Exercise no.7

Card game 2 - role play exercise

Working from selection of cards we had in previous exercise - 15 words, images, and pieces of notation.

Participants picked at random 1 from each pack to make 5 combinations of the 3.

The task was to come up with some kind of routine or role play for each combination.

Using words was allowed (this has not not been an element of previous performances). So I was hoping for a combination of speech and movement, more of a ‘play’ set-up that a ‘dance’ set up.

The combinations were -

Due to that fact that I had separated myself from the group during the discussion of the cards and the construction of the routines, I was completely unaware of the combinations. This was important because it ensured that I was completely unable to direct any of the performance - I could have no influence because I had no idea what they were trying to achieve. I was trying to work out the combination of cards that had inspired each routine as I was watching them. This seemed like an almost plausible goal because because I know all three participants really well and I knew the full vocab that they had been provided with - I had written it myself.

The director of each routine was definitely Jane. She always enters first and leads the group onto the ‘stage.’ Beyond the frame, she uses the cards to prompt the group, they are always following her instruction. However, the presence of a clear leader does not make the contributions of the other two any less valid, they shaped the final product just as much as she did.

Each routine seems to consist of a clear introduction, middle and conclusion and so has the structure of a very basic story or a play. This is a good example of the kinds of structures with these groups have to implement themselves in order for the routine (for any routine at all) to materialise.

The trio approached this activity by always working as a unit, they completed very few individual movements. This serious consideration for group effort is mainly emphasised in the conclusions of each routine, which usually involved the three coming together for some kind of combined movement - a key example of this being the tight embrace between all three individuals that happens at the end of the final routine.

If I am ever to exhibit this video, or videos displaying the same activity with different people, I would want to present them alongside the set of cards, so that the audience could attempt the the same deciphering process that I had attempted - this may be an easier task with all the material laid out in front of you.

The theme that seems to run through each of the routines is ‘working towards something’, progressing and achieving, so that by the end of each segment there is a resolution, the viewer is left feeling as though the scenario has been completed.

I am pleased and pleasantly surprised again with the success of this as a game, the card game in its second materialisation. I think this success, the creation of ‘fun’ and distraction comes again from the act of focussing in on something quite basic, the participants isolating themselves from everything else but the task at hand. The element of entertainment was always more likely to be present in this card activity than with the last, as it allowed for teamwork and also more freedom of movement : more creation.

I think the videos work because we can never know exactly what happened in the discussion - even if we think we do. It is impossible for the audience to grasp firstly which combination of cards stimulated each routine, and even if they did work this out, it would be impossible for them to know how this stimuli resulted in this sequence of events. I think that maybe it would be a good idea to record the conversations that lead to the performances, even if I don’t feel as though they should be listened to now, at some point in the future I may want to be about to analyse and draw conclusions from the comparison of the two. Nevertheless, at this point, I almost feel as though I’m not supposed to know. The lack of insight is what makes watching these performances back really transfixing.

The less questions the participants pose about the task, the better. I believe that the more questions that are asked and that are answered, the more constraints are placed on the activity which is meant to revolve completely around the visions of the participants - really, any constraints present, apart from the location, should only have been set by them.

It feels as though I am moving on from routines of pure movement, onto movement integrated into constructed scenarios, containing elements of speech, plots, replication of everyday actions. This feels connected to the previous series of notation exercises but not a direct progression, more like an adjacent project (the exploration of a different area).

My plan is to do this exercise again, multiple times with different groups of people, so we can see how different interpretations allow this exercise to unfold. Repetition is an integral part of this process. Whilst repeating this activity, I will be working through other materialisations of the game, the cards being utilised for relating but separate activities which explore the use and potential of limited vocabularies.

During this repetition, I need to continue experimenting with the environments the performances are happening within, to work out which ones work the best aesthetically and also practically. I want to find other domestic locations which encourage relaxed group activity other than gardens and parks. This is important for the works existing in their video form, as I want quite an extensive record of these activities functioning well in alternate environments, I also want to portray how each environment limits and shapes each performance. This exploration is also essential for my work existing as performance, as this will help me to learn how to facilitate live group performances within constrained spaces. The spaces I am able to use will never be perfect for the activity I have in mind - this is an integral part of the challenge and the development of the work as a whole.