I have realised recently that far too many of my posts are about what I’m up to. Not enough are about my thoughts on theatre or what its like as an emerging artist. So here’s a bit about story telling.
I’ve noticed recently that I am very interested in the different ways of presenting stories onstage. Here’s a few folk that have influenced and intrigued me when it come to storytelling.
Imitating the Dog
These guys are a fairly obvious influence, I work with them and was taught by their director, Andrew Quick. What ITD do is use projections, gauze, perspective and some other very clever theatrical tricks to essentially create a film onstage. It’s spectacular to behold and a very strange way of performing. In this style of performance you are more aware than ever that you are simply a part of the bigger picture, but a very small part. Aside from the presentation method, the story is told in very conventional means, the characters speak to each other, their dialogue tells the story, whatever can’t be said is shown and whatever can’t be shown is narrated. It’s the way the spectacle and story is presented that is important.
This is more specific to a certain show. Third Person (Redux). This show involves two performers, an OHP and some small/childish props. The two performers tell the story of Bonnie and Clyde, as they tell the story they remind the audience that they are not Bonnie and Clyde, they are just telling their story. Despite this they have moments in which they swing into character, resulting in some very touching sequences, but then the moment is over and they are back as the two performers, telling the story.
The performance style is what interests me. To tell a story as a third person narrative and then swing into the characters to change the pacing and to add some emotional context to the piece. This show, if you look closely has had an important influence on The Waiting Man, I have written a third person narrative, in which, although I never assume the character of the waiting man, I do attempt to portray him. What I absolutely loved about Third Person (Redux) was the performers ability to perform themselves onstage. It is something I have since attempted to do, but I am always aware that I am performing, and so feel that I have not achieved it.
This show I cannot exactly remember, I saw it a long time ago.It was a love story, an old man is remembering the life he’d led with his recently dead wife. It was extremely touching and such a gentle performance. There are three elements about the story telling that I particularly loved.
1. No talking – No words were exchanged in the telling of this story, instead the events, emotions and milestones were conveyed with imagery. For example, they could not outright say that the male character went off to join the army in WW1. They showed us with a tin helmet, some strobe and some very loud sounds. We knew he was in WW1. The ability to tell a story without speaking, to convey meaning and emotion without words is an incredibly difficult, but ultimately powerful way of telling a story.
2. Live music. Live music is a brilliant thing to involve in storytelling. It helps provide pacing, it deepens emotion, it is an amazing part of storytelling, and if you can manage it, live music will always beat prerecorded.
3. Physicality, the performers in this show demonstrated an amazing physical performance. They were able to tell the story of a couple, from their youthful meeting to their old age when one of them passed away. Even then, they carried on as the old man was haunted by his wife, for a little bit anyway. They moved in such a … well it was poetic movement, I’m sorry, I’ve said, I do have a degree and a masters in Contemporary arts, I’m allowed to be pretentious. Sue me.
So yeah, they are some of the influences and reasons that I have become interested in storytelling. I don’t know if it made all that much sense, but at the very least, you should check out those companies and if you get a chance to see them, do it.
Now Im gonna build a small town out of cardboard.