Visiting Tate Modern in London, we realised that modern art is about suggesting emotions through different minimalist shapes, colours, effects. In modern art emotions, can be suggested by anything, it arouses emotions by using human psychology. Major themes presented by modern art nowadays are: gender, sexuality, acceptance, human condition; as presented by Lorna Simpsons in her work ‘Twenty Questions (A Sampler)’ the sexuality problem well merged in the boredom of the everyday life. By using the same image multiple times, she frames the fact that major problems nowadays are considered normal, as she says: ‘I focus on details, either of the body, or of objects that represent gender, sexuality, and other themes.’ (Lorna Simpsons). She focuses on details, things that are not seen any more by busy contemporary humans. She directs her attention to very important problems that became normal in a superficial society.
Later in that day we visited Barbican Theatre and we got inspired by the play seen there. We decided to use projection in our performance, due to the fact that through that we can deliver information towards the audience in a fast and effective way. We wanted to use projection in the beginning of the performance so the audience can develop a basic idea about the themes presented in the play. I was amazed by the usage of the cinematic effects in the performance seen at Barbican, it was another type of theatre. It was cinematic, but it had the spontaneous theatrical effect. Everything happened on the stage, but it felt like a movie. Everything was precisely developed and presented to us, and we wanted that in our performance, we wanted to be precise in our work, we wanted to effectively use every resource available to us. As Lorna Simpsons says, we should focus on details, and that was the goal we were trying to achieve.
We, as a company, we wanted to develop a performance that can change audience’s perspective about gender. Not only men are capable to take moving decisions and do abominable actions. We wanted the audience not to emphasise really, but to change their vision concerning this theme. We also used for our fictional story the theme of religion as a catalyser for actions, to show how people are restrained by self-inducted barriers. ‘A dramatic plot will move before my eyes; an epic seems to stand still as I move around it. In my view this is a significant distinction. If a circumstance moves before my eyes, then I am bound strictly to what is present to the senses; my imagination loses all freedom’ (Schiller-Goethe correspondence, 26th of December 1797). This quotation has a lot of meaning for me due to the fact that talks about the artistic act from audience’s perspective. We wanted that perspective to be changed, we wanted the people to open their eyes widely concerning our theme and in that particular moment, when the performance was taking place, to be fully focused on what is happening in front of them.
To introduce the audience deeply into our plot, we decided that the actual performance should start with a priest having a speech about unconditional love, speech delivered directly to the audience (the congregation). From the very first beginning we wanted to introduce our background theme, the theme of religion, due to the fact that we wanted our performance to be seen more like a solemn act where nobody is guilty but the destiny, and every decision to be seen as a step in everyone’s path.
Initially we decided to develop a performance based on Jack the ripper story, later in that day we found an article about Stockholm syndrome and we made the decision to include that in our performance. Due to the fact that our initial story was a contemporary one, we changed our perspective towards stories of abduction, but in the same key as Stockholm syndrome. We wanted that essential and we came up with the idea that we want a woman as a kidnapper so we can develop in more detail the theme of the gender. As I said before, women are also capable of taking horrible actions. We wanted to show that the human psychology works almost in the same key for everyone.
We also got our inspiration from the performance that we saw presented by the Complicite. We got inspired in the sense that in the modern theatre it matters what you show, what you suggest, so we decided to use multi-purpose items (e.g.: to turn our table and bed into cars, and so we can suggest that, we used specific lighting effects) and to change clothes on stage, so we can show how characters are changed (but in the same time the essence remains the same).
Regarding sound, our company used live music, considering that it will be more effective that the sound played through speakers. We used sound in the initial projection, but for the rest of the piece we thought that live music will get along with our story better. ‘Brecht distrusted musicians in general, he said, because they tended to view texts as series of words’ (Thompson P. and Sacks G. 1994: 220). We wanted to pick songs that would work effectively with our piece, that would get the audience deeper into our plot. To make them think about the theme proposed by us.
The tasks in our company were split between us from the first week, everybody knew from the beginning what had to do, I wanted to promote our event and to provide some actor training for our company. In the beginning, everyone was collaborating effectively and doing their jobs and research, later, when nervousness appeared, we had some minor struggles working in a team, but we mostly solved them by having some honest talks. Initially, I created some workshops we can do together so we can focus better on our task, due to the fact that I saw the nervousness has appeared, I decided to leave them aside, I wanted to focus on my main job- promoting the event. I started creating the poster, my main inspiration consisted by the script that Nathan wrote and how the rehearsals were going on. I did some sessions of brainstorming home, I came up with four versions of posters, I showed them to our groupmates and we agreed on the final one. I also was pleased with our choice, I wanted something simple that can inspire a vibe of mystery. I wanted the performance programme to be special and due to the fact, that in the performance we were supposed to read a newspaper, I thought that is a good idea to create it in that manner, like an actual newspaper. I was doing some research in our story and I adapted an article so it can raise a bit of awareness and interest, but I didn’t want to reveal parts of the plot. I also used original images of the cast took by me.
In conclusion, ‘as the times have changed, so it is imperative that we position devising today within its own contexts’ (Heddon D. and Milling J. 2016:230), so we need to find inspiration in contemporary events, to stylise it and to devise inspiring performances so we can raise awareness regarding modern problems.
Martin C. and Bial H. (2000) Brecht Sourcebook. London: Routledge
Willett J. (2001) Brecht on Theatre. London: Methuen Publishing Ltd
Thomson P. and Sacks G. (1994) The Cambridge Companion to Brecht. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Heddon D. and Milling J. (2016) Devising Performance – A Critical History. New York: Palgrave
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