Here’s her second instalment direct from the rehearsal room.
We began by bouncing to the beat
Shaking our limbs loose and with them the stress of the past week. I then led one of my favourite warm-up exercises, the Machine Orchestra. We stood in a circle tapping a beat with our feet. One by one added a sound to the ensemble until we had something resembling music. This simple but effective exercise allowed us to attune to each other. The result was a kind-of hip hop inspired tribal beat-boxing. The group then paired up in twos and one person made noises while the other moved their spine in response. They let go of conscious response, responding kinesthetically instead. Bizarre sounds and movements filled the room. The company were unafraid to try out new ideas and quickly became trusting of each other.
Lying on the ground, they travelled from one side of the room to the other. First reaching out with one body part (a foot, an elbow, an ear) and then letting the rest of the body follow. We formed a pattern: expanding in the space and then contracting into a smaller shape. By creating a curved surface with your body and making yourself small you can avoid injury if you fall.
The next exercise alternated between ‘stream of consciousness’ writing and movement. The two activities began a dialogue with each other where the writing influenced the movements and vice versa. We chose one still pose and placed ourselves in the space, considering how it contributed to the overall architecture. A single body in a black-box studio has many interpretations; what some viewed as a hunter, others saw as hunted. We discussed the audience/performer relationship, and how the observers wished they had permission to view the pose from multiple angles. Some positions only made sense with the previous pose. Time and context was still an important factor for the still image.
The multi-talented Darren Pritchard
Our second session of the week was led by the multi-talented Darren Pritchard. He began by discussing his artistic process. Specifically looking at his autobiographical piece Susan and Darren, which he performed with his mother. Darren likes authenticity – real people, telling real stories. An approach which resonated with us. He asked the group to create a timeline of their lives. I wanted to say ‘but Darren, we’ve only just met!’. Instead, I started writing my earliest memory. We didn’t have to reveal too much about ourselves but it was an opportunity to reflect on our life story and share it with others.
It was interesting to see the different approaches. Some people wrote lists while others drew diagrams. Some gave detailed accounts of their birthday parties, right down to the make and model of presents they received. There were Nigerian feasts and family gatherings, and stories of migration and new beginnings. Despite our differences, we also shared some adolescent experiences, like our love for Eminem or an emo phase. A need to rebel or a desire to fit in. After listening to everyone’s stories, we knew a lot more about each other which made us feel more connected. We’d broken the ice!
In pairs, we then wrote a monologue using our partner’s story as inspiration. The monologues they produced – witty, poetic and descriptive – could have easily been the basis for a show. They handled each other’s personal histories with care and understanding, learning more about themselves and their partners in the process. It was strangely cathartic hearing our stories told by someone else.
What is theatre? Or more importantly, what can it be? At its core, it is the telling and sharing of stories. What makes a performance unique is the individuals that create it, their stories, ideas, and the way they express them to an audience. Darren told us this is the foundation of the work he creates, and from there he adds music, movement and other components of theatre. Once you break down your story into the elements that make up theatre (text, video, music, themes, space), you can play around with the endless possibilities of how you arrange them to create something new.
Contact Young Company and Degasten: Baby Fever
If happiness can be bought, are milestones the new currency?
Created by Contact Young Company in collaboration with Theater Degasten, Baby Fever explores the relationship between milestones and materialism. In a world of depleting resources, how do people feel about having children? Can they afford to? Do they even want to?