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We are a group of friends/parents that run a not-for-profit cultural association in Spain.
This is our (bilingual!) blog about our theatre workshops for kids...

martes, 29 de noviembre de 2011

Getting Inspired... with photos II. From photos to ideas

To turn an inspiring photo into a staging idea, you need to first pinpoint what it is about the photo that moves you. It might be something as concrete as the subject matter or it might be more subjective. For example, when we were in the process of adapting 'Puff The Magic Dragon', we used photos for physical details like the design of the pirates' swords:
And we also used them to get a feel for the 'atmosphere' of the pirate fight scene. We had no access to special effects (so no atmospheric smoke and mist to be had) and our students wore basic black costumes with just a head scarf and an eye patch (instead of full blown costumes like the ones shown), but photos helped ground us in the ideas we wanted to communicate, the key ideas in the scene.
In the case of the pirate scene in Puff, the key idea was to convey a sense of the energy and aggression behind a clash between pirates. The choreography needed to be fierce and dynamic, so we focused more on choreographing a fight than coming up with a dance.

To show you what I mean, I've taken three photos I find inspiring and I'll show you how I might go about developing them into staging ideas. The plays we produce tend to be very representational. We use no fixed scenery and very little in the way of costumes. The children either add or take off elements as the scene dictates (like the pirate swords and head scarves) and a sense of the physical setting of a particular scene will be created in a few minutes by children holding up or moving different elements. I've chosen the following photos because I find them dramatically suggestive in some way or another and when I look at them, ideas pop into my head. Not for any other reason.

This one, suggests height, expanse, emptiness, cold, loneliness but also breathtaking beauty. So I would try to root any staging ideas in these key concepts. Although it physically shows a sky-and-mountain scene, I might use it to inspire me for a different type of setting entirely. A stormy sea, perhaps, or the Arctic. It also suggests smoke to me. 

Materials that spring to mind immediately are chiffon or lining material in whites, silver and lighter shades of greys. White bin bags unrolled in long sheets or cut and gathered into giant, swirling pom poms. Painter's plastic unfolded and used, parachute-style, to create billows of smoke or cloud or waves. Swirls of white or silver netting attached to headbands to create an undulating effect as the children move. Here is how we portrayed a storm at sea in Puff:

 This photo depicts a late evening at the beach but for me, the colours are suggestive of autumn and there is an unsettling ominousness in the gathering clouds in the background that would lend itself to a storm scene of some kind. In terms of staging, with the right kind of music, I can see children wearing beige tunics ('organics' bin bags even?) wafting strips of material or plastic in browns, reds and ochres; older (taller) children advancing ominously with cardboard storm clouds held up high in a layered effect. I can also imagine using this photo for a scene involving fire or a rushing river, even perhaps a volcano.  

I love the colours in this photo. It reminds me of technicolor films from the 50s and the diffuse light gives it a dreamlike quality. I can imagine using this photo as inspiration for some kind of fantasy scene, a land made of candy perhaps (licorice trees and candyfloss blossom perhaps?) or as the backdrop to a fairy tale. For me this photo is more about mood (dreamlike, fantasy), than a specific location, like this 'technicolor' scene from Puff, where the dragon and the boy 'fall in love'.

These three photos are featured in:

3 comentarios:

  1. Hi Anna,

    I really like your blog entries and wondered if you would like to write a guest blog entry for my website? I would promote it in my next newsletter, which will go out on 1st January. It will bring you a lot of visits to your website. Could you let me know if you are interested? It could be based on something you have written before, or something completely new. I would really love you to do this!

    Kind regards,

    PS I tried to email you but my messages always bounce back.

  2. Happy days! Loved watching the videos again. Weren't they cute!!

  3. They seemed so grown up at the time... and now they look so little!


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