The Next Steps ‘Crooked Path’ Part 2 – Darknet – M18PA – Self Study

Just over a week ago, I worked with some young actors-in-training to develop a movement vocabulary, which was informed by computer code and programming language. The performers developed their own movements and phrases using a string of code and we developed this into a sequence, which features in the play (See here)

Having developed the material, I felt the next step in exploring the material would be to push the pace of the movement. Even with taking into account, the fact that it had only just been developed, it still felt a little slow. The characters these performers are portraying in the piece are a force to be reckoned with and needed to emit more energy and aggression. I felt the best way to explore this would be to amp up the BPM and to challenge the performers to up the speed.

The performers took on the direction well and committed to the task. Some further movements were generated also (See below)

Although the performers had upped the speed (a little) I still didn’t feel that we had achieved the intensity or ferocity that these characters need to transmit to the audience. Looking back at the video, I feel it may be because the performers are following the melody. All four performers have a very strong dance background and may have too focused on the technical aspects of the movement? I’m still not 100% sure, but still aim on pushing the pace and speed. I have another track, with an increased BPM that I will try to playing with, in the next rehearsal and I also hope to challenge the performers presumptions through pressing them for more input. I realised I may have been falling into the trap of trying to orchestrate things too independently.

One thing that we did start to explore was the idea of ‘Glitching’ I feel we could investigate this more and play with the quality of the movements. A really good example exists in a performance poet video by Marshall Davis Jones ‘Touchscreen’ although his movements are actually fairly slow. There is a certain ‘Glitching’ and digital quality to the way he moves. There is also a real vigour and intent, despite the slow pace and a real contempt for the system, which will be great for the Hackdolz to tap into. I will signpost the performers to this reference to see what we find.

Later on the week we started to explore a lifts and shifts as a group. I felt it would be a natural progression to some of the work we were exploring and would support some of the movement vocabularies that are being built up. It was great to revisit some of the lifts explored in the introductory module M18PA. I used the Frantic lift resource on Vimeo to recap myself and set about sharing these techniques with the group. The group took to the lifts really well and quickly identified the importance of finding the correct amount of pressure and equal effort required in many of the lifts Frantic.

Having looked at: Side Lifts, Wrap Lifts, Clamp Lifts and Crowd Lifts, the group spent time developing their own sequence employing the lifts that were explored (See Below) it was great to see the performers adapting, discovering and playing with the ideas and principles of lifting. This understanding will stand us in good stead for later on in the process and I’m excited to see how they will be able to inform and support other sequences such as the Hackdolz sequence that I have blogged about.

Finally we finished of the week looking at movement inspired by the idea of controlling an interface with your fingertips (Literally) One of the main themes in the play Darknet is advanced technology. The piece really questions where our technological advances will lead us. One of the really challenging things with this production is that we don’t actually have a great deal of technology at our disposal. So as a group we are really pushing ways to demonstrate this dystopian future within performance. After a discussion about the play, one of the performers cited ‘Minority Report’ as a good example of a futuristic world where tech was imagined as incredibly advanced. During the week, I revisited the video and realised he was absolutely right. I was also fascinated by the gestures and commands of the interface that the actor Tom Cruise uses in the clip below.

I wanted to explore how we could built on the vocabulary we had been developing for the play and tasked performers to develop 8 movements inspired and informed by this ‘Minority Report’ Reference. Again the performers responded really well to this and really surprised me with their variations. I was slightly worried that we may end up with movements that were too similar. See a clip below of the performers individually developing and exploring the task.

The exercise threw up lots of interesting questions. What did each move mean? What was the potential for them? Could the movement be a form of control over humans? The performers felt that it would be helpful to develop specific meanings for each gesture. So they could be clear on exactly how they were manipulating the imagined tech. I completely agree, I think to move this on now, a clarity on how what the movements mean and what can do, will help us in fully utilising them in rehearsals.

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