Spent the afternoon at the SMarts festival. Tina and the rest of the Bicat family had created an installation - 'Day and Night Happen' in Studio 3 exploring the magic of physics. The work was pure sensory joy. A narrator describing a very simple script.
'It's morning in the forest.
The birds fly through the sky.
A storm comes.' etc.
At each turn we grabbed handmade instruments or simple shadow puppet birds cut from lighting gels, bashed metal sheets and spun mirror balls, made from discarded CDs, in a spotlight to created a sonic and visual show in the space.
It's a clue to how we might go about creating the work for Ham House and the Shakespeare festival in December. Magic form the the most simple everyday objects and the fun of creating the story as well as listening to it. The Tempest, not just because of its storm, but because of Ariel's tricks immediately springs to mind. There's other tricks in Shakespeare, Puck in the Dream, Leontes reawakened faith in The Winter's Tale.
In the afternoon we went to see Aster(OI)d in the studio. It's very good work, but in the post-show discussion an issue about the self-referential nature of the work came up. The piece as it stands is telling two stories. Firstly it's a retelling of The Little Prince, secondly it's the story of two clowns trying to tell the story. This Brechtian muddle is of course fantastic and full of potential, but for some of the audience not familiar with the actors it left some confusion and ultimately the work ends up being more about the clowns than the material.
It made me realise how a clear set up helps to encourage the audience into playing with the actors. The last shows Complicite have done (Mnemonic, Disappearing Number, The Elephant Vanishes) all seem to have begun with an actor/ narrator on stage at the beginning introducing either themselves or the premise for the next hour and a half. The very notion of developing a complicit relationship with the audience seems to depend on an initial act of hospitality from the stage. NIE (visiting us next Friday) offer vodka as the audience come in. Even in less rough theatre there is a sense of moving from the reality of being in a theatre space to the fiction of being in a story. In Fragments the actors ritually entered the space, set their props and took up their positions in full view of the audience. Once this preparation was complete a simultaneous shift of energy from both actors started the play.