I’d prefer to work in a less invasive way but it seems that I’m going to have to be more ‘heavy handed’ with my interjections to make sure the impros go in the direction I want them to. My observations of the impro going in the direction I don’t want them to go in are useful as it makes me think about what would work instead and I see opportunities missed but it’s a shame that we’re not yet in a place where we understand more instinctively where to go with this stuff. An area for improvement for the company. Perhaps something which will come with time and experience of working together.)
I provide the script and ask the performers to use the words to express their deep inner monologue/dialogue. Our aim is to record the resulting ‘stream of consciousness’ and to lay all the tracks over each other so we have a cacophony of chaos which we can use as part of the soundtrack to demonstrate ‘the noise in their head’.
I push for the collection of this material at this stage, I realise its an opportunity for the characters to find necessary depth and other layers and its also an opportunity to capture something tangible to work with.
We record and film the stream of consciousnesses. It is an effective activity and we achieve our aims.
Next we go back to the long form improvisation, this time with more clear instruction on how to use the stimulus (props wrapped up as surprises). The resulting improvisation is lively and we see moments with the emotional intensity that we achieved in the stream of consciousness.
Then we hotseat /interview each character about what they’ve just experienced.
I have the text of the dialogue exchanges between the characters as they improvise and the text of the interviews which offer a pool of words and expressions which can be crafted into the documentary/Wallace and Grommit-esque tone sound track to play over the silent on-stage action.

We go back to long form improvisation, again, with clear instruction but we seem to have lost the emotional intensity and we’ve moved into safe territory.
It seems that all the emotional intensity at the beginning of the day has really exhausted the performers.
We call it a day...
My intention is to work through the film and sound footage to gather together material for a script once I get home. It is 8pm by the time i sit down to work and really it is too late.
I realise that my time in the space tomorrow must be spent creating the text, that this is what the performers need to move forward. We need to develop the sound to lay over the on stage action, then work on the on stage action...

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