String maps

16 Jun

Have been thinking about how to develop work on its feet in some way even at the earliest stages–to get a sense of the “concrete physical space” overlaid with virtual space that is the matrix of theatre.
So tried out this with a ball of string in my playwriting workshop:
Each person read out a short scene, then instead of discussing it as received words in the ear, I asked each writer to make a series of sculpture/ tableaux of their scene using string to chart the connections between characters. So using other people as those characters, those characters would hold the string or be tied together by the string in different ways (charting connection/ tensions between them). Each writer was asked to make a “string map” in this way for the beginning, middle and end of each scene. And then we asked whether those moments and changes were apparent in the writing.

It showed clear vs. fuzzy shapes, clear vs. fuzzy sense of relationship and connection/ tension between characters. And it physically reinforces that (counter-intuitive for new writers, perhaps) that words aren’t everything–they’re one element in the dance.

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