Exercise no.10

Roleplay activity - with added rules

Exercise tested out with two different groups

Given a set of rules to use alongside their combination of 3 cards - word, image, notation

For each rule, I wanted them to give a new representation of the cards. I wanted them to re-invent their cards three times, according to the rules that they were given, so that they finished with three short separate routines.

Emile, Lina & Qianqian

  • Use of levels - routine is spread out from top to bottom throughout. Lying on the ground, kneeling, arms stretched upwards.

  • More role-play based than movement based - we see scenes of (what appear to be) death, movement of machinery, and resuscitation.

  • Participants are unafraid to be in contact with one another, and at times, quite intimate contact e.g. one of the first moves involved one person lying completely dead-weight on top of the other. I like that this exercise seems to encourage this kind of contact between strangers and acquaintances - the three people participating did not necessarily know each other very well, but this did not seem to limit proximity. At no point did the participants appear uncomfortable during intimacy, and in fact they had chosen specific to make these movements themselves. I think that perhaps sometimes when a movement seems to be perfectly appropriate for the task, however inappropriate it may be outside of this context is completely forgotten. Other moments of intimacy include holding hands, feet landing on each other, helping each other up from the ground.

  • Two of the individuals seemed to be interconnected throughout (the two females) and one separate (male). All three participants worked together, but the two females seemed to collaborate with all sections of movement.

  • Distinction between motifs, moments, scenes, but pauses in between. This is a device which they have adopted themselves which works, adds clarity, definition, we know when they are transitioning. We can anticipate and pay close attention when something is about to begin.

  • Great trust in and reliance on each other. This is portrayed in one of the movements which the three individuals hold hands and then lean back, holding each other up as their weight is evenly distributed, they stay in this position for a few moments and then let go and drop to the floor. As they fall they land slightly on top of one another - in these split few seconds we notice a comfort, a connection triggered by the exercise.

  • There are a few moments in which it seems that the individuals need to be touched to be activated, that they cannot move unless indicated to do so. This is indicative of the presence of a leader (someone who decides when movement should happen), but there is not only one person doing this, this role is shared throughout.

  • All three individuals always wait patiently for each other to get into their positions which reinforces the sense of a TEAM - one cannot proceed without the other two. This is also suggested in moments when they move each others’ bodies - they have no energy without the other.

Julia and Louis

  • Definitely more movement based that role-play based. At least, the description of events is more figurative than literal.

  • Moving each other into position e.g. person 1 pushing person 2 down. And lifting her back up again.

  • The centre point of the space is utilised throughout. They rotate around this, circulate themselves around this point.

  • There is a balance of energy between the two. Level of energy is decided and levelled - at no point is one working harder than the other.

  • There are moments of intimacy within this guiding of each other. Moments when they fold round each other, kind of appears as a cradling.

  • When they are not supporting each other they are mirroring each other. I think this is an intelligent structure to put in place between there will always be movement even when movement has been forgotten. They can always feed off and copy what the other is doing.

  • A strong connection between the two is implied by a unison, or the attempts at unison with slight delays. They delays remind us that this isa unique performance, it will not happen again in this way, and if it is re-performed then it will exist as something completely different.

  • Variety in the kind of steps they are making -strides, tiny fast steps, walking with their knees bent, bodies close to the ground.

  • It’s compelling to watch the very slight but very distinct evolution of the routine. The routine stays true to itself, we can see that its changing but it also still feels the same.

  • We see movement repeated - we recognise them even thought they have changed. They are repeated but in a different way : different directions different speeds, the leader alternates.

Louis and Julia have a set routine and they do change this routine according to the three rules but the structure and the basis of the movement within the routine remains throughout. You can tell that it is the same combination of cards being altered. On the other hand, the first group could easily appear to be performing 3 different combinations of cards.

Adding these rules to the exercise adds a level of discipline that was not present before, even if this is discipline is not clear when watching the performances back. The exercise is stricter, there are more rules and instruction for the participants to abide to. Despite the fact that an ignorance of the instructions would have been inconsequential, both groups took the instructions into consideration and took them very seriously.

Using the instructions alongside the cards was a way for me to implement my control as director - or, at least, for the participants to believe that I was implementing control. In reality, I was still powerless, as there is still leeway for interpretations within the instructions themselves. The instructions may have seemed specific to each individual but they weren’t actually very specific - they could have been changed and twisted in any way the groups would have liked. It was just a matter how how directly they wanted to approach it.

However, it was definitely interesting incorporating actual specificities of movement into my instructions. The vast ambiguity of the cards were injected with a specificity (this specificity seemed to have been chosen by me but in practice it was chosen by the participants. Adding this specific instruction to something so vague did not make the outcome any more predictable, I still had absolutely no idea what they were going to come out with.

The combination of the two exercises ends up, at least in my mind, being quite complicated. This was fine for practising with a small group, in an environment where concentration can take place, but I’m not sure I could carry out this exercise in a workshop environment with noise going on around us, and with strict time constraints.

I don’t necessarily think that the implementation of more control in this exercise was a good thing (I don’t even know if I managed to gain any control at all) but it was certainly interesting to see what effect it could have - if the further instruction is listened to, if it makes the routines tighter or more refined, if the groups find it helpful. Although it is not a key aim of mine, and not an end-point I would like to reach, I’m eager to investigate and test out other ways of asserting myself within the activities I facilitate, making my presence more known. And in turn, finding out how detrimental to the exploration of the participants my presence may be.