Theatre maker and dramaturge Edit Kaldor conducted a workshop at the Theaterschool in the fall of 2007 - 22 October until 2 November - for students and young makers of theatre and performance.
During the workshop the participants explored in a practice-oriented manner the various steps and aspects involved in the process of making a self-authored piece for theatre. The work of the British theatre group Forced Entertainment, and in particular their performance from 2004, Bloody Mess, is used as the main frame of reference. The material for the workshop is prepared together with Tim Etchells, writer-director of Forced Entertainment, who came to Amsterdam for two days to work with the participants, and also gave his feedback on the work developed by them during the session.
Forced Entertainment is one of the most influential experimental theatre companies in Europe today. They have been working as a collective for some 20 years and have through the years developed a particular style and working method. The participants were introduced to their work and ways of working and has been examined more in depth Bloody Mess, a group piece by Forced Entertainment for 10 performers.
The structure, the composition in Bloody Mess is based on, as Etchells puts it, “making one big shape by using lots of smaller shapes or fragments of material. These shapes are ‘characters’, sequences of action, pop songs and even narrative worlds. Each of these items used in the composition has its own integrity, its own limits, its own development. None of them is linked in any direct way. The act of using them in a piece respects this... Allowing each thing to be what it is, at the same time taking its place in the whole.” (T. Etchells: Notes on Bloody Mess)
“Things in the piece are 'disconnected' from each other. So that rather than one 'world', or one shared understanding of the performance situation we might have many... So that people/events/images might co-exist in the space without reference to each other.
So you have all these little 'private' pieces of foolishness, messing around - all these individual decisions that don't connect but do occupy the same time and space and work cumulatively.” (from interview by S. Hussel)
The participants took a close look at the piece in order to gain a thorough understanding of how this dramaturgical organizing principle works in Bloody Mess. They also got an insight into how the piece was developed, of the various approaches and strategies that were used during the making process.
Then they worked for five days, part of the time with Etchells and Kaldor, but also individually and as a group, on creating a new piece of work, using the dramaturgical principles in Bloody Mess as a frame of reference. The resulting performance was presented to a group of invited guests. On the last day the participants were asked to evaluate and think further the work they’ve created during the workshop. They reflected upon the experience of the short, intensive making process and related it to their own work, ideas and questions about making theatre.
In order to give the discussion a broader context, in addition to the personal reflections of the participants, thoughts about the working process by contemporary theatre makers and theoreticians has also been introduced.