Last week (8th-12th October) I spent most of my time deep underground; a world of no windows, artificial light and really bad mobile reception (That could only be found on a particular corner of one of the tables in the canteen) But also a place of fun, play and creativity.
I participated in a weeks residency with the emerging company Lotos Collective in the Barbican’s Pit Theatre, as apart of their Pit Lab scheme. Lotos Collective were using this exciting opportunity to explore and develop some of the elements of their intriguing new project, Noah’s Ark(ive)
The week was broken up into four day long workshops and one day of arranging this material into a 30 minute show presentation (It should be noted that the Pit Lab scheme doesn’t usually ask for a showing at the end of the week and pride themselves this allows exploration without pressure. But I quite admired that the company used the opportunity this way, essentially because they are hoping this project would be ‘immersive’ (A phrase they want to distance themselves from but it’s the best we have for the moment) and wanted to see how an audience would react to what we devised.
I was working with 11 other participants, an all girl group, from all from different backgrounds, levels of experience and disciplines, including acting, physical theatre, writing and costume design. I was the only puppeteer there but I enjoyed the chance to explore other aspects of devising and to be feeding off the energy of the artists.
The week started with a day of exploring text creation creating bizarre surveys for each other to archive information. The next day we explored role of architecture and using the space we had been given (You wouldn’t believe the weird and wonderful spaces hidden away in the Pit level of the Barbican. It feels like a little secret only us performers know!) In the middle of the week, we looked into the world of surveillance/observation and took part in a it of stalking around the upper levels of the Barbican (There’s lots of places to hide in the library and it helps if you are short like me!) The following day we dove straight into puppetry which was obviously my favourite day but I wasn’t alone in that feeling. But even with my previous experience I found myself exploring concepts and methods in puppetry I had yet to explore and it opened my eyes especially in the steps beyond puppeteering an object to the puppeteering of humans.
(A lot of these little experiments have already inspired me to take the ideas further into my work)
The final day was slightly scattered and was more for the Collective to form an interactive presentation. A lot of stress was piled upon them. But I spent the day making and improvising with puppets. I’d always wondered how companies, such as Blind Summit managed improvised puppetry, something that felt very skilled and out of reach for me. Turns out its just a case of doing it… well and listening to your other puppeteers and following impulse but mostly being brave enough to just go for it.
The experience was fantastic and I was so glad to be chosen to take part in it. As a recent graduate and an emerging puppeteer, the chance to meet different artists in a collaborative environment, to work at the world renowned Barbican Centre, becoming apart of a their Pit Lab participators and to work with an ambitious company was essential and very precious. I really enjoyed myself and I believe I have found a wealth of people to devise and work with in the future. My confidence in my own work has grown.
And what else could I ask for?
(I’ve been promised some video and photos to add to my portfolio so as soon as I have them, I’ll be posting them up here)