Tuesday, 20 October 2009

The Return Of Saddlers Wells (Part 5)

Its always interesting studying "abstract" theatrical concepts. This was the theme of this afternoon's classes. Now I am sure there are many different abstract styles of performing, but in a 2 hour session there is obviously a limit to what can be taught. So we focused on the concept of some crazy french man, who at the time was considered to be a complete idiot for the ideology behind the method of theatrical art. Now the name of this french dude slips my mind, but honestly, that isn't all that important. The important thing was the way he set about things.

His concept was that the audience should be a greater part of a piece of theatre. Even in most present day productions, the performance takes place on a stage and is watched by rows of people in seats. But what happens when you take a step away from tradition? His theory was that theatre could be much more interactive, with the theatre going on around people and in some cases involving the theatre patron in the art itself. All sounds rather strange doesn't it?

So how does it work? An example may be where a room is set out in a theme, lets imagine a ball, ladies wearing the poshest of gowns, and gents in their tops and tails. All the patrons may be given masks as they enter the ball room, where there is something going on. Though rather than telling the story to the patrons, the actors involve them, maybe actors will dance with the theatre goer whilst the story goes on around them. Its weird i know, but a very interesting concept and certainly makes performing arts more three dimensional.

So thats what we would do. Divided into two groups we were tasked with the concept of creating initially a piece of work that appealed to other senses other than sight, predominantly touch and. We used narration and various items to create the sensation of noise or touch including bubble wrap as rain and feathers brushing against the audiences face to represent the wind among other things. Its amazing how imaginative you can be. With the audience members having their eyes closed imaginations were permitted to run wild. Its a rather spine chilling experience with the right story, and we certainly achieved the response we wanted.

The second task on hand was to create a piece that plays with the mind of the audience member. Our personal space is very precious to us, and we all hate it when someone gets right in our face. So what happens to us when actors violate that personal space? Well the reaction is something much more personal than you would get at a traditional theatre show. We set our scene in some form of psychiatric ward, this time working with Katie and Sally, we orbited the audience members in close proximity as "patients" from the ward, and successfully made the audience members feel uncomfortable by again exploring the concept of touch tied in with some rather freaky acting and repetition of words. Again I was very happy with the overall results of this piece as it worked perfectly. If anyone has been to Thorpe Park on a fright night, this is a very similar method of acting which is used in the mazes that they have.

This was one of the most enjoyable classes, I think personally I did very well and it was something completely new to me. I am really lucky to be among a very talented group. I think all the work the class has achieved to date has been to an amazing standard. I also found out that Danielle intends to do the next class that I will be on with City Academy in the new year, so thats pretty awesome too!

So there you have it... abstract forms of theatrical art can be a lot of fun :)

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