From my initial exploration to the final piece, I consistently filmed my work and tried to narrow down what to focus on exploring in greater depth so as not to get overwhelmed. The first link is to one of the first attempts I had at making material.
The second link is to the final piece, minus the bricks. I see now that using a prop which can't be rehearsed with consistently is a very bad idea...lesson learnt, however the two videos do show the difference adding text, different intentions and states made to my work.
Below is my written account, which goes over my process in much greater detail. I know I only skimmed the surface in adding the layers to my work, but I am learning that by structuring rehearsal time and making artistic decisions for myself as if someone was prompting me I can push the exploration much further, much quicker.
This piece is based on a young African girl I met in Sierra Leone in 2014. She was 22 at the time, the same age as me and I couldn’t help comparing the vast differences between our lives. Me, the privileged white woman on the trip of a lifetime; the epitome of freedom vs her, a girl already being forced down a path she doesn’t want to follow due to pressure from family, religion and tradition. She was a quiet, peaceful girl when I first met her. But the more time we spent together I saw a struggle within her as she started to come to terms with disobeying her family to forge her own path. This is a global theme for children all over the world, and it comes down to the simplicity of growing up and all the complications that come with that.
The themes I have been exploring through my movement are struggle and being held back. I was intrigued by what happens to the body when it is being physically held back, and the image of forward momentum with nowhere to go. However, I realised this movement was too bold for my character and instead I started to see unbalanced physicality emerge.
I wanted to use props to enhance the performance because I felt they would add another dimension and be a physical representation of just one way the girl was being held back. By using chairs that in my mind represented different members of the young girl’s family, I was able to develop a movement dynamic which explored tension and elements of choice, as well as helping me explore the girl’s timid physicality. The problem with having chairs on stage is that they are used a lot in theatre and as with every prop audiences always read into them but I felt it gave too much of a Western office or home feel, as opposed to the earthy, natural feel of Africa. I took the chairs away and worked on choreography inspired by being held up by a support system that is being precarious and pulls you back down and away from your aim. Repetition worked to give the feeling of monotony and being stuck in a pattern. Using the movement vocabulary, I went through a series of improvisations using props to replace the chairs. I felt the prop I chose needed to be able to take weight, be stackable and be easy to move. I tried rubber tiles, pieces of paper, books but settled on bricks.
I feel the bricks fit most logically as well as being very visually pleasing. They represent a wall, building, foundations, so parallel the fundamentals of a family structure. They are also full of texture, and although solid are made of thousands of tiny grains leaving them a single part of a much bigger picture. The bricks also challenged my movement, pushing me in new directions as I explored their texture and potential. Also from a personal level, I first met the girl who was the inspiration for this piece in Africa and she was making cement for her family’s brick business. It feels like it ties up the process and allows a further link back to the origins of my inspiration.
The text spoken at the beginning of my solo is part of a poem written by the girl. There was a point in my process when I was really stuck going in circles and this section always drew me back to the feelings I am trying to convey. I’m not sure at this stage if the text is needed, however I decided to keep it in because it does contextualize the solo and was an integral part of my process. This is similar for the music, it takes me and hopefully the audience directly into Africa so helps to contextualize whilst adding juxtaposition between the tense and contrived movement vs the upbeat African tune.
During this solo, I hope to have achieved a feeling of struggle and being pulled down on a path that isn’t right for the character. The physical attributes explore being timid but needing to break free, something which I have displayed by experimenting with darting vs still and steady eye contact. To progress from here I see the arc of the piece going through the girl escaping from being trapped, but after experiencing that freedom turning back to her roots as she realizes she has left too much behind and regrets her bold decision, which is very out of character, to walk away from everything and everyone she knows and loves.