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Shifting Sands Theatre

WORKSHOPS Our workshops release creative expression via play. Our objective is to enthuse and stimulate. The next step is to focus this playfulness for each other and the audience – and have fun! " Acting is nothing more or less than playing. The idea is to humanize life.” George Elliot/Mary Ann Evans

CLOWN - The Art of Play The Clown negotiates the world by playing with it. Playfulness becomes a guiding principle for the clown. The style of play adopted is varied. It can be funny, tragic or nasty. Above all else the play is extremely personal and optimistic, even in the direst circumstances. A performance that is based on play builds a direct relationship with the audience. When we play we are full of energy, alert and spontaneous. We look for playfulness in others and listen to creative impulses in ourselves. When playing we tend not to judge ourselves. We are fully involved and there is total belief and honesty. The clown has to be both spontaneous and full of stage presence – so full that the audience doesn’t even notice it. The study of clown is a marvellous tool for performers of all persuasions with its focus on simplicity, vulnerability and honesty. Why undertake such a rigorous challenge? Because the reward is great: the rich joy of laughter shared with those who were once strangers. The workshops include: PHYSICAL TRAINING Exercises which help to develop self awareness, co- ordination and fluidity of movement. IMPROVISATION The rules of play that underpin collaborative creation. EXERCISES IN RHYTHM These help to develop a sense of timing. GAMES Playing with each other. PRESENTATION Playing with the audience.

PLAYING WITH TRAGEDY Tragedy is an opportunity to play on a grand scale. When surrounded by huge emotions and overwhelming circumstances we will discover the playfulness and beauty of tragedy. Play is spontaneous, enjoyable and full of surprises. It leads to enjoyment and shared laughter. In this workshop we will look at how we can still play when the usual setbacks mount up to become truly tragic. By accepting the tragic, we can find truthful ways to play with great emotions but not to undermine them. The response can invoke laughter, sympathy, tears or wonder – or all four at the same time! Our themes will be : play, co-operation, status, simplicity, and vulnerability. We will apply these to a variety of situations that involve loss or rejection. Classic texts including Antigone and Oedipus by Sophocles will be explored.


PLAYING WITH TEXT. The performer is the means through which the audience hears the text. What will enable the performer to communicate the text? We will explore various ways of loosening and liberating the text so that both the performer and the audience are connected through it. Games will be the means by which the relationship between performer, audience and text will be explored.

CHEKHOV: TRAGEDY AND THE CLOWN: Ensemble and solo play. The comedy, beauty and tragedy of Chekhov rediscovered through the playfulness of the Clown. We will discover how to create high drama from absolutely nothing - boredom, loss of zest for life, inability to move on, hopeless incompetence and arrogance. The tone and themes of Chekhov’s plays are ambiguous - bittersweet, tragicomic, sad and joyful, adultery versus sterile faithfulness – allowing the actor to be open and make discoveries. How to bring Chekhov’s text "alive" on stage? How to avoid parody, cliché and discover the comedic road to the beauty of tragedy? Expressive movement, playfulness and fun, voice work and ensemble play will be central. For performers, writers, and directors. For some projects participants will be expected to arrive having learnt pieces of text.

BRECHT: How to Devise and Play Epic Theatre. How to step out of and into “character” , deconstruct conventional theatre and to discover and provoke change. Involves the incorporation of diverse performance techniques including puppetry and animation, improvisation and ensemble work.

CLOWN and THEATRE OF THE ABURD: BECKETT, IONESCO, PINTER Come and play with the absurdity of Life! A Clown fails in a way that makes him look absurd. He trips over a chair, gets his foot stuck in a bucket, or soaks himself in water he had been intending to pour over someone else. The Theatre of the Absurd has characters that often bear a strong physical resemblance to Clowns but instead of falling over a chair they trip to reveal the stupid, absurd existentialist predicament of being human. The workshop will focus upon the works of Beckett, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Ionesco and Pinter. They write about the very stuff of existence, offering a tragicomic outlook on human nature, often coupled with black comedy and gallows humour. They dare to be funny in the face of hopeless situations. Participants will be asked to learn at least one short piece of text.

HALF- MASK Masks constrain the performer by reducing some of his or her expressiveness – facial expression most obviously – but by this process they also liberate by requiring the release of deeper, creative resources. Half-masks transform and change, giving the performer permission and freedom to play. They restrict facial expression and so encourage the performer to find a wider range of physicality which in turn leads to more expressive movement and gesture. They also help us become more aware of rhythm and how this is an essential tool for timing, playfulness and the devising and development of a scene and of an entire show.


CLOWN & COMMEDIA Explore the playful comic theatre that originated in Italy in Italy in the 16th Century to discover how it has influenced today's Clowning. This is the world of Arlechino, Pantalone, Dottore, Capitano, Columbina and the Zanni who all attempt to survive in a world full of greed, revenge, hunger and love. Commedia characters were divided into three categories; the young lovers, the masters, and the servants. The masters and servants were Clown characters. The Commedia provided the foundation for much of today’s Clowning. Just think of Fawlty Towers and the Marx Brothers! This workshop will concentrate upon physical comedy, play, status, rhythm and the development of simple scenarios. Ideal for all those who wish to broaden their performance and devising skills, put them into action– and have FUN!

PLAY & PERFORMANCE An introduction to the foundations of theatrical performance: physical and spatial awareness; timing; the creation and exchange of focus; play with objects; physical self-awareness; the uses of rhythm to link action, intention, play and emotion. Linking these elements is a concentration upon finding and taking pleasure in one’s own performance and sharing this with an audience.

THEATRE OF STORIES The objective of this workshop is to discover how to bring the words of a story alive on stage, transforming them using movement, action and simple props. We will turn Stories into Theatre. We will begin with exercises that will make words playful and physical. Games, sheets, wigs, bits of anything and everything will be brought together to help us to play with the words of the stories and to bring them, and the characters that speak them, alive. Throughout the emphasis will be on developing ways to devise theatre as a group. We will do this by developing a positive sense of play and co-operation

STREET THEATRE Spontaneous, improvised playful interaction and story telling form the focus for these workshops. We will develop an ensemble/group approach to street theatre that is playful and rich in surprise. Clear, simple clown characters will be developed from individual and group improvisations

DEVISING THEATRE These are workshops designed to enable the student to initiate and develop group and individual performances. Devising will be presented as a process involving play, masks, visualisation exercises, improvisation and the development of rhythm and relationships. Central to this work is finding ways to play and co-operate.

SHAKESPEARE Scene work on the history plays, tragedies and comedies. We will investigate a variety of ways that will help the actor to gain insight, understanding and pleasure in the text to release its beauty and magic. We will avoid a psychological approach.


BOUFFONS: THEATRE OF GROTESQUE PLAY Play is spontaneous, enjoyable and full of surprises. It is usually associated with enjoyment and laughter. This workshop will explore the darker side of play. We will uncover the grotesque world inhabited by the Bouffons. The Bouffons originated in the Medieval Period and are the dark reflection of the Clown. Bouffons live on the edge of society. They have been rejected because they are considered deformed, mad, ugly, morally corrupt and evil. Their mere existence challenges the morals and authority of everyone. The Bouffons relish any opportunity to play with the unacceptable, with whatever is taboo. They seek revenge against those who have oppressed them and their play reveals the hypocrisy they see all around them. Their tools are parody, satire and relentless mocking of the “beautiful people.� At times the laughter they produce may be challenging and uncomfortable, at other times refreshing and releasing.

shiftingsandstheatre@hotmail.com www.shiftingsandstheatre.co.uk


Workshops shifting sands