at DAMU, Prague, Czech Republic (Theatre Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague)
This workshop was led by Sodja Lotker and has explore potential of devising theatre with costume as starting point. We explored costume’s performative potential in the theatre through using basic devised theatre ideas (concept, context, composition, material, try-out, fail, accident etc.) and strategies (reading from material, potential of material, tasks etc.). Devised theatre is not based in a traditional theatre play but created from different kinds of material through rehearsing.
In this workshop we used ready-made costumes (a mix of existing historical, contemporary costumes as well as non-theatre garments) as the basis for creating performance. By translating, constructing, reconstructing, and deconstructing garments, accessories, masks, and other body extensions (and often without physically damaging them) we explored the potential of costume as the main material of the performance. Further we explored its performative potential within performance by mixing it and matching with other theatre ‘ingredients’ such as photos, stories, material, films, references, quotes, objects, texts, gestures, movements, spaces, ideas, dreams, half-baked thoughts, and forgotten desires.
Participants notes # 1 Ran. In the end, we get dressed
I went to the workshop with the question that how costumes can become an agency. With the agenda to lose my ego.
A few images my mind captured during the workshop keep coming back to me. First is the collection of images that related to the body, and each image is described with one line starting with “Someday I’m dressed in…”. Sight dressing became the starting point of the whole costume discussion. Because when I look at the clothes (or the image of clothes), the urge to put them on comes naturally. It might be a natural bond between body and clothes.
Second image was agroup of spherical ‘creatures’ moving along a fabric thread. It was a presentation based on the task of making a costume installation that is activated. When I thought of activation, I thought of using the body. Thus it is showing costume can be activated by another agency. Even though the movement of the thread is operated by a hand, the costumes-turned creatures activate themselves—through the wrapping of the clothes, a complete transformation is achieved—and performs their creature-ness. The garment is not a service anymore. It’s a character.
We played a jamming session with one single garment. And only the image of the garment itself existed in my memory. It’s a collage of the garment’s various positions and movements. Bodies are missing. Partly because a lot of people covered their heads and bodies with the piece of clothes., and partly because people (bodies) come and leave, and what is left is the aftermath of this body/clothes play—an image of a ‘raped’ garment.
How do we get dressed? That question occurred as the researching task came to ‘wearing the collection’. And there were a lot of images during the workshop corresponding to this question. Harald rolls himself backwards to put on the full outfit when the earth is tilted. Ester wears everything through the legs and disables herself from walking. Anne-Catherine keeps dressing ‘up’ as there is still space above. We get dressed through the arm, the head, the leg, the ass, the toe etc.. We get dressed by walking, crawling, jumping, rotating, dancing and so on. And finally, we just get dressed.
How do we get dressed? Harald rolls himself backwards to put on the full outfit when the earth is tilted. Ester wears everything through the legs and disables herself from walking.
The last image: dressing and undressing the landscape. It’s a time river of clothes. A collective dressing. Bodies are used for the wrinkling, weathering, erosion of the costume landscape. Clothes is a process, a process of wearing, wearing out and laundry.
There are a few challenges during the workshop. Generally when the tasks had multiple agendas or focuses—in which case it’s not specific—improvisations can get lost. I find the embodiment of clothes the most difficult assignment. It’s merely impossible to embody a garment without interpretations. And interpretations can be anthropocentric. And accepting the garment as it is was the most fun task.