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.