Day 5: House warming

Day 5 was about collating all of the individual elements we’d be working with so far together, in order to structure a piece of work we could share with an invited audience by 3 p.m.

Needless to say it was a rather intense day by the end of which we definitely deserved a pint. (which we had!)

I am currently in the process of collecting photos, videos and other bits of information to share with you all, so keep visiting the House, there is more to come!

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Day 4: Moving in

Day 4 started with a look at the set Itd use in Kellerman, which the company’s technical team was servicing in preparation for its trip to Taiwan in December. (ssshhhh!)

Following that, we all went back to the theatre where we had a group session outlining what was left to do and who should be working on what.

And the rest of day is rather blurry, my notes make very little sense… because we were all so busy putting the material together and starting to rehearse what was about to become something we share with an audience… it was draining but very exciting!

Here are some of my surreal notes from day four, for your entertainment.

  1. Geography – The house, a room, the people – Performance score

Map or photo

Text on pieces of separate paper (what?!)

 Old photos; digital

Boxes are out

People in the house

Figure 8

Becomes – Chase

Song recording

 

Free

Easy

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On the walls

To keep you patiently waiting for my posts on day 4&5, here is a selection of photos from our public sharing, taken by Julieanne & Janan.

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And some more on Graham’s Flickr Page

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Day 3: The furniture

Today was very much a making day, and strangely enough, it makes it slightly more complicated for me to describe our activities.

The three different groups from day 2 presented the work that they had done and we started thinking about weaving the three core elements of the piece together.

The fragments that we presented, even though it was still in its (very) early stages seemed to respond to each other although we all worked separately for most of the day.

The performance & script group that I was in used written material from day one to start creating relationships between the performers as well as between the performers and other elements of the work (set, sound, projections).

The “soundscaping” group based its work on one of the songs we shared on day 2 (Down by the Salley Gardens) and did some voice work with some text we’d written on day 1. They also included live music elements within a recorded environment.

And the people working on the projections started creating the material that will be projected onto the space, bringing the House to life.

For the rest of the day, we carried on the work we had started before and adapting it so all the elements come together nicely.

My group spent the better part of the afternoon figuring out what the structure of the performance would be and created a performance score, providing us all with a conceptual framework which we will spend the next two days working from.

The other two groups started looking after the physical space, putting lights up in the rig, adding a back screen to the set etc. which will enable us to start working in showing conditions tomorrow.

The whole process is absolutely fascinating, and I cannot even begin to tell you how much I’m enjoying it. We are working with a lovely bunch of enthusiastic people from a variety of backgrounds who are lending their skills and knowledge to each other and challenging themselves to be constantly creative with the common ambition of being able to host a public showing of what we’ve made by Friday… It can’t get any better really, can it?

If you’d like to come and see the results, look at this post, it’ll tell you when and where to go!

Leo.

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End of school showing

“this house contains one of my first memories…”

Over 5 days, imitating the dog (directed by Andrew Quick) have been running Live at LICA‘s 2012 summer school, with 17 artists and teachers from across the UK.

Using the physical structure and metaphor of ‘the house’, the group have made a new performance work exploring and layering text, sound/music, projection and movement.

 Come and see the culmination of their work in a 30 min performance THIS Friday 17th August, Nuffield Theatre, at 3pm.

 This showing is FREE but please let Alice know via email if you would like to reserve a place or places.

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Day 2: Packing and unpacking

The morning of the second day was spent sharing the material we had gathered on Monday and some overnight thoughts.

Everyone arrived with their boxes, they seem to have become a key element of the whole process and people seem to have developed some kind of attachment and relationship to them. The “made” memories they contain are becoming more real and deepening as the workshops go on and it’s lovely, quite simply.

Everyone played an extract of the song that they’d chosen and read the lyrics. Everyone’s choices were very different, and the music was ranging from traditional Irish folk tunes to Wannabe by the Spice girls. I might attempt to knock together a YouTube playlist of all the songs later on in the week. It would certainly be an interesting mix tape!

Following this fun musical start to the day, we all shared the recipes we had had to write on one of our postcards. This highlighted the fact that most people in the room had been thinking about houses from the childhood, and quite a few people had been devising their material based on memories of their grandparents.

 Here’s a list of the recipes people talked about;

– Chickpea dahl

– Bulgarian pepper and cheese delight

– Cupboard cake (a Norwegian recipe, also known as English tea bread apparently)

– Mushroom stroganoff

– Gooseberry crumble

– Stuffed vine leaves

– Corned beef mash

– Vegetable soup

– Confit de canard

– Marmite Toast

– Black sea pastry  (a Turkish dish, similar to lasagna)

– A cup of tea

– Sherry triffle

– Strawberries and beer

– Rice pudding

– Yogurt cake

This (somehow) led us to talk about the different visual ways to signify this; are our memories in colour? Are they still images? Are they super 8 films?

Following our coffee break, we went into the theatre, where we discovered the set we were about to start working with for the first time.

It’s a 3D space representing the corner of a house, it’s a blank space made by Simon, Live At LICA’s very own master carpenter (I think that’s what his full title is supposed to be…)

The space will be used as a screen, where thanks to a fascinating piece of software called Isadora, visual elements will be layered to create a digital environment to work within.

We had a discussion about the other elements that we could map onto the space, which are sound and text; which like the visual aspect of the piece could be live or mediated.

James said we could also explore the possibility of making the sound elements we will use in the show travel in a 3D space too, I’m not entirely sure about the technicalities of this, but if you’re interested, leave your questions in the comment box and I will pass them on to the music team!

 Before breaking for lunch, we all presented the photos that we had found the previous day during our journey to Lancaster, some of them might be used in the performance.

 Once fed, Simon gave a brief Isadora tutorial, highlighting the creativity and endless possibilities offered by this programming environment.

Put simply, Isadora is a big box of Lego bricks that can control video, sound and lighting in performance. Check out the software’s website for more information.

For the rest of the day, the artists split in three groups. One of the groups (which I joined) was to explore the performative aspects of the piece, working with text and bodies in the space, the second worked with James on creating a sound scape for the work and the third joined Simon in collating visual material and manipulating to create the filmscape for our show.

 In the evening, we shared a meal at Andrew and Alice’s lovely house and spent some time reflecting on the past couple of days and socialising, hence the lack of post yesterday, I was having too good a time to come home early and write the blog!Sorry!

Stay tuned for my notes from day 3, coming up very soon! In the meantime, here are some photos from day 2

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Leo.

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Day 1: Laying the foundations

After having had a lovely selection of breakfast items, it was time for the near enough twenty participants to find out a little bit more about each other and our respective interests.

You can find out more about some of them in the participants section of this site and I will add information throughout the week.

The group consists of people from a wide range of backgrounds who are at various stages of their career, but the general feel after this introduction session was that everyone was very interested in exploring the making process used by Itd and quite fascinated by the technology used by the company.

We briefly talked about the relationship between the analogue and the digital, the art and the craft, the live and the mediated and no doubt these conversations will carry on and flourish throughout the week.

Simon & Andrew (Itd core members) pointed out that the variety of people taking part in the project was relevant to their practice as a company as most of their work stems from collaborative and interdisciplinary approaches to theatre-making.

This led us to talking about the initial stimulus – or theme – that we will be using in our weeklong creative process: the house.

Andrew gave us some triggers for us to start thinking about houses; our own, current houses, houses we used to live in or grew up in and how they are places we fill with memories. The memories that arise from thinking about a house can be joyful, traumatic, nostalgic etc. Those emotions and the way we will put them into words, sounds and images will be the base material for creating something of a performance by the end of the week.

Andrew described a house as being “a box full of boxes”, which I found quite beautiful, and being a hoarder in the process of moving houses, very relevant.

He also mentioned a “sculpture” by Rachel Whiteread, titled House, which was essentially a concrete cast of a Victorian house. Here’s what the Independent said about the project in the 90s.

After our well-deserved morning coffee break, we were all given a little box containing the following items:

– A photograph or image (mine is a transparent OHP type sheet that reads ‘NOSTALGIA’)

– An object (mine is a bag of marbles; everyone got a different one)

– A bus fare

– A note pad and pencil

– A luggage tag

– Two pieces of card

– A chime bar with a mallet

All of those more or less mysterious items started making sense to us as the day went on, and you will find out what they’re all about as this post goes on.

The first object which we could to – literally – play with, was the chime bar as James Hamilton, composer and Itd collaborator (who also plays in Hope&Social) led a “soundscaping” workshop and demonstrated that very little musical skills are required to create something musical that could be used in performance. Each participant was assigned a different note, and we attempted (more or less successfully) to play well-known tunes.

Following on from this, we experimented a little with what James called “music at random”, in a nutshell, creating a sonic environment, using the chime bars, our voices and excerpts from the morning papers.

It was most people’s first attempt at doing something like this, but by the end of the workshop I was definitely impressed at what can be achieved with very little musical knowledge or skills and I look forward to doing more of this as the week goes on.

 Once we’d all put our chime bars away, Andrew and Simon talked about Imitating the dog’s work and the shifting of their thematic interests and practice from the making of Hotel Methuselah, which Andrew talks about in this short video.

We found out that the company’s work often comes from an interest with history, memory and time and that they use cinematic conventions and the various levels where live performance meets cinema as a tool for creating a story telling environment which is fluid and enables complex narratives to take place and be layered.

The Doctor says it better;

 

The rest of the afternoon was dedicated to a writing workshop led by Andrew.

 He started by asking us to think about a specific house and write about it descriptively, thinking about it as a concrete reality in one simple sentence.

We then carried on this descriptive process by writing a list of ten one-sentence long descriptions starting with: The house…

After looking at the house in general, we were asked to focus on one specific object in that house and attempt to describe it three times.

Finally, we had to write a postcard to someone, from the house we were thinking about and start with “Everything in the house…”

 That’s when the rest of the items in the box started to make sense; we were asked to think about a song that reminds us of said house and to write its lyrics on one of the pieces of card.

The object (e.g. my bag of marbles) was to be given a life in 5 stages. We were to write about how it was acquired and when (or how we thought it might have been), and work our way down to this object’s disuse.

 Our first day was concluded by an individual trip into town (hence the bus fare) in order to take some pictures of interesting houses and of our journey to those houses and our “homework” is to write a recipe that reminds us of the house we’ve been thinking about all day on the second piece of card.

All of this material will be gathered and edited tomorrow, in order to start weaving material we might use to make the piece.

I have thoroughly enjoyed creating the material that I’ve come up with and I’m very much looking forward to seeing the results of everyone else’s research and what comes out of it all.

Leo.

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