After reading my sketch for the play, The Thursday Group has used a co-creative model in developing the psycho-physical performance modes of Orpheo Machine. The development of the performance is firstly a means of practice development and secondly adds to our repertoire of performance-making. The work might be thought of as modules, such as texts, scene-work, choreographic vocabulary; then body-gesture, body-voice, intonation; then mis-en-scene, design, lights, costume; then themes and modes of presentation.
Research including Annette Iggulden’s article ‘Silent Speech’ in which the writer uses ‘spatial script’ to communicate silently, in Orpheo Machine, becomes visual art embedded in the live act of performance – female characters paint glyphs to communicate in the oppressive underworld of ‘The Editor’ (Hades). Iggulden led us to Armando Maggi’s MIT press article (1988), ‘Annihilating the Word, Body as Erasure in the Visions of a Florentine Mystic’ gave us the physical imagery of an aristocratic family’s daughter (who probably suffered schizophrenia), hidden in a monastery, censored, and her trances recorded and interpreted by nuns. Ventriloquising ‘The Word’ of a male divinity became her only voice. This tied with ideas Alana first raised concerning the muse and the poet, between Yuri (Eurydice) and Orpheo. This has become a power dynamic that resonates throughout the whole performance. In the second half of last year we did online improvisations, discussed, researched and showed work to invited audiences. This ‘Orphic’ practice and performance development continues…
Here are some iterations of design sketches
- Musing the poet: Vygotskian inner thought becomes the improvisational metaphor building the muse’s inspiration for the poet’s poem. Alana’s ideas on an equal voice for both muse and poet have become a central theme. In the blueprint script we use two scenes, first where the muse is disempowered, second where the muse gains power. Examples online Here, in studio Here, and Initial choreographic idea from Rodrigo ‘Octopus’; 2-minute example Here.
- The Furies ‘Wringing Hands’ dance. 2-minute example Here.
- Intonation experiments synthesised with Lorna’s ‘Venice’ experiment may become important choreographic vocabulary for The Furies who express the life experience of the dead souls (audience). 2-minute example Here.
- Use of glyphs: Joshinder led the way with her use of Hindi alphabetical signs and mudras (hand gestures). Tessa and Lorna’s abstract signs remind Yuri (Eurydice) of her former self. 3-minute example from online Here.
In February I introduced a body-gestural prompt using the paintings of Egon Shiele… it’s never too soon to look at Schiele! I think the period around World War 1 in which Europe was engulfed in trauma provoked some extraordinary artistic genres such as Schiele’s that might be useful in creating the mis-en-scene for the Hades of Orpheo Machine. His use of the attitude of the body is often grotesque, sometimes sketched in charcoal, sometimes in colour which suits the desaturation and colour used to express oppression and freedom in Orpheo Machine.
Dear students and teachers, if you would like to open a conversation about devising theatre work, we’re waiting for your call! Just email us. We can set up a visit or something on Zoom, or share some resources for you to play with. As part of The Thursday Group’s Education arm, we are interested in making direct ongoing relationships, so drop us a line 😀
Matthew Crosby, 2021.02.26