Thursday, 5 November 2009

Bread and Puppet blog: week 5 (group D)

Bread and Puppet blog: week 5

This week consisted of three student run workshops; one on Dramaturgy; one on Choreography and the other on Scenography.

The first workshop on Dramaturgy was run by myself (Jade), Miranda and Yong and started with and introduction to Bread and Puppet Dramaturgy and how it will be relevant in our Bread and Puppet style piece.

We discussed things like:
What is Dramaturgy? It is defined as ‘The craft or the techniques of dramatic composition. Basically how you go about structuring something.

-The Basics:
Bankelsang- The best B&P example of this is ‘The Foot’
Episodes- Such as ‘Fire’ or ‘Joan of Arc’ (video from last week)
Ringmaster- Again like in ‘The Foot’ the ringmaster conducts/narrates the goings on.
Sideshows- During the ‘Domestic Resurrection Circus’ there were often sideshows running at the same time as the main piece.
-Which path? Allegory or a protest/celebration
-Puppets first talking later!
-Language needs to be kept simple as not to over complicate-
‘He dispenses almost entirely with language’
(An Existing Better World. Notes on the Bread and Puppet Theater. George Dennsion)

Miranda then talked about what techniques we could use in our piece e.g. different episodes to show different topics. Using an underlying theme, such as the hidden curriculum in schools.

Yong then split the class into 4 groups and gave them different tasks:

Group 1: Using Bankelsang, explore the BNP’s views on immigration.
Group 2: Create an episode based on a quote from the BNP that justifies rape, saying it’s like force feeding a woman chocolate cake
Group 3: Using a ringmaster, explore the idea that the BNP deny the Holocaust.
Group 4: Using parody, explore the ideas of racism.

They had 15 minutes to devise something in the style of Bread and Puppet and then had to show their work to the rest of the class. It was entertaining to see what each group had come up with and I feel the exercise helped show the group thinking on your feet rather than sitting and planning forever can be very effective. It also allowed us to look at different styles and see how we can incorporate them.

The next workshop was run by … (?) a large group and was about Choreography. First we did the ‘Hokey Kokey’ as a warm up and afterwards everyone was…very warmed up.

Then we played cat and mouse, one person is the cat, the other the mouse and everyone else stands in rows turning when told, to make moving around more difficult for the cat and mouse. After playing the game, the group told us that they chose it as it requires most of the group to move as one thinking like an ensemble.

The group then showed and taught us the ‘Who is a terrorist?’ cheerleading dance ( After learning the Bread and Puppet cheer we split into two groups and had to create our own cheer using BNP topics relevant to our devised piece.

As well as being fun, we discussed how the cheers could be an effective opening for our piece. The Choreography group explained that use of Cheerleaders for a political statements not only parodies American culture (Dumb blondes + Politics= huge mess), but could also help show the ridiculousness of the ideas we are showing.

We discussed how Bread and Puppet entrances and exits are often very big and so it may be appropriate to start and finish with a dance. A cheer or perhaps a folkdance and Rebecca suggested which is indeed very traditional.

The third and final workshop was run by Nat and Mina and was about Scenography.

Sceneography is where the theatre takes place, locations and spaces.

“When you go to the theatre you put the audience on the stage, and you play on the seats, or you put them against the wall and your action is on the seat, or you don’t go into the theatre, you leave it empty and you play in front of the theatre, or you abandon that area altogether and you play in the street.” - Peter Schumann

They started their workshop with the above quote heading an info sheet. The quote made us think about the different places we might perform.

Mina and Nat then gave us a shortened version of ‘The Foot’, which we have performed as a group before. After having a go at the new version we were told we were exploring scenography at the next level and went to perform it outside the Windsor building.

By doing this we were experiencing what Bread and Puppet performers may experience when performing on the street; funny looks; abandonment and intrigued yet altogether confused faces.

We then went to the south quad at Founders to look at the space as it would be good to perform there as there are always lots of people. We then performed ‘The Foot’ at Founders and it was worthwhile doing as we discovered people sort of have to watch/listen because the acoustics are so good.

Finally all tired out from our workshops we elected different people to be in charge of specific areas (e.g. Art directors) and created a contact list so that organising during the devising project is easier.

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