Physical theatre: movement in performance

Working from an extract of ‘Metamorphosis’ by David E Eagleman, we worked over a number of sessions on ways to use a text-based stimulus to generate material for movement in performance. Tasks we were given in the first session included picking out characters, images, themes, crucial moments or single individual words and physicalising these, and in some instances were asked to turn the new interpretation back into text in the form of a spoken narrative.

In subsequent sessions, we took our own individual sequences and taught them to each other, combining two and then three sequences to build a surprisingly precise choreography that, while abstract, definitely had emotional power.

For our assessment we were tasked with creating and performing a short piece of movement inspired by the original text, drawing on some of the techniques we’d looked at in the preceding weeks. As a starting point I chose to go back to one of the first approaches, which was simply to pick out a word or phrase and physicalise it; I had used a rolldown to ‘corpse’ to represent the death described at the beginning of the text, and added onto this a backwards roll to represent the ‘waking’ in the new world of the waiting room. I wanted to use repetition of this movement phrase to evoke the sense of a soul being trapped in a repeating cycle. The spectral easy listening track (Mantovani’s version of Strangers in the Night) was what I had originally chosen to soundtrack the waiting room.

Feedback from the group suggested that the repetition of this motif was successful in conveying this narrative, which I was pleased about. If given further time to develop, I would like to try filming the sequence and recording a spoken commentary to layer over it.

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