Starting points

The last few weeks I have been running intensive classes for students in devising theatre. The ideas I share with you may help you when you start working on your collaborative project.

We spent 12 hours playing around with techniques and ideas, where we looked at devising companies and how they approached theatre. Each shared an idea related to a theorist of theatre style, and then spent 2 hours working with lights, an hour working with sound and then created a 15 minute piece in the final 3 hours that we worked together.

You may want to try working with your class in a similar format. Below are the starting points that we used:

1. A painting by Breugel of the Fall of Icarus

XIR3675 Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, c.1555 (oil on canvas) by Bruegel, Pieter the Elder (c.1525-69); 73.5x112 cm; Musees Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels, Belgium; (add.info.: Icarus seen with his legs thrashing in the sea;); Giraudon; Flemish, out of copyright

XIR3675 Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, c.1555 (oil on canvas) by Bruegel, Pieter the Elder (c.1525-69); 73.5×112 cm; Musees Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels, Belgium; (add.info.: Icarus seen with his legs thrashing in the sea;); Giraudon; Flemish, out of copyright

2. A poem written by W.H. Auden on the poem:

Musee des Beaux Arts

About suffering they were never wrong,

The old Masters: how well they understood

Its human position: how it takes place

While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;

How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting

For the miraculous birth, there always must be

Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating

On a pond at the edge of the wood:

They never forgot

That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course

Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot

Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer’s horse

Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

 

In Breughel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away

Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may

Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,

But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone

As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green

Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen

Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,

Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

3. The Fall of Icarus, Bastille  about Icarus’ fall.

I hope that you find these useful, and will give you some idea about the diversity of approaches you can use when working with a starting point.

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