Bird @ The Actors Space

Day 10 – ‘Each Moment is a Picture’

Last day at The Actors Space working on Bird and we adventurously added in some new sequences and played with the ending a bit. We then headed down to the space and started to set up.

A couple of hours later, after around 70 people took their seats and Marian gave a short introduction, Bird was shared. The piece has no dialogue but the character does vocalise at points. I found it interesting that, for some reason, I was vocalising with a hint of Spanish! The performance went down very well and the audience seemed really engaged throughout. There were some hiccups with technical difficulties to do with the live sound element but overall things ran very smoothly.

The next couple of days will be spent resting, reflecting, getting feedback from Simon then going home, where I’ll continue to develop the work. The next couple of posts will be related to the future development of the piece and some reflection on the full 2 week residency as well as the performance.

For those of you who have been following the blog and would like to comment or ask any questions, please feel free to do so. Your input will be appreciated.

Day 9 – ‘Joy and Happiness’

We staggered through the whole piece today then presented it in full to Marian in the evening. The tension that settled in my body from trying to remember all the actions and technicalities was something that I’ve experienced before with rehearsing this piece. Nevertheless, it felt good to have done a full run through and to get some objective feedback.

We took a trip down to the venue and put up the drapes for the staging. Once again, David and I were overwhelmed by how enthusiastic Jon the owner was about having the piece performed at his space. He was so helpful and energetic in making the space just right for us. It was obviously in his nature to be so helpful and positive but it made me wish that I knew more people like him back in Scotland. People who are willing to help in what way they can to make a project unique and worth while. He is even going to lay gravel down on the track to the Circus Space to make it easier for people to get there! He’s unique 🙂

Tomorrow, we run through the piece incorporating the look and clown state. The look to the audience isn’t something that can necessarily be rehearsed without an audience but I’m hoping that the lightness of the state will release some of the tension that comes from trying to remember everything! There’s some extra bits to work in as well. Bits that give hope, are joyful for the character, and that make her world a happy police, even just for a little while.

Day 7 – ‘The Shape of Things’

Today was a highly active and tiring day. It began with an exercise in animal observation. Undoubtedly, the most attractive animal personality at The Actors Space is Mona the dog. I thoroughly enjoyed my twenty minutes of observing and playing with Mona then presenting my own representation of her to Simon back at the space. This venture into animal instincts helped to feed into the development of the relationship between the girl and the bird from a very practical and realistic perspective.

We then tried sampling my bird sounds for David to activate during the piece. David and I had previously refrained from using sampled sounds in general because we always favored the live, honest quality of unaffected and immediate live sound effects. But David, can’t do the particular bird sound I can create. He imitates a curlew very well but they are a bit big for this piece.

Things have developed nicely today and we did land an ending. The piece has a shape.

Day 6 –  ‘ The End is Not Nigh!’

Monday has been a bit of a fuzzy day. We got to what should have been the ‘end bit’ and then all time and space started to bend. The mixture of re-capping material from last week, creating new material for new sections and discussing the themes of the piece started to affect everyone I think. I also felt for the first time that perhaps I was being a bit clingy with my original material and had to remind myself to be open to new progressions and change.

A new treatment came out of some unexpected activity however. David was trying to get rid of feedback in the monitors, which was a very noisy and piercing process. I was in the space marking through the sequence and something about my robotic, demented pacing and David’s metallic feedback noises seemed to work. It was a nice surprise!

After leaving the space we embarked immediately on dinner and created the most scrumptious meal prepared to date. Chorizo, tomato and garlic risotto topped with poached trout! Complemented with rich tasting Rioja. Yum.

Day 5 – ‘Mimey World – Push and Pull’

Today began with some exercises in manipulation and articulation with Marian. We then looked at creating rhythms with David’s Foley ‘walking’ sound effects. It opened up the possibility for a whole show that could be scored in terms of rhythm and pace.

I’m finding it so beneficial to have recapped the basics of physical performance with Simon and Marian. I’ve re-visited neutral mask, element work, Feldenkrais, mime/ manipulation, all of which have fed into the development process of Bird very effectively I feel.

Both David and I have been really happy with the approach Simon has taken as director with the project so far. It’s good for me to be able to pass on all my thoughts and possibilities for a piece to someone else, allowing me to play and have fun with the character and scenarios. I’m already realising the benefits of the residency so far which is really positive.

A nice break this weekend then back to it all on Monday morning!

Day 4 – ‘An enigmatic, magical relationship’

We finished today with a writing session, which concluded for me long after we left the space. It’s only been an extra 40 minutes but dedicating so much detailed thought to a piece based around circumstances, actions and re-actions feels like it takes a lot of time indeed. It’s like trying to write a story without using words or sentences…Certainly, there are some very striking themes becoming clear in the piece and I feel it’s seeping into the ideas for the character very well. It’s a dark, stubborn world in which she lives but I get the sense she could leave, if she so wished…I’ll link to davids photo blog now, enjoy!

Day 3 – ‘Painting with broader brush strokes’

From emulating the sounds and actions inspired by the outdoors to physically taking a journey into the surrounding forest at The Actors Space…the world of Bird got that little bit bigger once again.

The walk – The vast views were draped with a calm mist. Walking to the ridge of an undefined path was daunting, as only a physical sense of vastness could be felt beyond it. Sounds were magnified but unclear, and the arrival of Mona the dog, out of the mist, made all my senses leap!

This outdoor venture made sense to do at some point during this development process – that it was so misty really added to the drama. Taking inspiration from the frights I kept encountering on my walk, the idea of childhood fears –  ‘monster under my bed’ or, ‘noises from the cupboard’ – were brought into play during the afternoon session.

Bird has been well and truly up-rooted. We’re now beginning to collage together all these different elements and scenarios we have been looking at. It’s really exciting.

Day 2 – ‘Conventions’

Much fun was had today. And now I’m exhausted!

We played around with the conventions of Bird today. For example, instead of using mime in only some of the work, we tried it completely mimed. So, no props, soil etc. Just sound effects, me and an empty space. This was fun. It posed a lot of questions about using any convention in theatre and more importantly, why I was using it in this particular story.

In the afternoon session Simon and I looked at neutral mask. It was such a joy to come back to neutral mask after only having a small taste of it at school. I found it very useful to re-visit – in one of Simon’s own, hand-made masks as well!

I also had a play with the 7 states of tension, where at level 6 – I had apparently won 11,000,000 pounds! – GREAT! – only to realise I still had my ticket in my pocket….

Day 1 – ‘Start from a good place’

Today, David and I prepared a small informal showing of Bird for Marian and Simon at The Actors Space. We had brought pretty much every single item for the show all the way from Scotland, including the stick I use and a pine cone. However, David’s Foley table was scattered with Catalonian autumnal debris, adding a continental twist to our set up.

After a thorough chat regarding the piece and the course of the next two weeks, we took a trip down to a new circus space in Vic. This was one of the few places Marian had been in contact with to arrange a showing of my work at the end of the residency. We had visited a rather beautiful but lifeless theatre space earlier in the afternoon but the local circus space was very open and excited by our proposal.

The dates for the show will be confirmed in the next couple of days and we’ll have a copy of the poster up soon!

Day -2 – Pre Barcelona

This Sunday, I leave for Barcelona to begin a 2 week residency with Simon Edwards at The Actors Space. The aim of the residency is to develop original ideas for physical performance through a thorough devising and training programme. David Pollock will be keeping things up to date with a photo blog of the trip. More info to come soon!

This residency has been possible through funding from Creative Scotland – and partnership funding from The Actors Space –

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