Savannah's Theatre Blog

18th, 19th, 22nd October: Butoh and other things…

Posted in All About Butoh by Savannah on October 17, 2010

Monday: Today we were mainly looking through past RIs. There was one that got a rally high mark, a really low mark and then one with a middle range mark. I found looking at the one with the middle range mark to be useless in that I was utterly confused. The question I thought was overly complex which contrasted hugely to the question with the high mark which was very straightforward and basic but still allowed for an extensive amount of research. Looking at the example with the high mark was very useful for the critique of sources and the sources used. They had used an extensive range of sources and their critique was well thought out and justified. The low mark was also useful for this in that I think they had 3 internet websites and no  other sources. I have a good knowledge now of what to do in the way of sources. I plan to read through the entire RI of the highest mark so I can get some ideas of how to organise and structure my own RI.

Geoffrey and I had been working on dance for the upcoming Butoh performance and we showed it to the class today. I was definitely slightly embarrassed because I stumbled… quite a few times but oh well! I know I just need to practice dancing with other people more and it will all work out! I think everyone was fairly happy with this (asides from the stumbling) and I think ‘The Gift’ mask and walk after this will be very effective.

Thursday: Today we were mainly workshopping our Butoh performance. At the start of the lesson however, we had a short talk about our RI questions. I hadn’t actually come up with an question yet (written down at least) and I felt quite bad for this. However, I had/have a style and play: Epic Theatre,  Parables for the Theatre by Brecht. I’ve been reading the play and I think it’s really interesting. It has religion at its core which is a change for me because I haven’t found this with a lot of plays that I’ve read or seen although I know it is there in many.

  • Throwing energy levels: We played around with this today except we started thinking too much which I know is one of my greatest flaws and I’m sure others struggle with it aswell. We thought we might include the twitching and then progress into energy levels. The problem with this was that we literally couldn’t get started. The progression from twitching to this didn’t work it just didn’t fit or feel right. What we then decided to do was start out with one person (me) and then just throw the energy around until everyone was affected by it or indeed, infected with it. I thought it would be more effective if I started on energy level 5 (curious) and easier aswell because it allowed that ‘insightful creator’ persona. Also, level 6 (huge, strong emotions – best and worst day of your life) would be better to progress as the energy did because it’s such a huge, obvious one. Aesthetically and logically it makes more sense for it to come later. There was still one thing that I found difficult with this, and I think everyone else did aswell, was knowing when the music was coming to an end because we had to be in rough positions by the end so we could start the dance with me, Geoff and Cat. I think when we listen to this more and perhaps get a copy of the music, this will be easier.
  • Child’s Play: We brought in some childhood toys to play around with. We had previously experimented with being children in a sand pit with 2 “normal” children and 1 brat and it was very effective. Today we included everyone but still had only 1 brat (Taleah). It was great fun although I know I can get the simplicity but extremity of the emotions to strike me more. I particularly enjoyed working with Jesse in this because he was very free in his choices and also very childlike. He had me feeling more in character although he did forget the importance of stagecraft a few times. I found it difficult to work with Daniel at this stage because he didn’t feel very aware in that it took him just those few seconds more to catch on to the fact that I was trying to communicate. Taleah wrecks all the joy we have, however, by taking all our toys away (which is of course necessary for the scene). I think one of our best moments is noticing Taleah and then helping each other out. We all knew she was there because of Ms Flood telling us but because of our group awareness we didn’t all look there straight away; it worked as a chain, a couple looking then the others “catching on”. When we noticed a child’s toy been taken away, at least 1 of us would go over there to cheer them up.
  • Puppets! This we didn’t do in class but a few of us workshopped it outside of class. It was my idea and it came from the mirroring we did at the Zen Zen Zo workshop: I found it really fantastic because of the incredible focus, the group and self-awareness it takes as well as the emphasis that can be placed on detail. I liked the idea of a puppeteer giving energy in a way to puppets. Geoff, Cathy, Taleah and I were work-shopping this idea at lunchtime and Taleah had the most  amazing music to go with it. The only problem with this is that it had lyrics and we would need to figure out how to take them off. fortunately, Aiden apparently knows how to do this so it’s now Mel’s task to find out more about that. An idea that Mel had if we can’t get the lyrics taken off is to potentially have Mel or someone playing the drum (there are very strong beats in the music which are needed for the puppeteer) and humming the melody. I think both could be effective. I was really happy with what we came up with although we realised that we needed to choreograph it because the puppet can’t see what the puppeteer is doing. However, there were a couple of problems we found with this:

             1) How long should it go on for? We were trying to be particular mindful of this because we didn’t want it to get to long and repetitive but at the same time we wanted to fit everything in.

             2) Including Jesse and Daniel. This also comes into the timing of it because we don’t want them to be absent whilst we’re doing the puppetry however to have anything else going on would take away from the effectiveness. So what should they be doing? We didn’t come up with an answer.

  • Finale: We also needed to start thinking of ideas for the finale: I thought that it might be an idea to have the puppets in the finale and then incorporating everything else we had done throughout the show case. To me it seemed that this would be chaotic yet perfectly structured; circus-like. It would include the puppets, pencil focus, back dance (but perhaps with more movement), the puppeteer (perhaps they could be controlling aspects of it?), the children and dynamics (not everyone would be moving or still at the same time). I think the finale needs to incorporate all the ideas that we have used so far because we have new and different stages of the performance and we don’t want the finale to seem like another new stage.



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