Week by week she will be giving you an exclusive behind the scenes look at the process of what it takes to devise a show!
INSTINCT OR RESPONSE
The week began with a workshop run by our lead artist Bridget Fiske. The group threw themselves (literally) into high energy ‘jump training’. Bridget then introduced exercises based on the performer training technique ‘Viewpoints’. Developed by Anne Bogart, it explores how space, shape, gesture, time, movement and emotion work together to create a composition.
Equipped with the knowledge of these tools, the group moved around the space using a limited set of movements, exploring spatial relationships, pace, tempo and rhythm. Having an open floor where they could move freely encouraged them to question where they were acting from: instinct or as a response to external factors? Were their decisions to move conscious or unconscious?
As an observer, I could see the performers creating compositions. Although they were confined to their individual spaces, the way movements were being adopted, repeated or contrasted, gave meaning and story to their actions.
They were free to play music associated with the theme of the show: happiness. When music was added it created another layer to the scenes and gave the performers something else to respond to, physically and emotionally. In contrast, the silence in itself was a soundscape that the performers began to work with.
IT TOOK A LOT OF FOCUS TO DO NOTHING
Our second workshop of the week was led by Debs Gatenby, writer and performer of A Place Called Happiness. The session started with us looking for excitement in mundane, everyday objects. For example, is this a chair or is it a time-machine into a past that never was, with dinosaurs gallivanting around in Victorian corsets?
In 1952, experimental composer John Cage performed his iconic piece 4’33″, where he sat at his piano, without playing for 4 minutes and 33 seconds. Past the initial frustration of the audience who felt cheated by the lack of music at this concert, it became widely acknowledged as a meditation on silence.
In groups of three, the performers took it in turns to sit still in complete silence. It was intense. As an observer, I was relieved that I wasn’t performing, but it quickly became apparent that I also had to obey some rules; no giggling, no fidgeting … It took a lot of focus to do nothing. The performers were still but energized; eyes flickering, arms twitching, ready to spring into action.
The silence allowed us to take in the other sounds in the space: muffled music from someone’s headphones, excited children outside, a stomach rumbling. After the 4 minutes, 33 seconds were over, the participants then erupted into chatter, full of gestures, exclamations and personality, relieved that they could express themselves once more.
CAN TRUE HAPPINESS EXIST WITHOUT SADNESS?
Debs then asked: why are we making a show about happiness? Can true happiness exist without sadness? Then we discussed how we take on the feeling of sadness or depression, and embody it to the fullest, allowing ourselves to become manipulated by the definitions of these words. Does advertisement tell us that we can achieve happiness by buying their products?
Sometimes it feels like if they could bottle up the air and sell it to you, they would. And they have. For $20, you can enjoy a fresh breath of sweet Canadian air. What else will they sell us?
Sadness is a spiralling feeling that feeds on itself, whereas happiness is fleeting. As a group, we realised that learning to comfort yourself is a survival skill. If you can do that then you can face all of life’s challenges. We talked about the ways in which we reinvent ourselves in order to fit in and how you can feel like you belong anywhere as long as you are in tune with yourself.
Every Monday we will release a new blog from Miray so keep an eye out!
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?