Devising and Storytelling with Alison Farina

On Monday evening, I had the pleasure of joining other creatives in Bath at a workshop with Butterfly Psyche's Alison Farina (see my earlier blog about the Bronte Season). This is with great thanks to Theatre Bath who are currently organising a series of workshops in our area to bring together creatives and create more opportunities for us to network and play together!

The workshop focussed on devising and storytelling, which is something I just love to do! From my training at University, I grew a passion for creating theatre in different ways. We often had the pleasure of devising and using creativity in acting to make new and interesting work and this is something that Alison does very well with her Bath-based company, Butterfly Psyche. I love getting new tips and tricks for ways to create work and you saw from my earlier post about The Paper Birds and their workshop as well as their show, Broke, how they do that. However, with Alison, we used other new ideas and it created less political but more child-like work.

We were equipped with three golden rules regarding SAYING YES to everything (very important when improvising and trying new things to just go with it and see where it takes you), LETTING GO OF YOUR EGO and WORKING TOGETHER. Some of these sound obvious and easy but it's actually easier than you think to forget these rules and try and force things to go your way and resist your colleagues BUT when you do let go and work together, far more interesting creative things happen! 

One exercise we did had us walking around in pairs as one 'being' and each only saying one word at a time, trying to make coherent sentences. It was hilarious! Just when you had an idea of how things would go, your partner would throw a spanner in the works and take it in a whole new direction. This forced you to be open-minded and not try to plan ahead. You had to just say the first thing that came to mind, listen to your other half and forget having any big ideas (because, although you're one being, your partner isn't actually a mind reader!) 

We finally ended up creating stories with minimal stimuli. We had each brought a personal object to incorporate in the story arc and were given two characters with a character trait each, a setting and an abstract sort of trigger or problem to start the story off (ie. Looking for a forbidden object). This opened up a lot of questions that needed to be answered through the story and began our journey of creating a performance of the story in just 20 minutes! We had to just take each other's ideas and run with them, work together with open minds and, most importantly, play! We had so much fun. It was just the beginning really and if we had had the pleasure of more time, we could have taken elements from the piece we created and moved it on to a whole other level, perhaps a new style and maybe another angle completely but to see how quickly we could create something was very exciting and inspiring. 

I love working with people in this creative way and having the chance to do something so different to script work (which I do also love, but is a world away from this!). It does inspire me to pick up where I left off at Uni and consider creating my own work but I just so love having the opportunity to work with so many different companies and styles and media that I think, for now, I'll continue my quest to work with as many different creative companies as I can!