Savannah's Theatre Blog

Week 6: IP

Posted in IPP by Savannah on March 14, 2011

I feel that we started this week really well! We’d been struggling with finding energy and that ‘child-like’ quality for Rolling in the Deep so I wanted to start with that. After stalking Cat on her blog and reading about how she saw a strong relationship between what we learnt from the Zen Zen Zo workshop and Rolling in the Deep. The element from the ZZZ workshop that really stood out to me in relation to this scene was the changing energy levels. I saw the levels going throughout the piece and often changing rapidly.

At the start of the piece, I wanted to incorporate acrobatics (an element often included in physical theatre) and I wanted a more interesting entrance so I thought it would be good for Pandora to cart-wheel down the aisle to really emphasise the huge change in her movement. At the same time, Cat’s character (Violetta) does front walk over on the stage. When I reach the stage, there is a box at the bottom of the steps which I immediately notice and I am seemingly amazed/intrigued by it so I go to level 5 (the curious state). Whilst I’m at this curious state, Violetta has gone to a level two (the zombie state) but slightly more exaggerated so she is bent over. I like the juxtaposition between energy levels because that is often the case with children – going suddenly from hyped up and full of energy to asleep, dead to the world. Something else I wanted to take elements of from the workshop was this exercise:

Group awareness – up and down

This exercise involves 5 people standing in some sort of formation (a line, star, etc.) and two people must be crouched whilst the other three are standing. The difficulty, or the key, is not using sight. Each person looks straight ahead and relies on their other senses (+ their 6th sense) to determine whether to crouch or stand.

Cathy thought of a way to incorporate this and pass boxes in a way that was much more interesting which involves us sliding down to the floor in a back-to-back position and then I lean down in front of me to pick up a box and pass it over my head to Cat.

We had a lot of difficulty in making this piece sufficiently long which is normally not something I really care about because I’m really all for quality not quantity. However, I was feeling that this piece was lacking in both. So, we had fun brainstorming different child hood games/activities and extending on what we had already come up with. We were also worried that we would forget all that we’d done, so at the end of the lesson we wrote it all down and here it is:

Sav begins outside D4

Cathy enters upstage right

Pandora cartwheels (starting when the words start) down the aisle in the centre of the audience, ending in a round off half turn. She then finds Box 1 and goes to a Level 5 curious about the box and then throws it to Violetta and is curious about her response.

Meanwhile, Violetta does a front walk over (starting at the same time as Sav) and almost immediately goes into a L2 (zombie state) and then to a quick level 7 before I pass her the box and she goes into L5

Violetta puts the box down before Pandora runs around it and they slide down in a V position, back to back.

Pandora then picks up the box Cathy just put down and brings it over her head to pass it to Violetta.

Violetta then places it on the floor in front of her and Pandora mimics her movements.

Both Violetta and Pandora swivel around on their hand on releve. They both spin around into 2nd position.

Geoffrey (from the wings, stage right) throws Box #2 to Violetta who then throws it to Pandora. They have a hot potato match until Violetta gets bored and throws it behind her to the pyramid they are building.

Violetta and Pandora then help each other up and Pandora moves over to the boxes and Violetta prepares herself to recieve Box #3, both moving like robots.

Pandora passes the box to Violetta and they both lift their legs behind them with a flexed foot

Pandora moves back to the boxes and throws Violetta another box

Violetta places that box on the pyramid

Pandora calls Violetta over to the boxes and places a box on her head

Pandora then puts a box on her foot and holds Violetta’s hand and they both make their way over to the pyramid. They both place their boxes on the pyramid and Pandora has the idea of hiding behind the boxes and making a game out of moving them. Violetta soon catches on.

Violetta runs down the aisle to play cops and robbers but Pandora has another idea and runs down and pulls Violetta back on stage.

Pandora drags Violetta  to the hats downstage right. They both look at each other, then forward and then then bend over to pick up the hats and stand up at the same time.

Violetta goes to put on the hat. At the same time Pandora looks at her. Violetta stops putting on the hat and the process is reversed.

They both then turn to look at each other, put their hats on and curtsie.

With their new characters (because of the hats) they both run through the audience playing cops and robbers. At some point, they signal to each other that it’s time for a shoot out. They slowly walk backwards towards each other, turn around when they meet and shoot each other.

Both sit up, lean forward and then bring their legs over behind them and swivel around.

Violetta then takes a crouching position whilst Pandora  runs around and they play a game of leap-frog (3 leaps) before they turn to face each other on their knees and play a clapping game.

They then both run back on to the stage and begin stacking the boxes rapidly.

They then get distracted and run to jump off the stage. They then both pretend to be adults and play tea parties, walk like adults, etc.

They then share secret looks and point to the audience and giggle about them

They finally take different poses in reserved seats. Violetta goes to a seat near the front on the left side whilst Pandora goes to the middle on the right. They take a piece an accessory from an audience member (pre-arranged) and take a final, “adult” pose.

I think it works really well and it’s so much fun that both Cathy and I are just smiling and laughing the entire way through!

Another scene that we worked on (and finalised!) this week was Intervention which is completely changed and is now Trust. It was predominantly inspired by some physical theatre videos on you tube that I watched which I will try to link now:

Link 1

Link 2 – This is just something beautiful and amazing !

Link 3

Link 4

Link 5 

Link 6 – Alvin Ailey!

There was still something nagging at me – that we hadn’t:

a) Been really getting to the bottom of what physical theatre is, and

b) Hadn’t explored the relationships

Trust is such a significant part of Pandora’s journey and I couldn’t believe that this realisation had not occurred to me before. So with this scene, I wanted to incorporate a lot of balance exercises but, as with life, there is always more than one layer and I wanted to incorporate more of Violetta’s journey. There are so many difficulties with helping a loved one with an addiction, the main question being: how much can you help whilst remaining standing yourself? In conjunction with this,  we really see Violetta’s strength come through. So, there is a lot of emphasis on Violetta moving by herself whilst Pandora moves only with the help of Augustus (the drug), as well as Violetta trying to remain upright and her struggle, and of course – Pandora questioning who to trust whilst Augustus manipulates her and Cathy remains truthful. Something that also comes into question for Violetta is her trying to determine what is actually happening. There are two specific moments where she trying to get to me but Augustus is blocking her way and she can’t figure out what is happening. These moments are among my favourites in the piece!

On Friday, Cathy couldn’t come to school so I arranged for Geoffrey and I to work on Turning Tables. Whilst I wasn’t as happy with this session as I was with the others, we still got some good work done. We hadn’t gone over it for a while so I think that may have been part of the reason why it was not working. Still, as I said, we got some good work done! We went through the chore to start with and figured out the problems and why a few things weren’t quite working timing wise. We then we went through the beats in the scene and figured out the best Laban efforts to use for each. So here’s what we decided on:

Turning Tables:

1. Until facing audience

– glide, float (on both parts)

2. Until wrap – leg up

SAV: wring, press, glide, float

GEOFF: press, slash

3. Drop down – run in front

GEOFF: flick, press, glide

SAV: flick, dab, float, glide

4. The Sway

SAV: glide, float

GEOFF: press – recurring when I’m not looking/can’t see him

5. Jump

SAV: flick, glide (dab?)

6. Walk back

SAV: Glide

GEOFF: press

7. Puppetry

SAV: gloat, flick

GEOFF: press, flick

8. Swan

SAV: glide, float, press

GEOFF: press, punch

I think we worked really, really well this week. Not only did we get really far along with chore but we were able to figure out objectives and emotions; what goes on behind the eyes – essentially the most important part!

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Week 5: Monday

Posted in IPP by Savannah on March 5, 2011

Today was a really interesting lesson. We didn’t get much done in terms of ticking of boxes but we got a lot accomplished in the way of new ideas, development of ideas, development of character and theatre styles.

I’ll start with theatre styles:

Over the weekend, I’d put quite a lot of work into researching some new theatre styles. I specifically looked at Eclectic theatre, which is pulling bits and pieces from many different styles which seemed very suitable because I can see a lot of influences even if I am not able to put them into words just yet! However, I also looked (a little bit) into Symbolist Theatre from our textbook which, I have to say, confused me greatly and I had to read so many times to draw what I did from it. What really stood out for me was existence of both dreams and reality and the interaction between them. It seemed quite fitting for our piece because we do have both illusion and reality. Illusion in that Geoff is the personification of the drug and can only be seen by Pandora and thus not by Cathy, which to me was like the dream side of Symbolist theatre and reality is what Cathy’s character sees. I think it’s quite clear however, if you pay attention, what is real and what is not. Because Cathy and Geoff’s characters do not interact at any point and Cat’s character literally walks past him on a few occasions, I think if the audience pays attention they will be able to see the distinction between illussion and reality. The problem with drawing from symbolist theatre is that we are not symbolising a political stance or particular view-point with our characters and that seems to be an important part of Symbolist Theatre.

Ms Flood is going to lend me a book about dream interpretation which will be really interesting and the may be a way to incorporate that which would bring it back to Symbolist Theatre, as well as Bio-mechanics.

Ms Flood’s words: A world goes to a new reality that we accept in a dream.

In dreams we view all happenings as regular as Pandora (my character) does in The Heroine. I do not mean that her actions are normal in regard to day-to-day life, rather – normal for a heroin addict. Cathy’s character will be out of the “dream” so she does not view the things I do/how I react to Geoff as normal or regular.

Something else I talked about with Ms Flood was LYING.

I’d heard of a story someone had told me about meeting with an old friend who they hadn’t seen for a long time. She said that this old friend was acting very strangely and asked for fruit/food ‘for later’ and took it away in her bag. Later it was discovered that her friend was addicted to heroin. It struck me after talking with Ms Flood that the user would not only lie or act strangely when covering up their addiction but would act differently in many other situations such as was the case with this story. It could have been due to lack of money or it could have been simply erratic behaviour because of the mental state they are in.

Something else Ms Flood brought my attention to was the actual presentation of heroin and how something so precious is stored in something so cheap. She suggested that I try to emphasise this.

We talked about the routines and how I was thinking of having a voice over through them explaining what was happening in short snippets (the analyst). She thought of having a similar thing with Pandora’s thoughts perhaps going through the piece. Phrases such as: ‘I won’t become addicted’, ‘I’ll just try it’, etc. Now that I think about it, Ms Flood may have talked about Pandora’s thoughts as a voice over and then I mentioned my idea about the routines.

Both Taleah and I were worried about how our groups were progressing in regard to Laban and Stanislavski. Ms Flood had talked to both of us and emphasised how important character development is and what the purpose of what we are doing is; what is going on behind the eyes. It became apparent at this point that we had both been focussing on the aesthetic and not what is actually going on. The thought of continuing like that really scared me but I wasn’t sure how much of an effect my saying it had on the other two (I think Ms Flood may have also mentioned it to them) and I think that Taleah’s thoughts were along the same lines as we both thought a workshop in Laban and Stanislavski was a good idea.

So, on Wednesday we had the workshop. I was so nervous to begin this workshop because whilst I knew the theory and had exercises prepared I’d never really taught anyone anything before and there were so many things that could go wrong! But, the big thing  I was scared of was teaching them the wrong thing. I felt that I took a big step forward with this workshop because I really had to trust that all the reading I’d done as well as work I’d done in years 10 and 11 as well as  NIDA workshops out of school.  With more time I would have liked to go more in-depth but I think for the workshop’s purpose (getting everyone’s minds switched on to Laban) it was really good. I was really happy with the way everyone worked except for a few minor glitches where we lost concentration. It was very interesting to do physical work with non-dancers because they obviously didn’t have as much physical/self awareness. Even with things that are now familiar to me, such as lifting the upper torso, it was very difficult for some of the people in the class. Saying this, I even found it rewarding when they started to translate what I was saying into their body – it was very exciting to be able to teach something I feel passionate about!

I ended up adjusting my workshop plan slightly to really pinpoint what flow, space, time and weight really meant. We looked at successive and simultaneously flow and exaggerated the opposites of space, time and weight.

Exercise for successive/simultaneous body movements:

1.      Start in an upright position, arms by side and roll down from head until knees are bent and back up again.

2.      Start in an upright position, arms extended upward. Allow the movement to slowly flow through the body by bringing the fingers to extend backwards and to then go through the wrist, elbows, etc. Here, play with both successive and simultaneous flow. And back up.

I think that breaking down each aspect was very helpful. I know I found it helpful so I hope everyone else did too.

It was really interesting to be able to watch as well as demonstrate some of the exercises. It was really interesting to see what different people in the class were doing and why. For example, there were a couple of people who were adding characteristics that were not necessary for the effort such as dragging of the feet. Upon reflecting, I think it was because they were adding character to their movement which, whilst not necessarily a bad thing was not something we had progressed to. I wanted it to be down to the raw efforts because once the technique is achieved, you can then progress to bigger and better things with a solid base.

Okay, so: I was just being totally nosy and reading my group members blogs (I’M SORRY TO CAT AND GEOFF IF EITHER OF YOU ARE READING THIS BUT I THINK IF YOU ARE THAT MAKES YOU JUST AS NOSY AND I SHOULDN’T BE APOLOGISING THEN) and when I was reading Cathy’s she was talking about the Zen Zen Zo workshop in relation to Rolling in the Deep. She briefly mentioned the 7 levels of energy and that really has me thinking! I want total changes in energy throughout the piece as children are ecstatic and asleep/dead to the world, the next. I can particularly see this at the start of the routine where Cathy does a walkover and I do cartwheels down the aisle, during cops and robbers, the high five that misses and the ending (I want to ‘borrow’ statement items from two wonderful audience members – imitating adults – and freeze in an ‘adult’ position, i.e. legs crossed looking important). I am very excited to experiment with that in order to incorporate more of the stuff that we did last year into this performance.

Here are some useful things I said in my blog from the workshop and also things that I think of whilst going through them:

– I think creating the different levels of energy it is one of the best exercises is for determining energy levels. It made me very aware of just how much energy impacts on those surrounding you, which includes the audience. I discovered this by simply being in the space with people doing the same exercise for I could feel the difference

– The curious level (5) and the very emotional one (6) would be very useful in RITD because they are so indicative of children

– Perhaps very brief moments of level 7 (short attention span)

– ‘I was shocked to discover that I walked with my arms. At first – when watching Daniel – I thought I was flicking up my hands with each walk but he was just trying to bring more attention to the arms. It is something I will be conscious of in the future.’

– This exercise involves 5 people standing in some sort of formation (a line, star, etc.) and two people must be crouched whilst the other three are standing. The difficulty, or the key, is not using sight. Each person looks straight ahead and relies on their other senses to determine whether to crouch or stand.

After the demonstration, 5 of us started it off. I found it very difficult to resist looking at the others but I got over that. My next difficulty was that I got frustrated, which of course helped nothing. I had to be very stern with myself to regain focus after this. I wanted to try it again so I could focus more and do a better job yet I always want this!

In this one focus, energy, physical and group awareness were clearly needed; if one wasn’t present the result wasn’t as good. I found that Sonia fidgeted a lot and was obviously not focussed and I think (from observations) that the others had to give even more focus to compensate.

I worked on lighting with Taleah and Cat (and some helpful others) on Friday. I wanted very basic lighting, no colours; something soft. I didn’t want a huge emphasis on lighting or artificial means of enticing the audience because, whilst it is very effective in some pieces, I felt that that was not the mood I was trying to create. The emotions in The Heroine are vital as it is a very raw play brought down to the truth of the matter and I feel that simple lighting will emphasise that.

I’m so, so glad that Taleah still wants to help me with lighting because she is AMAZING and is able to achieve the exact effects I want for each scene!

Week 4

Posted in IPP by Savannah on February 27, 2011

On Monday, we mainly worked on/started Rolling in the Deep. I was so, so happy with it at this point! Basically, I told Cathy my idea in a nutshell and we just put on the music and did it! It was wonderfful and soo much fun! We get to be really silly in this routine which I really love because it’s pretty much the only light in a pretty dark play. We added a part to it which was with police hats. I wanted to get down to the essence of what I was trying to say (happiness in childhood) and I’d thought of using costumes/playing dress ups like children would (and like we occassionally do). So we did this really fun thing with the police hats where we pick them up in identical motions and with identical timing but then Cathy starts to put her hat on and I look at her, then vise versa and finally we get them on at the same time! I’m so excited!

On Wednesday however, we had some difficulties. It was mainly with Rolling in the Deep which had been going so well! We (both Cathy and I) couldn’t seem to get into our inner child and get the energy/emotion right. It was very frustrating for both of us – I think – so I tried to think of games we could do to get into that stage of not caring what any one thinks and allowing emotions to over rule us. So we started by playing some happy music which for me is music from the Burlesque soundtrack (Christina Aguilera rocks my world!) and for Cathy was Florence and the Machine. This didn’t really work so we tried hot potato with the boxes, soccer with the boxes, chasy and we got a little bit further but no where near where I want it to be. I’m hoping that we were just having a bad day (which would make sense given that we had a lot of major assessment pieces due in a couple of days) and that when we approach it with a fresh mind tomorrow morning, there will be more of that carefree, joyous side.

Something that we worked on that I was really happy with was Turning Tables. What we did was break it down motivation wise, as in we looked at the different stages within the piece and figured out what our characters were thinking, why they were thinking that and the effects of their emotional state. So, it went something like this:

Throughout the piece, my character feels as though she is in control. The audience knows this is not the case due to the drug’s controlling through puppetry which she ignores/is not even aware of.

The piece begins with mirrorring and at this point, Pandora feels as though they have an even, equal and almost loving relationship. The drug thinks no such thoughts but is a manipulator and successfully gets her thinking this.

Only at the end of the piece is there a slight glimmer of realisation in what is really happening and that is when the drug drops her from the puppetry/lets her fall.

The Given Cicumstances:

  1. Who am I? Pandora (I’ve called my character this because I feel her as a ‘light’ character and I feel that the name is very fitting in relation to the play because of Pandora’s box; letting all the bad things into the world but hope along side it), 17 years old. She’s unhappy with her life, her family, school, everything because she feels that she’s not good enough. Using drugs provides a shelter, an escape from that insecurity. That’s why she started. She eventually realises that the drug is controlling her more than all the other influences (i.e. parents, school, etc.) who, she believed, were trying to make her perfect.
  2. What do I want? An escape which provides a feeling of strength in a way because she no longer has to be perfect; freedom.
  3. Why do I want it? Because it seems like the only option
  4. How do I achieve it? By using heroin. When that ultimately fails, she allows her friend to help her.
  5. What are my obstacles? Firstly: hiding it from everyone around me (eyedrops, perfume, long sleeved shirt), then: admitting that I need help
  6. Where am I?

Routines: In her bedroom

China White: In a bedroom of a new “friend’s” house. It’s relatively empty and the room is in pretty dodgy condition. The new “friend” is an addict and has been for a long time and therefore, spends money on drugs rather than furnishing.

Rolling in the Deep: Everywhere and anywhere.

Turning Tables: The same as RITD

Intervention: At Pandora’s house (Cat’s character has approached her in a place most comfortable to P)

Finale:A combination of Intervention and RITD.

* I realise that this is not in as much depth as it should be but when going through the scenes this week, expanding on this is something I plan to focus on.

Another good thing that happened on Wednesday was that we got some of the props that we needed. Whilst Cathy and I were working on Rolling in the Deep, I sent Geoff off to get syringes from the nurse (and to clearly state what we needed them for), then to the science department for a petri dish.

Whilst we a bit behind on our schedule, I feel that we’ve got a lot accomplished and I’m happy with how the piece is progressing! (Although we have like 2 tonnes of work to go but I managed to get quite a bit of work done over the weekend which is exciting!)

Week 4: plan

Monday:

Period 1: discussion

– Laban (briefly, see what work everyone has done, brief discussion)

– Character, inc. Stanislavski (briefly as we will go into more depth during routines)

– Theatre styles

– Costumes

Last 15 minutes of class/remaining time: finale, go through ideas, start linking, etc.

Period 2:

40 minutes: routines 1, 2 and 3, figure out how to get everything on/off stage

10 minutes: Rolling In The Deep – go through

Period 5: working on Finale

Tuesday:

Period 5: Lighting with Taleah

Wednesday:

Period 1 and 2: Focus on Laban as a whole class

Period 5: Lighting with Taleah

Thursday:

Period 5 – Turning Tables, focus on Laban

After School (4:30/5:00 – 5:45 – depending on how late production things run): Rolling In The Deep

Friday:

Period 3: lighting with Taleah

* No P5 rehearsal

The Routines:

Music: Heavy In Your Arms (Soundtrack Version), Florence and the Machine

Props: (what we have)

Cat Sav
  Head band (white Alice band)
  Mascara
  Perfume
  Necklace (to rehearse with)
   
   
   

 

Props: (what we need)

Cat Sav Other
Hair brush Necklace that works 2 X card tables
Hair clips/band Hairbrush 2 X chairs
Mascara/lip balm Eye drops/eye dropper  
Perfume Long sleeved shirt (?)  
Jewellery    
     
     

 

1st Routine:

–        This routine goes with the music

–        There may be a costume addiction (with Sav’s character) that is Cathy’s colour or the other way around

–        Time: 2:32 without costume addition

Why Cat’s character is involved:

I want to make it clear that she is my friend before I started to take the drug. This defines her first role.

*Optional: Cathy puts on something of her own colour to emphasise to the audience that it is her colour.

2nd Routine:

–        Cathy will be in this routine but her actions will go with the music (like the 1st routine) whilst Sav’s character’s actions will be slightly altered because the drug is changing/effecting her life

–        There Alice band will be replaced with eye drops in this scene to mask bloodshot eyes.

–        No interaction between the two although they know the other is there (Sav’s character is less aware of this )

* There may be costume addition/removal in this scene: long sleeve shirt/jacket , to cover up injection marks – EXPERIMENT

3rd Routine:

–        Cathy will not be in this scene because she is trying not to be dragged into Sav’s character’s problems (Cathy’s character is scared)

–        It will be totally out of order and not with the music. All props will be set up but ignored. This is because deterioration of physical appearance is a common sign of drug abuse

–        Cathy’s table will still be set up but she will not be at it. This is to emphasise her absence

* There may be costume addition/removal in this scene: long sleeve shirt/jacket , to cover up injection marks – EXPERIMENT

–        I like this less here because I think my character is too far gone by this stage to care.

How they will work:

There will be two card tables set up (by us) downstage right and left with the props already on them. There will be chairs set up to one side of the table (on each table) towards centre stage. Both Cat and Sav (in character) will walk off their respective sides, leaving the tables but in black out may go back to get them (not in character).

Other:

When we went backstage with Nathan ? after seeing Superheroes by Stone/Castro and Arts House, we saw tables set up in the wings with their props in a particular order so they knew exactly where everything was. This is something that is important to do for this sequence.

 

The Routines:

Music: Heavy In Your Arms (Soundtrack Version), Florence and the Machine

Props: (what we have)

Cat Sav
  Head band (white Alice band)
  Mascara
  Perfume
  Necklace (to rehearse with)
   
   
   

 

Props: (what we need)

Cat Sav Other
Hair brush Necklace that works 2 X card tables
Hair clips/band Hairbrush 2 X chairs
Mascara/lip balm Eye drops/eye dropper  
Perfume Long sleeved shirt (?)  
Jewellery    
     
     

 

1st Routine:

–        This routine goes with the music

–        There may be a costume addiction (with Sav’s character) that is Cathy’s colour or the other way around

–        Time: 2:32 without costume addition

Why Cat’s character is involved:

I want to make it clear that she is my friend before I started to take the drug. This defines her first role.

*Optional: Cathy puts on something of her own colour to emphasise to the audience that it is her colour.

2nd Routine:

–        Cathy will be in this routine but her actions will go with the music (like the 1st routine) whilst Sav’s character’s actions will be slightly altered because the drug is changing/effecting her life

–        There Alice band will be replaced with eye drops in this scene to mask bloodshot eyes.

–        No interaction between the two although they know the other is there (Sav’s character is less aware of this )

* There may be costume addition/removal in this scene: long sleeve shirt/jacket , to cover up injection marks – EXPERIMENT

3rd Routine:

–        Cathy will not be in this scene because she is trying not to be dragged into Sav’s character’s problems (Cathy’s character is scared)

–        It will be totally out of order and not with the music. All props will be set up but ignored. This is because deterioration of physical appearance is a common sign of drug abuse

–        Cathy’s table will still be set up but she will not be at it. This is to emphasise her absence

* There may be costume addition/removal in this scene: long sleeve shirt/jacket , to cover up injection marks – EXPERIMENT

–        I like this less here because I think my character is too far gone by this stage to care.

How they will work:

There will be two card tables set up (by us) downstage right and left with the props already on them. There will be chairs set up to one side of the table (on each table) towards centre stage. Both Cat and Sav (in character) will walk off their respective sides, leaving the tables but in black out may go back to get them (not in character).

Other:

When we went backstage with Nathan ? after seeing Superheroes by Stone/Castro and Arts House, we saw tables set up in the wings with their props in a particular order so they knew exactly where everything was. This is something that is important to do for this sequence.

 

General Information About the Eight Basic Efforts: Laban

Posted in IPP by Savannah on February 27, 2011

General Information about the Eight Basic Efforts

We use the eight basic efforts in everyday life in both our movement and speech however we do not necessarily use them all. Generally, each individual’s mannerisms and personality affect their movement range. We may branch out occasionally due to extreme emotions, i.e. anger.

There is also the question of how we prefer to move for certain actions but they can be made appropriate to the task at hand. For example, when lifting a box above your head, it would be unwise and ineffective to employ the floating effort. It would be more effective to use a direct or strong effort. Saying this, it is often the case that we use more than one effort for an action. It may be more effective to slash to get the box up to a shelf and then press to move it further along the shelf.

These efforts can be performed with or without the flow factor. It is essential to learn control of the flow factor to be able to apply it when necessary.

Flow:

Flow describes movement that is unimpeded or continuous such as floating your hair in water, some forms of handwriting, robes or running water aided by gravity. 

It can be successive or simultaneous.

Successive flow: when one body part follows another, carrying the movement along

Simultaneous flow: When one body part follows another, carrying the movement.

Movement can be both simultaneous and successive. For example, if you allow a trunk-like movement to travel from your knees, through your hips, chest, shoulder and head and allow your arms (or legs) to move in a successive motion, carrying energy from your shoulder through your elbows, wrists, hands and finally fingers, it would be both simultaneous and successive. This is because the body is simultaneously working together and separately.

Free flow is entirely unimpeded and difficult to stop suddenly. When utilising free flow, it feels as if there are no problems or complications that could occur. There is no reason to put the action ‘on hold’ (Newlove, Dalby, 2004: 128); the mover feels completely confident.

Bound flow is hesitant and involves more care than free flow. However, bound flow can be tentative or confident. If you are performing a task that requires care but you know what you are doing, it would be bound flow because you are taking care but confident because you  know what you are doing.

An example of free flow as apposed to bound flow: If you are painting a wall you would use free, broad and sweeping strokes with a large brush (free flow) but if you were painting a window frame, you would employ a steady hand, take more careful strokes and try not to get any paint on the glass (bound flow).

Space:

In order to comprehend the space we inhabit. We need certain recognisable signposts such as walls, fences or boundaries to first determine the size of the space. To then pinpoint our exact location, it is necessarily to know the distance we are from these boundaries. When we move we ‘push some space out of the way’ (Newlove, Dalby, 2004: 112) and the area we just vacated is filled with more space.

There are different ways to inhabit the space we operate in. If someone is naturally shy they will cringe back into their kinesphere to try and detract attention. They are minimising their use of space by doing this. If we were to take it to the extreme, we would be able to use the least space possible by ‘bending all of our joints and curling up into a ball’ (Newlove, Dalby, 2004:112). Laban called this gathering. Contrastingly, we can stretch all of our limbs into a star like position, stretching even our fingers, to extend our kinesphere. This is called scattering. It is important to remember that we cannot only gather and scatter our whole body but individual body parts as well.

It is important not to fear using the surrounding space.

Time:

Both space and time are necessary to obtain the ‘where’ and ‘when’ in a given situation. Everyone responds differently to time even though we are surrounded by clocks and watches. This is because we all inbuilt clocks within us that determine our actions/what sort of movements we are suited to.

Rhythm is an essential element of time; they are ‘inseparable’ (Newlove, Dalby, 2004: P117).

Laban says that ‘rhythm is the lawless law which governs us all without exception. But only a few are familiar with it, although it is always around us and within us and reveals itself everywhere’. We generally think of rhythm as something associated with music which, of course, it is, but Laban pointed out that the rhythm without us allows us to dance and move without music but it is simply not ‘bound by metricality’ (Newlove, Dalby, 2004: 117). This is where the idea of regular and irregular rhythm comes into play.

There is both regular and irregular rhythm. A movement that is not bound or restricted has an irregular time-rhythm, and of course, regular is the opposite. A performer should be able to express both.

It is debatable whether there are some people in the world who have no sense of rhythm because, really, it is in everyone; in our regular heart beat, breath pulse and our walk.

Weight

Weight is a particularly interesting aspect of Laban’s theories because of it’s realtion with gravity. It is interesting to note that the way people move naturally in relation to weight is not necessarily dependent on their mass. For example, a skinny person may stomp around or vise versa. In Laban for All, weight is said to be ‘the force exerted on a body by a gravitational field’ and that ‘our ability to stand upright depends on the tension between the force of the body and the pull of gravity’ (Newlove, Dalby, 2004: 119) so it seems that some people will ‘indulge’ in gravity whilst some will ‘resist’ (Newlove, Dalby, 2004: 119).

Weight affects both space and time. If we are heavy, or indulging in gravity, we will move slowly.

The kinetic force is how much energy is required to move in space.

External resistance is the resistance we have against what we are trying to do. It ignores the resistance of gravity.

Kinetic sensing is tested when we have to pick up and hold weight.

The Eight Basic Efforts

Flicking: Flexible, Sudden, Light

Flicking is flexible in its use of space and it resists both Weight and Time.

It is a movement with free flow. It is crisp, light and always brief.

Wringing: Flexible, Sustained, Strong

This primarily involves movement in the opposite direction, such as wringing out a towel where your hands will move in two opposite directions.

Keep in mind that wringing is not restricted to the hands.

Dabbing: Direct, Sudden, Light

This is usually performed with free flow and is very flexible.

There is nearly always a rebound, meaning something that the movement bounces off (not necessarily literal).

Punching: Direct, Sudden, Strong

This involves violent, direct movements but can be performed with bound or free flow.

There is no indulgence in this effort; it overcomes Weight, Space and Time.

 

Floating: Flexible, Sustained, Light

This effort is like flying but can be through air or water.

It can be performed with bound or free flow.

It suggests ‘buoyancy and weightlessness’ (Newlove, Dalby, 2004: 139) however it is slow paced and indirect.

Slashing: Sudden, Strong, Flexible

This effort is usually performed with free flow.

When we think of slashing, the general though is a sword slashing towards an object and meeting resistance. When performing, this effort tend to fade into a float at the point it would meet resistance.

 

Gliding: Sustained, Light, Direct

This effort is a smooth movement, generally performed with bound flow.

There is a high level of control in this movement which comes from muscular counter-tensions. This is the way in which this effort differs from floating; floating does not have that level of control.

Pressing: Direct, Sustained, Strong

Pressing is applied to pushing, crushing and squeezing (pressing from both directions).

It is efficient in its use of space and is performed with bound flow which means that the action can be paused but not completely stopped.

However, there is still a sense of fluency similar to the glide.

Gravity and weight are closely aligned with this effort as they can help or hinder you depending on the direction in which you are pressing.

 

The Dynamospher

The Dynamospher was Laban’s term for the imaginary structure that illustrates the eight basic efforts.

They dimensional cross within the cube is structured in such a way that it illustrates the nature of time, weight and space.

Light to Strong: goes from the centre of the floor to the centre of the ceiling, indicating that light is high whilst strong is deep.

Flexible to Direct: goes from the centre of the right wall to centre of the left. This is because of the action of raising your arm or leg to either side. If you were to raise your right arm and move it to the right side of your body, you would be relatively free of resistance (freedom) but if you move it across your body to the left side, you would encounter resistance and the movement would be very limited and would, therefore, direct.

Sustained to Sudden: goes from the centre of the front wall to the centre of the back wall. Laban noted that we mainly use are arms and legs in front of our body where movement is easily sustained. If we move them behind our body, we encounter more resistance and our movements are necessarily short and therefore sudden.

Bibliography:

– Newlove, Jean, 1993, Laban for Actors and Dancers, Putting Laban’s Movement Theory into Practice, A Step-by-Step Guide, Nick Hern Books, United Kingdom

– Newlove, Dalby, 2004, Laban for All, Nick Hern Books, United Kingdom

First classes of Year 12!

Posted in IPP by Savannah on February 6, 2011

We had to miss out on our first double period (Monday morning) to get our books, etc. and it was like, who really cares? I thought theatre class was much more important…

When we did get our first class, we got all of our due dates which I’ll put up here in case I lose the sheet.

IP – Friday 1st April

IPP – Friday 13th May

RI – Friday 10th June

PPP – Friday 2nd September

TPPP – Friday 23rd September

I’m really happy with the order everything happens in. Whilst a couple of people have said that they would have liked the IP to occur later in the year, I’m really glad we’re doing it first. We all have so many ideas and I think we would be distracted through the other assignments thinking about the IP, if the others had occurred before it. Because we had so many ideas, we were able to jump straight into it after we had discussed dates and who was doing what.

Over the holidays, Taleah and I had been talking and thinking a lot about the IP and our projects/ideas so we had roles, both backstage and on stage, organised. For the most part, we were doing the backstage roles ourselves because there wasn’t much to each role. Although, I asked Taleah to do my lighting because I’m not particularly good at/interesting in lighting and she really wants to do it! Unfortunetely, Daniel decided not to do his idea for a performance which meant he either needed to do something in my piece or Taleah’s. Ms Flood also suggested that he could do the school production (Alice in Wonderland!) as his IP. He’s now doing lighting for Taleah so hopefully that all works out.

My performance is based on drug addiction and I’m classifying it as contemporary physical theatre. It took me quite a while to figure out some form of classification because I was under the impression that physical theatre was not a theatre style. After a bit of research and finding information about a piece of physical theatre that I saw a couple of years ago – Bodyline – and having Julia Cotton (director/choreographer  of Bodyline, Head of Movement Studies at NIDA) class the piece as physical theatre made me sure that I could call my piece physical theatre.

I chose to do physical theatre because it makes the most sense to me as a form of communication. Choosing the issue of drug abuse/addiction made it more important to me to be able to strongly communicate something, as it is an issue that has affected so many people, including my family. The main message I want to communicate is that as one person – a friend or family member – you can try and help the addicted or struggling but you cannot overrule them and take a higher position in their recovery until they allow you to. It’s an icredibly important message for me to portray, and something I have been trying to come to terms with.

I asked Cathy and Geoffrey to be in my piece/help me with it because I know they are the people most comfortable with physical work in the class. Being able to move well is obviously something that is incredibly important in my piece so that the three of us involved are dancers is, I have to admit, no coincidence. Saying that, I know we all work extremely well together from our work on Child’s Play. This has really proved to be true as in our first discussion on Wednesday, we all contributed and really liked each others ideas.

Before I go into the ideas for scenes, I should probably describe the characters involved.

The most obvious role is the addicted. I’m having her as a teenager and playing her myself. She experimented with drugs because her life was falling apart. Drugs became her escape or “shelter”. This is my character.

The drug: Rather than having the drug as an  unseen force, I wanted to personify it highlighting the way in which the abuser starts using, why she continues and what happens when she eventually tries to stop. I thought it would be more effective in delivering a message because it will be quite confrontational to the audience and will hopefully have them listening to what I’m trying to say.

The friend/family member (Cat). This role is someone who has been in her life since she was very young. She wants to help her friend but is scared of who she has become and is equally fearful of being drawn in to that world.

The analyst: This is a role like a chorus in Shakespearean plays. Also played by Cathy, her main role is in the puppetry/mirroring scene (“Shelter”) in which she pauses the action and analyses or explains particularly significant features. Whilst I don’t want the audience completely isolated, as I personally don’t like it as a method of eduction given that I care less about something if I am not emotionally involved, I want a certain level of alienation combined with emotional engagement so that they think, but truly care about what they are thinking of. This is the purpose of the analyst.

Here are the ideas so far:

The High

Music: Rolling in the Deep by Adele

Involves friend/family member (Cat), the addicted (me) and the drug (Geoff). It’s really the only ‘light’ scene in the piece and it reverts to childhood where everything was simple and we were, for the most part, oblivious to the real problems of the world (in many cases). To really highlight this theme, there will be a building of a cardboard box fort and dress ups (in a simple version – using hats, scarves, etc.). Combined with this will be random, fun and hopefully organic dancing; clapping and general fun.

All of this is juxtaposed with the lyrics of the song:

Rolling in the Deep Lyrics – Adele

There’s a fire starting in my heart,
Reaching a fever pitch and it’s bring me out the dark,

Finally, I can see you crystal clear,
Go ahead and sell me out and I’ll lay your shit bare,
See how I’ll leave with every piece of you,
Don’t underestimate the things that I will do,

There’s a fire starting in my heart,
Reaching a fever pitch and it’s bring me out the dark,

The scars of your love remind me of us,
They keep me thinking that we almost had it all,
The scars of your love, they leave me breathless,
I can’t help feeling,

We could have had it all,
(You’re gonna wish you never had met me),
Rolling in the deep,
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep),
You had my heart inside of your hand,
(You’re gonna wish you never had met me),
And you played it to the beat,
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep),

Baby, I have no story to be told,
But I’ve heard one on you and I’m gonna make your head burn,
Think of me in the depths of your despair,
Make a home down there as mine sure won’t be shared,

The scars of your love remind me of us,
(You’re gonna wish you never had met me),
They keep me thinking that we almost had it all,
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep),
The scars of your love, they leave me breathless,
(You’re gonna wish you never had met me),
I can’t help feeling,
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep),

We could have had it all,
(You’re gonna wish you never had met me),
Rolling in the deep,
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep),
You had my heart inside of your hand,

(You’re gonna wish you never had met me),
And you played it to the beat,
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep),

Could have had it all,
Rolling in the deep,
You had my heart inside of your hand,
But you played it with a beating,

Throw your soul through every open door,
Count your blessings to find what you look for,
Turn my sorrow into treasured gold,
You pay me back in kind and reap just what you sow,

(You’re gonna wish you never had met me),
We could have had it all,
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep),
We could have had it all,
(You’re gonna wish you never had met me),
It all, it all, it all,
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep),

We could have had it all,
(You’re gonna wish you never had met me),
Rolling in the deep,
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep),
You had my heart inside of your hand,
(You’re gonna wish you never had met me),
And you played it to the beat,
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep),

Could have had it all,
(You’re gonna wish you never had met me),
Rolling in the deep,
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep),
You had my heart inside of your hand,

But you played it,
You played it,
You played it,
You played it to the beat.

I hadn’t really listened to the lyrics of this song but when I played it to Cat and Geoff, Cat commented that it was not at all happy. It turns out that the lyrics are actually perfect for this scene, especially the backing singing because the message is clear, – ‘you’re going to wish you never met me’ – it makes sense in that she is going to wish she never started using drugs given how ugly it gets and this line – which stood our most to me – is not the most obvious line; it shows deception, which the drug employs.

Puppetry/Mirroring: “Shelter”

Music: Shelter by The XX

For this scene I wanted to bring back the puppetry we did in Child’s Play and the mirroring exercise we did in the Butoh workshop but I want to extend it so we are challenged. This is a very important scene as she sees the ugly side of what she is doing/the drug but is totally compelled to continue; she is unable to escape. It’s very important for the audience to see the progression of the drug’s ugly side because they are able to sympathise with the user.

I like the contrast betweeen puppetry and mirroring because they are essentially opposites: mirroring showing co-operation – both the drug and the addicted are working together, contrasting hugely with puppetry in which the drug is in total control. However, I want the audeince to similtaneously be compelled to watch and to detatch themselves, as she would be feeling so I don’t want a clean cut line between doing mirroring and puppetry so I want to break it up with movement really depicting the savage side of the drug, which she is beginning to see. What we choreographed this week is the perfect example of what I’m trying to explain.

Geoff and I begin with mirroring but it is very exact and precise, showing the supposed harmony. It quickly changes when he first grabs me around my waist and I try to claw him off, he then grabs my arms, then my neck, etc. It’s showing the many ways in which he is able to control me or rather, that he is cunning in finding ways for me to continue using.
Note: when I say ‘me’, I do not actually mean me (obviously).

He changes his tactic after this and compells me again. From this point I want to progress into puppetry to have another sudden change, this time, however, it is one I am not particularly aware of given that I have just been compelled (or just taken another hit).

There are some other ideas that we came up with that don’t have a place in a scene yet.

– I react to noises/actions made by the drug that Cathy does not react to. Such as, the drug stomping on stage = I hit my hand/fist on the table. As no one else can see what the drug is doing or why I’m randomly hitting my fist on a table, I can’t take it and I end up screaming or something done in equal frustration. Cat can’t see the drug – it affects everyone differently.

– with the cardboard box fort creating in Rolling in the Deep, a box is taken away each black out to symbolise the deterioratin effect of the drug (the good side). They will be knocked down in the last scene to show total disruption of the illusion.

– In the last scene, we see the drug as only anger and ugly things. Geoff will portray this by doing the really scary things that guys often do when angry, i.e. hits wall, above addicted head. There will be no music for this as I think that will make it more effective and confronting.

I think it’s progressing really well and I can’t wait to continue !