If you've seen a Gecko show, you might've noticed that breath and language are deployed as vital tools for emotional and physical expression. So why is are they such a crucial part of Gecko's work? In these new videos exclusive to our YouTube channel, Amit explains all..
Prior to this session, I was anxious about how the performance was going to come together as I didn’t think we had very much material that was solid and I had missed the previous rehearsal due to my Dance exam.
When the day finished, I felt very accomplished. I was really happy at how well the performance went! It ran very smoothly, and we worked incredibly well as a unit; probably the best we have ever worked.
The most challenging aspect of working with GECKO, was adapting to its unique style. The constant energy and abstract ideas and concepts eventually worked their way into me, and I started to flow and incorporate my ideas into the sections we were given – i.e. floor pattern routine, paper and objects.
The most rewarding element of working with GECKO was performing the piece as a whole. I really enjoyed it because I saw it as a mixture between theatre and dance; the way we have to fluidly move between one section to the next with discipline and a purpose gave the piece so much energy – it was brilliant to be involved in!
Surprising? Well, after watching the performance back in class, I was surprised to see just how amazing it looked considering how little time we had to run it through, and for Helen to add music and lighting with Matt. I didn’t have doubts about it, but it was very reassuring to see that our (crammed) hard work definitely paid off.
Regarding future work, it’s opened my mind when it comes to directing and acting; having no dialogue but sending multiple messages and allowing the audience to interpret it to how they like, but leave the performance with questions- I love that. It was also nice to speak a different language in my performance- Japanese. It was really interesting to see how the audience reacted when I started speaking it- it gained laughter at the start when I was being an incredibly stereotypical Japanese child, but as it got meaner, louder and angrier there was silence; it was very interesting to behold.
7/10 is what I would rate my experience with GECKO. I enjoyed the sessions, however sometimes they were frustrating as it was taking a long time to develop the simplest of things like the walking pattern; we spent a full lesson (100 minutes) getting that right! However, working with Helen and Georgina was a privilege and I am very grateful for the experience as it wouldn’t have been something that I would’ve wanted to do outside of school, but now I think I’m more prepared for sessions like these where the majority of elements are different than the ‘usual’.
In our fifth physical theatre session working on the project with Gecko, we further expanded upon what we had worked on in the previous lessons. As we had spent the lesson beforehand expanding and developing our walking pattern sequences, in this particular session we worked on our other pieces that were more acting-orientated. The first of these was the short scenes that involved the use of paper and what it suggest about the internal and external world of an individual. Our piece was originally focused on the ‘internal world’ of dreams and the disruptive effect they can have on the physical world. We did this through creating a variety of movements and sounds with scrunched up pieces of paper, such as rubbing them on the floor by the dreamer’s face and crinkling it above her head. Our task was to use what we’d already created to develop and elongate it into a longer scene with more of a story to it.
We decided to show more aspects to the dream than simply the disturbing nightmare we’d portrayed before and be more creative with how we used the paper. For example, to begin we showed a dream of desire by using pieces of paper to create a face with a smiley face drawn onto it that was held in front of an actor’s face. The dreamer danced with the figure for a little while, before the smile was turned upside down into a frown and the ‘dancer’ broke away, suggesting a separation of the dreamer’s desires from reality. As well as this, we used the paper to create an onslaught of birds that attacked the dreamer which then morphed into a birthday scene where the paper became presents, combining more abstract elements to reflect the setting of a dream. Finally, we transitioned into our original scene.
After this, we had to confer with the other group in our class on how we could incorporate more actors into our piece. We decided that we would have more people be a part of the ‘dancer’ in the first dream, rather than just 2 and make it more complex and then simply add more performers to the other scenes. However, we decided we would maintain having only one dreamer as so to fully illustrate the depth of their internal world.
In our second session in collaboration with Gecko, we focused on where the last session left off. We didn’t have Gecko working one-on-one with us on this occasion, so we completed a set of tasks they had left us to finish. The first of these was to separate ourselves into smaller groups (one of 4, another of 3 and the last of 2) and complete what we’d begun in the last lesson of walking a short circuit in formation. Then, we had to combine each individual group’s different circuits together to form one piece of movement, adapting them along the way so that they all fitted together seamlessly. This required us to change the pacing of some of the walks and add additional features to them- for example, having us reverse our circuits twice and then only do a full one on the third lap. Then, each small group added a form of non-verbal communication; the group of 2 added heavy breathing, the group of 3 coughing and the 4 unintelligible mumbling. Finally, we decided on a location where the piece would take place, which we determined to be either a museum or a gallery of sorts.
I was a part of the group of 3 and, prior to starting the task, was quite apprehensive. I’m not going to lie, it was difficult for me- unlike many in the class, I have little dance experience and so am not entirely confident in pieces that are solely movement. I kept forgetting the direction in which we were supposed to be moving on numerous occasions and stumbled very frequently, which I found frustrating. On the other hand, I became far more aware of my surroundings and how to manoeuvre myself around a space whilst being more mindful of others. If I didn’t concentrate fully, then there was the risk of crashing into another student- which wasn’t desirable! However, it was challenging from an acting point of view and I’ll be very interested to see how it will be incorporated into a final performance.
Next, we had to take pieces of paper and separate ourselves into 2 groups (1 of 4 and another of 5) and portray the internal emotional state and thoughts of a person through the papers alone. In our group, we showed the internal emotional struggle of someone waking up from a bad dream or the horrors of the nightmare itself. Personally, I found this more engaging than the previous task as it was more centered on our own interpretation- we knew that whatever we did it would be different to the other group. I also found the use of the papers within the performance very interesting and, in a way, it made our performances more physical- we had to use our whole bodies to suggest what we could about the meaning of the papers, e.g. we each were at different levels and angles whilst we rustled them in the face of the ‘dreamer’.
Finally, we had to find a way to incorporate an object into a physical theatre performance. How many objects and whichever ones we chose were down to us entirely. My group chose to use only one object- a camera- and use it to create a short scene about a girl who is being left out by her friends and knows this by seeing photographs of time they have spent together without her. Whilst she moves across the space with the camera, the rest of the group formed various tableaus of festivity and fun, occasionally saying monosyllabic words or laughs. We wanted to get across to the audience the isolation felt by the girl and also the malevolence of the figures in the ‘photographs’- by having the freeze frames behind the girl, it was a representation of what she was seeing on the camera emphasized and more defined, thus eliciting a deeper emotional response from the audience.
Overall, the session was difficult and challenging but also intriguing. I am definitely NOT the most coordinated of people (as clearly seen in the first task) but I feel that I have become more aware of my surroundings as a result and hope to take this lesson with me as I pursue drama.