Friday, 11 June 2010

Are we all puppets?

From reading a peers blog about a recent devising process that we are both going through; about the idea of hierarchy within a theatre company, got me thinking also about roles which we fulfil.
The question I ask is do we need these roles to function to create new work? If roles are given out and appointed, then are we actually in danger of merely becoming performance puppets? Should a performer think or just do?

Though I realise the strength in improvisation and devising work is to have boundaries and structure, and the possibility of instruction from the 'outside'. After our last improv. session I felt vulnerable as that control was taken out of my hands. The rule was to 'just be', but with that construction I felt I lost the power of being a practitioner in making work, and became a puppet performer.

Thinking about this I do see the need to have a company structure to allow work to follow a path of moving forward, but I think I do agree with what happens to the chaos? When we are told to do, not think, then the option of going against the 'rules' and to challenge becomes non existent.

I feel within a performance company the strength is in the individual and their practice to disrupt and irritate the norm and flow of the work created. To juxtapose the the ideas to create a 'new' new.


  1. I think the balance of power within and around a theatre company is malleable, and should change according to the type of work undertaken. The size of a piece determines input, in a lot of ways--a big musical with a lot of people must be directed in a straightforward way, as the composition of the piece needs to be coherent from the outside, and it is less vital for its components to be justified or fully explored. Indeed, it may be detrimental to engage with the content as a musical performer, as once you start to analyse and attempt to justify the motivation for performance, they tend to fall apart.

    In a lot of ways I also feel that the empowerment of the performers is determined by the "vision" of the piece--that is, who's idea is it, and is rehearsal an attempt to perfectly realize that idea, or to explore it and create something out if it? Both, I would argue, are valid approaches, but they differ primarily in their specificity.

  2. I agree with your saying of the main 'vision' of the piece, and how easy it can be to corridor a performance to make it fit to that vision. I feel it can become quite clear when a devised performancen heads down a certain route. Though maybe thats what needs to happen to make a piece make sense? If you acknowledge this, then should you allow that vision to take place, and what if you dont believe in the outcomes and opinions of that said vision?