Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Artist Toolbox: Weightless in Space


Favourite ensemble building activity- ‘Weightless in Space’
This is a great one for building trust in a group and for the person who is weightless, it’s a really wonderful experience. It comes from Augusto Boal and can be found in the fantastic book Games For Actors and Non-Actors but the exercise is titled The actor as ‘subject’: the Greek exercise.

One actor in the middle and at least seven or eight others around her. She starts a movement and everyone else must use their bodies to help her complete this movement. For example, if she lifts a foot, someone immediately places his body under this foot so that the actor’s foot is supported. The protagonist extends a limb here, a limb there, leans this way or that, does whatever she likes- and the rest of the group help her, inventively using their bodies to support her as she raises herself up, rolls onto her back, stretches out on her side, climbs into the air, etc., inserting themselves into the relevant space.The overall effect should be almost as if the protagonist was weightless, in space.

It’s important with this one that the protagonist moves slowly so that the group has time to discover her intentions, and I usually ask the group to keep constantly communicating with each other, especially when they are carrying the whole weight of the protagonist. I also usually assign two or three people to ‘spotting’, i.e. making sure the protagonist’s head is always supported and protected and that if they are raised off the ground that they are ‘spotting’ them in case of a fall.


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