Sunday, 26 April 2009

An Orgy Of Thought - Week 5

Week 5 - A session of physical interpretation developed from thoughts and notes in week 3 and 4.

The group picked a track to re-visit from the week 3 and try to develop into a short foundation for a devised piece of theatre.

We jumped straight into this weeks task, fueled by motivation from the previous week.

Read on for a summary of the events of week 5.


1. This week's track
2. The Concept: "to explore the faceless nature of modern day office work"

2. Establishing The Scene
3. Developing The Scene
4. Improvising The Action
5. Interpreting The Action & Relationships Between Characters
6. Evaluating The Action

*please note: details have been left vague so you, the reader can envisage the scene's finer details in your own unique way using the tools of your amazing imagination!*

1.This Weeks Track:

John Adams - A Short Ride On A Fast Machine

We listened to the track a few times and combined all of our ideas into a concept which we developed for the rest of the session:

2.The Concept: "to explore the faceless nature of modern day office work"

We found the music to be very powerful, very tribal and very much like a machine.
In such modern times, the UK is fast becoming a country of vast service networks. We work to serve.
We call, we email and we pass data from one place to another.

With so many people feeling lost and disillusioned with their jobs, and so many students having to step into more mundane jobs following their degrees, is there any way out of this?

The group wanted to explore their frustration and fear of mediocracy.

As props to help us deliver our vision, we decided to use faceless white theatre masks.

3.Establishing The Scene:

We explored the potential of our ideas by asking some of the following questions:

How could we represent an office on stage?
How can we convey the repetitive nature of the music in our piece?
How would an army of faceless workers look? Act? Feel?
How much emotion, or lack of emotion can be sustained in such a dead environment?

4.Developing The Scene:

By combining our thoughts on the above questions with the music, we created a scene with the following:

4 seats
4 people repetitively repeating 3 actions associated with offices (old & new) such as:
typing, using a phone, printing, using dials, using switchboards,
filing, pushing a post trolley etc.

5.Improvising The Action:

Having set the scene, we played the track, and the action went something a little like this:

1.Each member enters individually and start miming their tasks

2. The members start interacting and passing items around to each other

3. As the film approaches the 1st crescendo, the workers speed up

4.On the crescendo, one of the workers shuts down.

5. Everyone carries on regardless momentarily until one worker gets up to reset the broken down one.

6. The work continues.

7. Another crescendo approaches and all workers take items to one of the 4 who is filing.

8. As his workload increases, he speeds up approaching the crescendo becoming more frantic.

9. As the 2nd crescendo approaches, he shuts down on the climax, only this time exploding onto the floor.

10. At first, no one reacts and work carries on as before. people just step over the broken worker.

11. Finally, one of the workers has a moment of realisation and stops working.

12. The rogue worker stands on their chair and takes off their mask - distracting the other workers who also stop working and stare at the rogue worker

13. A the final crescendo approaches, it looks as if all workers may remove their masks and find themselves, until the piece quickly ends and we don't know exactly what happens as the scene freezes.

6.Deconstructing the Action:

We felt that since the music had 3 crescendos, it would be important to utilise these moments and have 3 moments that change the mood and shift the piece through transitions explained above.
This piece is very dependent on the music, and very closely intertwined to the powerful piece.

Could the future hold...A performance of this concept would best suit an indoor theatre, which could include spotlights on certain elements of the action which could highlight specific moments singularly or at the same time, while still accentuating the black, lifeless environment that the action will exist within. This would juxta-pose the empty black with bright, energetic action and stifle any energy from the action, and would draw more energy form the lighting, music and glow from the white masks.

...Another perspective is that a performance of this nature could be very effective as a piece of street theatre - taking advantage of the displaced setting of outdoors, the audience being the shoppers of town and passers by ... would they recognise anything of their lives in this ?

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