“What a nightmare”

Day 2

Date: Sunday 12th May 2013 10am – 5.10pm

Venue: Port of Entry

Workshop Director: Sarah Bedi

Actors: Tasha Broomfield, Leila Crerar, Olivia Greene, Polly Misch, Katherine Newman, Catherine Bailey

We started with 20 minutes of mindfulness again. Awesome. Cathartic. Difficult. Helpful.

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Then we took to walking around the room as before, looking at every detail in the room; a nail in a floor board, the loop on a shoelace, a pattern in the brickwork.

2. Balancing the Space and Freeze

Then we did a version of the balancing space exercise, but Bedi added a twist. Without communicating it verbally, when Bedi said a number between 0-6, that number of people had to stop walking. So if she said “2”, then 2 of us froze whilst the rest kept walking. The identity of the 2 that were still could change at any time, or until Bedi called out another number. The longer we did the exercise, the more tuned in we became to the rest of the group – where everyone was, and whether they were moving or not.

3. Name-concentration-jam

Name tag = Classic. You play a game of tag. If someone is running at you to tag you, call out someone else’s name to save yourself. The name of the person you call automatically becomes “it”. Hysterical. Bedi closed the space down and it got more intense. Such a great warm-up for body and mind.

Then we stood in a circle and went round the circle, saying our names. Then we went around again but you had to say the name of the person two people ahead of you. Then repeat but say the name of the person three people ahead of you, etc.

We were introduced to this name clapping game. You stand in a circle. The person who begins makes eye contact with someone, and says her own name and claps at the same time. The receiver does the exact same thing, and then passes it on in the same way. A clapping rhythm is established. It is really difficult. And a brilliant way of learning names, and getting focused.

4. Meisner-ish

We got into pairs, took a chair each, and sat opposite each other. The task was to make eye contact. That’s all. Minutes pass. Acute embarrassment, a feeling of calm, hysterical laughter, boredom, or none of the above may happen, and did happen, and yet we have to maintain eye contact. At the end of the exercise we talked for ages about how profound such a simple exercise is. Liv noted that it is so rare that you are allowed to ever look at anyone in the eye for prolonged periods, especially in London. There was an observation that there was pressure to be acquiescent, to laugh if the person opposite you laughed for example. Bedi noted that when she saw Polly maintain a serious face when her partner laughed, it wasn’t a rejection or an unkind gesture, just an honest response in a room where there was trust enough for no one to be offended.

We swapped partners and did the exercise again. And again. More observations were thrown up – that you didn’t want to appear weird, or aggressive. Tash pointed out that facial expressions are the first things we learn to read as babies, and that there is something so fundamentally sensitive about looking into someone else’s face for a prolonged time.

The next layer of the exercise was for one person to speak a sentence to her partner, based on her appearance. The more neutral and less interpretive the better – i.e.

“You’ve got a black top”

The partner then repeats it, verbatim, back at her. Repeat. For AGES. So much happens! The words become nonsense. The room becomes nonsense. You laugh you cry you suddenly feel very clear about the whole thing. Or maybe you just feel bored… it’s all right.

5. Goldilocks

We sat in a circle on the floor and the six of us told the story of Goldilocks, sharing episodes with the “talking stick” (water bottle again). Again, we were anxious about story details – “is it the one with the porridge?” “Is there a wolf in this one too?” but as usual, this all came out in the wash as yet another unique version of a classic fairytale emerged. We did the same portion of the story, but in 10 words. Then again, in 5. Then again, in 1 – to really get to the crux of the episode. Bedi called them flagpoles in the story.

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Bedi then asked us to chose a colour for our episode, then a smell, and then a sensation or feeling in the body. The sensation one was surprisingly difficult to pin down. This was particularly pertinent as over coffee upstairs in El Paso we were talking about the difference in people’s learning styles (visual, auditory and tactile) and how their choice of language is a giveaway. For example, if you are a visual-based learner, you might use phrases like “Do you see what I mean?” if you are auditory you might say “Does that sound like a plan?” and if your style is tactile you might say “Let’s get to grips with this”… perhaps the six of us doing the exercise today were all visual or auditory learners…?

6. Dream talk

We took advantage of Port of Entry’s sofas and sat down to discuss dreams.

This was an epic discussion. As we shared quite a lot of personal stuff, I have decided to show the discussion, as I remember it, as a word cloud:

Screen Shot 2013-05-14 at 21.57.19Bedi is interested in how we explain the sensations that haunt us after dreaming – whether they are positive or negative. It is often why hearing details about someone else’s dream can be a bit dull – because it is so hard to convey the intense level of feeling that the dream evoked. We talked about how good David Lynch and Kubrick were at making dream-like films. But then we wondered whether our dreams were informed by film makers, and whether cultures who hadn’t experienced cinema dreamt differently…

It all got too much.

Lunch.

For the afternoon session we talked dreams again, but more specifically. We went round the circle and told a dream each in detail. The listeners were allowed to chip in and ask questions, helping the speaker to hone in on details and specifics of the dream, which were often remembered from years previously. Almost every one was a memory of a traumatic dream, with chasing, attack, and hiding being common motifs. Also, strangely windows were a feature in a few of our dreams. Most bizarrely of all, someone who hadn’t been in to the previous session where we told the Little Red story with the wolf spoke without moving his lips, described dreaming about something very similar. We were freaked out. So much shared, and Bedi noted so much…

Bedi thanked everyone for their work over the weekend and mentioned that the next session might include some text work from Strindberg’s The Dream Play. Overall this had been a fantastic re-acquaintance with BAZ-styles of playing and working. The alertness, bravery and mischief in the room made for a lot of discoveries and was a great starting point for our next project. Thank you to all, including the actors for giving their time and energy, to Paul Biver for taking photos, and to Port of Entry for having us! The next session details will be announced soon.

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