Tuesday, 13 November 2007


1) Week 7 Blog
Today's lesson took a new and interesting structure. Firstly, i really enjoyed the trust exercises that took place. The students did a great job teaching these exercises and i think it really did help us as an ensemble. It was then great to finally get to discuss our concept of fear in our groups and to see everyone else's ideas. I think that the theme of 'irrational fear' that is present in both groups means that the two pieces will gel well together for the final performance. My group is first meeting on Thursday of this week where we'll explore how to take everyday objects and try to create an image or perception of 'irrational fear'.

Posted by Emma Bilton

2) Fear is Positive
I very much enjoyed participating and teaching the trust exercise that had been taught in the Lee Simpson Improbable workshop. I was interested to see how people who didn't participate in the Improbable workshop found the exercise. Everyone had different reactions to the first part of the trust exercise. Many people found it exhilarating to be lead around the room with their eyes closed, however, many people found it difficult to trust the person leading them and had images of something happening to them, such as hitting the wall. However, as the exercise went on, soon people realised once they had knocked into someone and that was the worst thing that could happen, the exercise didn't seem so 'scary'!
I was very intrigued whilst teaching the second part of the exercise, how the participants would feel with people from the group watching them. As the space was large when I was involved in Lee's workshop, everyone was able to take part simultaneously. Once the exercise had been undertaken I was interested to know that some people found it off putting having others watching them, this made them aware of the space around them as well as feeling claustrophobic and embarrassed at being watched. I also noticed if someone made a sound, the person being lead would tense and worry that something was happening to them, or they would start laughing, nervously.
After undertaking the exercise we discussed the notion of fear associated with the exercise and how fear can be positive. At first the people with their eyes closed were very conscious of what they were doing and how they were moving, however as the exercise developed many people became fearless and began to enjoy the exercise.
I am very excited about starting our final piece, our group have some great ideas associated with the theme 'fear' and I feel that we will be able to produce a very interesting creative piece of work.

Posted by Charlotte Harvey

3) Hand-Holding Game
I really enjoyed the hand holding game when we did it in the workshop with Lee Simpson - I felt that it broke down many of the communication barriers for me, and I relaxed into the methods of Improbable much more. I think that this was also the case in the class this week. Although in a very different situation to before - a smaller room, with lots of people, I still think that it is a game that can really break the ice in any class like this. A second attempt at the game also gave me more understanding of what it is for. I could relate the idea of spontaneity to this as well. As something that I have had problems with, it was interesting to realise that you could be spontaneous through leading a person around the room, and having to react to everything that happened there and then. If there were any mistakes made or accidents about to happen you just had to deal with them. I found that this was a very good way to understand Improbable in another way - it is refreshing and makes the often difficult themes much more fun!

Posted by Emma Fielding

4) Week 7 Blog
I found it very interesting this week to observe how our group reacted to the ‘Improbable’ trust exercises. Peoples’ experiences differed greatly from the original workshop group and it was very interesting to see how people can experience the same thing very differently and how one exercise can help people in various and unexpected ways.
People’s research on the theme of ‘Fear’ was also very varied and extremely useful. I enjoyed helping with the discussion and I believe the many different aspects of fear will be used well within each of our devised pieces, from the physiological to the psychological effects of a very powerful emotion.
Our first meeting was productive, although we haven’t quite started improvising yet, we have the basic structure of our piece nearly sorted. I look forward to working in a similar way to ’Improbable’ I believe it will be a very enlightening and liberating experience.

Posted by Ella Rhodes

5) Blog Week 7
Besides talking about our final year production we did some warm-ups which we learned at Lee Simpson's workshop. I found it really interesting to do those again. It's amazing how your body and mind remember things that were last done quite some time ago. I noticed that it was much easier for me to concentrate on my actual thoughts. The access I got to my own mind was a lot better. Practicing the trust-exercises again showed me, how useful they really are.
The other thing we did, was clarify the possible outcomes of the theme for our final production. Although we didn't quite establish a ready concept, it was very interesting to listen to the experiences others had concerning FEAR. Everybody had a spooky story. We discovered that most of them had a dreamlike (in terms of a nightmare), atmospherical and mysterious touch to them. So, I suppose that our group starts off trying to create a certain atmosphere… we'll see what will come out in a few weeks from now…

Posted by Mirjam Frank

6) Trust Exercises
In this week's lesson I really enjoyed the trust exercises. From being a participant in the Improbable Workshop with Lee Simpson I had already experienced the exercise. However, this time I found myself having different responses to being led around and leading my partner around. It was interesting to see how we reacted according to the smaller space. I found it really effective being an audience member as I was able to see the exercise from both perspectives at once. I enjoyed watching the varying reactions to being swapped and it was interesting to see how some people felt completely comfortable being led around while others were much more guarded. I think that dividing the class made it much easier to appreciate the exercise as we saw it from many perspectives and I found it also very entertaining as an audience member watching people try to swap and partners being forgotten and bumping into each other. I look forward to experimenting with such exercises within our devising groups as I really felt this particular game built trust and worked on the idea of using fear.

Posted by Fran Smith

7) Fear, Trust and Ensemble
As I missed out on the workshop with Lee Simpson, I was pleased to get a chance to try out the exercises that were practised. I especially liked that the individuals who took part in the workshop led the exercises. I found that the exercises were delivered through their own experiences of the game as they recalled how they had felt when they played the games. I felt very trusty towards my partner and I got the feeling that in general the whole group seemed to becoming together more, which is definitely building on our ensemble skills which is crucial for our final piece.
I am happy with the theme of 'fear' which has been set for our final pieces. I feel that it is an emotion with connotations of personal experience and wide-spread qualities which will allow us to all bring an individual notion to our pieces but at the same time to capture away in which we can convey this as an ensemble. Also when thinking about situations when one responds to fear, I realised that our reactions are always totally spontaneous as we act on impulse and therefore naturally. I just hope that we will be able to establish this kind of impact reaction and response in our pieces.

Posted by Faith Brandon-Blatch

8) Blog
I'm feeling fairly optimistic about our performance. With only 10 minutes per group, a good 3 weeks to create something, and a solid foundation that we can build on (after our meeting on Thursday), I think everything will be done in plenty of time. The only trouble will be keeping things fresh once we've created them, but by applying Improbable's principles we should be fine.

Posted by Emma Berge

9) Blog
Our first few meet ups over with and I'm actually quite happy about the process so far. I remember some devising i did a few years ago and the process of doing everything became more and more painful as time went on as we were, in essence, trying far too hard and sort of shot ourselves in the foot. It's difficult to keep our creativity and imaginations at a level without going too far so a piece becomes too unstructured or too surreal but i am happy with what our group has done so far! Hopefully it'll stay that way!

Posted by George Calderwood

10) Blog
In Monday's lesson it was enjoyable to begin working in our groups. It was interesting to discuss our stimulus 'fear' and see what was conjured up within the group. We at first discussed what scared us and see how some of us have well known fears such as spiders, heights, small spaces or the dark, however some of us had less common fears such as putting your left foot on the floor! We then went on to discuss nightmares and the nature of bad dreams, such as the weird things that happen, eg. people changing into other people or not being able to run away. We thought it would be good to try and recreate a nightmarish atmosphere in the piece so the audience could feel as if they were in a nightmare and use all our fears within the piece. We thought of the idea of storytelling as this links back to Improbable's work as they often tell stories or anecdotes within their piece's. A few of us shared stories of the most scary moments we can remember and we thought it would be good to use these in the piece as it links back to Improbable's 'Lifegame'. It will be interesting to begin devising when we have our rehearsals on Monday and see where these initial thoughts lead. Im excited!

Posted by Helen Hudson

11) Further Work As A Group In And Out Of Class
My group have progressed significantly in terms of theme and ideas over the past week. Firstly there was the lesson in which we discussed our responses to the theme of our piece ‘fear’. Concepts of rational and irrational fear arose. These lead to an idea of using objects to create shadows that looked frightening, but later revealing the objects and showing the audience the completely harmless reality. I believe that as soon as we begin to actually try out this idea we can further it and it will tie in well with the marking criteria ‘using objects effectively’. In class the group seemed to co-operate well as an ensemble. No one argued or pushed aside anyone’s ideas. The main problems that did occur were the different levels of familiarity with each other. Some people lived in the same halls as each other whereas others live off campus etc. There was a general feeling that the first meet up should be used for getting to know one another and allowing everyone an equal amount of speaking time.
We all met up on Thursday 15th November, at 10am. We had all agreed to bring an object to the discussion, which we thought could be used in helping create interesting shadows. The objects needed to appear harmless when revealed. So objects like knives or sharp objects would not be suitable. I brought along an umbrella and other objects included newspaper and jewellery hanger. We realised that in order to try out our ideas we really needed rehearsal time in the boilerhouse or at least in a decent sized room; our first meeting was in halls. Meeting in halls allowed us all to feel at ease and I think everyone spoke at least once. We also came up with more ideas. For instance there was a general unease with circus environments. We felt that if we created a circus environment we could really work as an ensemble. One person could take on the role as ringleader and perhaps narrate (which relates to Improbable) and there was a possibility of including puppets (again used by Improbable). Before our next rehearsal I intend to continue looking for interesting objects, as well as research the topic ‘circus’ and see what other ideas it leads to.

Posted by Sylvie Barlow

12) The Rehearsal Process
Starting to create a final piece has been very interesting. Each member of the group has their own ideas which are all very different which means that we can have a varied piece. The difficulty is that we must follow the style of Improbable which means remembering what their ideologies are at all times so that we don't get too carried away when devising. These ideologies include things such as Story telling, improvisation, the use of props eg newspaper ect.

Posted by Louisa Hagan

13) Blog Entry
All I can really say is that I am really excited to be devising with an ensemble again, it may be crude to say but making theatre is fun! I'm looking forward to seeing what both groups produce. I think it's also pretty incredible that with a good third of my group living off campus, we still managed to drag ourselves out of bed for early rehearsals, some of us waking up at six or seven!

Posted by Gemma Moran

14) Spirit
The first thing I must say is that “Spirit” is an incredibly touching and surprising piece of work. The unusual staging, though potentially limiting, was used to great affect by the performers, with the ensemble’s imagination extremely evident in the set's almost “cute” versatility. Its secret compartments and continuing transformations from acknowledged stage, bed, roof etc continued to delight my childish side throughout the production, and made the simple nature of the storytelling more than a little endearing. It fitted wonderfully with the group’s use of characterless yet not lifeless dolls, which again gave a strong sense of the childhood imagination being bought to the stage. It was interesting to see this method of storytelling used for such a serious topic as war, but I feel it worked rather well. If I’m not mistaken I could feel a slight Brechtian influence in this, with the audience being removed from the story itself but bought closer to its themes with its distinct breaks in character, and the use of three differing “environments”
For the first time in viewing an Improbable performance, I could feel a clear and distinct aim in the piece; I was going to learn about war through viewing certain portrayals and concepts of it. The character based “fairy tale” as it were was clearly used to engage an emphatic response, the sound scape “war games” an emotive one, with the actor’s arguments serving to represent the conflicts of everyday life which an audience member themselves may recognise, and therefore bring pleasure in mimesis and invoke a cognitive response.
This is all well and good, but what truly stood out what that this all occurred without once seeming contrived. I could see how the next night might change completely, with a new set of characters or even actors,where perhaps it is another person who feels spurred to cause an arguments, or perhaps where the little puppet men do make maybe just once, if the audience hoped long and hard enough. Despite watching on vhs, I felt as though I was included within the performance, I was constantly encouraged to think and would rather have liked to be there.

Posted by Gemma Moran

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