Friday, 27 March 2015

Artist Toolbox: Chance Encounters


Favourite exercise for generating movement: 'Chance Encounters'
This is an exercise in chance encounters and can be really useful for stimulating storylines, situations and movements scores. As a whole group, in a clearly visible place like on a white-board or flip-chart, write a 10 point list of short gestures/movements. It can be something like this or it can be your own variation on this.
e.g. 1. Turn head
2. Raise hand
3. Put head in hands
4. Smile
5. Stand up/Sit down
6. Move behind a chair
7. Put your hand on someone’s face
8. Close eyes
9. Cross/uncross arms/legs
10. Clench fists

Set up a bench or a row of chairs for 3-5 people, on the stage. During the presentation, performers can only choose and complete movements from the list. There is no limit to how many times each movement is completed, if at all, and the order is up to them. As the exercise runs, chance encounters will happen such as: two people turn their heads to look at each other, while the person sitting between them puts their head in their hands; or one person smiles while another puts their hand on their face; and so on. 

As the exercise works on chance, there will be moments that do not work as well as others, but push through these and encourage the performers to ‘listen’ to the each other instead of trying to force pre-planned situations out of the material. There are moments when a pause is also necessary and eye contact can be key. Except from a set action like a Smile, neutral faces is also recommended. Also, feel free to add a range of background music to set/change the tone of the exercise.

After running it for a while, take a break and get feedback from the audience. What was working? What storylines appeared? Which characters emerged? And then start it up again for some more!


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