How We Tell Our Stories

How We Tell Our Stories
Company member Sarah Vargo in rehearsals for On Lost Ground – taken by BriBriFilm


“I’m not interested in how people move, but what moves them”

– Pina Bausch


In devising our upcoming work-in-progress, On Lost Ground, for Galway Theatre Festival, there has been a large focus on the form the ultimate piece will take. As mentioned in our previous post, the show deals with barriers, and the things in each of our lives that prevent us moving forward. But in performance, how could we come to create a dynamic piece of work about standing still?

In ultimately doing this show, we were hoping to create a space, not for the exorcising of personal demons, but for the discussion of them. As such, we did not want to perform a “finished” product. A show that wraps up neatly at the end would undermine the process of dealing with personal barriers. It would not reflect its nebulous and trudging nature. Emotions are difficult to describe and comprehend, so why present them as anything other than that? They are in themselves a work-in-progress, so we decided to run with this vein in elaborating our show for the work-in-progress strand of the festival.

As we were essentially using creative processes to affect a change in how we lived our lives, our attention was drawn to the discipline of dramatherapy, the theraputic practice which believes, “drama and theatre are ways of actively participating in the world and…are not merely an imitation of it”. The processes of the therapy are too detailed to elaborate here, but if you wished to read further, Phil Jones’ Drama as Therapy: Theatre as Living is essential reading. Suffice here to say the structure offered us the chance to engage with our barriers in fruitful ways, acting as a foil to our problems rather than a distraction.

From using this, our issues to do with the form of the show were quelled. In discussing our memories related to barriers, we would often arrive at an impass in how to present them theatrically. We are not dramatherapists and do not claim to be. But dramatherapy has allowed us to find interesting ways of engaging with our memories and experiences. If you think of a strong memory, and deeply explore it through this lens, it produces interesting results. In recalling the memory, does it have a colour? What elements stand out more than others and why? Does it affect certain parts of your body over others? Does it make you want to move? How could you have changed the outcome? All of these questions can then be translated in elements of performance. Strong feelings of wanting to escape can become a movement piece. Rehashing conversations can create dialouge. The experiences of our lives very tangibly become the material we use to create our show. In connecting the emotion of the memory very strongly to performance of it, we hope that whatever the emotion is, it will be felt strongly by an audience. It will act as a filter for an audience to encounter their own memories, their own barriers and feelings of stasis.

As such, the show so far is a mish-mash of theatrical forms, but ones that are all related and chosen to best represent our own inner monologues and thoughts. We hope in performing them they will relate to those who see it, and create a space for us all to engage with how we overcome our own obstacles. Enda Walsh said in a recent interview (read it here ) that theatre should “bypass the intellect and go straight to the bones”. On Lost Ground is essentially our attempt at doing this – at relating to ourselves and our audience on a level of feeling rather than logic. Obvisously the two are not distinct entities, but we are excited to approach the work this way to see what discussion may come from it.

All of this work becomes pointless without having an audience there, so if you are interested in the sound of our show, please do come! To book a place e-mail – the event is free with the option to pay as you feel afterwards, but there’s absolutely no obligation. It will take place in the O’ Donoghue Theatre on NUIG campus at 3pm on April 23rd. Thank you so much for reading this and we hope to see you in the theatre to share our work with you!

Martin, Niall and Sarah at Sonar

(PS here’s a link to our event page on Facebook, click attending and let us know you’re coming! )

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