Something Ollie Smith said in the post-show discussion of The Trilogy (2013) hit home with me. “You start with your pebble and you toss it in the lake and watch it ripple”. The pebble represents your initial idea and the ripples are continuations of that idea that spread and develop. This analogy calmed my initial nerves about creating a fully developed and functioning theatre company from scratch. We just needed to find our pebble!
With this mind-set, we began our first meeting. Simply throwing around our own preliminary ideas showed that we were all having similar ideas, which is a huge advantage with such a big group of people. We wanted to create something of our own and as 2014 is the beginning of the centenary of World War One, this is the topic that seemed most appropriate.
There is so much existing material regarding World War One that the script wouldn’t need to be totally devised. We want to take extracts from poems, novels, plays and newspaper articles and incorporate them with our own words to create a performance. We also like the idea of using real people’s voices throughout, to give an element of truth. This combining of extracts from multiple sources reflects altermodernist Nicolas Bourriaud’s ‘postproduction’. He states that: “artists today program forms more than they compose them; rather than transfigure a raw element…they remix available forms and make use of data” (Bourriaud 2005, p. 18). He draws a parallel between this and the work of a disc-jockey (DJ). A DJ doesn’t use original music, but collects them from other sources. The remixing of the music creates a new way of listening to the songs. This is the technique that we want to adopt when creating our piece.
Our initial rehearsals are well and truly underway and we have dived head first into the research and development stage. As we are right at the beginning of our devising process, we are simply playing. Just as children would when given a large space, we have been dancing, singing and playing games. However, this is not all in vain.
The songs we have been learning have been from World War One, as have the dances. The foxtrot and the castle walk are the first two that we have attempted. Having the freedom to play without the pressure of creating ideas seems to allow ideas to happen more regularly. Simply from a dancing workshop, we created the idea of having no men present and just representing them by dancing with a jacket or a hat, for example. This is a beautiful idea to come at such an early stage in the process.
Games have also proven to be useful in channelling our thoughts and ideas. For example, we were inspired by a picture of blindfolded men leading each other through the trenches.
We wanted to create a similar feeling and so we blindfolded ourselves and then set a task for us to complete. One of which involved us having to get in height order without any form of verbal communication. We just about managed it, but it proved a difficult task.
These early ideas are exciting as we have no idea if they are going to make it into the show or not at this stage. Watch this space!
Bourriaud, Nicolas, Schneider, Caroline, Herman, Jeanine (2005) Postproduction: Culture as Screenplay: How Art Reprograms the World, New York: Lukas & Sternberg.
Simpson, L. (2014) Birds Eye View of the Company.
Singer Sargant, John. (1919) Gassed, Accessed from: http://conflicts2.wikispaces.com/WWI+Art+Gallery [online] [12/02/14].
Smith, Ollie (2014) The Triology Post Show Discussion: Thursday 30th January 2014.