Week Three Blog Post / Ellen’s List: Carling, Speed-dating, A Microphone

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”To Know How You Stand”

Week 3 / Blog Post 5 / by Ellen Driscoll

Five things I realised on a Fellswoop Thursday:

  1. 1.      I am always so inspired and galvanised by what members of the ensemble put forward

In this session we gave individual presentations around a subject of our choice and the ideas were so wonderfully diverse, I couldn’t stop nodding and scribbling away questions to ask each person. What do things like human uneasiness with silence, how technology characterises our generation, rape culture (and loads more) have in common? They are all topics the group feel passionately about. This kind of task typifies what has been refreshing about the experience so far: being able to talk about what really interests or bothers you, putting forward opinions and defending them. Hearing presentations like this seems to kick my brain into gear so I consider my own stance on matters and encourages exploration of topics that I don’t have much knowledge of. Unexpectedly this week we also discovered that a can of Carling explodes in an oddly majestic and undeniably impressive way. Although it is quite messy.

  1. 2.      Educational speed dating is the way forward

Clutching our note pads we plonked ourselves down opposite a partner to talk about their presentation. I could hear everyone tripping over their words while attempting to ask questions before the time with that person ran out: so what did you mean when you said that? Can you tell me more about this? It’s a fast way to see what has been picked up on and you have to be secure in your opinion to answer the questions. I really loved the opportunity to find out more about the group members thinking processes and to engage with their interests. Also, it’s probably much more informative than regular speed dating. Would you normally hear people talking about Thatcher’s premise of personal property and Instagram censorship in the same conversation? Not very often, I imagine.

  1. 3.      A microphone can be rather foreboding for an inanimate object

I saw it as soon as I came into the room, though we didn’t use it until later. It was just stood there by the wall minding its own business, but I couldn’t stop wondering what it was for. Were we going to have to sing? Oh no, please no. There’s something about using a microphone that adds gravitas, as you have to be listened to and the loudest voice towers over a crowd. I was torn between wanting to grab the thing to gabble into it and also wishing to avoid it altogether. But slowly it dawned on me that it made no difference if I was speaking into something that makes my voice louder: throughout this process we have put ourselves and our opinions forward while everyone has listened. For me the microphone made what we will be doing as a performance literal: others will be listening to how we think and feel about society. And if you still feel a bit apprehensive about hearing your voice amplified, remember to laugh at the wisdom of Prince Charles: a microphone is just “a big sausage that picks up everything you say”.

  1. 4.      Putting someone on the spot is really useful

Using the microphone we put some ideas on their feet. In pairs we quickly fashioned lists and monologues made in previous weeks into a narrative spoken by one person while others acted it out. For example, a monologue about time resulted in shaping the rest of the group into a moving, breathing, clock. We worked fast, putting things into practise in five or ten minutes: I am always surprised by what we can come up with in such a short space of time. I never usually get to work in this way and so it’s made me realise that it is so easy to analyse something to death when you have the time. It’s okay not to know exactly what you are going to do before you do it, and throwing yourself into things can generate honest and intriguing concepts.

  1. 5.      The plan is coming together

This is definitely the most significant thing in the list: I think this week we have all felt that things are falling into place and we are working towards something tangible. On Wednesday and Thursday we revisited our material and concepts, talking about what we want to use and what we think the final result should mean to us. It’s getting so exciting to see ideas growing and merging to form something decidedly performance-shaped…

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