Last weekend, we worked on putting two bits together that we have worked on previously. This will eventually become a set scene in the piece. We put the bit with Kelly and Shaun together with a bit that Ian and I did a while ago. First, in order to do this, we had to finish the movement between Kelly and Shaun that we had worked on in a previous rehearsal. I took Shaun’s place for the time being and we were able to finish the movement and work out some other movement for when only one person is talking. Then we went back to a bit that Ian and I did a while back in rehearsals. We sort of recreated what we had done before, but kept it improvised. We also started improving dialogue. Then we picked some places, in the scene that Ian and I had created, to pause and have the dialogue that Kelly and Shaun had created spoken. The first time that the dialogue was spoken, we had only one side of the dialogue spoken by one person, while the other person simply faced away from them. Then Ian and I continued with our scene and we found another place to stop. Next we decided that the one sided dialogue needed some movement as well. We brought out a white sheet that was in our rehearsal room and the two people played tug of war with it while only one person said their dialogue. This activated the dialogue much more. We came up with a movement that could be done for the first half of the dialogue as well. The sheet was dropped by the person who is speaking and the person who is not speaking tries to give the sheet back to the speaker. The speaker does everything s/he can not to get the she back in her/his hands. This is where we ended out first rehearsal that weekend.
When we came back together on Sunday, Kelly and I did the movement that we had finished for the dialogue between she and Shaun. Then we had Kelly and Shaun do the movement. We were unsure which coupling we liked better. We decided that, in combining these two scenes, we would make the partners fluid so that one couple wasn’t together for the entire scene. This was difficult to maneuver, but we figured out a switching order and some transitions and tried it out. This was rough, but it gave us an idea of how the scene will go and how to transition between partners. We also decided that during the bit that Ian and I originally created, the actors would not talk.
This past weekend, in our first rehearsal (Saturday), we used the script that I made up of Kelly and Shaun’s conversation from a previous rehearsal. I wanted to create some movement with these words, but I didn’t exactly know what the process would be. Perhaps this is a backward way of working in devising—at least its not how we usually work—and I think that was a little frustrating to the rest of the people who were working, but I don’t see any harm in trying it. So I typed up the text, and the first thing we did was have two people who are not Shaun and Kelly just read the text. Hilary-Ann and Chelsea did this. The first read through was funny. Kelly and Shaun were laughing at themselves and could not believe some of the things that they had said to each other. They said that it was weird hearing their own words because they judged themselves and they had to hear over and over things they regretted saying, or thought sounded ridiculous after hearing someone else say it. We concluded that this is a very difficult text to work with. Its heavy, but I think it’s important because I think it’s a conversation that many people have in relationships. So we worked through the text in different ways. Hilary-Ann and Chelsea read it again. Then I asked them to start moving. Ian and I read the text while they moved to it, almost as if the text were music. They seemed to have a hard time with this. We then decided to have Kelly and Shaun move to the text, since they knew it better, as they were the ones who created it. The movements were interesting to watch. They talked about how they were sometimes unsure of when they were pushing and when they were pulling. We had them move in a few different ways, while other people read the text. Sometimes they were not allowed to touch or use objects; sometimes they could only use each other. Then we had them switch places with they other person. So the text that they were “speaking,” though it was still being read for them, was the other person’s. This created some very interesting movement. From there, I took the movements that spoke to me and we started putting that together into a little routine. We got about half way through this routine. We will finish it in our next rehearsal.
In the rehearsal the day after that (Sunday), we worked with Hilary-Ann. We went back to some previous work that we had done with the masks and talked about a situation that would make her mask uncomfortable. It was decided that this would be a situation in which someone was trying to delve deeper into understanding her. For this activity, she and Kelly just sat and talked and Kelly was meant to tell Hilary-Ann something very personal about herself in order to get Hilary-Ann to do the same. It ended up being what I think to be a very philosophical conversation that we can use and continue to work off of. I am currently making another script out of their words, and I would like to use it as a possible text under some movement that we have previously devised.
These sections that we have been working on recently are so exciting to me. Everyone has been really giving of themselves, which makes the work so much better. After we talked about the conversation that Kelly and Hilary-Ann had, Hilary-Ann wanted to talk about our “masks.” These are things that we’ve been using to describe or visualize walls that we put up in order for people to not see a weakness that we have, or something that we don’t like about ourselves. Hilary-Ann wrote them out in the form of an objective. Here is a photo of them written out.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that these needs are pretty similar. I suppose it could seem that we’ve strayed from the original question of what love means in different cultures, but I don’t think we have. I think all of these huge wants that, for the most part, are unachievable are a product of our culture. And how do we show these needs, or attempt to obtain them? Through our relationships, whatever they may be. I’d say we’re right on target.
So our last few rehearsals before break were very productive. I just neglected to write about them because of end of semester craziness. We had someone come in to watch one of our rehearsals, which was extremely helpful because he gave us really good advice. I had started to feel like I wasn’t sure where to go next with our rehearsals and that if we continued doing exercises like we were doing, we would never create anything cohesive. Our visitor told me not to be afraid to start “directing” or shaping things. This was helpful because I was afraid that by directing I would ruin the creativity and spontaneity that we had. However, if I didn’t do this, no one would get anything from the piece. So I started to take the things that we had created and go deeper with them with individual people and put things together in different ways. We went deeper with some people with their masks and put them in situations that might make the mask comfortable or uncomfortable. These have been the most interesting to me so far and have started to create a sort of narrative.
At the very end of Christmas break, I went to the region 2 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival with a group of BW students. At this conference, I did a workshop with some people from the Living Theatre, which was an awesome experience. We did some things in the workshop that I wanted to bring back to our rehearsals, and we did a couple of these things tonight. The first thing we did tonight at our rehearsal was a chord. I did this with the piece we created in the Living Theatre workshop and it was a nice ending to our piece. I thought it could be a possible ending to the piece that we are working on here at BW. So as a company we all just start singing a note and it creates a “chord.” It’s not necessarily very musical. It tends to be pretty cacophonous. We invite the audience members to join us in the chord and I find it to be a nice unifying ending. At rehearsal tonight, Kelly suggested that we try the same thing with rhythms. We did this and it was also pretty cool. So this is a possible ending for our piece. The other thing we did today that I learned in my workshop with the Living Theatre was a sequence of tableaus. In the workshop, there was a chime which told us to move and when the chime rang again we were to freeze. Tonight, as we started doing this exercise, someone mentioned that the room we were in looks cool when its night and the street lamps shine in. So we opened all of the blinds and turned out the lights. Then we decided that everyone would move in the dark and we would turn on the lights to see the picture. The signal for everyone to stop was two hand claps. The darkness created a neat effect. I watched for a couple of tableaus and then Kelly traded places with me. After Kelly watched us she talked about how it reminded her of being caught doing things we may do when were alone. Things we do in the dark when no one is watching and then suddenly having the lights turned on and having eyes on us. We played with this idea by having Chelsea do the lights and turn them on whenever she felt like it without giving the rest of us any warning. Next we played with some symbolism. I turned out the lights and had everyone move freely, then when I clapped my hands and turned the lights on they were all to be in a straight line. I did the same thing again and they were all meant to face away from each other. When I turned the lights on a third time, they were not given any warning and were caught in the dark. After this work we talked about Chelsea’s mask and did some exercises to physicalize and work on telling a story with it.
Another thing that I did at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival was watch some devised performances. There was one that really stuck in my head and I liked how they presented a conversation. I would like to try what they did with some previous dialogue that I have from rehearsals. I have been watching and listening to recordings that we have and I am working on a script for this for our next rehearsal.
Last night our rehearsal was led by Hilary-Ann. For her activity, she had us listen to music and move in whatever ways the music made us move. She also had us write 3 different words on slips of paper. These words had to do with American culture, our generation, or love. She pulled out the words while the music was playing and we were moving. She told us to let the words affect us as well. Hilary played four or five different songs for us, all of which she said she had played for a certain reason. I don’t remember (because I didn’t know them) many of the songs, nor do I know her purpose for choosing each of them. However, each song seemed to have a different mood and affect us all in a different way. Collectively as a group, we seemed to react pretty similarly. The energy in the room would change with each song and sometimes the song would give us a goal, sometimes it would take our goals away. After we did the activity, we talked about all of these things and what Hilary saw. One thing that we found quite poignant in what she saw was, “a struggle for nothing.” We talked about this idea and what it meant to us and then we decided to explore this idea physically. Hilary picked out a few more songs and we laid down to start the next activity. Kelly watched this one so that Hilary could participate. While we were laying down we each thought of something that we were struggling with and used this in conjunction with the music to see how it affected us. This also brought out some cool results and moments, which we talked about after the activity. There are some moments from this activity that we will explore in subsequent rehearsals as well as the idea of masks. One of the songs that Hilary played was “Babel” by Mumford and Sons. We all seemed to react strongly to this song and to its lyrics so we will keep playing around with this song.
In our next rehearsal we are going to make masks and watch the documentary Happy.
In the rehearsal after that, we will use these masks and I am going to look into doing an activity from Moni Yakim’s Creating a Character, using the chapter on the social self.
We have a lot of exciting ideas buzzy around now. I would like us to explore these ideas and hone them into what is most important so that we can put this into the piece.