Monday, 23 March 2009

Playful Humans

We've just finished the first three weeks work on the new piece, Homo Ludens.  The title comes from Schiller's Letters upon the Aesthetic Education of Man.  We've been invited by TiG7 in Mannheim (who we presented Presumption with last year) to create a piece that responds to Schiller's idea to be presented at Schillertage (who we made Stage An Execution for in 2003) in June.

It's a fantastically open brief to direct and devise the show with (initially at least) three performers from TiG7, Rita, Martina and Julia.  I'm directing with Lucy Ellinson (who's touring Presumption with us, and who was also part of Standing Alone, Standing Together), and Rachael and Chris Thorpe are sticking an oar in, too.

Schiller's Letters... are full of ideas about beauty, art, freedom, time, infinity - y'know, all the big stuff.  Our process so far has involved the usual tools of show and tell (particularly picking our phrases, ideas, whole paragraphs of Schiller's that intrigue us, inspire us, baffle us or infuriate us), story telling, playing and deconstructing games, research (inventions and futurology) and writing up big lists.  The images here are of maps of deconstructed adventure game books.

Three weeks of conversation, discussion, writing, seeing other work, trying stuff out.  A really positive experience on several levels - lots of sitting round a table sharing ideas and getting to know each other, trying to play without being competitive (I think its fair to say that Julia and I found that the hardest), asking ourselves when human beings are at their best.

There are connections here with some of the larger cast creative learning projects I've made in the last couple of years.  If you'd seen them you'd see a visual lineage with Lifetimes23 (University of Hull @ Scarborough, 2008) and Compendium, and a thematic connection with A History Of Objects (Leeds Met University, 2008).

We're making a piece in which each audience member's actions and decisions have a direct effect on their unique experience of the show.  We're aiming, of course, for this to feel special and exciting, rather than making people feel like they've missed out on some stuff.  Each of the 4 performers in each show (we think we'll need to perform it with two teams) will look after a single audience member - again, we're not interested in that feeling in any way uncomfortable - and will have their own version of the task of the show.

My feeling, a week or so after we've stopped working on it for now, is one of delicacy and fragility.  That's what I think we need to hold on to as we build the rest of the audience experience over the next few months.  A careful balance of control and unpredictability.

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