23 Feb Which Idea Is the Right Idea?
When devising theatre you start by throwing a lot of ideas in the air and play with them, either through improvisation or through creating small set pieces based on different tasks or impulses. Do it, perform it, build on it or throw it away.
Some things work beautifully in the moment but when trying to recapture the feeling it refuses to be repeated. Other things might not work with the time allocated, but you can see the seed and the possibility and so you keep going back and trying it again and again.
One of the performers for Falling Up asked me in the last rehearsal week; ‘How do you know that it is the right idea that you choose to stick with, how do you know at what point to stop improvising and committ to an idea instead of keeping looking for something else’.
I find this a very interesting question.
How do you know you won’t find something else and better if you keep looking?
I liken it with looking for a place to have lunch in a foreign city. The first restaurant might look a bit too touristic, the second one you don’t really fancy the menu, the third one is too empty. But then you start to get hungry and you realise that if you don’t choose soon they will all be closed and you will have no food at all (especially Spain makes this a stressful experience as if you pass the magical hour of 2 or 3, suddenly there is no restaurant serving anymore and you are stuck and starving!). So should you stick to whatever the next cafe offers? Or if you go around the corner, will that fantastic local, but funky, taverna appear with a brilliant and affordable menu? Or will there be nothing? Depending on what time it is and how hungry you are you will have to decide how much it is worth searching for something else. And depending how acceptable you found the cafes you found so far, should you go back to one of the first ones, AND… can you still find your way back to them?
Sometimes the first idea is the best idea and if you keep looking you are just getting further and further away. Sometimes you have to keep looking to find an idea you will want to stick with and work with. But most of all, in the situation of acrobatics or highly physical theatre; you also have to trust the craft of what you do. The physicality will speak as much as the idea. If we take any idea and have time to find the movement quality suitable for the character or the setting, have time to work the choreography in details, then it can be good. Then the physicality will make it’s own story, it will change the idea, it will take a life of it’s own. But this needs time. In the mix of devised theatre and acrobatics (or I believe any other circus or highly physical skills), it is a delicate balance between keeping playing and improvising, and committing to an idea where you can start to set material and develop it physically and work it to perfection. The key is often as much in the commitment, as in the idea!
For the solo scenes which Falling Up will start with, some themes fell into place really early on; Alison celebrating the body and what she (and we) can and can’t do. Charmaine sharing her vulnerable as well as her strong sides whilst animating what the audience can expect to see in the show. Emma and Annemie took longer to nail, but since last week we agreed we found their restaurants, even if we are still choosing from the menu! We also started to work on the scenes for the duets and continued on various improvisation for the group choreographies, as well as of course; techniques, techniques, techniques. Some great play and some lovely pyramids are coming up.
I’m very excited about the more intensive part of the production coming up now March and April and what we will find around that corner!
Below you can see a short and rough edit of some improvisations we have been working on and ideas we have been playing with. A flavour of our process, even if still far from the final show!