Savannah's Theatre Blog

Puppetry – Workshopping!

Posted in All About Butoh by Savannah on October 21, 2010

Today we began by talking about music for the Butoh showcase. There were a huge array of instruments on the tables that had been pushed back in room 88 (we’d been kicked out of Room 46 because of the art exhibition). These included some instruments that I had brought, such as a cow bell and maracas, as well as some that Mel had borrowed from the music hall. Ms Flood also said that she had a toy piano to bring in. What I absolutely know about the music is that we are using tinkling sounds from the toy piano or xylophones for the playground/sandpit to add to the mood and show the simplicity but often extremity of children’s emotions. I’m very excited about the drum; it looks and sounds amazing.

There were a couple of new ideas: one from Taleah which is sooo interesting! I don’t know how she comes up with this stuff. It’s focussing on becoming or progressing into an animal and taking on their characteristics. The music would be the drum (perhaps more than one – creating polyrhythms?) and something else which I can’t remember! Everyone could see the Guppi mask from our Butoh workshop being utilised. There was also the idea of Mel’s which was actually talked about very briefly last lesson. It would involve one person doing the mask, The Scream, and everyone reacting around them – it would be wild and crazy. I saw it in the center circle we plan to have, in the middle of the audience; it would seem so raw and much more personal.

From there on we (Taleah, Geoff, Cathy and I) workshopped our puppet ‘episode’ whilst Bob and Daniel workshopped there mysterious (yet to be seen by the rest of us) cubby episode, although they are apparently having trouble with the cubby being usable. I think we had some real revelations with our puppetry. We were having difficulties with focussing first period especially with all the xylophone bashing, so at the start of the second period we went outside and, in pairs, did the mirror exercise. We needed to make it slightly harder though, so pair A would do the exercise whilst pair B would attempt to distract them in any way they could. I think Geoff and I were particularly good at distracting Cathy and Taleah with drumming and somersaults. This distraction was actually where we came up with the idea to include a somersault in our puppet dance although, needless to say, it took quite a lot of experimenting. We figured it out though and I plan to video it next week to see how it looks. Cathy also had the idea of backbends and each pair workshopped a way to do it in their own style. Cathy/Taleah’s style is smooth, slow, gentle and kind whilst mine/Geoffrey’s is rougher and definitely not kind. I think both ways are really effective especially because we decided to utilise each one in different parts of the dance. We decided ( and Cathy suggested) that she should do her backbend whilst I am doing my somersault: I think this will be very effective because it shows that we are both working at opposite directions yet together at the same time. We had slightly more difficulty utilising my back bend timing-wise yet with much experimentation we got there! It is a very jagged backbend, if you can have such a thing; Geoff “pulls” me down should by shoulder. We then do this chest pulse sort of thing which we all saw a version of in Step Up 2 and found to be amazingly affecting. They were on the ground however and I’m in a backbend doing it.

I think that I can safely say that our timing and focus is increasing hugely as well as our group awareness because of this performance piece. I think we are also learning to collaborate and communicate effectively.

Ms Flood and Mel came outside to see our puppetry and I think they were really happy with what we’d done! I know it still needs a lot of work but we are definitely on our way!

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