Transform Task - Make the imaginative leaps
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Why 'make the imaginative leaps'?
Making the imaginative leaps is about bringing ideas together to find the final content of your production. It is likely to take several weeks to develop each production.
Hint/Tip: You need not take as long, but it is important to take enough time to let the ideas flow.
It is equally important to give yourself space between development sessions so your ideas can take hold and evolve into better ideas.
Sometimes ideas will seem like the best one you have ever had but after a day or two they become poor ideas. It is okay to let that happen as it is part of the process.
Once you have the content from the processes and exercises you have used, then you will give them a ‘form’ during your rehearsal process. The ‘form’ could be a conventional play, a multimedia installation, a promenade performance, or an event such as a ceilidh or football match.
Script / Scene Step
You may have decided to write a script or at least an outline or scene step from which to approach the rehearsing of the piece. It is essential that you have a plan of some sort for the order the scenes and what content is in each scene.
Example: scene one might be how the audience arrive (in Fife it was by bus so we had activities for them on the bus, in Port Glasgow scene one was a video of boys doing Parkour around town, in Aberdeen scene 10 was a quiz show that the audience took part in). None of these were scripted but detailed plans of what went on were written down and rehearsed.
Hint/Tip: Although your show may not follow a conventional process, you should still write it down so all the tasks to make it happen can be identified and then rehearsed.
Example: In Thurso, the Transform took over the whole town and the audience moved around on foot led by a guide. The moving of the audience from one space to another, as well as what happened while they moved, had to be planned and rehearsed.
Consideration of production aspects at this stage:
Most shows will have dance, live music, projected image and text, interactive design, and/or soundscapes and interactive visual art installations. Plan and rehearse all aspects of how these experiences are shared with your audience.
Example: In Fife, the Transform finale led the audience from the auditorium out to the park and the installations. It was all still part of the event.
What are the intended outcomes?
- Know the form of your production.
- Recognise the theatrical magic.
- Make the imaginative leaps by turning the findings into theatre.
How to 'make the imaginative leaps'
Take what you need from these approaches to this task (See below).
- Have you reached your outcomes for this task?
- What else must you consider now?
- What have you discovered from tackling this task?
Download 'Make the imaginative leaps' activities
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National Theatre of Scotland used movement directors and choreographers in all of its Transform projects. Unless you have a good level of expertise in working with a cast who are not confident at moving, it may be advisable not to attempt this on your own. You may want to find a choreographer or movement director. A short time with an expert will pay lots of dividends. NTS used techniques from Laban, Complicite, Frantic Assembly and Anna Halprin. The results with large casts and solos were stunning.
Parkour: Try getting from A to B by the most direct route by climbing, jumping, tight-rope walking, rolling under or over obstacles. This exercise makes you very aware of your body and its relationship to your environment. Try it on your way home. Try building an obstacle course in the gym and use Parkour moves to traverse it. Take the obstacles away and do the same moves. Suddenly you have choreography which can be put to music.
Movement can be used within your Transform and it doesn’t necessarily need to be dance. Think outside the box, Parkour, Capoeira; there are so many different forms of movement out there. This video shows young people talking about their experience of Parkour.
Hint/Tip: If you do not have a movement specialist/choreographer in your group then you may want to contact local choreographers or National Theatre of Scotland who will be happy to assist you in finding someone.
Watch a piece for choreography from rehearsal to performance and view young people talking about their experience of being choreographed.
As with movement, unless you have a strong level of expertise in this field you may want to find someone who can facilitate responses from the participants through the medium of art.
Hint/Tip: If you do not have a visual art specialist in your group then contact National Theatre of Scotland who will be happy to assist you in finding someone.
If you do have a specialist then you may wish to:
- Find a range of artists that will inspire discussion and creative approaches to exploring the subject matter that emerges from your other exercises. For example, Bill Viola influenced some of our digital approaches. (See examples of Bill Viola's work).
- Use the results/responses from the above exercises and create pieces of art. These might be photographs, paintings, drawings, sculpture or installations.
National Theatre of Scotland used lots of Gillian Wearing and Cornelia Parker influences as they are very dramatic. A good amount of research into contemporary art will help you find a way in which you want to explore and express the stories.
Video: Visual art and installation
Drawing from artists for inspiration will help expand your knowledge and create more dynamic elements to your Transform. This video shows a piece of installation art in action. Take a look. It may inspire some ideas of your own.
It cannot be emphasised enough how important music - live and recorded - is to the success of your Transform project. Almost every exploration NTS made relied on finding a musical foundation, support or means of expression. A strong music facilitator/collaborator is essential. The music must come from the participants whether it is found from their collection, they select it or compose it, or create it digitally. It is the fingerprint of the piece and will be the glue that makes the whole experience coherent and cohesive.
- Experiment with all sorts of music.
- Play music in all workshops; use it as a backdrop to dramatic and visual arts explorations.
- Can your group create an original performance? Several bands were created through Transform. Several soundtracks were also recorded as albums.
Hint/Tip: Participants can engage even if they are not musical by creating soundscapes through digital manipulation and capturing real sounds, for example: wind blowing, cars driving.
Video: Make a band and soundscape
This video shows participants experimenting with music and performance.
For many, and also for the participants who do not want to get involved in the performance, writing or music elements, design is a fantastic way of contributing to the project. Design begins with the context and concept of the piece. It should inform and respond to all the other elements.
It is essential that your design team do not sit isolated from all the other workshops and development activity. They will have a great deal to offer. NTS involved the design participants in all aspects of the creation of the show, and also in any communication to the public, before, during and after the event.
The Port Glasgow design team combined Gillian Wearing’s work with the backdrop of their shipbuilding heritage. The result was a public art installation that featured as the backdrop design of the show.
Not all participants will want to perform, that does not mean they cannot be part of a Transform project. This video shows young people talking about their experience of creating an art installation.
National Theatre of Scotland took a design team to a hill in Aberdeen. Aberdeen has a plethora of prohibitive signs. Children re-imagined the signs and installed new ones on the hill. They were used as a backdrop in the 'Extreme' show 'Nothing to See Here'.
Video: Public art
Watch the story of how children re-imagined signs on a hill.
Young people talk about designing set and props for a show.
Collect and collate found objects and artefacts. Use them as stimuli or as props and items to be photographed or digitised or displayed in some way during the performance.
Take your team on a 'recce' to find a sense of place. Consider what it is that helps frame the stories, and place them somewhere that has a relevance to the people who are telling and listening to them.
In Barrhead, NTS used the football stadium; in Thurso, NTS used the whole town including the library, the night club, the streets, the park the theatre. In Fife, a marquee was built in the grounds of a favourite park. Whatever it is, get the team to find the elements that give them a sense of place from where the stories can come from and be heard.
Costume design is integral to the experience. It often unites the cast under a uniform aesthetic and distinguishes them from the audience.
Have your design team discuss the generic and specific needs of the cast and the director. Use magazine cut outs, Google images, drawings, samples and fashion photography to find an aesthetic that is right for the show.
Wondering how to use costume in your Transform? This video gives examples of how costume is integral to the show experience.
Hint/Tip: Once your design team become more confident with the theme and direction of the piece, encourage them to think outside the box. Can the audience interact with the design features in any way, similar to what they might have done with the Post It exercise?
There is no escaping from the fact that we are living in a digital age. The speed of developments is fast-paced, but offers endless potential to capture material. National Theatre of Scotland used video projection and audio soundscapes in its Transform performances. Below are some suggestions and examples:
- Use mobile phone cameras get the participants to film and edit sequences that can be projected as part of the show.
Video: Bolt Boys
Due to mobile phones, using video does not have to be a technical task. This video has young people talking about using mobile phone cameras to create material for the production.
- Hire a video expert or have someone from the school with expertise to film backdrops or events that can be part of the live show. Film horizons, shopping malls, urban landscapes, famous people talking straight to camera or performing, a football match, an actor delivering some of the story from a cliff top, architectural drawings, and library footage from the war. The list is endless, but the use of moving images supports the telling of the story in a live setting.
Video: Show footage
Looking for other ways to bring your performance to life? Watch examples of how projected footage can add to a piece.
Use mini DVD cameras (they are very cheap and about the size of a memory stick) – fly them from kites or remote control helicopters. Tape them to the handle bars of bikes or the bonnets of cars. Strap them to your forehead or on poles and move through a space.
Video: Digital media
Creating interesting video footage is simple. This video shows how a camera attached to a car can become part of the show. Warning: this video may not be suitable for all age groups.
- Time lapse sequences showing how things change or transform.
- Live broadcast during the performance if there is something you want to highlight, for example audience reaction at a certain point of the performance.
Hint/Tip: The ideas are endless, but make sure that what you edit for inclusion can work as a live piece of theatre and does not push the audience into passive cinema mode.
Layering what you discover can often lead to surprising and brilliant artistic outcomes. Stay alive to possibilities of layering different mediums such as text with video, sound with props or set, dance with design, light with space, or disco with classical. Feel free to experiment and recognise the dull from the genius.
Here are some examples of Texture that have been used in previous Transforms:
- In Orkney, NTS filmed several sequences of dance or actions inspired by stories from the island. Text was then layered on top of the sequences during the editing of the film and played during the live event. A live-fed performance was then layered on top of the film on the night, using the video as a backdrop.
Furthermore, NTS created a soundscape that was layered on top of the visual arts space that was displayed at the event. During the evening, audience members were found and instructed to add their own layers.
In Dumfries, tango dancers were layered into the shopping centre. It was filmed and then the dancers performed both live and on screen. It gave the impression of them dancing in the middle of large crowds.
Video: Multimedia Dumfries
Watch examples of mixing different forms of media.
Hint/Tip: From the exercises above and material you have already created, ask yourself what can be layered on top of each other to create a more in depth piece? Why not try layering different things on top of one another. It is all about experimenting.
Finding a venue
One of the most important parts of your production is the venue or ‘site’. NTS performed in a football stadium, a disused municipal garage, and an empty school – think outside the box.
Your theme may direct you to a specific space you must have. To find the perfect venue you should get out into your community and look at different venues to make sure you choose the best space.
Why not take a team to various site specific spaces and venues and discuss the merits and challenges of each site as the home of the show?
Hint/Tip: Consider the venue. Does it have resonance with the stories or connection to the community? Is it iconic, atmospheric, full of potential or limited in its scope to transform? What happens if it rains? How will the audience relate to the site?
Key points for consideration:
- Access for public (wheelchair users, emergency exits, parking)
- Access for deliveries (set, equipment, catering)
- Size of space (is there enough room for backstage areas, audience, technical)
- Is the building/space fit for purpose (health and safety, risk assessments)
- Does the building have running water, toilets, electricity, heating?
- Do you have permission to change the space if necessary?
- Insurances (do you need any special insurances?)
- Is the venue free or can you get it for free?
- Amount of time you can have the venue (you will need time to set up, and do tech and dress rehearsals)
Transforming your space need not be daunting. Watch how a location can be transformed into an art or performance space.
Hint/Tip: Your venue does not have to take the form of a conventional theatre performance, with audience sitting in front of a stage. Be more creative. It could be promenade, interactive or in the round. The scope is endless.