Having arrived at Theatr Ardudwy and being met and settled in by Paul, managing director, and Siri, artistic director, we are now well on the road to making 'Adrift'. It feels really positive to be able to be in the same space for the next 4 weeks and to be able to see the sea from our rehearsal room...wonderful.
This week we've been working with experienced maker and performer Amy Bell who is being a much needed outside eye on the project. Together we discussed the nature of what an outside eye really is, or can be, and together arrived at an approach that would work with where myself and Eithne already are within our process. Amy has worked with both of us in the past and it felt important to us that the outside eye could understand our history as well as what we aim to make together now because the two things are so interwoven.
This lent a real clarity to the focus for the two days that followed, it really felt like she could help us in reflecting back to us what she saw, unbiased by being within the work, and be a sounding board for the (many) ideas we had. We decided to experiment with all of the pockets of ideas to test each one out, even in a loose way, to see how they felt and what they inherently conveyed to see which ideas had mileage and which could be crossed out within this work.
The fact that Amy allowed us to just try things out, to experiment, without pre-judging, was so freeing and gave us permission to go fully into the ideas we'd had, and made me see the value of a sketch of an idea- when you try a series of unformed ideas next to one another to see how they inform one another. This is such a valuable tool for making anything. We ended up placing pieces of material we had formed during the R and D next to new delicate ideas and experiencing how they played together and we were able to get closer to understanding what we did and didn't want within the work. We would then try the same thing but performed in a very different manner to understand what the two ways of performing also gave to the same material and to how it was viewed.
This experimentation gave me a sense of surrender, to surrender to the process without feeling like you should know everything before you've even tested it out...because when you're making, producing, directing, marketing and performing it you have so many roles with very differing levels of permission within them all battling to 'do a good job'. When you're a performer one of the things you give to a process is options, you are given a task by a choreographer and you are then able to interpret what they've said in many different ways but you are freed from the responsibility of what you want it to be. You offer a very valuable thing, what it could be through your interpretation, and that's something I love about being a performer- facilitating someone's creative vision. However, this is actually a huge brain shift as a maker who is performing in their own work, you have to let go of what you think you want it to be to allow it to become what it can be.
We experimented with plastics and bringing them on to the raft to see if the ideas around environment had a place in the story and for this work we decided it was far too surreal and abstract to connect and enhance what is already there- the inherent drama of the raft and our relationship to it and one another. We discovered that quite quickly there is too much happening and that we need to allow enough time to explore what we consider simple because to an audience who have never come into contact with the object there already is a lot in discovering the way the raft moves.
Within the previous R and D we really had focused upon the story element within the work, unpicking who the characters were and how we wanted to explore telling their story, however we had also a creeping suspicion that we wanted to not pretend to be anything other than Eithne and Beth on a set together and so how could those two desires live alongside one another?
We find ourselves at the end of this week going away from the narrative and having a desire to explore a more abstract approach where we are able to step in and out of the story and play with both the audience and us knowing that we are stepping into a story at different points and at others simply enjoying the way the set moves our bodies. It remains to be seen if this is able to be conveyed clearly without the aid of a more conventional theatrical set up with lights and sound to help indicate the shifts between story and real life.