Category: Ensemble

Work Songs – Edinburgh Fringe 2012

I saw this show today in Edinburgh and loved it.

Work Songs
August 2012
playing from the 13-26 August at ZOO, Venue 124, at 1.15 PM everyday.

created by Broderick Chow and Tom Wells
the dangerologists

You could write a thesis about this play.

It’s about dependency, working in an office, job satisfaction, vocation vs profession, friendship, rivalry and office furniture!

The most exciting thing about the piece for me was the style, reminding me a bit of Frantic Assembly’s Tiny Dynamite. Fluid movement merged with text, literal and abstract fused into one. And plenty of humour.

Tom and Broderick work in an office. They’ve been told to “work as a team” (chuckle, chuckle) but they can’t even decide the best way for them to both make use of a chair. My favourite bit of the play was this scene – imaginative, punchy, slick…

I don’t want to give much away – the story is simple but engaging, the characters are so well defined. There’s even some interaction with the audience. My boyfriend was a bit reluctant to sit on the front row, in case “they talked to you”. “Don’t worry, not in this one.” Bingo! Famous last words. However, this was the least cringe-worthy audience-interaction moment ever and my boyfriend didn’t mind one bit. Like my friend (who was sitting to other side of me and also got asked a few questions) said: Broderick genuinely listened and conversed with you. Not a small achievement when you consider that his fellow performer Tom crawled up his back.

The show is the perfect length (about an hour) but I could have sat there for longer. I loved the script – subtle, simple and actually took a direction that I didn’t expect. I laughed a lot, loved the choreography and physical moments and was moved.

What more can you ask from the Fringe!

Work Songs
August 2012
playing from the 13-26 August at ZOO, Venue 124, at 1.15 PM everyday.

created by Broderick Chow and Tom Wells
the dangerologists

The link below takes you to the photos from their Manchester production.

Work Songs at Contact, Manchester.

via Work Songs – Edinburgh Fringe 2012.


Building the Ensemble – The Empty Chair

This game works best with at least 7 people. Distribute evenly the same number of chairs as people playing across the space. Everyone but one person, the Walker, sits on a chair. The empty chair must be at one end and the Walker will start the game at the other end.

The aim of the Walker is to sit on a chair. S/he will do this by walking towards it at an even, slow pace. Everyone else must prevent the Walker from sitting on the empty chair. This is done by leaving their chair and sitting on the empty chair. This will leave another chair empty. The Walker will then try to get to it but someone else from the group should go towards it and sit on it. Everyone but the Walker can move as fast or as slow as they wish.

Note that once a member of the group lifts their bum from their own chair, they can’t go back to it and have to sit somewhere else. When the Walker finally sits on a chair, the game ends and whoever was not sitting down, becomes the Walker.

Once you have played this game a few times and are familiar with the strategies that work, try to play the game in silence. Of course there will be cries and laughter but try to avoid communicating with words and avoid telling others what to do. This will help you to develop your ensemble skills, where everyone in the group shares the responsibility of achieving a common goal.

Building the Ensemble – Grandmother’s Footsteps

One performer (the “grandmother”) stands facing a wall. Everyone else stands behind him/her at the other side of the room. The object of the game is for the rest of the group to creep behind the grandmother and tap her on the back. The grandmother will turn every few seconds and when she does, everyone must freeze. If she sees anyone move in the slightest, they have to go back to where they started. Whoever reaches the wall, becomes the next grandmother.

This game wakes up the body and mind and, though competitive, encourages performers to work in physical closeness to each other sharing the same space.

Grandmother’s footsteps is used widely to teach acting and physical theatre. The game has the added benefit that half of the class can sit and watch. What makes a good piece of drama and what is interesting about watching actors suddenly becomes apparent: enjoyment, commitment, the need to take risks, the need to play within the rules, suspension… this game has all the ingredients of a good theatrical performance.

When we freeze as Grandmother turns, we don’t stop: our emotion is in motion. Our brains are ticking away, making sure that every single element of our body is still, we are holding on to our energy, not letting it go… and we are oh-so-ready, because at any point, Grandma will turn round and then….. we have to be ready to move!