A film script

September 24, 2006 by

On Thursday afternoon Sam and I wrote a film script from a story Katherine wrote last week – very complex as we were thinking it through shot by shot. We ended up creating a visually heavy text, that has a dramatic distancing effect on the audience member. It worked best when combined with an action – for instance getting the audience member to step over a body on the floor at the same time as a character in the film does – they then become this person for a moment.

Potentially this is an interesting way of drawing a person in and out of the action. So sometimes you are a charcter in the film, sometimes you are seeing the action as though watching the film. Don’t know whether it will make it to Treasured, but an interesting notion.

Making spaces – an old house


We had some fun at the end of this week making suggestions for the outside ‘chill-out’ space. Katie and I are really keen to create a transition space between the real world and the dressing chamber of Treasured.
In our last two productions we’ve been very aware that through creating a convincing, theatrical world within our performances we left our audiences with a potentially unnerving transition back to the outside again. We want to make a space that is not a highly charged, theatrical holding pen for the dressing chamber, but is somewhere where people can relax and return to having been dressed in the jewellery.

On Thursday Katie and Katherine did one around the theme of an ‘old house’. The seats were covered in dust sheets. There was a tea set on a side table, and books covered in talcum powder. Best of all were the Viennese Whirls Katie had brought in, that not only fitted the space perfectly, but tasted very good!

Part of the idea of this space is that while you’re in it you get to chose which piece of jewellery you wear. However, we don’t want to reveal the actual jewellery, so on Wednesday Katie set the perforers the task of coming up with a selection process that would related to and led to the jewellery.

Katherine had made three pictures that were hung on the walls of the ‘old house’. These included images, textures, colours, words and things to touch. While you were in the space you decided which you were most drawn to, and this is your jewellery choice. I liked that it was so hands off – you could choose at your own pace and view from a distacne or close to.

Up Close 2


A very different experience from the last week as we had 13 people turn up. Some new faces including the girls from Breathe, whose work we’d seen in Edinburgh this year and are also part of the Encounters season at mac.

We showed a short section for each piece of jewellery. The aim was to test how many of the senses people could process simultaniously, so I picked some impros with fewer and some with many. Each one included being dressed in the jewellery, but as there were quite a few people (as many as we’ll get through in 2 hours of performance) they did only one each.

Then we went downstairs for a chat over coffee. The biggest find was that touch is such a strong sensation on its own it wants to be the sole focus. People really couldn’t focus on anything else when the jewellery was being put on them, or at least wanted to be allowed to experience only that sensation.

Another interesting thing we did was elevating the people who wore the head piece by making them stand on a step stool. This seemed to give the wearer greater importance – Abi felt like a Queen. The head piece in particular has an upwards feel to it – many of the narratives that have come out of it include flying. Interestingly the arms piece is very earthy and ground level, perhaps the neck is a middle ground piece – we’ll see.

Thanks to Dan too for bringing up the question of comedy, and whether there was a place for it in Treasured – that made us think! Is Treasured taking itself too seriously? Have we been blocking comedy, or will it crop up later in the process? Is Treasured simply not funny?

Struggling on Monday

September 18, 2006 by

Having just emerged from a very hot bath where I steamed with a glass of wine and some Rufus Wainwright songs I feel delirious enough to write about today. Ok, it wasn’t THAT bad, I think I was just struggling – having one of those days.

The morning started pretty well. Katie brought in an interesting book called Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels. Sam read the prologue – a fascinatingly poetic narrative about the ‘bog boy’ with so many amazing images and wonderful words it leaves you reeling.
Katherine did some research on the coronation of our current Queen. Elizabeth apparently took the whole thing very seriously, practicing in the ballroom which she marked out in tape, and joining sheets together to make her train. Having done this work and watched ‘The Queen'(a new film), Katherine seems to be worryingly obsessed with our monarch, or perhaps, as Katie fears, she has turned into a royalist!

Anyway, after that things just didn’t connect. Katherine and I (in a pair) found it hard to create a new ritual, even after incorporating the eating of some cake that my Mum had made. We looked at instructing the audience member on the experience before they took part in it. This was better, but the room was very hot and stuffy today, and my focus still drifted more than usual.

Lastly today we sat in the bar at mac and wrote for 3 minutes at a time about the history (discovery/making) of each item of jewellery. This was great, and not only because I could have a beer, but everyone came out with unique stories. It was really interesting hearing everyone’s differing styles: Katherine always writes intricate, descriptive text that uses repetition; Katie’s are focused and emotional; and Sam’s imaginative and surreal. Don’t know that I can characterise my own, but the general feeling seemed to be that it got better with editing – so maybe I should take a hint, and end this blog…

A child’s eye view

September 17, 2006 by

We’ve been discussing the use of ritual within
children’s play because stories with a child as the protagonist have
been cropping up a lot over the past week.
Some of my strongest memories of rituals are from before I was seven
and were self-made, situation-based play – we took on roles and were
all complicit in the rules. It was a way of bonding in a specific place
with a particular group, for enjoyment, excitement and sometimes fear.

Perhaps most relevant is the fact that we all knew it was ‘play’ – a
fantasy, and understood when we were playing and when we weren’t. This
seems different to most adult rituals I have encountered, which have
implications beyond the ritual itself and bind or sign you up to a
specific way of leading your life.

I think I am more interested in the childs approach to ritual for
Treasured, the last thing we want to do is try to create our own cult –
we’re not charismatic enough for a start!

Late introductions

September 14, 2006 by

Just realised I should probably introduce the team.

At the moment in the rehearsal room are:

Samantha Ann Fox – Performer
Katherine Maxwell-Cook – Performer
Katie Day – Director
Jane Packman – Director

Joining us a bit later on are:

Ben Pacey – Lighting Designer
Alexandra Boussoulega – Sceneographer
Rania Yfantidou Scenographer
Gareth Nicholls – Stage Manager


Getting Up Close to Treasured


On Tuesday, we did an afternoon of ‘speed devising’.
It was a fun. We played with placing the jewellery in different areas
within the space to create an image or atmosphere. To further influence
our scenes we picked a word or sentance at random (eyes shut finger
pointing) from the twenty pages of lists. Two memorable ones Katie and
I had were ‘beads clacking against plastic’ and ‘getting it over with
Katherine and Sam did a lovely scene influenced by the word ‘mother’
and my boyfriend came up from London to discover me lying like a corpse
under a shroud, with the jewellery draped over me.

At 6pm we presented three snippets to the small, but supportive
group of people who had turned up for Up Close. They saw one small
scene for each piece of jewellery; two of which they experienced as a
group, and one that they saw on their own.
Afterwards we had a 15 minute feedback session. A lot of the words that
we’d come up with on Monday were repeated by our guests – I wonder how
much is simply inherent in the jewellery, and how much we had
communicated our ideas through the scenes we created. Interestingly the
piece they had least to say about was the one that had no performance
element to it.

Next Tuesday we are doing another Up Close, which will probably
focus more on interaction between our performers and the audience.

4 days in, and ten billion ideas


Apologies for the lack of blog until now, we
have one more day in our first week of devising and my head is feeling
swamped with ideas and questions.
We’ve been churning out material every day, making huge lists of
stimuli – all really exciting stuff – so many possibilities, images,
avenues to pursue, that my head is at saturation level.
We decided to start with the jewellery as a focus at the beginning on
Monday, and see what came out. Taking it in turns to sit in the room,
alone, with one piece at a time draped over the mannequin. We noted
down how being there with it felt, what images it sparked, what it
smelt like, how it was to touch. Then we fed back to each other. This
may sound a bit pretentious (sitting in a room with a piece of
jewellery), but each piece is so powerful your response to it is
immediate and strong. Comparing notes was fascinating, similar themes
cropped up again and again.
John’s (worn on the head): dominant, powerful and arrogant, some of us felt it could posses you or hold strange powers.
Mikaela’s (worn around the neck): comfortable, lived-in historic feel, feminine and delicate, links to travel and the sea.
Louise’s (worn on the arms): Suductive, beautiful but dangerous, strong links with nature and burial.

And this is only the tip of the iceberg! Throughout the week we have
been returing to our initial lists made from this exercise to use as a
starting or focusing point for other exercises. Lists are great, they
trigger your memory when it is feeling sluggish and take you down
avenues you never expected…

Up Close invitation

September 10, 2006 by

We start devising tomorrow in the Foyle Gallery
at mac – really lucky as this is where we’re performing initially which
makes life easier. Also mac is a nice place to be: you can escape in to
the park at lunchtime and hang out with the geese; or have a cup of tea
in the cafe; you see lots of friendly faces.

Mac has just undergone a transformation (or re-painting really). All
the staff took part in a 3 day overhaul of the downstairs area, it is
now mostly green and cream, with a bit of red and grey thrown in for
good measure.

You should come along and have a look on tuesday when we’re doing
our first UP CLOSE sharing. We’re holding two of these whilst creating
Treasured. You can come and see a bit of work we’ve done, ask questions
about it, give us suggestions, then have a drink and a chat with us.
They’re usually quite good fun, casual but hopefully interesting for
both you and us.

This week I think you’ll be in for a treat, as you might be the
first people to see the jewellery. I think it’s crazy, and extreme, and
beauitful, but i’d like to know what you think.

Tuesday 12th September
Foyle Gallery, mac (Birmingham)
Free entry

Afternoon shut-down

September 7, 2006 by

Katie has just left the office for a walk, and
I’m realising I should have gone too. There are just too many things to
fit in and think about, and at some point your brain just stops doing
anything constructive.

Talking of strange brains, since getting the mannequins I’ve been
having dreams linked to the film Return to Oz. It has a sequence in
which the scary witch/woman’s interchangable heads (kept in cases)
start screaming. So I’ve been having a recurring dream where I wake up
wearing someone else’s head.
I haven’t seen the film for ages, but that has stuck with me, and I’m
currently trying to get hold of a copy of the film to exorcise it from
my head.

You’ll be pleased to hear there will be no interchangable heads in Treasured…

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