Thoughts from our intern, Charles Ingram…

Process – The Making of Traum

Its day one and there is an aura of that mixture between excitement and uncertainty, with an overwhelming itch to start things off not knowing exactly where we will end up at the end of this project. As the creative assemble we instantly discussed the extreme potential of the Shop front Theatre space, Marius and Dimitar of Moving Spaces have already started their minds and bodies in motion with hundreds of ideas to be put on the table whereas Chris and Julia of Theatre Absolute have one question at present, how does a person deal with not sleeping and what is its effect on the human body and psyche. Chris introduces himself and Julia and we all have an introductory talk about where we are at and what we do before taking the plunge into our work. We discuss that Traum is a work in progress and there is no pressure on what to create in terms of quantity. We speak about the fact that this is a collaboration so our roles will cross over and change as the project goes on, we are all happy with this arrangement.

We start with a Writing Lab, where we are given the first sentence to commence free writing experiment. Writing only what thoughts came into our minds in order to generate material as a great way to kick off. Allowing for us to relate ourselves with the music playing (Composed by Chris), the stimulus given and the ability for us to relate it back to this main idea of not sleeping and the effect it has on us as human beings. This was extremely successful as we could instantly relate to one another’s writing. Though at this stage it is important to note that Chris wanted Marius and Dimitar to write in their own native languages, which turned out to be quite magnificent to listen to and the translation that more insightful.

Once we had the main bulk of the idea behind the piece we got it up on its feet and this is where the collaboration really kicks in. Moving Spaces were the main choreographers in this project with Chris directing the piece as an outside eye laying insight into the clarity of the story told. My own role was to assist in the production via Chris and help generate the technical aspect of the sharing of this work in progress. Though the technical side did not come until much later in the process. My role as a spectator was key to the progress of this production, allowing to support Chris to give him eyes in the back of his head in order to help him see the piece as a whole. This was crucial as the stage construct we had in mind was a thrust stage setting surrounding the areas around the pillars with chairs.

The way it worked was that Moving Spaces would generate separate sections of dance infused b-boy choreography for Chris and myself to see if it fitted into the piece, as these were very talented Dancers but even more talented choreographers, most of the time the answer was ‘yes, great, pop that in’. What was nice was that neither party knew what was in each other’s heads until a few days into the project. There was this absence of technical dance knowledge from Chris and the absence of critical thinking and observation from Moving Spaces. Once the melding of these two minds happened on day three, the production took a dramatic leap forward giving it a performance arc and a storyline. Adding in the music at this stage was then key to allowing Moving spaces to get a feel for the space and how to present their moves.

What was created in the end was a 15 minute long contemporary piece of dance-theatre with some b-boying in the mix. A story of a man and his apprehension towards working and the inability to sleep through a personified ‘Anxiety’ figure which looms over his life. Anxiety which he battles with throughout this performance in a frantic display of interconnecting action and an impressive showing of breakdancing capability. The most interesting part of this performance I think was the relationship between them, one speaking in Bulgarian and the other English. The anxiety telling him to ‘speak English’ and to ‘adapt’ is transcendent to all migrant workers, trying to make a living not just in England but all over Europe.

The piece starts with the worker (Dimitar) hard at work and falling asleep, he realises this an decides to get away but he cannot get away from the thoughts of work generated by this anxiety (Marius) which appears within his actions. The anxiety plays with the worker to force him to work and preventing him from sleeping. When the worker fights back we find this is where the pieces interesting factors lie. We see sections of unison movement and confrontational b-boying, however there are some tender moments where we see that they are dependent upon another. The piece comes to its ending with the worker hiding from the anxiety who is ‘trapped’ in this dream world of his. The final confrontation is the worker exclaiming to the anxiety ‘you know what, screw you’ in Bulgarian before grabbing him and falling to the floor, finally getting some rest.

Seeing the piece progress from the initial words and music and to have it created before your very eyes is something quite special, seeing talented artists working together for a greater cause is refreshing and as a contributor I feel extremely privileged to be a part of it and it further gives the piece a large amount of value not only to me as an intern with Theatre Absolute but also as a creative in the industry. Allowing for me to broaden the creative experience with all parties involved and progress the knowledge base of the company.

The potential of this project to move further has been commented on not only by its creators but from the audience who got the chance to view the showing of the work in progress. Many comments of ‘can’t wait to see the finished product’ were very comforting. But where does it go to next? Does he wake up or does the story just extend itself? Well until we get back into that rehearsal room we just will not know. This piece not only relates to everyone on a human level but it has cultural significance to so many people around the EU. I would love for this piece to be shown in Bulgaria to see if it has a lesser or greater impact. Or the inclusion of further languages to increase the field of audience and relatability. All in all a great piece and has definite quality enough to move on and up somewhere else in the creative world.