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D&D 11: What are we going to do about theatre & the performing arts?

Brilliant theatre for the 21st century - what shall we make?

Orit Azaz - 10 January 2016

WHO WAS THERE

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Who was there (apologies I couldn't read all the names, please ammend / add if not correct): Louisa Davies, Vimal Korpal, Frances Land, Laura Elliot, Alan Dix, Joseph Derbyshire, Jenny Smith, Gregory Thompson, Stella Kanu, Loren O'Dair, Beverley Andrews, Graeme Rose, Sarah Jane Watkinson, Pia de Laborde, Katie Day, Jo Crowley, Wendy Petitdemange, Kath Burlinson, Orit Azaz.

Context: I've been creating theatre outdoors on a large scale for the last few years. Arriving into this space and considering the challenges for makers of largely indoor theatre, I find myself wondering about the possibilities of indoor theatre in the context of such a wide range of experiences and entertainment on offer, online, on screens, and live. What are your thoughts?

Discussion

Thinking about kids and all of us living in a context of busyness and no time, social media, snapchat - images and moments thrown away - how to engage young people in theatre? Shall we keep all the phones on?

The diversity of options is exciting. People still want to have shared experiences in small or large groups. I love immersive experiences. Its so multi-layered now - exciting. perhaps it is a bigger challenge for big building based theatres.

'The Lost Gift' at Warwick Arts Centre. Walkthrough piece for kids by Highly Sprung

The Other Way Works ‘Bandstand’

How to get young people more interested? Mobile phones, instagram, snapchat - making content and then its gone. How can we use this?

Is it healthy to promote this throw away? What about remembering for real, rather than digital memory?

We just need to be responsible and mature in use of mobile phone technologies in theatre making

Digital realm is a massive opportunity and also a challenge for theatre. The tech of 20 years future is unguessable but we'll need to move away from wobbly sets and the walls around theatre need to be taken down - we are relying on an 18th and 19th century infrastructure which dictates only one kind of mode. We all have these structures in our heads too eg 3 act play.

Where might the audience be? moving around, in the middle of the action. At home…

Live streaming will increase

Virtual reality goggles - we'll be immersed directly in the show

The value of the live experience will increase

Is it possible to be digital and live?

Dance has done this. eg “Mixed Movement” at Contact Theatre Manchester. 2 dancers in 2 different locations, improvising together, audiences in the 2 spaces are aware of, and can hear, each other, feels like one event: a digital duet. It was exciting to be aware of the other audience, who were in New York.

Can we imagine a drama played out in this kind of space?

These possibilities will impact on how we commission new work “not the well made play please”

Is digitial/live a new art form? No, a new platform for performance; a tool.

Black Country Touring and Sonia Sabri collaboration incorporating digital elements - the tech was successful as a tool but we need to keep our focus on the content and not be too seduced by the tech.

Arts Council England “No Boundaries” event autumn 2015 took place in 3 cities at once, with live streaming / video conferencing linking together

For dance, the digital duet has raised the profile of improvisational styles and forms. Maybe can also do this for theatre, elevate improvisation as a way of making work.

What will happen to the Shakespeare Festival - the classical canon?

The influence of reality TV - “Accidental Brummie” promenade, site specific soap opera style performance. Also Punchdrunk.

What implications for content, narrative, dramaturgy?

“Circles” R&D - 4 layers of story around experiences of HIV. The audience tweets became part of the experience and helped shaped the dramatic outcome. The layers and the tech helped audience see things from point of view of the characters.

As theatremakers, we can be playful.

Story drives form.

What we call “the British Theatre” - chunks of stuff that happens in the West End, in big buildings - needs to be re-imagined. We need to be surprising audiences every time.

Will big theatres become more open to alternative audience experiences?

The REP has a 900 seat auditorium; West Yorkshire Playhouse 750 seats - these must be filled for the theatres to survive.

Punchdrunk wouldn't have become what they are without the support of the National Theatre.

(These ideas of) Being playful with the audience and audience as participants - maybe we are under-estimating them. Theatre has always been good at ‘doing a lot with a little’ - a gesture that speaks volumes and reaches out to 1000 people.

Trusting audiences when you allow them to create their own narrative.

Is narrative now something which theatremakers don't need to take full responsibility for?

It's and-and. There are now multi-layered possibilities.

Eg Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - Xmas show at West Yorkshire Playhouse - felt fresh and exciting

“Clockwork Orange” - we all got dressed up as Droogs; it was brilliant to be in the centre of the action

“Ben Hur” at the Tricycle

Over the last 20 years, we have been exploring all the possible relationships with audience. But what happens to the story, the narrative? Have we hit a wall?

I am excited by non narrative theatre and by narrative theatre. I wonder, what do we mean by brilliant? What is a good one for you?


(we all wrote stuff on post-it notes. everyone spoke)


Locally or nationally resonant themes that touch you, contemporary issues like ISIS and radicalisation, offering an alternative reality or perspective to the media with brilliant acting and that creates a deeper understanding of personal stories.

Performances where I as audience can chip in. Improbable is good in that sense. Acknowledging that the audience will connect the dots and allowing the opportunity for you to make the story your own.

re projection and technology: Belgium company / show. A woman writing and speaking her inner thoughts while projection showed images of the person she was writing to. A collision of perspectives.

“Medea”

A sense that anything can happen - eg Dr Brown.

(When) You can smell the honesty.

Site specific, you are in the piece itself

Well made.

Time stands still. We are one humanity. Expansion of consciousness

I want my heart to be touched. “The Weir”. The magic.

Personal, emotional stories

Radical, anti-establishment, rage against the machine

A compelling story, full of surprise, made using great craft and artistry, that is unforgettable / memorable.

Brilliant / great theatre: engages, provokes, touches - stays with me a long time afterwards

Theatre that kicks you in the guts and takes your breath away

Something you can relate to
Something you can connect to
Moments which are memorable

The idea that anything can happen / unpredictability.
In a world full of ‘stuff’ and increasing ways to engage with everything viscerally, something that surprises /immerses in a new way.

A sense of adventure
A story
Craft and structure
Words
Moving

When the audience is given the space to make their own narrative out of the story given on stage

Something that touches/moves me in some way - deeply, could be funny, sad, make me angry - but it has to make me feel deeply and leave me reeling.

When I am transported and seduced.
When I am not being patronised or manipulated.
When the form and content serve one another.
An honesty in the performance.
When there is poetic space for me to reflect on my own narrative and existence.

Live, visceral, immersive / interactive for audience, narrative, meaningful, thought-provoking.

Something that never loses sight of the audience during its making process. Spend time on the development process.

It has to move me. I want to be transported.
It makes me see the world in brighter colours.
Makes me want to explore more.
Illuminates something.
An image or phrase or moment that really stays with me.
Something that takes my breath away or surprises me.

When you learn something about a human experience.
When you leave the theatre or performance feeling or thinking differently.

I love to have some form of transformational experience.
I love to heave my heart opened
I love to be reminded of the depth and mystery of my humanity
I love to experience spaciousness
I love to be moved ie transported
I love to be enchanted, surprised, and to feel connected.



We've spoken about our ideas of brilliant theatre and what makes a good one. When we look back at the starting point for this conversation, the challenge of making theatre now and in the future, what thoughts do you have?

As theatremakers, “I have to tell this story before I die”

“Never lose sight of that, for your whole career”

Ask, what do you want to say?

Small scale offers intimate relationship with audience, large scale offers big dramatic images and stories. Middle scale is the most challenging.

Always interrogate: what's the story, the idea, the journey for the audience?

The idea of “the audience” is questionnable. They are a collection of individuals. Sandra Hall spoke about “seducing with integrity” - I like this.

Earlier we spoke about the mechanics. Then we spoke about the heart. I think we should start with the heart and think about the mechanics afterwards.

The world is changing and theatre needs to take account of, and be responsive to, those changes.

Did we think about what is the role of the classics?

Its about resonance.

We could have carried on but new sessions were starting. We agreed to fill in the gaps of these notes and to add in names of productions and performances.

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COMMENTS: 7

vimal korpal

14 January 2016

Orit really enjoyed this session. Some wonderful ideas and concepts.

You're notes are fantastic

Vkx

vimal korpal

14 January 2016

Orit really enjoyed this session. Some wonderful ideas and concepts.

You're notes are fantastic

Vkx

vimal korpal

14 January 2016

Orit really enjoyed this session. Some wonderful ideas and concepts.

You're notes are fantastic

Vkx

vimal korpal

14 January 2016

Orit really enjoyed this session. Some wonderful ideas and concepts.

You're notes are fantastic

Vkx

vimal korpal

14 January 2016

Orit really enjoyed this session. Some wonderful ideas and concepts.

You're notes are fantastic

Vkx

vimal korpal

14 January 2016

Orit really enjoyed this session. Some wonderful ideas and concepts.

You're notes are fantastic

Vkx

vimal korpal

14 January 2016

Orit really enjoyed this session. Some wonderful ideas and concepts.

You're notes are fantastic

Vkx

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