Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Day four - text work and then exploding everything

We review some of the footage from the previous day and transcribe it into workable notes.

We had made lots of lists of 'I didn't, I couldn't, I haven't' and 'because' and we also transcribe these into workable notes.

We match up some of the text with the verbatim body language from some of the footage. We try to undermine the excuse making, with the body language giving the wrong signals to the words spoken. We take away vocal resonance to see if the words are more or less convincing.

There is a little bit of pressure in the room as we know that someone is coming in to look at what we've been doing. Perhaps this is why we moved to text today. Moving to text is definitely my impulse when I think that I/we're in need of something sure and solid.

Julia Wilson, a performance artist, my former university lecturer and a friend of mine joins us for the afternoon. I brief Julia and quickly fill her in on some of the challenges we're experiencing. We agree that we'll spend the afternoon working with some of the tools Julia uses in her own practice. Julia pretty much takes over, sharing her practice by doing and showing, exploding everything.

Firstly Julia levels off the playing field. Anna, Kus, Laura and myself are all from very different disciplines. I have an instinctive connection to the kind of work I want to create but I hadn't fully clarified the right terms. Julia put Kirby's Acting/Not Acting continuum on the table to clarify exactly what I meant when I asked Laura and Kus not to use their emotional memory but to represent it, or asked them not to 'go into themselves' but to just be themselves.

Here's a diagram of Kirby's Acting/Not Acting continuum :

With this in mind Julia suggested that we could use the 'not acting non-matrixed performing' end of the continuum to work on task based action rather than fictional action. Then Julia helped us explore how we might find the most appropriate tasks to try based on the themes and ideas of the premise. And then Julia showed us how to put these tasks up on their feet and how to interrogate them to create resonances that would stimulate the desired effect in the audience. We could create the emotional experience that we'd like the audience to have by presenting action that brought about that emotional experience (eg, fear and anxiety created through watching someone do something daring, the sense of nurturing and caring experienced through watching someone tenderly nurse someone else etc.)

Really these new tools unlocked everything. Initially I felt very de-skilled and destabilised. This kind of activity is so far removed from the play writing I'm trained to do. But this is why I invited Julia in to work with us. Instinctively I am grasping for these new ways to connect with audiences. I am very excited to work in this way and I am very, very excited about where this line of enquiry will lead. 

For more information about Julia you can have a look at her website :

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