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.