The other day, a tutor of mine reminded me of something that I said in my first tutorial in response to the question “why did you come here?”. Before I disclose it, I must reinforce that I said it with a tongue-in-cheek tone, for a laugh: “I am here to rip open my carcass and let the maggots in… but in a flowery way.” It seemed, on re-hearing, so far in the past, however, far more appropriate than when I’d originally said it.
Second term of ATP has richened and developed my practice exceptionally and beyond what I could have imagined. On having a discussion with our Course Leader, Nick Wood, a week or so ago, he confirmed that this had been a recurring pattern for MA ATP students over the years. Our first term was conducted by established Theatre Practitioners facilitating workshops; sharing their knowledge and experience with us whilst opening up a space for us, as artists within our own right, to colour their practice in the studio. The second term has concentrated on formed companies within the year group making our own work alongside conducting either practice or “book” based research.
In light of this, I have attempted to dedicate myself to “opening up my carcass” and letting others’ skills and knowledge fertilise shadow elements within my practice. Previous to my time at Central, as a director I would do a lot of research into the work I was making from a philosophical angle, talk through this with the performers on the project and then lead practical workshops in order to explore these notions in an “image in motion” fashion. Working with my company formed over the second term (Nothing and Nobody), I have been introduced polar opposite ways of creating performance. Instead of starting through thinking, members of my company have induced creation through doing.
A series of workshops that were lead by Seven Sisters group seemingly planted this seed. Each session was commenced with “automatic movement”: in pairs, one person being the guider and the other the mover, the mover closed their eyes and was encouraged to move around the space, with the knowledge that their guider was protecting them. After this, we wrote for two minutes and then swapped roles. Thus, within my working process withNothing and Nobody, this practice was in many ways extended, however, our eyes were open and we were moving in and out of one another’s space and giving and taking one another’s idea; this time it didn’t start sat around a table. This became our material for many rehearsals: no ‘story’, no ‘theme’, no ‘prop’, no ‘image’.
Similarly, working with two puppeteers has enlightened my practice also. A workshop that a company member lead was amidst a flurry of paper. This group member (Max) asked us to walk around the room, armed with wads of paper, and “extend” our bodies with this material in whatever ways came to mind. After we had explored extended nostrils, shoulder pads and paper eyes we were directed to walk slowly up and down the room, singularly, and find a moment of transformation for the paper (e.g. my extended nostrils became chop-sticks). After this exercise, we had 10 minutes to make 3-5 different palm-sized objects, using only paper, string and glue, in secret. We then sat around in a circle, with our eyes closed and passed our objects to the person to our left. Each person took it in turns to tell the story of the object in their hands armed only with the senses of touch and sound.
Additionally, another member of the group comes from a writing background. Sarah Grange, with a Dictaphone at hand at appropriate, and inappropriate, moments, brought to the group a way in which to interpret events within the working process through stringing together images through poetic text. During sessions of finding material through movement improvisation, when words arose she would record them and then fashion them accordingly. Coming from a ‘visual theatre’ practice, this was new soil for me to sink in. She encouraged us to write three pieces of text in the form of ‘section one’ section two’ and ‘section three’ at a later stage in our working process. For me this was daunting to say the least, however, I found a further way for the images created within my shared working practice to flourish.
In order for these flowery maggots to infest my carcass, I have had to calm my impulse to colour the shared process with images with flash instantaneously into my mind with such large strokes and instead allow a larger space for other’s on the pallet. Through this, I have learnt new skills