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Devoted & Disgruntled 12: What Shall We Do About Theatre and the Performing Arts Now?

Bonkers Participatory Theatre Ritual (a show I want to make)

Rosamond Martin - 25 January 2017

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This session was, as the title says, about a show I want to make. Although I acknowledge already that maybe it's not a show, maybe it's just an experience?
It was the last session of the day, on the last day and I'm incredibly glad I called it as it was incredibly inspiring and helpful so thanks to all the right people!
I am uploading the images of the notes I took throughout, but they reflect how my brain works and may not be all that easy to interpret. So I will also summarise.

I began the session by explaining that I just wanted to talk about a show I've been mulling over for some time. I originally applied for a residency with it, and I didn't get it. However, I had already been thinking about ritual and the personal and social need I believe we now have for contemporary ritual within secular society: the residency asked for something that would take into consideration local cultural heritage and from there came from my desire to research and share with a local community, the social rituals that those particular societies conducted historically, so that we could then begin a slow, gentle and sometimes bonkers collaborative process of making our own new ones.
I imagine cups of tea and chats and stories and dances and songs and wigs and botched together costumes.

I got some wonderful recommendations for other sources to tap for this slow-burn research. I need to get in contact with some of the people who gave me these references as I don't have enough info to find the books etc. yet and I will update the list of references when I get them.
The ones I have already and am going to look into are:
the maker/teacher Paul Woodward who has workshopped the concept of ritual and liminal space
a book which I am SO excited about, and which I imagine may under-pin the work to come, called Dancing In the Streets, A History of Collective Joy, by Barbara Erenreich

We asked why make this work? And what is the intention behind it. And although this is still an open question some of the answers so far are:
social cohesion
connecting talking and moving, or the brain and the body, or in other words, to facilitating people using their body in a way in which they can also remain cognisant
provoking empathy with ones environment
enabling individuals to process experiences - when modern life is so incongruent and surreal perhaps we need an incongruent and surreal reaction to it, which normal/daily life doesn't provide

We talked about ways to facilitate people participating:
consider the environment
create a structure and know what the rules are
acknowledging different possible states and responses
/acknowledging, allowing and therefor validating what is already happening
a confession at the start

I still have questions about how to set-up the experience, the temporality of it - whether it exists over weeks with a build up or can stand alone as a one-off.
We acknowledge that experiences we have had that come close to this have been with a bunch of other willing performers or makers or body workers or has been set up as a workshop (meaning people expect to fully participate) rather than a performance.

The final statement, made by Jeni Toksvig (and which is a very helpful way for me to re-frame this idea and overcome some obstacles I anticipate) was “Stop talking about audience! Just get a bunch of people together and have an experience.”


Session called / report written by Rosamond Martin.
Some people came and went from this discussion so I haven't got everyone's names, but I wrote down Jeni Toksvig and Tim Norwood. If you were there and I didn't write your name on the notes please do comment and I will add it.

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