Monday 6 September 2010

Rehearsal Blog 1

Our intern on What I Heard About The World is Lauren Stanley, film and installation maker and graduate of Sheffield Hallam University. She's looking after video tech in the rehearsal room, and documenting the process for us. It's interesting for me to see how the process reads to someone new to it. Here's her first response to the work.

What I Heard About The World
Rehearsal Days One and Two

So, Day One. A bit of a first-day-at-school feeling, very new territory for me if no-one else, and a sense of not being sure what was going to happen. After setting up the stage/table, Alex, Jorge and Chris starting sifting through all the stories they had collated through previous Research Table
events and requests from the public, deciding which they wanted to incorporate into the show. This raised some fundamental questions as to what they wanted the show to say, and what form it should take. It was believed that through discussion of the individual stories an overriding message would emerge. It felt important that although the show is fictionalising, they had corroborated information through asking for stories. The stories are largely about fakes and deceptions, but the stories themselves are factual, and that should be highlighted in the show.

There was also an acknowledgement of the danger of describing the world through stories to patronise or even be derogatory, the 'aren't foreigners weird' angle needs to be avoided, or at least mentioned in the show as something they wanted to avoid. One possibility was to take a story, such as Caterpillar Milk,
and analyse the underlying presumptions the audience might make about others based on it.

On Day Two once all the stories they were potentially interested in had been decided on, Alex, Chris and Jorge started generating material through improvisation exercises and further discussion. At this stage rules were set on the improvisations to force them to think more laterally about how to use the stories. First was the connections exercise, where the they all picked six stories at random, and took it in turns to connect them.

They then tried a character exercise, in which one person chose a story at random, and asked one of the others to improvise a monologue, from the point of view of a character involved in the story. This threw up some new perspectives on the stories (my personal highlight being Jorge’s uncanny wax baby...), and potentially more interesting ways of telling the story to an audience.

These exercises made them aware of which stories they were most familiar with, and cemented a belief that the show should be one ‘shaggy dog’ narrative, made up of elements of lots of stories, perhaps with one framing the whole by starting and ending the show.

Finally, the 'it's about' exercise helped to clarify what the three of them wanted the show to explore. Some ideas were:
trying to understand what authenticity is
how in order to to know where you are, you have to have an idea of where everything else is.
a story standing in for somewhere you’ve never been
bringing a far away thing closer.
6 and a half billion people
the difference between history and story
the difference between biscuits and cookies...

If it covers all that, it should be one hell of a show!

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