Everyday events. Some make you dance. Others make you smile. Some will have you doing something that gets caught on video and goes viral. Everyday events. And every day it’s different.
On December 13-15, the Department of Theatre and Dance at Gustavus Adolphus College will bring you into that world of everyday events in the Gustavus Physical Theatre Project. The Project will be presented in the Department’s Kresge Dance Studio, located off of the main entrance lobby in Schaefer Fine Arts. Performances on December 13 and 14 begin at 8:00 p.m. and December 15 at 2:00 p.m. A limited number of tickets are available online at gustavustickets.com or by calling 507-933-7590. These general admission tickets are $5 each and the audience may request chairs or cushions on the floor. One free ticket is available to Gustavus students and staff but the ticket should be picked up at the Ticket Center in the Campus Activities Office in advance due to the limited number available. This performance is not suitable for young children.
These performances are the culmination of a semester-long workshop on physical theatre, taught by Henry MacCarthy, which explores the many expressive possibilities of the body in the performance of commonplace, everyday activities. The workshop began with the video of a woman waiting at a bus stop in Eastleigh, England, which went viral after an observer videotaped her listening to her iPod and dancing while waiting for her bus. After studying the video, the class began discussing a number of their own everyday activities and how these activities could be used in the project, discussing how physical movement can change the commonplace.
As described by Director Henry MacCarthy, “The workshop is a product of observing and exploring pedestrian movement.” It takes snapshots of a moment in time and creates a new snapshot. The class/cast is a mix of theatre and dance majors along with majors from outside the department. Within this mix, MacCarthy has seen a great deal of peer teaching and learning. As the participants observe the movements of others in this hybrid of theatre and dance, they discover other techniques, other possibilities for interpreting and acting on the same commonplace event. “It’s a bit like sitting in a community center and watching a social dance class. There is a repetitive nature and inherent energy in the dance.” The challenge for the members of the workshop is to focus on that event and then move on.
As part of the 14-member cast, Annie Galloway, theatre major ’15, describes the experience, “A devised work such as the Physical Theatre Project, allows the cast to improvise at all times and creativity occurs every time we’re together as an ensemble.” The workshop allows for a great deal of exploration and experimentation. In this type of structured improvisation, each project performance changes.
Even the project’s location changes the cast and director’s approach to the performance. The Kresge Dance Studio forces the cast to adjust from the open space and state-of-the-art tech support in Anderson Theatre to the confines of a low ceiling and limited lighting dance studio with no stage and an audience sitting within arm’s reach.
During the semester-long workshop, MacCarthy’s cast teamed up with Associate Professor of Art Priscilla Briggs and her Video Art Class. Each of the students in the Video class selected a segment of the workshop earlier in the semester to record and has produced a video of that piece for the project. The projects they created will be available for viewing in the lobby outside of Kresge before each performance.
Performances for the Gustavus Physical Theatre Project in the Kresge Dance Studio begin on December 13 and 14 begin at 8:00 p.m. and December 15 at 2:00 p.m. A limited number of tickets are available online at gustavustickets.com or by calling 507-933-7590. These general admission tickets are $5 each and the audience may request chairs or cushions on the floor. The audience is encouraged to pick up its tickets at the Campus Activities Center in advance as a limited number of seats are available.