3, 2, 1 lift-off, a new Oblivia production has started! We are ready to dwell into everyone’s dreams, fears and wishes, we talk and talk, write, talk more, share our writings, improvise together with movement and sound, listen to each other, observe, do it over and over again.
At this stage everything goes, ideas, questions, thoughts, quotations, poems, diary format, references, everything as rough form as one feels like. There is no filter, there is no evaluation, everything is there to be shared, heard and digested. By doing so slowly we are getting hold on where we are standing at this specific moment, what is being live in each of us, as our lovely collaborator Elena Polzer always remembers to ask, and from there we start to take baby steps together, towards the process of creating a common piece.
As collectivity is one of Oblivia’s central values, it’s found in the core of the artistic process as well. No one single person is leading the process, and as funny it may sound, the process learns to guide itself very intuitively from the start. The people are the material from where the piece is moulded, for this reason who is present in the group meetings where the work is discussed, imagined and rehearsed, affects straight to the direction the work will take. Even though we know each other for many years and there are already multiple shared processes behind us, the factor of being surprised by the input the others bring to the table has not faded. Certain questions and interests start to reoccur in discussions and somebody always carries on from where the other has left. The distilling process is long, things have time to drop out and be found again.
Being submerged into the process always goes hand in hand with an attempt to feel, understand and experience the material from a distance. The division between “inside” and “outside” has meant that some of us are static observers, as myself as a lighting designer or Tua Helve as a costume designer, while the performers are inside, immersed in action. The gaze of “an outside eye” has been a friendly reminder that the work is eventually going to be put under an observation lens of a complete outsider of the process.
Although we are standing in different positions as there exists responsibilities of the designers and those of the performers, we try to make it possible for everyone to be outside from time to time to maintain some mental distance necessary for understanding the audience perspective. This has led to a practice where the performers can be jumping in and out during the rehearsals, considered to be very difficult but necessary.
The urgency to see from outside the creative process has guided us to the task based working methods. The framework of a task provides the needed shift from inside to outside. Tasks facilitate the access between the two positions as they include activity and observation by turns. The dear and very Oblivian working method described much in detail previously in the blog by Timo Fredriksson, Do What You Saw, is a task based tool to gather and organise material for the piece. Like any task, it is a practice with clear rules, and by experience its functionality has become familiar to us, like the one of a hammer or a screwdriver.
The desire to develop the way the different elements are involved in the work, and to stir this expressive mixture leads us to discover new working methods in each process. Besides the creation of a staged piece, we experiment how different tools suit the group. As an example when devising Children and Other Radicals with a group of youngsters, or improvising with electronic sounds in Verdrängen Verdrängen Verdrängen, or at the ongoing process of “Obsessions”, embracing the skill and presence of classical trained singers, new type of tools have become handy. Do What You Hear or Shadowing are some of the tools we have adopted during those processes.
We have started to invent and use different kinds of tasks as tools to get more information about something that is new to us. These tasks can be given by anyone and everyone is invited to execute them. They contain clear instructions what to do during a defined time frame in a form that can be shared with others. It may be text, movement, voice, images, prepared and replayed, or performed during the sharing moment. The tasks are helping us to figure out together how a specific expression should be encountered and how it could be shaped as a performative material. This allows often absent elements in the rehearsal room, like costume or light, to occur early on and to gain space that can be seen in later process.
As we are sharing thoughts through tasks we get to know the individual toolboxes everyone has in their disposal for creative thinking. Thanks to the variety of experience and backgrounds in the group we are constantly facing new possibilities on how to devise the work. The glimpses of how different tools are applied in practice are fascinating. There is the common brain that decides whether they get included into the shared toolbox and on everyone’s reach. Like a hammer and a screwdriver, on the quest towards a new premier.