Tuesday, 27 May 2008

"comedy of errors" workshops (warhorse theatreworks)

tuesday 27, thursday 29 & friday 30th may 2008

"comedy of errors"
research & development workshops
wendy windle + hayley radford
warhorse theatreworks

"If theatre is to survive we believe it must offer something that film and television cannot; for us this is the intimate and immediate connection with the audience. We believe that the future of theatre lies in small companies embracing a style that sets theatre apart. We believe in reinvesting in theatre as a magical art form. Our work aims to engage the audience’s senses, hearts and minds. Through play and experimentation with text and physicality we seek to unearth the driving passions that make bold and challenging theatre.

Our passion lies in collaborative theatre, exploring heightened storytelling to create a truly theatrical experience. At Warhorse Theatre works we want to see performers, who are at the cutting edge of the art form, empowered to make their own theatre responding to what audiences want to see.

This style of theatre requires actors who are in possession of a wide range of skills, are creatively healthy and ready to play. Good theatre comes from a sense of playful abandonment . Good ideas come when we are free to play..."
tuesday 27th may
brilliant day playing through a series of activities that became increasingly focused on "comedy or errors" with a fantastic hugely talented group who were all up for pushing things, working collaboratively, taking risks, and generous playing.
this is such a great way to start to make a new show!

so our day today as best i remember it was:
warm up walking the space:
>edge< (go to an outside edge); >swap< (run to the other side); >floor< (roll on the floor using the back and move on); >elbows< (join together connecting at the body part); >point< (freeze + point ay something, hold, then move off in the oppsite direction); >hug< (hug someone then move off again) "c'mon let's go"
A leaves the room so they cannot hear what they are expected to go off to do
group decide on what this is (shoplift a designer bag from harrods; seduce her majesty the queen;)
when A returns B must try and get them to leave without giving anything away. A can only when when they can correctly guess what they are off to do.

4 players. each get an instruction (e.g you are washing an elephant and you know the special way to do this right) people speak gibberish. the objective is spot, accuse and execute the foreigner (for this is what happens to foreigners in this land). obviously if you are the foreigner the objective is to not be singled out out and to stay alive.

"mr. punch"
time to devise a scene from classic punch scripted scene where he kills voraciously. with props (we had a bell and a stick)

"arm extension walk"
lovely activity after lunch simply involving open up arms and extending up to full stretch and up on toes over a slow walk to the end of the room - hold the extension at its fullest - turn on toes - lower arms - walk back. variation involved doing it with a long stick in each hand. gave a fab feeling of being present, relaxed and open in the whole space.

"wooed and woo-ers"
4-somes playing with (syracuse) antipholus wooing adriana and luce pursuing (syracuse) dromio using a bunch of flowers in relay through the scene (e.g. from antipholus to dromio to adriana to luce to dromio to antipholus and a whack for dromio ...)

"wooed and woo-er" II
pairs then devised a dance with the antipholus+adriana going for emotional interest and luce+dromio going fro full comedy

devised scene: "there's not a man i meet but doth salute me" (act iv scene iii)
in groups playing with this speech of antipholus bring each of the aspects he observes into live realisation so the audience can actually see him saluted, called by name, given money, invited, thanked, measured up for new clothes. fantastic fun doing this.

and our final challenge was to combine our three groups into one and present one unified version of the scene. which we did without tears or tantrums.

thursday 29th may
carlos led today's programme
proud of myself for putting myself much more in the thick of things
still think i'm crap at impro and again amazed and delighted with the talent in the room
and again very easy warm fun people to work with

so my memory of today:

warm -up
started in pairs with massage - A bends forward from waist relaxed, B massages back, arms, hips, legs, feet, makes sure neck is free then gently lifts A halfway up to perch on A's knee, then fully up. swap. loverly

warm - up II
walking the space, then finding an extreme way to walk, then running filling the space evenly as a whole group, then hitting the floor but keeping the energy then up and running again, then on all fours with intensity coming together, then eyes fixed on carlos following him, then dead. a lot of the morning is about trying to work as efficient group.

the most complicated version of this i have ever done which failed to untangle ourselves from completely. i remain unconvinced it was ever going to be possible...

ball music
great one this for group working and concentration and giving / taking space:
i] circle. one person in centre with basketball. throws ball out to people in circle who throw back to person in the centre. establish slow easy steady 1-2-1-2 rhythm
ii] once established anyone from circle can call change and replace centre person, receiving the ball in their stead (they go back into the circle). important to keep rhythm, re-establishing before next change if necessary
iii] now change centre person in series of four throws out and back so 1-back-2-back-3-back-4-changed centre - keeping rhythm and remembering to keep the circle out.
iv] now in series of 3 throws
v] now in 2 throws
vi] 1 throw out-change-thrown out-change

making characters part 1
we're each given a slip of paper with a character on it - i got "the hangman"
a wonderful array of dressing up stuff - many + various bright wigs, hats, glasses, rope, white sheets, umbrellas, sticks
i] slow build up throw the body to make the character starting with the feet - knees - groin - shoulders - head - eyes with the idea of creating something larger than life while walking the space
ii] in 2 groups make a dance, following emergent leaders, seeking to work together
iii] from 'lying asleep' on our backs we conceived a deep unfulfilled hunger for our character - grew this to immense proportions - then awake re-entered the community attempting to first show and then later to conceal this hunger from the other characters

quick devised scenes
small groups given a title and asked to make a short performance.
our first was "the execution of virtue" and we did a cool rhythmic thing with genuflections into communion into a congregant (me) who grabs and guzzles the communion wine, becomes disgusting and departs leaving the rest of the congregation to re-establish it's virtuous genuflections.
second go in new groups involved devising (and playing) a new scene without any talking.
we got "exodus of evil" and we went from a cosy cutesey tea party joined by a stranger - evil - and becoming drug taking sex crazed card playing sinners until we collectively blew 'evil' away and were able to resume our innocent tea party.
other groups got "the marriage of mars + venus" and "the birth of spring"
the fun was in finding ways to work together without being able to speak and meant that leading the group became a different kind of skill than the usual 'giving the orders'

making characters part 2
after lunch we swapped our characters with someone else and found a new costume for them. i got "the ice cream seller" to go with my earlier "hangman"
again we spent some time develop a physical character - their walk, posture, rhythm
then we play a game of switching quickly between each of our characters - so i am going dour malignant slow heavy hangman to guileless goofy grinning waving sunny ice cream seller and back again
and then the fun really starts:
i] in groups of 4 each person enters as one of their characters, introduces or establishes themselves quickly and leaves - followed by another character. the rule is you cannot leave the stage empty and there cannot be more than one person onstage at any time
ii] now we play out a scene with our different characters (so for 3 people there are 6 characters to play with in different combinations). the same rule about not leaving the stage empty, altho obviously now there can be more than one person onstage. and each character should always have a definite reason for entering and for leaving the stage. the fun for the audience was when it was played at the greatest speed with characters coming and going fast. the funniest version was a twosome (who needed a dresser behind the screen) another version involved each pair of characters having some kind of live partnership.

"comedy of errors" devised scene
and then it got really crazy. in groups of 3 we got a 1 page run down of part of the "comedy" that we had to play all the characters for between us without losing the plot - which we all eventually did before the end of the sequence - or leaving the stage un-personed at any time.
huge fun failing at this.

Antipholus (S) tells Dromio (S) to go and see if he can get them a ship to sail away on. Dromio (S) departs.

Enter the Goldsmith who gives Antipholus (S) the chain he has made. Antipholus (S) offers money which the Goldsmith refuses.

Enter the Merchant with the Officer. He tells the Officer that the Goldsmith owes him money which he know expects to be paid. the Goldsmith assures him that he can secure this money and pay him what he owes.

Enter Antipholus (E) with Dromio (E) telling him to go and purchase some rope that he can beat his wife. Dromio (E) exits.

The Goldsmith accosts Antipholus (E) and demands the money he is owed. Antipholus (E) says he has had not had the chain and owes nothing until he does so. On the Goldsmith's bidding the Officer arrests Antipholus.

Dromio (S) enters and tells Antipholus (E) that he has secured passage on a ship due for leaving. Antipholus (S) beats him and send him to his house to get money for his bail. Dromio (S) exits.

Dromio (S) and Adrianna get the money for the bail and exit.

Antipholus (S) enters marvelling at how well the people are treating him - giving him gold chains, saluting him, and calling him by name. Dromio (S) enters and gives him the bail money. Antipholus (S) says he is a fool and he knows nothing about this money but is there a ship that will take them away. Dromio (S) yes as he has told him already.

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