Week Two: To Know How You Stand 2.0: 50 Years of Protest at Warwick University

To Know How You Stand 2.0: Week Two Blog by Lottie Titcombe

Phase 1: Ensemble ideas – complete.

Last weekend, we came together after a week away from the rehearsal room, in which each ensemble member went away to complete research tasks in their own time.

Research is essential for the nature of this project, namely because our focus is specifically on how protest has changed in 50 years at Warwick University. From this, we also start to ask questions about how we think protest on campus might look in the future. As we enter the next stage (Phase 2) of the rehearsal process – editing, selecting and devising our material – it is important that the work we produce responds in some way to historical events on campus in the past.

How do we gather this information?

Reading books, listening to oral testimonies from students, academics and other staff through the Warwick Oral Histories project, exploring old University and Student Union websites and archives online, talking to different people on campus.

student_demo2Saturday and Sunday morning were devoted to research feedback: each member of the ensemble explaining to the rest about a particular decade in Warwick’s history: by the end we had a near complete overview of Warwick’s protest history, from 60s – today, and beyond.

Interesting discussion points that surfaced from our feedback:

The founding principles of the University

Patterns in events over time, e.g. recurring occupation of Senate House: how it is seen as a political symbol for many Warwick students

What does protest mean to different people?

Points of View: University/student narratives, of the past and present

Does the idea of protest divide students?

The ideal Warwick university student

Do students advocating protest hold a majority or minority view?

Relationship between local (on campus) and global protest movements

What our utopia might look like

Implicit trust of figures of authority

Surveillance culture

How do we respond?

Trial and error: we devise, try things out, play.

The ensemble is split into two teams. There is a line across the room. If you cross that line, you lose. But each team wants to get the other across to the other side.

Points of view: looking at political discourse, we write imagined narratives from the point of view of the University and students. What would a university narrative sound like? What would a student narrative sound like? Challenging our perceived understanding of people’s views. We mix our narratives up and put them together. Laughter ensues… mixed up they sound ridiculous, but they raise interesting points.

Like our rehearsal process ground rules, we decide on a unified vision of our utopia. Key points: empathy and compassion over fear, listening, debate, discussion. Difference is difference.

Starting to think about form, we return to exercises we tried out in the first weekend:

We dance to protest songs (there’s a lot of dancing in this rehearsal process): how do I feel after? We free-write on a piece of paper the first thing that comes into our head when we think about protest.

We dance again. We free-write. What do I want this show to be about?

Running exercise. Gearing up for protest, all in the breath, the body, the mind. Key words: ‘now’, ‘us’, ‘here’. Anyone can stop and say something. The ensemble give the individual speaking our whole attention. It’s their platform, their moment to speak. Say what they feel. Express what they want to say.

We explore rhythm and soundscapes once more. Listening to protest song
s we create a series of movements, we put them into a formation. Creating the feeling of protest: moments of anger, calm, empowerment, community, divide.

This show is starting to become a show. The next stage: what kind of experience do we want to create for the audience? What do we want the audience to take away from it? How do we want them to feel? We have two weeks left: all systems go from here. The need is urgent.