theater simple Professional Development (FringeTIX)
theater simple @ Fringe Factory Theatre
10:00am, Thu 29 Mar 2007
As I intimated earlier, this year is the Year Of Taking Risks, the Year Of Doing Things I Normally Wouldn’t. So I shortlisted this workshop because I’ve got time to burn, I have immense admiration for theater simple‘s work, and because – let’s face it – everyone yearns to be onstage. 15 minutes of fame, and all that.
Of course, I was horribly nervous about attending this, mainly because I have zero experience in theatre; but also because there would be people here out of professional interest, not just curiousity – and I’d hate to interrupt their opportunity to learn in any way, shape, or form. But Monique assured me it’d be fine, not to worry, and to just come along.
And so, still carrying a little trepidation, I found myself one of a group of nine eager learners – a couple of teachers, directors from local theatre groups, a few seasoned performers, newbies keen to learn. I introduced myself as a “professional punter” – stupid really, as “unemployed uneducated theatre enthusiast” would have been far more accurate (as well as having a lovely rhythm when spoken). Regardless, introductions are made over apples, and then theater simpletons Monique, Andrew and Llysa guide us into our first exercises for our six-hour day.
And, despite the fact that I went into this workshop with few preconceptions, the exercises – both physical and mental – were surprising to me; not what I was expecting at all. Ranging from (apparently) simple stage awareness exercises to evolving collective rhythm to more extensive collaborative creative pieces and adaptations, we engaged in a lot of group-oriented activities to cajole a common collective thought-process – but a process that still enabled individual brilliance to shine through. A fair bit of emphasis was put on various viewpoints, which were often used as constraints for many of the exercises – though, in the spirit of proceedings, these constraints were often conveniently “forgotten” without consequence. Except for the “two bottles of water” incident – but even that had a profoundly positive effect on the day.
It’s fantastic to engage in these exercises; there’s no right or wrong answer, which is quite a revelation for a science-oriented person such as myself. The other emotional element that surprised me was the feeling of support within the participants; again, there was no right or wrong, but even the least aesthetically pleasing ideas received warm applause – but the good ideas (and there were plenty) got squeals of delight. When one of my ideas got a gasp of recognition, followed by the chatter of appreciation… wow. My brain buzzed, my heart sang, my directorial eye glistened, I felt incredible.
And that’s the big thing that I discovered in this workshop. There were other snippets – like the fact that I should never, ever, open my mouth onstage. But, coming from an environment where “work” is almost combative – driven by carefully horded cumulative knowledge – it’s an incredible thing to be exposed to a place where every idea is appreciated, every effort rewarded. Despite the fact that I really had to push myself to attend this workshop, I completely surprised myself by what others created – and what I created, especially as I regard myself as essentially non-creative. Fulfilling? My word, a thousand times yes. Life-changing? …we’ll see.