From our Journal...

20 April 2015

In rehearsal: Object-based movement

Well, folks, we’re two weeks into rehearsals and things have been very busy. This show is actually happening, and watching it take shape is so exciting. I have a lot to talk about, but today I’ve got to focus on the movement—my absolute favourite part. To me, it adds such life and feeling to the show, and it makes certain things that are inexpressible with words completely tangible. That’s always the case with movement, I think, but with this show it seems so necessary. How else do only nine people on a stage create the frantic, dramatic and poignant impact that a massive revolution had?

Our amazing movement director, Svetlana, was on the team that went to Ukraine last year to research ‘The Point Of No Return’. She knows what she’s doing, not only because she’s a fantastic choreographer but also because she’s seen what it is that she’s trying to express. That personal connection to her work is only the beginning of Svetlana’s brilliance, though.

What really has a deep impact for me in these pieces is Svetlana’s beautiful use of objects. From helmets to shields to rope, she has done something that before I would have thought was impossible: the sheer weight of all the objects simultaneously seems to make the actors larger and more robust (both as rioters and as riot police) and to crush them. The duality of that is arresting. Empowering and oppressive at once, the objects are indicative of the revolution we’re watching. We see the actors stretch a rope across the stage and act as a unified body to maintain its tautness, and then minutes later we watch as they struggle against the bulkiness of shields that cover their bodies, as they seamlessly float between playing fighters from both sides.

The actors themselves deserve credit for the movement’s beauty too: they’re the ones bringing Svetlana’s concepts to life. Perhaps the most life-filled moment of choreography comes at the beginning of the second act, when a piece of rope is stretched into the shape of a human and a gas mask hovers where its head should be. Beginning slowly, the actors (again, completely synchronised) make their rope man walk. His pace quickens to a run and suddenly he falls, forward—the rope unravels, the cast disperses and one actor is left alone in the centre of the stage, wearing the gas mask. We don’t question the rope man for a moment though. He’s real, every limb was alive and the urgency of his running was palpable. He and the actor are one and the same. The movement in this show has become inextricably tied to its scenes and its characters, and I’m still mesmerised every time I watch.

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