Crossing the half-way threshold of Storylab feels a bit like completing a tight-rope act –negotiating a tension between order and chaos; fatigue and freedom; individual voice and collective spirit. At the beginning of the week we assembled as 16 strangers with narratives at the heart of a shared dialogue about to unfold. Today, the beginnings of familiarity and trust has entered the exchange, an exchange captured in the shared experience of learning, observing work, witnessing private struggles on the public floor and small, covert moments of conversation in between big, creative injections.
This relationship between order and chaos in the creative act couldn’t have been better illustrated in the bodies of work presented by our Day 3 speakers : Roslyn Oades followed by Bruce Gladwin. Roslyn presented on Verbatim Theatre – a session which highlighted her process of painstaking research, information gathering, soliciting interviews, transcribing words, tics, patterns, nuances, feeding actors and most of all – creating the ideal environment for the theatrical conduit of real people’s real words. Questions of dramatic justice, representational fairness, subjectivity/objectivity could only be grappled with by the revelation of the precision of procedure at the heart of the practice. I experienced a taste of this playing a teenage surfer from Cronulla – taking on the voice and body of one of the interviewees from Stories of Love and Hate. Discarding all the usual acting rules of listening and responding, the discipline required was to give over completely to every sound and utterance of the character on the other end of the headphones, and to then surrender every instinct to that kinesthetic relationship being formed. The result was wonderfully liberating and completely discombobulating at the same time. One sensory feedback /replay function is completely dwarfed at the expense of all the others – but that very magnification produces the uniqueness of the result.
Bruce Gladwin’s session- on the other hand – can best be described as something like this :How to Evolve Creativity through Chaos (a phraseology I’ve borrowed from here). Making performance with actors with disabilities with his company Back to Back, his practice seems to have been defined by embracing the fact that creativity is well….messy. But it’s from the recognition that chaos is the driving energy of creation that something new emerges. For Bruce, a sense of play beats at the heart of his practice and reflexivity is everything. Each of his works demands a different process. Chance is a friend, not foe. Finding new ways to learn is finding new ways to experiment. Structures emerge from random tasks such as “Dance Karaoke” (a sublimely chaotic form of giving performance whilst emulating a random image from a screen hidden from the audience).
Now, pumped with concepts – we are at the edge of transposing the collectiveness of our own bizarre Storylab experiment to re-visit our original intentions of why we’re here. What we have to share. The stories, project, ideas, seeds of purpose we have been clandestinely nurturing all week. And some may shift, some have shifted, and some will remain stoic. We are about to find out. Meanwhile, I’m still on the tight-rope.
For more information about Story Lab click here.