@ The point, Eastleigh, Creation Space
With:Me/Antonia Grove Performer
Jo McInnes Director
Charlie Morrissey Movement Director
Brad Birch Writer
Lee Ross Songwriter
Ben Duke Performer
What we needed to do?...
We needed to see if the ‘treatments’ and process we were already testing out for making this piece of dance theatre could cope with a more extensive and committed piece of writing/dialogue; the beginning of a script with a narrative context, history, progression through time and emotional gravity.
So we asked Brad to write a script which we could use to test this out, rip it apart, scrutinise it and probe it with questions.
We also needed to test out the introduction of live music in a room, get a feel for its possibilities, the different tones and the reason its function interests us.
We wanted to ensure that each medium (dance, text, song/music) maintained its own strong identity and voice, and didn’t soften or mould itself towards a common harmony or become diluted just because we would sometimes require the mediums to work together in combination.
It was the conflict, clashing, rubbing together of the artforms that interested us, and highlighted the complexity within a story. The elements could also work together in harmony, and we did'nt want to be afraid of that, but both harmony and discord seemed to rely on all artforms communicating in a strong and confident language.
What we actually did...
Brad came back after Xmas with 20 pages of a script- a dialogue between two people with a long history.
This immediately presented us with a whole new challenge, very different from the individual sketches we’d been working on till now.
We began the process of dissecting it scene by scene from the beginning, however we didn’t really get past the second page! The weight of backstory, and the emotional intensity of the opening scene made it immediately apparent that it required a much longer and more in-depth process of working into it. We were presented with a whole new treatment process to investigate, and lots to consider about the nature and form of what was needed and desired in terms of the writing.
We all wanted to push the depth of narrative and commitment to a ‘story’, whilst wanting to recognise where dance and song and the intention/placement/context/direction of which can take a lot of the weight off the text.
I learnt some of Lee’s songs, some new ones he’d written for Running on Empty, and some existing tunes.
I had an immediate affinity with a little country number called ‘I’m doing fine’. We were all attracted to the song because of its commitment to a particular style, and the way it tells a sad story through a pretty tune.
We took our dance improvisations ‘through the ages’, working a relationship from young kids through to old age. Jo would direct us from one moment in time to the next, our aim being to keep the dance human whilst avoiding mime or literal representation.
We returned to our ‘Jumper text’ from week 2, which we have renamed ‘the emollient nuns of Avignon’ (because we like it!). We used it in this improvisation through the ages, inserting it repeatedly on Jo’s direction, testing it against different states and times. The repetition of it in new contexts was very satisfying, and had something of the cyclic, ‘
running on empty’ quality we started this process with.
At the open sharing on Friday, we presented this longer improvisation, directed live by jo and Charlie, and accompanied by Lee on various string instruments.
We also revisited the ‘hoodies’ duet, working from behind our hoods through an improvisation of curiosity, intimacy, tension and aggression, leading in to scene 1 from Brad’s new script.
It’s always very exposing to share such a delicate, intimate and complex working process, however the work needs to expose something delicate, allow people in to a place of intimacy and communicate complexity to its audience with bravery and courage, so in fact it felt a necessary thing to do at such a early stage. Our audience was wonderfully open and generous, and I felt extremely proud to invite people in to witness such brilliant collaborators at work. Thanks everyone!
All photos by Matthew Andrews
All photos by Matthew Andrews