Devising Project with Told By An Idiot: Blog 2

22nd April 2015

In the last blog I mentioned how when deciding on what our piece would be about we agreed that any form of war was to be excluded from the equation. Well now two weeks into the rehearsal process we have included a battle, canons, a heist, and bounty hunters – so as you can see we followed that decision really well. We also have Japanese mermaids which I will stop talking about one day but not today.

 Don’t go expecting any old rapier and dagger fight though as the battle that I mentioned is in the style of “Dance Apache.” This combines tango with stage combat to create an exhilarating, and as the name suggests, passionate display between two people.Steve showed us “The Crazy Gang’s” Apache dance.

After watching this we decided that despite these two performers having trained in this style for ten years we were going to choreograph our own Dance Apache with twenty six people and obviously it would be just as good but probably would be better. With this fool hardy attitude we set about in partners devising mini routines which we would then piece together to create one big dance extravaganza with a bit of hard core German rock music thrown in for good measure. Since moving from timetabled training classes to pure rep seasons in January, it seems a lifetime ago that we were doing movement, yoga, stage combat, dance and tumbling classes every week. However when it comes to then devising physical work the vocabulary is there and we managed to create these individual sequences with ease. Though initially creating the choreography was a smooth process, in order for this to mould together and really spark on stage requires rigorous practice. What we are trying to do is ambitious and if it doesn’t work it really could look pants, but nothing good ever came of mediocrity and as Steve said in regards to the whole process it doesn’t matter if we fail brilliantly as long as we try to make something amazing.

With this spirit in mind we went about doing our first run through of “Hellcats” in front of a small audience. The way we have devised is first by creating still images, then developing  these into moving images and so we pieced all these moving images together for our first draft run through. This was very beneficial as it showed us exactly what we needed to work on but also reassured us that we have created rich material and a story worth telling which can be easy to forget in the non-linear devising process. Since that run we have fleshed out more characters, added numerous scenes, two new songs, a flying sequence, and a mermaid dance that came as a result of watching Kyary Pamyu Pamyu (Japan’s number one j pop princess) on repeat for more hours than I would like to admit.

Wednesday brought around the excitement of meeting Zahra Mansouri our costume designer. Due to the devised nature of the piece we all have contributed towards the design of our costumes and it was extremely exciting watching Zahra sketching away as we spoke her through what we felt our characters aesthetic was. We will be meeting her again today and I can’t wait to see what ideas she has in store.  And so at the end of week three we have created possibly the most multicultural array of characters ever to be seen on the London stage, added text which involved some laughably bad writing (we’re getting there) and added a steamy French poetry scene that would make even the hardest cynic get hot under the collar, which if you ask me trumps any old week in the office by miles.