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  • Charlotte Smith

Stories from the Threshold…using Drama

Drama is key in Stories from the Threshold, words aren’t always the best way to express your-self, acting the emotional process can add so much to a story! Which is something we discovered this week…

Chris Cooper (playwright, director, trainer and consultant at Accident Time and Play Lab) led a Drama-focused workshop to explore and extend our own stories which we have been working on. After all, the whole concept of story telling has its roots in drama and spoken word; folk tales, ancient legends and Greek myths. Greek Myths is where our focus has happened to lie in this project, with The Minotaur; homing in on the defamiliarisation of the labyrinth itself, the beast that lives within and the fourteen-young people who are forced to enter.

Our imagination has been captured by the chosen young boys and girls; we have become invested in their personal journeys at each stage of the myth. The concept of a Myth creates the impression that what we are being told is untrue, however The Minotaur is a ‘Myth’, a story of the imagination – yet the message certainly does ring true. Encompassing a maze of feelings which are difficult to put into words.

We looked at the thought process of the characters in our stories in a new situation that we have not yet explored, adding potential for new layers in our stories. The space was transformed into the cell where the seven boys and seven girls spend their last night of freedom before entering the Labyrinth. They are stripped of their belongings, their loved ones and their previous lives. We took on the roles of the young victims and the guard locking them away, using freeze frames and sequences of actions to draw out how they may be feeling.

We also considered how our characters would feel immediately after being locked in the cell, then twenty minutes later, moving up to two and half hours after; formulating a sequence of movements with a thought process, which we expressed through our faces and bodies. The room was almost in complete darkness, with a hard bed, some water and bread…a void before the Labyrinth. This lack of stimulation resonated with all of us and we noticed the subtleties of the cell, such as our own reflections in the bowl of water which seemed to offer up hope, or perhaps encouraging self-belief, despite the odds being pitted against us. We all had different reactions to being placed in the shoes of our characters and I won’t divulge into all the possible feelings as it would be an impossible task! However, we used drama to explore these states of mind in the session…we considered how we thought each other’s characters could be feeling. By placing our hand on each other’s shoulders when in a frozen position, speaking the thoughts we imagined. We had many ideas, noticing the moon, wondering when the sun would rise and considering their families. This helped us to focus on action as a form of communication to inform our language, conjuring up some powerful moments which made our stories much more human. The task of placing yourself in someone else’s shoes, whether real or imagined, is always going to be a challenge…

Can anyone fully immerse themselves into someone else’s story? Drama is much more human at times – opening the gate into a character’s psychology.

Being taken from your home and forced into a new situation is a difficult state of mind to express. Therefore, the language of Drama made this more accessible, the way Chris led this session did make me feel as though I could relate to our characters in some senses. The communication of the body is a universal language, allowing us to move further as a group in telling our Stories from the Threshold.

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