Friday, 4 May 2018

Our theatre-making friends Laura Ryder and Freya Sharp took part in Chris Thorpe's political theatre workshop at Lincoln Drill Hall recently. They share their thoughts here.

Freya and Laura sent us this photo when they arrived at Lincoln Drill HallHi. We're Laura and Freya. We're theatre makers and we're currently working together on The Bee Project.

We were both very excited to go to the workshop on ‘Making Political Theatre’ with Chris Thorpe, after being fans of his work since seeing Confirmation back in 2014 at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

The workshop was attended by a variety of participants, some were theatre makers, some academics, which meant discussions were varied and interesting.

One of the most interesting discussions in the room for us was about political theatre presenting and having an ‘unanswerable question’. That is a question that your work explores and challenges but then ultimately opens up a dialogue between you and an audience more than having a conclusive answer.

There was a great chat about the usefulness of political theatre, as theatre makers, we believe that theatre is a brilliant space to open up discussions and challenge our own perceptions. It’s a space for stories and empathy and seeing the world through a different light.

Political theatre can be useful in providing a space to explore different outlooks and ideologies, a space to present ideas about change and questions about the society we live in.

In many ways a lot of theatre is political whether intended or not, simply by encouraging an audience to see the world through a different perspective we are asking them to look beyond themselves and the world they live in.

Chris Thorpe, who ran the MAKING POLITICAL THEATRE workshopChris Thorpe is an excellent and generous facilitator, encouraging ideas and raising the right questions to keep you as an artist challenging your own practice and ideas. The workshop opened up interesting conversations about what aims you have as an artist when making political theatre, and how those aims might change as your process develops.

He discussed how, if your intention when making political theatre is to change people’s minds, then you might as well not bother! People’s political views are rarely changed by watching a piece of theatre. Instead, we might look at how we can open up discussions and dialogue, whether that be around an idea or an incident. The conversations and engagement with the work is what makes a difference.

Theatre should be political, you have a platform to share ideas and open up questions and challenge perceptions. It is the only artform where the viewer and the maker are in the same room experiencing the art together and as a result it is a perfect space to share political ideas and share the space.

One of the tasks in the workshop was to write down the three drivers you had for making theatre. This was an interesting exercise and one which we hadn’t considered for a while.

Laura in THE BEE PROJECT (see trailer below)Laura decided her reasons were:

  • That the stories we tell and share help us understand the world and our place in it
  • That there is hope that these stories can evoke empathy
  • The sheer joy of it

Freya’s reasons were:

  • To entertain and bring audiences out of their real life for a short while
  • To take audiences on a journey they might not have considered before
  • The joy and passion

Freya in THE BEE PROJECT (see trailer below)We looked at how political work can be incidental, conceptual and/or personal and how this affects how and why you’re making the work. The workshop gave you space to explore ideas of political theatre you want to make and examine different approaches you might take to creating that work.

We looked at the performer's relationship to the audience and how that can change the way you make your work. Where are the audience situated to the performer? Where does the work take place? In what ways can the performance be an exchange and be responsive to audience input?

We left the workshop with our heads buzzing with ideas and questions, our conversations continued on the train journey home. It made us think about political theatre we’d seen previously and why it had stuck with us and how we as theatre makers can look at making political theatre in a way which puts an audience first and opens up conversations and dialogues.

- Laura Ryder and Freya Sharp.

 

Chris Thorpe's MAKING POLITICAL THEATRE workshop was part of In Good Company artists' development programme across the East Midlands. Follow Chris on Twitter @piglungs.

Laura and Freya are currently touring THE BEE PROJECT, a show filled with movement, glitter and friendship. Check out the trailer below. Follow the show on Twitter @thebeeproject_.

 

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