Friday, 23 January 2009

Pathway Progress

The first year single honours students have been working on projects this week. The Theatre Arts students have been with Out of Joint's Ian Redford, developing a piece of verbatim theatre from testimonies gathered at a local care home. Meanwhile the Applied Theatre students have been working on a physical piece about tube travel with Imogen Bond, who was an associate at The Orange Tree last year and the Physical Theatre students have had five days re adapting Kafka's imaginary travelogue Amerika with Mitch Mitchelson from The Circus Space.

The work was shared at lunchtime today and was really impressive, sensitive and at times delightful. The verbatim piece had real poignancy, stories of heart attacks mistaken as practical jokes, memories of dancing and a wonderful sequence as a group of pensioners slowly read aloud a description of Obama's inauguration speech with knowing nods and the occasional 'ahhh - well good for him.'

The tube work was tight and movingly realised as a world weary traveller escaped into a fantasy sequence where his copy of the financial times morphed into a beautiful sun, flowers, a spliff from which love heart smoke rings blew and finally a beautiful girl in a pink dress who stole his heart.

Amerika was simply epic - an incredible body of work for four days. Imaginatively realised, not just full of fun, but disciplined and worked with concentration and belief.

The best of it is to realise what great potential there is in the year and when focused, committed and invested in the work, how much can be achieved in a relatively short time.

We're going to look at repeating the exercise next year - possibly as an induction exercise. It felt as if great progress had been made.


Rowan said...

I thought it was perfectly suited for the end of the semester- I don't think we'd have achieved anywhere near as much (and certainly nothing as open and confident) had it been done in the early stages of the course. The past months have given us the time to learn how we work together, and this week gave us the opportunity to put it into practice.

It's been a fantastic week and I hope the results reflected that. The AT piece in particular blew me away. I'm bloody knackered, though.

Mark Griffin said...

Yes, really well done Rowan.

I do take the point that the work has come out of a semester of training. I guess what I was delighted by was that, in contrast to the Making Theatre assessments that I saw, the pieces meant something and for the first time I was watching work of substance and interest beyond student performers trying to demonstrate how good they are.

I guess I'd like to see if we can get to this understanding (the idea that theatre really needs to be about something specific) earlier. But you're right it may not be sensible to shift these projects forward in pursuit of that.