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The Performing Frame

Posted: August 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

Link to Vimeo

When is a performance not a performance? Are we performing all the time? This project explores the ways that creative practices—improvised movement, choreographed dance, and digital video—produce new knowledge about the sociability of public space. In other words, it uses various theoretical concepts and practical strategies to document and analyse the ways people inhabit and sometimes subvert public spaces — such as plazas, malls and piazzas — as part of their everyday experience. Drawing on concepts developed within the fields of performance theory, spatial history, cultural geography and social theory, the project will build a methodological toolbox for understanding the relationships between the diverse groups that use public spaces in Federation Square, Melbourne.

Invisible Theatre

The invisible theatre performances will begin as a spatially undefined scenario, that has been scripted and rehearsed. As the conflict reaches a climax, an audience with seating will enter, following two people holding a frame, who in turn will define the performance space with the frame, revealing the scenario as fictitious.

There will be four scenes

  • Bad Busker

Citizens are annoyed by a buskers performance and ask him to leave, to which he refuses

  • Broken portrait

An artist delivering their portraits to an exhibition is annoyed when two people playing sport damage one of their pieces

  • Loveless lovers

A comical love triangle arises when a cheating spouse is exposed

  • Pick-a-pocket

A person becomes furious when they discover a pick-pocket targeting their friend, who decides to forgive the pick-pocket and offer them money

Items needed for invisible theatre:

  1. Frame
  2. Chairs  x6
  3. Canvas painting
  4. White sheet
  5. Guitar
  6. Backpack
  7. Wallet
  8. 1 chip cup from lord of the fries

Ghosting

The practice of ‘ghosting’ or ‘shadowing’ the movements of passers-by is an increasingly popular form of public entertainment around the world— as can be seen in this YouTube clip from Cape Town, South Africa http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aq8yO9L4DHk.

This form of street performance is unique in a number of ways. The ‘mimic’ surreptitiously co-opts members of the public into his spectacle. The performer in the clip adopts the gait and disposition of random pedestrians while following their trajectory through space. This practice foregrounds the traces of unmarked ambulatory pathways and exposes the subtle shades of physical movement, and investments of bodily energy that are harnessed by pedestrians in their daily lives.

 

 

Butoh Body Art

The group has decided not to use body paint for the Butoh body performance as to minimise mess but rather wear hooded body suits patterned with triangular formations, as to blend with the architectural construction of the western terrace. The performance will consist of 8 performers and run for roughly for a half an hour. The performance will involve us moving against the wall showing how we might work together to find shape and direction within it. The message we hope to deliver in the performance is the degree to which the public are in themselves, representations of their surroundings and not rather actors performing in front of a backdrop. This performance is heavily grounded in Butoh and his disciplines, in a way of seeing the space first for its ritualistic qualities, in making the connection between the body and the patterned tiles, in firstly taking the body to pieces before coming together again and reading the body anew, in stepping back from the wall.

Confessions

The aim of this particular performance event is to challenge the public’s idea of how a space such as Federation Square can be used, to help ask ‘why are they (members of the public) there’ and to help realise how an everyday space can be made into something new.

This performance will help us to learn how easy (or not) it can be to convince the public to do something whilst in the comfort of this familiar public space. We do not wish to make the public feel uncomfortable in anyway, simply give Federation Square a new perspective; a place in which they can participate in order to create something new.

This street performance event is all about creating a live instillation. The idea behind it is ‘confessions’. We will over small paper tags out to members of the public on which they can write a secret/confession that they haven’t told anyone. They will remain anonymous except for the fact that others will be able to walk up and read the nameless confessions. We are expecting a wide range of results from small white lies and jokes, to deep dark secrets. We hope to hang string, running through a large part of Federation Square for these tags to be hung on.

  • x200 brown paper tags
  • x2 clipboards with pens attached
  • x1 plastic 44 gallon cylinder drum (this will be pre-painted and filled with rubbish, which will be attached to the bin and not loose)
  • string

x4 small plastic milk creates

 

Time Needed Active Events Passive Events
15 minutes Set up time  
15 minutes Invisible Theatre #1: Pick Pocket

-Greg

-Hayley

-Jo

Confessions
15 minutes Ghosting
15 minutes Invisible Theatre #2: Cheating

-Rachel

-Steph

-Tegan

30 minutes Free Hugs
15 minutes Invisible Theatre #3: Busker

-Monica

-Jess

15 minutes Ghosting
15 minutes Invisible Theatre #4: Transporting Art

-Hayley

-Jo

-Steph

-Greg

60 minutes Butoh Body Art
Body Graffiti
15 minutes Pack up time  

From Rachel Hatherley

The aim of my performance event is establish the connection of the human body with the architectural surroundings of Federation Square.

I want to explore how performance in a public space might actually challenge the way the public view their present interaction with it, questioning the degree to which the public are in themselves representations of their surroundings and not rather actors performing in front of a backdrop.

My street performance event will operate under a series of stages. Stage one will involve a number of performers posed against the tiling of federation square. The performers will be covered head to toe in a-periodic body suits/body paint, as to blend with the structure. It is from this stage two can come into play, in which the performers through physical movement will produce patterns, which in likeness to the structure, will never be seen to repeat , given the performers irregular costumes and their ability to make regular shapes as a group. Having established a large sequence of patterns, the performers will move into the 3rd and final stage, where they will break from the construction of the wall in a stylised manner,  forming with their bodies the Shakespearean quote ‘’The world is a stage.’’

The rehearsal process will involve further research into the mathematics of the said construction and to a greater extent the means to which these shapes and patterns have no ends. From here on I’d like to enforce a series of exercises with my performers involving contact improv, shape, form and the unspoken language of the body.

Given the performance is not predicted to take up the entire space of the day and the viewing public may only see the performance in parts. I’d like to  film the sequence and to have it looped on the wide screen over the course of the day, so that the public might become more aware of their surrounds and what it is their viewing.

My methodology will rely heavily upon Butoh and his disciplines in a way of understanding the space for its ritualistic qualities. Firstly making the connection with the body and the patterned tiles, and then taking the body to pieces in the said space through movement before coming together again and reading the body anew in the space.

I see the outcome being the public’s greater recognition of the space and how they themselves might carry the ideas of the space in understanding their own interactions within it.

I will assess this event and its success given how many or little show attention to, or even notice our movement against the construction.

The performances criteria will rely upon a band of collaborators on side approaching the surrounding public prior to the show’s commencement, during the show and post show, questioning what the a-periodic tiling of fed square represents for them. This range of responses, given the public’s differing levels of exposure will hopefully help gauge for us as performers to what extent we’ve offered greater insight into space for the public.

What is Butoh?

Bodies Make Words

From Hayley Roberts

The aim of this particular performance event is to challenge the public’s idea of how a space such as Federation Square can be used, to help ask ‘why are they (members of the public) there’ and to help realise how an everyday space can be made into something new.

This performance will help us to learn how easy (or not) it can be to convince the public to do something whilst in the comfort of this familiar public space. We do not wish to make the public feel uncomfortable in anyway, simply give Federation Square a new perspective; a place in which they can participate in order to create something new.

This street performance event is all about creating a live installation. The idea behind it is ‘confessions’. We will over small paper tags out to members of the public on which they can write a secret/confession that they haven’t told anyone. They will remain anonymous except for the fact that others will be able to walk up and read the nameless confessions. We are expecting a wide range of results from small white lies and jokes, to deep dark secrets. We hope to hang string, running through a large part of Federation Square for these tags to be hung on.

The only way this performance style can be rehearsed is a test run, most likely at Deakin University. However, due to the public at Deakin being predominantly students, the response could be completely different from that of members of the public at Federation Square. In my experience, students will be less likely to get participate, perhaps due to the fact they will feel like they are being watched by their peers. In Federation Square, a lot of people will be alone and therefore more likely to share something with us.

Our results will be documented by photo and video evidence. Photos of the public hanging up their confessions and photos of those reading them. It will be interesting to see how many people take part and how many will just be bystanders of the instillation.

I created this idea from a personal experience in the UK. At a large music festival there was a large tree in the middle of the field with individual brown tags hanging off each branch. It was labelled the ‘tree of wisdom’ and people could write anything on the tags from inspirational quotes to life mottos to revealing secrets. It didn’t have to be anonymous and people would spend around 15-20 minutes reading the tags. However, I have slightly altered this method by changing the theme to confession, so people are challenged (if they participate) in a public space; becoming involved in something that was unexpected from Federation Square.

The outcome of the project is to create a full line of confessions from all different ages, races, genders, and occupations. I want it to be an engaging instillation that people will take time to read and appreciate the bravery of those who have written down their confessions.

The event will be assessed primarily on a measure of audience participation. I want to have this event running for 2-3 hours and aim to capture the confessions of over 100 people passing through Federation Square. I will also assess the event on which who the majority of participants are – particularly focusing on gender. I will be tallying this in order to keep a record.

Gender, age group, race/nationality.

If I set an aim of 100 people which I think can be achieved, by the end of the event I will be able to see if my target has been reached.

Postsecret

Invisible Theatre

Posted: July 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

From Monica Christou

Eating Out – Invisible Theatre Performance

The aim behind this performance will be a comparison between performing in a defined space in contrast to an undefined space within a public environment.

Through this performance, we will attempt to explore how a clearly space defines the context of a performance, and the effect it creates on an audience, and what constitutes a performance in a public realm.

The performance will be a more traditional scenario involving a man who discovers his girlfriend is cheating on him, on the same day he had planned to propose to her. Instead of fighting, the other man (who witnesses the feuding couple) sympathises with the boyfriend and the two decide to leave the woman. The performance will then be repeated but behind a set frame with seating provided for an audience.

The scene will be rehearsed in private, before being performed in a public space within Deakin University campus at Burwood.  Refinements to the scene will be made based on analysis of the performance at Deakin.

Video recording and written analysis will be a sufficient way to document both the actors and the audience within the space.

Ultimately, we want to document how manipulating space can alter the audiences engagement with a performance, and to what extent the space needs to be defined in order to constitute a performance.

Assessment will be a comparative analysis that explores differences and similarities between the two performances.

The level of audience engagement will be a major point of focus, and factors such as clapping, eye contact, verbal communication will be documented as a point of reference.

Invisible Theatre hits Macdonalds

‘The White Ambassador’

Posted: July 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

From Gregory Sze

Image

First and foremost, the aim of my proposed performance project/event is to alter social expectations. Personally, I have always been interested in the notion of ‘shocking’ people out of their everyday routines. I find that breaking people out of their normal, preset routine sometimes helps them realize that the environment they live in is constantly changing. The general public should therefore learn to embrace theses changes and occasionally stop to take in their environment. I find this connection between an individual living in an urban environment and his/her bond to the environment important but is, unfortunately, overlooked most of the time. My aim is to therefore encourage the public to “snap out” of their default routines and learn to be dynamic in their everyday lives.

From what I can gather at the moment, I am hoping to explore how a general public space can be turned into a ‘special’ place whereby ordinary members of the public would suddenly feel out of place walking into its proximity. There are various methods of claiming a space and making it a performative space and one of the current methods we are trying to use is to have a frame erected on Federation Square, thereby turning part of it into a performance space. What continues to interest me further is another way of turning a general space into a performative space just by having said performers gather and perform. From I’ve observed on the streets of Melbourne and Kuala Lumpur, I can safely say that an invisible barrier is present between the audience (members of the general public) and the performer(s) whenever a street performance is happening. A sort of unwritten rule or understanding between the performer and audience, if you wish.

My proposed idea for a street performance was somewhat inspired by performance artist Nate Hill’s performance of ‘The White Ambassador’, in that he attempts to tackle racism and racial prejudice on the streets of Harlem, New York City. My performance would revolve around getting a group of students from various ethnic and racial backgrounds. The students will then have to completely hide their identities as to appear as racially neutral as possible by wearing long-sleeved shirts and gloves as well as hiding their faces with helmets or anything alike. The students will then have to hang banners around their necks which would state the wrong racial or ethnic background in correspondence to their actual ethnic background. For example, a student of Caucasian ethnicity will wear a tag denoting that he/she is of Asian background. The performers will then have to try to interact with locals and/or foreigners around the streets of Melbourne. After a preset amount of time, they will unmask themselves and reveal to members of the general public that they aren’t exactly what they seem to be. In conclusion, I hope that the performance will help the general public realize that racial and ethnic backgrounds are NOT a factor in determining who would you rather choose to interact with. It can also be argued that my proposed piece aims to help break the racial stereotypes that some people have harboured over time.

The rehearsal process would probably be basic enough that several test runs of the proposed performance would be conducted on campus to gauge public reactions to said performance. The various reactions and scenarios that unfold as a result of the ‘test’ performances are to be documented and analyzed. Appropriate changes would then be made to the performance based on feedback as well as criticism. This is to ensure that the performance is conducted on neutral grounds and not be misinterpreted as trying to instigate racial problems amongst students.

The documentation of the results would most likely be made up of a majority of video recordings as I feel that this particular performance is very much a hands-on performance and not much documentation of it can be done via writings.

The methodology employed would be quite subjective as every individual in the performance would be coming up with their own strategies to interact with members of the general public. However, certain guidelines should be introduced and this is to ensure that performers refrain from forcing interaction with unwilling members of the public. Apart from that, the process of this performance is open to interpretation for every participating individual.

The project’s outcomes, as stated above, is to hopefully break stereotypes and ‘shock’ people out of their expectations. Upon this, members of the general public will, hopefully, learn that labels can be misleading especially if it has been applied to fellow human beings.

The main criteria that I will employ to make the assessment is probably to record reactions of the general public as they discover the real identity of the individual at the end of the performance. Another criteria is also for the performer himself/herself to give an account of how members of the general public reacted to them when they had their identities hidden and then to compare the difference, should there be any, to when they removed the mask and revealed their real identities.

See Nate Hill’s Performance Here