Monday, 5 October 2009

BLOG – Week One (31/09/09)

First half of the session was spent doing group bonding exercises.

1. NAME GAME – each person said their name and performed an action which said something about them. This was then repeated by the rest of the group. Each time a new name was said the whole group repeated it and the action, and then also repeated the previous names and actions that had been said. In a group of about 40 this was a long process but proved effective!

2. BOMB/SHIELD GAME – one member of the group was made the ‘bomb’. Each member of the group then picked someone else in the group to be their ‘shield’. The aim was to always to have your shield standing between you and the ‘bomb’. Whoever was left without a shield between them and the ‘bomb’ was out. As the group got smaller this game got more difficult and more violent!

3. MUSIC MACHINE – the aim of this game was for the group to create a machine using just themselves. Someone came up with an idea for a machine and they had to create the first piece of it; one at a time the rest of the group then joined the shape until there was a ‘machine’. A) CHITTY BANG BANG EXPERIMENTAL MACHINE B) EVERLASTING BUBBLEGUM MACHINE C) TREE-FELLING MACHINE D) MACHINE THAT EMITS BANKERS/LAWYERS – as this game went on we had to start experimenting more with levels, and with using our bodies and with the sounds we made. By the time we made the last machine we had started working a lot more effectively as a group and were much more thoughtful in the way we created our ‘machines’.

4. SONG GAME – this game was similar to Music Machine as it also involved really working together as a group, starting off in smaller groups we each had to pick a note or a phrase of music, which fitted together with the others in the group to make a song. Gradually the smaller groups had to join together, fitting the different tunes into each other until we had made a complete song comprising all our notes and phrases. For this game we all had to be really focussed with our listening, and be really aware of what everyone else was doing, so that the song was harmonious. We did this game 3 different times, and by the third time it was noticeable that everyone was a lot more concentrated and really aware of each other. Generally one person started and then everyone joined in in turn, sometimes in little groups, not just using their voices, but also using clapping/clicking/stamping feet etc.

After our practical games session we began work on analysing the Bread and Puppet Theatre, since they are to be the inspiration and drive behind our forthcoming theatre piece this term.

In class we split into groups of 5 and began to discuss articles written by Baz Kershaw (The Routledge Reader in Politics and Performance) and James Roose-Evans (Experimental Theatre), which were assigned for us to read before class. In our groups we began to draw comparisons between Kershaw’s political analysis of radical theatre as cultural intervention and Peter Schumann’s Bread and Puppet Theatre. After discussing our ideas we re-grouped as a class and shared our thoughts to the other groups. Topics of discussion included the use of humour (that had almost sinister undertones), themes, the collective mentality of B&P, the relationship between the actors and the audience, the use of diverse theatrical techniques and space.

Next we divided up into our Seminar Groups to discuss the areas in Contemporary Theatre we would be specializing in and teaching the rest of the class in the coming weeks. Areas of production included; sacred harp and music, choreography, puppet and mask making, script and dramaturgy and space and design.

For next week we have been asked to recycle some cardboard and bring it to class (Everything in our performance needs to be used from recycled, cost free materials!!!) and research a social/political topic we would like to base our performance on.

Today’s class has been fascinating. As a group, the games we played during the first half of the class helped us gain a sense of community and collaboration. Bread and Puppet is a company that extends past the conventions of the modern theatre, I think, during the next few months we will be faced with multiple challenges that will strengthen our work ethic, open our minds and push us physically. Can’t wait for us to pick a topic for our group and get the ball rolling! J

-Yazmin Vigus and Miranda Marvin

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