THE STRANGER ON THE PATH
24th February session
PROVOCATION ON STRANGERS ON THE PATH
On our next Wednesday session is going to ask you to imagine that you are walking in Happy Valley and sit on a bench to look at the view over High Rocks and Hargate woods. A stranger sits down beside you and you start a conversation and his or her story grows and develops as you ask questions.
This is the setting of a game between you, the curious questioner, and a seasoned improviser. The first part of the evening we will disperse as usual into break out rooms. Two or three people plus one of the members Claqueur impro theatre. You will simply ask them questions to delve into the life of a stranger. Neither you nor the improviser will know where the story they tell will go. The story will be prompted by the questions you ask. Questions will encourage the storyteller to dig deeper into the story. When it’s over we will return to the main group where you can share the stories you have been told.
PLEASE BRING PAPER AND COLOURED PENS AND DOODLE AS YOU HEAR THE STORIES.
You don’t have to share them though it’s nice if you do. But drawing prompts your visual memory of the story. This is not an art competition its part of a process of stirring our imaginations, just give it a try.
DEVISING SESSION NOTES ON STRANGER ON THE PATH
PRESENT; Joe Mendel, Michael and Sonia Lawrence, Paul Fulton, Claire Edwards, David Jinks, Jill Scott, Kate Sargent, Richard Sylvester, Sally Sugg, Gilly Blaydon, David Brett, Julie and Bernie Madden, MJ Stevens, Alison Mackenzie, Lucy Edkins, Becca Maher, Jon Oram.
Jon talked about the idea of audience members being given a letter and on their journey they will meet a stranger (cast member). The audience will need to find out as much as they can about the stranger’s story, by asking them questions. The stranger may have nothing prepared and the questions will prompt a story.
We were then placed in break out rooms with members of the improvisation performance group acting as the stranger.
Jon did a practice run with MJ, Joe and David Jinks as audience members.
Jon(stranger) was a father looking for his son. His son had left home many years ago and until he had had a letter fairly recently there had been no contact. Jon carried the letter from his son (each stranger might have another object such as a key, a cup that would have significance). The letter was sent from The Happy Valley area. The stranger didn’t know why his son had run away from home when he was 13.
Group 1. Richard, Bernie, Becca, Alison.
Richard (stranger) had come to Happy Valley looking for gold. A friend had told him there was gold in the rock or in the water. He needs money to claim the love of his life, Esme. Esme’s father gave him 5 years to make his fortune so that he could look after Esme and would therefore be a suitable husband. Since then, he has been working hard having many jobs including looking after pigs. He now only has a few days before the 5 years is up so is relying on finding the gold in order to marry Esme. Esme’s father owns a pub, The Walnut Tree, near to Happy Valley. . Not many people know about the pub as its tiny. The stranger is not allowed to work there to earn money as he has been in prison for arson. The stranger revealed that he has not told Esme or her father about his criminal record so some of the audience became concerned for Esme and wondering whether the stranger was after all a suitable suitor.
Group 2. Paul, Lucy, Julie
Paul (The stranger) was very sad about the loss of his wife, Edith. He had met her when he was a DJ on a cruise. He had a dog called Wolf. The stranger had found a half written letter (from Jon’s son, reincorporation). Audience felt that maybe they should pop in and see the stranger as he was lonely.
Group 3. Jill, Gilly, Kate, David Jinks.
Kate (stranger) was a painter seeking inspiration. They pretended they were in an art class to enable them to look at the stranger’s painting. She lacked confidence; how could we make her famous? Maybe she could do a series of pictures. Gilly and Jill started drawing. It felt a bit like communal Art Therapy.
Group 4. David Brett, Joe, Michael and Sonia.
David (Stranger) was looking for his 3 friends. They had made a pact 50 years ago that they would meet now in Happy Valley. He had travelled from Australia on a steamship. He had broken his son’s arm so maybe he isn’t a very nice man? Maybe he was the problem rather than the rest of the family as he claimed? The bad apple in the barrel? They discovered that he and they were wearing kangaroo skin boots.
Group 5. Sally, Jon, MJ. Claire
Jon (Stranger). The stranger’s name was George who told a sad story. Thirty years ago, his father killed himself. In one of the rocks there’s a carving of the Frog Brothers Music Group, which his dad was a member of. George was anxious as his dad had buried a lot of money in a tin. However, he told George he wanted him to make his own way and then reveals that he has hidden treasure in Happy Valley and shortly afterwards kills himself. George has worked hard for 30 years as a butcher but has never found his way. He felt he was a disappointment to his father, and he is now the same age as his father was when he died. Something has motivated him to disclose to us, is he suicidal? I feel bad that I let him walk away.
The questioning of an improvisor Actor validated the idea that we could have improvised elements the involve the audience. We might need to think about how we set up the situation or brief the audience to find out all they can from the 'stranger' character. If we are to take the audience on a journey we next need to think about what roles they might play, whether they have a task, a mission, or a purpose for this journey.
DEVISING HAPPY HIGHWAYS
February 10th 2021
Participants: Claire Edwards, Gilly Blaydon, Gill Scott, Lucy Edkins, Kate Sargent, Paul Fulton, David Brett, Michael and Sonia Lawrence, Richard Sylvester, Julie and Bernie Madden, Phil Byrne, Suzy Phillips, Alison Mackenzie, Jon Oram, Becca Maher.
NOTES ON DEVISING SESSION "STORIES"
Jon talked about reaching out perhaps further than the play to different groups in the village by sharing stories and perhaps displaying them at shop counters, shop windows, delivering fliers getting stories into Rusthall Life etc. Suzie talked about the quirky tree they had at the RCA festival in 2017 people hung items and poems. Sonia spoke of a man called Arthur Tribe who lived at 15 Rusthall Road and died in 1961 aged 90. He had lived in the village all of his life and he loved the common. There is one particularly moving poem written when he was posted in North Africa during the First World War where he described memories of Happy Valley keeping him going. Sonia has since sent in the poem about Happy Valley.
Jon introduced the purpose of the session buy talking about the power and purpose of stories, why where and when do people tell stories? What situations encourage story telly? How might we deliver stories in the play; What situations can we set or recreate, from bedtime stories to Speakers Corner? Jon mentioned the communal bath is potentially where people would tell stories to each other. People would come here for health reasons, not unlike pilgrims to Lourdes. Michael had set some atmospheric picture of the baths. He sent another this week building on the idea of it being a story telling station. Sonia said that her son had excavated the baths several years ago down to the tiles, it wasn’t very big. They then filled it in again.
GROUP 1 Bec, Suzie, Julie
Grandparents passing down stories, sitting on laps. Imaginary friends. Folk tales, songs, rounds, ghost stories, stories around the fire; bonfires elicit story-telling and singing. There’s reminiscing, night and fire, sounds, smells. Morale tales, Victorian Struwel Peter, Johnny-Head -In - Air didn’t look where he was going so walked over a cliff. Matilda and the matches if you cry wolf (Matlida gets burnt to death). Grimm’s Fairy Tales, The Grimm brothers travelled all over Germany to collect and preserve traditional tales. Fairy stories portrayed females in a particular way ie: goodness and beauty go together, Cinderella and the ugly sisters, she will be rescued by a knight in shining armour. Giving messages to girls on how they ought to be, conditioning women, propaganda. Greek myths and legends, The Odyssey, men are heroes.
GROUP 2 Lucy, Gill, Sally
When, Where Why?
WHEN: bedtime stories, one on one, comforting, fiction and real life memories. Around a table; eating, drinking, Bonfire; stories through song, walking with a friend through lockdown meaningful conversations.
WHY: Sharing memories, making sense of our past, connecting, sharing, bonding. Draw from memories. Draw inspiration from emotions, does it have to have structure? Can be spontaneous don’t have to go anywhere. Story cubes, pieces of paper with prompts.
WHAT makes a story? It has to have emotional content.
GROUP 3 Kate, Gilly Bernie
We tell stories when we have time. More time in lockdown. When travelling, train journeys, exchanging stories, getting to know people. Confession in crisis, truth. Lies/showing off. Telling untruths. Fake news, political narratives. Unintended consequences of stories. Families have different stories/different versions of events. Excluding and including information.
GROUP 4 Alison, David, Michael, Sonia
Dark winter nights, passing on stories, campfires, bringing people together. Sharing stories. Pubs, the more you drink the more outrageous. Sailors yarns, soldier’s self-glorification, heroism. Children want the same story over and over again. Familiarity is safe. Stories of your past become more important as you age, Stories keep people alive who are no longer here.
Super- heroes used to be Gods now they’re Spider man, Superman. Folk stories, fairy stories, children want frightening stories. Eastenders/Archers/Shakespeare. Does it have to resolve? There are a limited number of basic stories.
GROUP 5 Paul, Claire, Richard, Jon
Stories inspired by College/family reunions. Stories develop into gossip. Future stories, fortune tellers. Churches/religion hopes and fears for future. Folk songs, letter writing. Dog walkers exchange stories about their dogs. First dates, interviews, interrogations. Hospital beds.
Invisible Theatre – rehearsed / improvised scenarios happen spontaneously on trains, busses in the street; the audience don’t know it’s been prepared.
Alison/ Belgian refugees Mayor and mayoress from a village outside Antwerp came to Tunbridge Wells with their extended family in 1914. They lived in Nevill Park and decided to come here as she liked Thackeray. They walked in Happy Valley. Both died in 2015 and there was a huge funeral as they were so well respected.
Looking at ancestry, who do you think you are? Reciting in military costume?
Phil talked was asked about Chimney Sweeps, they supposed to be good luck at weddings. Story is that King George was on his way to a wedding when one of his horses got spooked and a chimney sweep saved his life so they became a lucky symbol. The Queen and Prince Philip had a chimney sweep at their wedding.
The idea of story cubes was put forward.
Jon wondered about situations when we would be less likely to tell stories – short bus and train rides, in an elevator, just approaching someone in the street – this would feel weird. Situations that encourage stories – interviews, interrogations, First Dates,
`Gossip and Chinese whispers, telling tales out of school (splitting). Somebody mentioned imaginary friends.
The idea of Travelling theatre groups was added to the mix.
PROVOCATION ABOUT JOURNEY’S
What kind of journeys do people make and why do they take them? Physical journeys of necessity, pleasure, or work, adventure or escape. Think of the t journeys in literature; Canterbury Tales, a Kentish pilgrimage where fellow travellers shared stories; Pilgrims Progress, a journey from this world to that world which is to come. The Wizard of Oz, where Dorothy follows the yellow brick road to both find her way home and save Oz from the wicked witch, and on route picks up fellow travellers who help her, but have personal missions of their own, one to gain a heart, another a brain and a third to find courage. The Hobbit, a chosen band on a quest to win a share of treasure guarded by a fearsome dragon. Or think of real, local characters who are likely to have once walked through Happy Valley; would we like to meet our ancestors and hear stories from our own community?
Imagine an audience, not merely witnessing a story being played out before them, but actually taken on a journey, fellow travellers with the actors. Might they collectively be set a task, or have personal missions of their own, what might they discover, what and who might they meet on the way? what paths do they travel, do they have choices about which route to take? How do we go about creating a real adventure for them?
Imagine an audience divided into different travelling groups, will they be given a guide, or discover cast members as travellers as they set out? Will each group or indeed individual experience a different journey or story to the others? Where will the journey end?
In Happy Valley there are many potential performance areas, where scenes can happen, events and rituals can take place, story circles can be created. Most notably there is a large natural amphitheatre. Could this be where the final part of the story is told, and what would that be? Maybe it's the journey's end, if so, where could that be?
This conversation is about gathering ideas that reveal how this unusual performance style might work, how we can both tell a story and involve the audience in the adventure. Could it be that the final outcome in not known to anyone, not even the cast?
DEVISING SESSION NOTES ON "JOURNEYS"
Present; Michael and Sonia Lawrence, John Harris, Paul Fulton, Gilly Blaydon, Gill Scott, David Brett, Richard Sylvester, Alison Mackenzie, Julie and Bernie Madden, Sally Sugg, Kate Sargent, MaryJane, Jeremy Woodruff, Jon Oram, Becca Maher. Mark Broad registered his interest but had to leave.
David talked about Nana Tomova a Sussex based storyteller. She is a qualified guide and professional storyteller who takes people across the Sussex Downs to tell her stories.
Jon suggested play where the audience could be travellers be implicated in the drama. He reminded us that we will have to be flexible in the mechanics of the show because of COVID restrictions. Rather than thinking this as a restriction, perhaps it’s an opportunity to create a theatre experience that engages the audience into conversation, and physical engagement.
There are connections with first world war Belgians refugees in Happy Valley. Also, the Beacon pub housed Jewish refugee children during the second world war. Different destinations, rushing. Encounter images/events on way, Exhibitions in a suitcase. Problem pictures. Tableaux. Refugees take them on a journey. Audience as refugees- stories told to each other. Maybe 3 groups encounter different scenes different strands of a story. Referred to Kentwell House in Suffolk as potential style – an area of re-enactment, crafts people – a living community in the valley. Canterbury Tales, encounter Inns on your travels, Sweeps cave? Fox hunting took place in Happy Valley audience hide the fox. The idea of suicide as there are places from where you can jump – audience engaged in persuasion (talking them down) Reference to “wonderful walks” an article Alison discovered. In the 1890’s there were geological walks, extraordinary descriptive language. In 1975 Rusthall primary school undertook a project called Wonderful walks where they walked around Happy Valley and wrote about it. Flash mob implicating audience actors not in costume.
Audience given a letter to deliver (refrences to Claque Mystery Houses where single audience member is engaged in one-minute theatre experience, where they make decisions.
Sweeps cage possible refreshment area,
An actor/ guide leading people through different experiences, meeting at a central point, experience of place/geography. Audience having independent choices of which paths to take Go down one path you receive a reward, or a negative experience (out of tune violin?).
Meeting figures from history, journeys happy and sad. Searching: “Where is Home” Caves/carvings/sacrifice/mythical energy about the rocks. Graffiti- loves lost/loves found. Murder most foul. Supernatural area -Owls in trees, themed areas; people in the trees. Land art in the trees.
Paths not taken. Do you involve audience. Actors not learning lines, but improvised characters.
Story stations, leader/guide/character. Chest of drawers with ancestral belongings, claimed by characters. The film The Point, starring Wayne Sleep. His character was ostracised and teased. He went on a journey and discovered everyone has a point. An outer and inner journey, bringing all stories together at the end.
Responding to environment. Boarding houses. Moved to Pantiles. William Cobbett. Actors question audience, “why are you travelling?”. A quest, letter in envelope.
Jon described his life changing experience of a little girl during a community play taking his hand and asking why a child in the play was being hanged for stealing bread as he was hungry. How those moments of reaching across the centuries to others like us can be so powerful for example a Jewish refugee child at The Beacon. Where is home? John Harries knows Peter Cornwell the owner of The Beacon. His son runs a theatre company. They have an amphitheatre in the grounds of The Beacon. The 101 steps down to the cold baths lead to a No Entry sign. Could we use masks (might be necessary anyway re: COVID). Land Art, Field, Forest and Sky on iPlayer.
These notes reflect the meeting as one idea stimulated another so are written in the order or form in which ideas flowed. They can act as stimulus for developing the form of the performance; also a provocation to develop of discover new ideas.
Overall, it seems that there is a feeling for hearing, seeing, witnessing, participating in a collection of stories which come together at the end so there is a sense of unity, a final event that connects all the stories or lives we’ve heard on the journey.
JANUARY 14th Legend II HAPPY HIGHWAYS DEVISING SESSION
THE HERO’ S JOURNEY
1. The Ordinary World
2 Call To Adventure
3. Refusal of the Call
4. Meeting with the Mentor
5. Crossing The Threshold
6. Tests. Allies & Enemies
7. Approach the Innermost Cave
8. The Ordeal
10 The Road Back
12. Return with the Elixir
JOSEPH CAMPBELL’S MONOMYTH
1.Call to Adventure
Disruption and Awakening
Refusal Of The Call
Mentor may appear
2.The First Threshold
Resistance and commitment
Belly Of The Whale
DESCENT, INITIATION PENETRATION
3.Road Of Trials
Challenges and Temptations
Tests and challenges prepare the Hero
Helpers arrive when needed
Meeting With The Goddess
Woman As Temptress
Atonement With The Father
Revelation brings new perspective
Revelation brings Rebirth
Revelation brings birth to the new transformed self
New Attitudes, beliefs and behavior emerges
Final Death and Rebirth
Build New Meaning
7.Return Threshold Challenges to the Return
Refusal of the Return
Rescue from Within
Master Of The Two Worlds
Freedom To Live
Watch the short above or try this other You Tube Link below to a little film with some interesting viewpoints, illustrated throughout by a group of Children.
The Hero's Journey is one that takes us from the Known World, our everyday life into the Unknown world, in our case the world of the Stone People. In this narrative model this is what we know about the The Ordinary World (1) and what is beyond in the Unknown World when we Cross the Threshold (5) :
The Ordinary World- What we Know (1)
Time and Location of our story: Today 2019 Toad Rock, Denny Bottom, Rusthall; possibly also Bulls Hollow or Apsley Street.
The area was once the bottom of a freshwater Lake.
Nigel Stapple believes the area around Toad Rock is a prehistoric ritual site. There has been a cluster of Mesolithic finds. Mesolithic people lived 6000 to 8000 years ago. Springs and water were venerated at that time and Nigel believes the site was so venerated. He believes there is a stone circle directly behind Toad Rock; In 1900 the stone circle existed on maps. The stone circle may well have been a barrow not necessarily for people but possibly for buildings. There is also a passageway behind Toad Rock where there are 2 levels of erosion one possibly caused by bare feet and sandals and the other by modern day harder shoes form the 1800’s onwards. There may also be a semi stone circle below Toad Rock; it’s so large it can only be seen from above. Nigel thinks man may well have helped formed The Toad as it is so different from any other natural rock formations. Rusthall was originally called Hungershall. Medieval quarrying involved splitting stones for stone circles etc. There is no evidence of modern quarrying. Demand for stone started in 1650’s. Qualified archaeologists have overlooked the site. Wellington rocks were heavily quarried in the 1800s so the hotels on Mount Ephraim would have a better view.
- There is lots of evidence that Climate Change is not only happening but that we only have eleven years left to reverse it making it possibly the most urgent crisis the world has yet faced. We need to come together as a people of the blue planet. Yet there are millions of climate change deniers many among our leaders.
- We are divided about our relationship with our neighbours in Europe and are fighting wars of words with them and between ourselves. It is taking all our energies and resources while the planet is moving fast to the cliffs edge. Are we best place to save ourselves with this in fighting, division and separation?
- Children of the local tribe and across the world school children have taken part in 24 hours of climate action. 1 million students are said to have skipped school in more than 2,000 protests across 125 countries to protest government inaction on climate change. The student movement was inspired by 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, now nominated for a Nobel Prize, who kicked off a global movement after she sat outside Swedish parliament every Friday beginning last August. Many students are expressing anger, fear and disappointment that adults have not acted.
- Local elders in our tribe have formed a volunteer team to keep the rocks clear and to support the Friends of the Common, Conservators, and the Warden of the Commons.
- We continue to take more from the earth than we put back, destroy more than we protect.
- There are young people within our tribe drinking on the rocks, breaking bottles, making noise late into the night and spray-painting graffiti.
The New World -What we know (6)
Stone people are born as stone and over time they become flesh. The stone people have to go to ‘birthing places’ (areas of exposed rock) to find their children. Stone people can be born in rivers and oceans when they will reawaken as water creatures. Sometimes they will be dug out trees that grow out of the rocks. Toad Rock is a sacred ‘birth place’ that was once covered by a fresh water Lake and many years ago the stone people were born as water creatures, fish, newts and frogs, until the lake dried up. The Toad is an ancient God of the stone people and a symbol of their past lives.
Women are obliged to dig for babies, “they’re waiting for us”. Their mothers are destined to find them; they know and recognise their own baby. Families might consult ‘Finders’ who sense where the mother should dig for her child in dousing and birthing ceremonies when the ‘Finders encircle the mother holding long dousing rods they beat ground and do ritual passing of the rods. Children and parents are destined to find each other. When they Stone people die they become stone and return to the earth retaining their knowledge and memory of past lives.
When the woman digs for a child she might accidentally split it so she then has to give it back to the earth where it reforms over several years. Stone people have a time when they must return to the ground, they are reluctant to go back as they remember what they call “the long wait”. They return to earth to absorb the collective knowledge of all the rocks. The earth is therefor imbued with intelligence, knowledge and wisdom far greater than our own
When rocks return or reawaken after the long wait they will have changed form, and come back as sparrows, animals, men or women. Stone people always return older and wiser than in their previous lives, they only age underground. In their final return, as toads, they are the eldest they will ever be. Toads are the highest order because they are returned heroes prepared to sacrifice themselves for the Tribe. They are therefor sacred - a life to be diligently protected. The death of a toad is a warning that life on earth is under threat, that the world is poisoned.
The Stone People live in a different dimension to us, they inhabit the same ground but beneath us. When we bury our dead we place them closer to the dimension the stone people live in. They lie there sleeping and the Stone Women tend them. We are oblivious to the stone people but to them we are dark shadows and our actions are impinging on their world.
When the Quarrymen of our world started removing stone they removed many of the Stone People’s ancestors. The stones the quarrymen took were used for building Tunbridge Wells so many stone ancestors lay trapped in the building.
And then the Toad Stone* was taken. Since which time the no stone person has been reborn and they are fast diminishing in numbers.
Among the recorded Victorian names of rocks is The Bloodstain, known to other sources as the Bleeding Rock. It is generally understood as a spot where dripping water left an iron stain, but no site fitting this description can be pointed out today. It needs to be found. It could mark the place where the stone people’s spiritual leader was split.
Another fact: From ancient times people associated the fossils with jewels that were set inside the heads of toads. The toad has poison glands in its skin, so it was naturally assumed that they carried their own antidote and that this took the form of a magical stone. They were first recorded by Pliny the Elder in the first century.
Could it be one and the same stone?
Many of the leaders followers wear a mallet round their necks in memory of he who took the stone. The Stone Tribe pays annual homage to the Toad Rock on the middle day of they year. He is their greatest hero about whom many stories of bravery are told of his previous lives.
If the bloodstone was returned, perhaps it may reawaken the stone people and if the fleshlings were to revive their long lost ritual of dressing the Toad and talking to the rocks perhaps the stones may share their wisdom, and by listening to the earth we might save it.
We have started learning how the stone people talk to each other
WHO IS OUR HERO?
One of many questions we may want to ask is who are contenders to seek adventure and travel to the world of the Stone people? And for why or for what do they seek? Please discuss. Better still come to our next Devising Session
This full day workshop devising with music and sounds, inspired movement and improvised scenes.
A group of eighteen explored what images and sounds they could make with 10 feet poles. They first stood in a circle with the poles angled down to the centre and slowly raised them till they created the same shape reversed, poles ends meeting at the highest point in the centre of the circle, reminding us of ancient round huts. We played with the sounds of poles clicking together. The circle led to devising part of the “ceremony of dousing and the birthing of the stone children” One could imagine a mother in the centre of the circle digging for her child. The group then passed poles round in a circle hand- to- hand in a rhythm finding a synchronised moment to beat the sticks on the ground; and another moment to change direction from clockwise to anti clockwise. In the next exercise we found choreographed rhythms
The group then progressed further an idea from last Tuesday's devising workshop, finding out how the stones speak to each other. We found different pitched voices using combinations of large, medium and small stones and discovered stones can chatter, laugh, argue, get angry, flirt. It became natural for people to take the feelings the stones gave down into their bodies. Jon then led pairs in discovering scenes using the idea that the dialogue of the stones could either impelled you towards your partner, repel you away, or compel you stand still. They created funny and moving scenes, arguments and status exchanges. One exercise involved four people communicating with stone tapping and instructed to make friends with two other people, It was touching and moving to see and hear them jostle for positions as they realised that one person would be ousted from the group. We were encouraged that we could tell stories an show complex relationships in a language the audience could understand.
We took Sonia Lawrence's poem Digging is Obligatory (See comments 5th May Blog) and read it as a group one word at a time, then in pairs with the same exercise tried making it sound like natural speech. It proved impossible but gave each word equal weight. We read as a group again, two lines at a time. In smaller groups of five we composed a performance of 5 lines each exploring rhythms, expanded gestures, seeing what could heightened what sung, whether lines we spoken in unison or repeated, Each groups five lines contributed to a performance of the whole poem.
We sang African, Inuit and Sioux songs and created a musical soundscape to accompany some potential movement states of tension - molding (moving like clay); floating, flying (a state of fear or flight) and radiating energy ( strength, spirituality, reflecting the oracle
These notes on are based on those I sent David Brett our Music Director. They are some early thoughts on how music might benefit the devising process and be employed in performance
I'd like the music to be an essential influence not just in creating songs and a *soundtrack for the show, but using it to devise the play. We need to brainstorm ideas together but here are a few ideas and thoughts to start us of. I see the music it as a tool for setting up the right rehearsal environment, inspiring theatrical scenarios, offering inspiration through lyrics and compositional content, providing structure for improvisation sessions.
*I'm using the term "soundtrack" because I think for some scenes we will be aligning the music with the action and in some cases direct choreography.
I think the music could influence the structure of the show especially running time scenes. I estimate most scene will last approximately 3 1/2 minutes, about the same as an average pop song. This seems a very watchable rate. It's pretty much what we've done with promenade community plays in the past and in a TV centric world that's about the average attention span. Maybe that is why pop songs are pretty much the same length. Anyway it's no bad objective when devising material to think in terms of 3 1/2 minute scenes. Of course we can always break the rule and have a splendid Bohemian Rhapsody, midway through the play.
I’ve had a thought that the stone children learn move by manipulation, I saw a mother the other day holding her child's hands to support it's walking it looked puppetry. Perhaps the stone elders play manipulation games with their children. We are already discovering the way stones communicate in sound by tapping pebbles.. I feel this will inevitably lead to percussive music., choruses translating stone language with with words either spoken or sung in the same rhythmic pattern of the pebbles. Now we need to the equivalent in movement and gesture; music can inspire that.
We should pull out some film sound tracks - not to use in performance necessarily- but if we listened to music together we might get ideas, not least we will find a vocabulary. It's not a bad idea to start with recorded music to inspires a scene or accompany something we are already doing. We can create a live alternative later. We can use Improvised music too of course, even in the show.
I think I mentioned the idea of an overture, something that happens in the space before the play begins. Sound coming from the cave or above or behind or among the rocks but unseen. Maybe something physical happens momentarily - like a trailer of things to come. We could pick out characters involved in moments from the play - dramatic highlights.
At the moment I'm mostly seeing the scope for instrumental music; but we need songs too. For me the song has to be integral to the story - we don’t stop for a song - The song should add to the narrative, or the argument. Work songs are a good example. I like what you said, David about singing comes when there are no more words to be said, It is a an outpouring though, bringing something felt to the surface; the lyrics have to be specific. When dialogue starts emerging from the devising workshops some might become lyrics.. I like the idea of using songs from popular culture and the suggestion of Tom Waites 'Underground' If we can replicate that gravel sound it could be wonderful. The words too are spot on, it brings a menace we've not thought about. Rocks can feel threatening.
There’s potential for music and sound in the spaces in dialogue (textual space) and the space between players. The Textual space is more than the gaps in speech it's those moments where there is a sense of absence, something being unsaid that might best be filled with another language. (this is where you might put in a song)
But It’s also about the moment when the audience might lean forward to engage in what is really going on. Song is great for bringing inner feelings and thoughts to the surface, Dance and Physical theatre works best illustrating the subtext rather than the content. usually a very intimate moment but we have a big outdoor space to fill; we can only create the subtleties of relationships by expanding on the moment; songs do that, but so does dance and physical theatre. I would like to try elements of song, dialogue, soundtrack, dance, physical theatre, heightened and natural gesture in different combinations., It's a great devising ploy in any event and forces discovery.
There's a video link below that might explain a part of what I mean, It's from Can we Talk About This? by the physical theatre company DV8. They use a combination of dance, expanded and natural gestures that flows together. I think is remarkable. It displays extraordinary physical skill, strength and dexterity we wouldn't be able to emulate but the underlying theory is applicable. There is an essential language between gesture and dance that I’m interested in that might become the language of the Stone People.. Groups, families and cultures share the same language and pick up common accents, and they also have shared gestures. This might take us theatrically into chorus work and Corp du Mime but also its also says something about finding commonality which I think is becoming an important theme in the play. This to me is all about listening to each other. Look how these two performers are engaged in listening to each other physically whilst communicating something else out to the audience. In devising and rehearsing the movement we find will come directly from the performer, so by definition will be in the physical range of whoever produces, it may need to be less dance more expanded gestures, with rhythms and repetitions, but who knows what we will discover. However big or small the movements it is all connected to music.