Thursday, November 19, 2009

Collaborating with a Partner

One awesome thing about devising is that so many people get to contribute to the process of creating  a play.  Our ensemble mixes up the work process so that we all do activities as individuals,pairs, and one large group.  

Here we are working in one large group

We did a sequence of partnered activities recently that helped us develop tactics for our characters.  Exploring multiple tactics can really help us flesh out a scene.  It's more interesting to watch a character struggle to get what they want when they try to get it in different ways.  

We began this sequence by pairing up and doing some basic mirroring warm ups.

Then we explored tactics by using an exercise called complete the image.

Partners worked through the skeleton of our story, creating images from specific moments.

Sometimes, making a frozen image with your body can really clue you into aspects of a character or moment that you don't expect.

These discoveries become very helpful as we move into playwriting . . . 

Another discovery we've made is that sometimes 
sugar + teens + creative work = giggles

Jorge and Kristal trying to keep it together . . .

Juice Packs: 1   Ellie: 0

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Changing Lives @ the GirlsNow Conference!!

This weekend, several of our ensemble members did a presentation at the GirlsNow conference.  The event, sponsored by the Girls' Empowerment Network was held at the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders.  They offered lots of workshops for girls of all ages.  Theatre Action Project did workshops on Body Image, Cyber-Bullying and Dating Violence Prevention.

Our ensemble took charge of the Dating Violence Prevention workshop.  We used activities and  drama to get conversations started about relationships. We played games with the participants to get everybody open to working together and then we performed a scene about controlling relationships.

This piece, originally devised by students in our summer program was re-mounted by our school-year ensemble to generate dialogue about relationship abuse.

Can you spot the controlling behavior??

This scene centers around 2 couples - one in a healthy relationship and the other in an abusive one.  

Emotional and verbal abuse are at the core of this scene because we feel strongly that teens should be aware of forms of interpersonal violence beyond the physical.  Controlling your partner, manipulating them emotionally, threatening, and putting them down are all abusive behaviors.  

Anyone can become a victim of this kind of violence.  We want to help teens know that this is NOT OK!   

Sometimes, people can mistake jealousy for love  

But controlling what your partner does, wears or says is abusive!

Remember: abuse is NEVER the victim's fault!!

Thanks to the GirlsNow Conference for inviting us!!  We look forward to visiting again.

And now on a silly note, this is what happened when our folks got ahold of some hats that were lying around at the Ann Richards School . . . 

Did someone say fabulous?

Nygia is always ready for her close-up!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Still Writing. . . .

Since we last posted, the ensemble has been hard at work developing three storylines that will come together into one performance.  We have already created the skeletons of these stories -meaning we have chosen our characters, fleshed out their backstories and determined the major events that will happen in the play.  

Our current challenge?  Weaving all of that information together and creating moments of action and dialogue that embody that story onstage.  Telling such a complex story well takes specific playwriting skills.  One way we develop our skills as playwrights is to read other scripts and discuss them critically.  

Here, Leo and Southern read from a script as the rest of the ensemble watches.

Afterwards, we all discuss script elements like: objectives (what do these characters want?)  and tactics (how do they try to get what they want?)  After we uncover these things, we approach the scenes from another angle . . . 

One way to access different tactics and discover dialogue for our script is to improvise moments from our story.  Improvisation is the art of creating a scene on the spot, without a  predetermined script.  To maintain group ownership of the play, we all take turns playing multiple roles - even if we need to play across gender.

In this scene, Mike (played by Bonnie) tries to break up 
with his controlling girlfriend, Angela (played by Eliana).  

During this improvisation, Mike (played by Southern) approaches his friend Abraham (played by Jorge) to find out why Abraham has been avoiding him.

This ensemble works hard but we also have a LOT of fun!  Here are some pics of our latest goofy moments . . .  

Stephanie says, "I saw a raccoon THIS BIG!!!!"

At the end of every rehearsal, we do a check-out ritual.  During a recent check-out, we asked students, "If you were a cartoon character right now, which one would you be?"  Courtney chose this little dude, who lives on the wall of our rehearsal space at the Griffin School.  Our ensemble is still debating about what name we should give him . . . 

Courtney and her soul-mate

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Being Creative is Hard Work!

As we continue shaping our performance piece, we are faced with so many decisions.  Anybody who has ever tried to place a pizza order for a big group of people knows that finding consensus while keeping everyone happy can be very difficult. 
So how do we do it?!?!!?

We start by focusing our minds and our bodies with weird exercises like this one.

balanced body = balanced mind

We try our best to keep major creative decisions open to the group.  These decisions range from logistical questions like, "what should our logo look like?" to "what choices can we make about the characters in the play to explore a particular issue?"

Here, ensemble members vote on a font for our new and improved logo design.

When we're done making 'business decisions' for the group, it's time to move on and make decisions about the play we are working on.  Right now, we're focusing on building complex characters and uncovering their motivations: the reasoning behind their actions. 

Can you spot the "mean  girls"? 

Here, ensemble members (Bonnie, Vanessa & Eliana) improvise to flesh out some of our characters.   In this scene, 'Alyssa'  is involved in a bullying situation.  

Improv is a great way to create a performance without a script. We take turns playing different roles in short scenes.  Later, we grab elements like lines of dialogue or moments of action that work well and insert them into the written draft of our script.  Our new flipcams help us capture these scenes for later review.  Thanks for the cameras, SafePlace!!

Here, 'Alyssa' (this time played by Eliana) is comforted by her BFF 'Tasha' (played by Kayla.)  

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