Magic and Cliches
This week we have finished putting the building blocks of the play together. All characters, scenes and moments are set and we pretty much know where we are. Phew! It’s been a roller coaster week as we deal with both the beauties and challenges of devising theatre. Here are some lists outlining the good and the bad of the devised theatre making process.
1. Sometimes magic happens– ACTUAL magic. Struggling to create a scene earlier this week I suggested we solve a cheesy moment by having the character read a poem her granddaughter wrote. Whilst rehearsing the beginning of the scene Belle wrote said poem and then Suzanne read it in the next improvisation. It was the first time any of us had heard it and it was perfect. Both characters were able to respond instinctively, the scene was solved and there was magic in the room!
2. People don’t talk like they are reading– Personally I’m sick of hearing the written word onstage. I would much rather hear thoughts and feelings please. We are attempting to make this play with a full script and set lines but without the actors ever seeing their lines written down (see challenges).
3. Personal stories– We created a scene this week called ‘The women who danced on the bombs’. It comes from a real life story told by Suzanne that is quite special. Using this and many more stories that we have shared during this process has helped ground the play in something we find true and also kept our passion for the project burning. We have been able to incorporate some of the comments and stories we have heard through the blog and the public workshop we held too. Devising is keeping it real folks!
1. Cliches– When improvising we can stray towards cliches as these are the first thing that pops into our head. They make us feel safe and satisfied and sometimes they are useful. We’re going to be inviting some helpful theatre friends in as the cliche police to call us out on these in the coming weeks.
2. Actors hate not being able to see their lines written down– because they are scared they will forget them. It also puts me in a funny power position where I can see them and they can’t and sometimes they feel they are being corrected. We haven’t figured out the best way to get around this yet. At the moment the actors are writing down key words to get the order of the scene but no actual lines. Anyone been through a process like this before that can offer advice?
3. Killing babies– not actual babies, idea babies. We have too many ideas and we can’t get them all into the play. We have to let go of some of our ideas and we have to help each other to do that. It’s a baby killing support network. BKSN. We’re getting quite good at it and are considering opening ourselves up for hire after the show is finished.
Thank you again to everyone who has contributed to the blog this week! Look out for some more questions coming your way.