Our second Laboratory workshop took place on Friday and Saturday. This time it was my turn to lead an exploration of the methods we're developing as a company to devise intercultural theatre. I called it New Mythologies, which sounds a bit pompous, but seemed more and more justified as a title during the two days.
After Farid's brilliant voice work the week before, I'd been concerned that I wasn't "teaching" a technique or something "useful" for acting in quite the same way. But it soon became clear that it was actually an advantage to do something really different, and that the more exploratory approach simply confirms Josip's longstanding belief that Farid and I are very complementary in our directorial approaches - each of us offers something which the other does not, but we share common goals. It would be wonderful to find a way of furthering the collaboration.
During the workshop, I mix up some tried and tested devising approaches with a few completely new ones, and inter-breed them a bit. The most exciting exercise for me is to use the game called The Playwright as a way of re-telling a mythological story - it really distills things down to the essentials, and allows for the creation of very beautiful imagery. We apply the exercise to The Butterfly Lovers, and find some wonderful physical approaches which I'll hang on to for the project. Kamini Gupta (designer) is there, and tells me that similar methods are applied to mythic material in psychotherapy workshops, which figures I suppose. It's certainly very powerful to see how these myths resonate with such a diverse group of people as this.
I find myself wondering at one point whether this really is a workshop in devising inter-cultural theatre, or whether it's just looking at devising, and drawing off sources from many cultures. Perhaps if the group had been more genuinely diverse (and not just composed of essentially British people from a range of ethnic backgrounds) then there might have been more need for different methods - our interculturalism is a response to the needs of the moment, and not something we impose on the world! It's in the object exercises that the complexity of our culture really kicks in - Roisin creates a story with a postcard from an Indian temple, a wig block and a loo roll, and sends us into the realms of magical realism. This is exciting.
These two workshops have really paid off: the Laboratory is starting to feed the company's work, as well as exciting and rewarding the people who attend. We will do more.......