We have chosen the play ‘Far Away’ written by Caryl Churchill, because of the interesting style and the challenge it rises for us as a collaborative theatre company. Within Churchill’s writing, she doesn’t give you the full context of the world she’s created or the characters that inhabit it. This allows us to explore multiple opportunities to interpret the play, playing around with the time period, placing of the audience and exploring different ways the characters could be portrayed, as she only gives us brief descriptions of these things. As practitioners ourselves, we get to explore all the different stories happening throughout play specifically Joan’s journey, everyone has their own story but Joan’s is being told because she see’s things in a different light to the other people around her and we think it would be good to highlight this through our portrayal of ‘Far Away’. We are focusing on the idea that the people living within this world Churchill has created are imprisoned without knowing they are imprisoned.
We feel like there are hardly any restrictions in the play and we could use that to our advantage. Using the text as a stimulus, we want to see what ideas emerge from us as a company, trying to add our own interpretational context to what is already a fascinating script. The on going process of developing new material, performance based or design based will continuously inspire new ideas in either department. The directors have researched and found inspiration from the work of other practitioners and have created workshops to explore their specific ideas. One of the practitioners we have explored is Samuel Beckett, focusing on the use of repetition in the movements and text.
Another practitioner we looked at was Brecht who focused on portraying theatre not naturalistically, but dispelling the theatrical illusion so the audience were more able to focus on the meaning and the reasoning behind the performance. He focused on things such as, the attitude of the individual and the social position of people within the society, which are important areas to focus on throughout the piece ‘Far Away’. Another practitioner we looked at is Frantic Assembly who bring acting and physical elements at the same time as music and dance together, to try and find a new way of portraying a story instead of just using speech. We have specifically focused on their ideas with act two, combining all of those elements together to try and create a contrasting stylised act, compared to act one and act three.
One of the main themes we are looking at during this current point is the idea of nature encroaching on the man made environment. Showing this through the set we explored different landscapes and open institutions, walls, barbed wire, but our main attention has been turned to the idea of building the shed that is so mysteriously mentioned in act one, but not described. We talked about how the shed could be used as an acting space, but also the idea of the shed being used as a metaphor for killing the prisoners, linking to the gas chambers used in the world wars. Getting inspiration from previous historical events such as the holocaust and prisons, we aim to create costumes in which are slightly different with no given gender labelled on them with the use of blue, beige, khaki and earthy brown colours. Creating these hats that stand out and are built over the time period of the play, we see the development of the hats grow and expand.
We wanted the sound to show the contrast in nature between the beginning and the end. How it has changed to become a tool of war and that we have influenced nature to use its abilities for war. However we would also like it to show the strength of nature and how this shows the intelligence and how much power Mother Nature can have over us. As a company we would like to explore the grotesque, by contrasting the music with the scenes, pushing the audience into feeling something with music, then having that turned around with the content of the scene. For example making the parade scene look as if it is a normal sporting event, that gets the audience feeling excited, then having the prisoners enter and turn the scene into a negative, leaving the audience feeling guilty. We would also like the explore the idea of the everyday mundane routine, either using a simple metronome ticking, or recreating machinery sound effects to have the same effect.
Makada Vivaine Wray