The Symposium took place at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama on November 16th 2019. A group of 50 invited participants joined the network group for a day of ideas exchange, performances and workshops. They were performance makers of all kinds: theatre directors, actors, choreographers and dancers, live artists, larpers, writers and producers; alongside and among this group were researchers engaged in all of these fields.
The network group reported on the work of Lab 1 & Lab 2, and the exchange of ideas around and between these events. This was followed by two academic papers: Beau Coleman’s Veiled Absence: Playing the Game or Disrupting the Cart? described the challenges of participating in a weekend-long in-character art event. Babatunde Bakare gave a cross-cultural context for audience participation in his paper, Theatricalizing the Audience Intimacy and Intensity in Traditional Alarinjo and Tiv Kwagh-hir. Bruce Barton and Gareth White conducted a tag-team Keynote Conversation, articulating the key themes in terms of vulnerability, unpredictability and embodied contradiction, in the context of two of Barton’s recent works: All Good Things and Trace.
The first half of the afternoon was given over to concurrent performances and workshops. Lab Collective led a session exploring the skills to enrich interactions and bring a strong live element to performances. ZU:UK invited us to their Binaural Dinner Date, a performance in which a voice in your ear guides you through the perfect date. Meanwhile Lundahl and Seitl’s shared their on-to-one encounter Proscenium, which takes you on a blindfolded tour of Stockholm’s Royal Dramatic Theatre.
The concluding plenary session opened the conversation to the whole group to speculate on how to sustain networking and strengthen interactions among practitioners and across disciplines. To finish the day everyone gathered outside to greet Lundahl and Seitl’s Unknown Cloud on the way to London, before decamping to the Washington for drinks and further conversation.
Lab 2 took place on November 14th and 15th 2019 at Jackson’s Lane Arts Centre, London.
Between Lab 1 and and Lab 2 the Network continued working together online, exchanging thoughts about things like this:
- What lies beyond the immediate risks involved in playing, and beyond the inherent playfulness of taking risks?
- To what degree are control and preparation opposite sides of the same coin?
- Are they, perhaps, at odds with the need for spontaneity, immediate presence, improvisation—or might they hold the key to these same objectives?
- o How consciously do you work with attention—your own, that of your fellow performers, or of the audience?
- How do attention and affect contribute to a sense of ‘meaning’ in your work?
In Lab 2 we picked up this conversation and intensified it, interweaving with more workshops and demonstrations of practice. On Thursday morning, Jane took us through some exercises related to her Dance in Detention practice, and evolutions of her Rope piece. In the afternoon Jorge and Jade workshopped material from a new project, testing how close audio-instruction of participants could combine with adventurous teamwork. Friday’s sessions included Silvia presenting and demonstrating techniques of autoteatro, and staging her seminal piece etiquette for the group to sample and observe. In the final session Tassos tested some new material, a quiet game, played mostly alone and reflecting on personal priorities.
As with Lab 1, these activities were interspersed with relaxed and wide-ranging conversations, and convivial meals.
Lab 1 took place on May 16th and 17th 2019 at Jackson’s Lane Arts Centre, London.
The project’s ‘lab’ events are gatherings of practitioners, sharing practices and ideas, provoking and supporting developments in our work. The days were structured around a series of workshops led by network members, with time scheduled to reflect and respond.
The network also ate breakfast, lunch and dinner together, to seamlessly extend conversation as much as possible, in less organized settings. There was a highly productive sense of continuity, and community amongst the participants despite (and perhaps because of) the significant differences in disciplines, training paradigms, cultures, and performance priorities.
Thursday morning began with Jaakko’s introduction to Larp (Live Action Role Play) and its approaches to facilitating risky interaction between participants. Exercises included ‘replication protocols’ for violent and sexual encounters within the fiction of the larp.
Thursday afternoon was spent trying out and responding to one of Lundahl & Seitl’s headphone-based works, where the spectators take turns to become guides to each other while moving, blindfolded, through a re-imagined space.
Friday morning was led by Jade & Jorge, sharing some of ZU:UK’s work, leading physical exercises for preparing to work creatively with audiences, followed by creating, adapting and playing each other’s games.
On Friday afternoon Natalie and Joe shared some of Lab Collective’s practices for creating and preparing for audience interactions, and for mapping routes and options within interactive performances.
Between all this playing we talked, ate, drank, and talked some more.