THE CUBE: questioning performing and making
This week begun with a similar format to the previous week: we initially planned to follow a half-day structure led by each member of the group on the ideas emerged while brain-storming on the subject of the Body of a Diplomat. We soon realised though that we had already been exposed to many different subjects, which was incredibly precious and enriching, but that we now needed to spend more time on each topic presented and to approach each day as a single workshop for developing a single idea.
Kathrin started with a workshop focusing on surfaces, which came from her interest in looking at the architecture of the embassy, given that through the use of objects too we had already developed an interest on how to design the space. The structure created in the space could represent topics that we have been dealing with:
– the volume inside the cube, or the content (the material used in performance: movement, text, relations with other performers),
– the cube itself (the performing space, the dance floor or the performing arena), and
– the bigger square (the theatre that contains the relations between the performers, everything that is performed and the audience).
Joe took the new stage design as an input to create an improvisational structure, naming the space in his own way. From Kathrin’s and Joe’s suggestion Susanna offered a movement workshop around the themes of skin and touch that allowed each performer to explore a variety of movement qualities in response to touch. Andrew re-worked Joe’s improvisational structure with an interest in overlapping the maps created during a previous workshop on ‘Dream Mapping’ in week 3.
On Friday evening we invited Efrosini to participate in a performance in which she could give directions via Skype. She managed to follow the performance via WebCam and as a god-like voice she would give directions to compose the performance.
During this week we looked at our common interest to have an observer who could follow the process from outside of the performance space. Having someone watching brought up questions about different modes of performance, and different options in terms of aesthetical choices, timing and relations. We are now questioning if we are interested in performing improvisation or set movement and text material. The past week has brought up very important questions that have pushed our process forward, bringing up many points for discussion and reflection, such as: performance as a situation; performing as an act; the quality of communication that happens with an audience.
Summing-up & Recollection of the past 4 weeks: Working with scores as performing structure and questioning our relation to the audience
On Sunday 21st August, the group decided to take part in ‘Open day – Offenes Bahnhofs4tel’ organised by the City of Oldenburg. This decision was based on thoughts about connecting with a wider public and using this opportunity to open-up the working process and to promote our forthcoming presentation on Saturday 3rd September. The invitation of audiences to our working space, the black box of theatre wrede +, was structured as a presentation of materials, so that there was a labelling of different sections on stage, such as ‘Aufwärmen am Morgen – MORNING PRACTICE’, ‘Geistesblitze – MINDMAPPING’, or ‘Kartographie – MAPPING’. In each section we exhibited drawings of space and places, texts and thoughts, books, etc. Also a slideshow of pictures of the last 4 weeks was presented. People could engage in talks with members of the group, ‘Lapsus Corpi’, and ask questions. It was a very friendly way to meet people and create an understanding about our aims in dealing with the subject of “The Body of a Diplomat”.
During the following days we kept research on scores and improvisation. By redoing the scores, we experienced how different the results on stage could be and how different the outcomes felt that were produced through the group’s intuitive decision-making. The cube (construction of strings inside the ‘blackbox’) remained present and thoughts emerged again about a boxing ring in the form of a performing arena.
The use of lights was another issue at stake: a decision was made to be self-responsible in working with mobile lights on tripods. The performance space was expanded into the auditorium, e.g. a speech could be given from the top seats of the auditorium. The original material was chosen deliberately according to each person’s individual ‘desire’. Objects, such as chairs and books, maps and papers, re-appeared on stage, as did narrative structures in everyone’s own imaginary space.
Finally, alongside the working process, the group had very useful talks with Ilka and Winfried about mentoring and the different possibilities of how to be a mentor as part of a collective working process.
Coming to a first end
While entering the last week of the project, it became clear to us that, even if this could be considered as an end, it feels more like the beginning of a long collaboration that could have only been possible through this residency.
The week began with trying to find a format of presentation that would potentially accommodate as much material as we had developing in the past 6 weeks. Given that game structures we had explored along the process seemed to have revealed how one negotiates onstage, which is very closely linked to the topic of diplomacy, first we decided to design a game; this would include an external overall structure and missions that would be given to the players to define each one’s objectives, which at the same time would give each player a personality/character.
The experience of being stuck is present in every working process. With the encouragement of Winfried Wrede, we started to think of how we could use our remaining days and the objective of Saturday’s presentation as an occasion to see what is relevant and what needs to shift or disappear in the sharing. This developed into a process of negotiation in itself for each member of the group individually and for the group as a whole.
Quite quickly we arrived at the proposition of structuring the sharing as a ‘lecture-performance’. Even though we inevitably constructed many of these questions, for the presentation we chose the ones that related diplomacy and the profession/figure of the diplomat to issues of place and space, the arbitrariness of language, movement patterns and body language, improvisation and game structures, privacy and dreams. Practically, what these questions led us to were different performative modes, towards which we worked altogether, individually and in small groups within the overall group.
The sharing of course gave us a new experience of the whole residency, as it already made us think of the future of the project. It also made us realise once again how thankful we are to Theatre Wrede for this unique and incredible opportunity we were given to work on research, risk and try out new ideas in a supported way.
We now feel like asking: Once we have shared our process and reached this first end, how could our relationship to the topic and our working structure evolve in the next phase, one that might concern performance and production?