working with new media and live performance

A Practical Guide to working with new media and live performance

The Practical Guide to Working with New Media and Live Performance
has been written by the Teamworks’ emerging artists in order to share our discoveries and to make the Learning Model available to a wider audience.

The Learning Model
In order to challenge ourselves, and the young people we were working with, we chose to base our workshops on powerful classic texts and timeless stories: Ted Hughes’ Tales From Ovid (principally Echo and Narcissus) and Derek Walcott’s Odyssey. Using a mix of theatre exercises and live media experimentation we offered young participants the opportunity to explore the opulent language and rich imagery these texts afforded.

The Model consists of 6 basic layers: text, character, movement, live media, visuals and sound. We see these not as separate elements, but rather as a palette of learning materials that may be used in different combinations to build the creativity of any group.

Of these 6 layers, new media plays an important linking role. Interactivity between media and live performance enables the students to engage deeply with the material and the presentation of it on stage. We used the Isadora programme, developed by Troika Ranch . This exciting software allows performers to interact directly with performance elements such as projection, light and sound, which would traditionally be pre-made and controlled by an external operator. Young people therefore have the opportunity to experience a powerful sense of control over their own creative work, and are free to experiment widely with new concepts and techniques normally unavailable to them as performers.

Why New Media?
For many young people, new media has become the new sketch-book, pen, camera, and organiser. Young people have daily access through devices such as TV, internet, mobile technologies, and games. However, the downside of their experience with such daily exposure is that the experience is often solitary, and removed from physical activity, imaginative or creative thinking

This learning model uses media as an active way of approaching classic texts and providing tools for creative expression. The user-friendly nature of Isadora allows students to build their own interactive media to realise their ideas on stage. Learning to work with it empowers young people in a way that impacts upon all aspects of their creativity and learning.

The use of interactive media has long been incorporated into dance work, but until recently it has often been overlooked in text-based theatre. There have been some exciting new developments e.g. by Katie Mitchell in her productions for the National Theatre, but it is still often more of a static backdrop to the live on-stage performance. In this guide, we will be exploring a range of wider possibilities for the use of interactive technologies in traditional theatre contexts.

What This Learning Model Offers Young People
• New and wider opportunities for creative expression
• Creative ways into classic or more challenging texts
• Working in a cross-disciplinary context
• Group skills (trust, support and respect)
• Confidence in creative problem solving
• Communication skills
• Enhanced critical analysis and an open approach to new ideas and possibilities
• Experience of working with cutting edge technology.

Target Group
Over the past 3 years Teamworks has adapted and tailored this model to suit a range of age groups and experiences, from teenagers to professional theatre practitioners.

At Summer Arts College, the work proved particularly effective with students aged 13 -18, and this guide will therefore focus on that age group. Teachers or artists wanting to use the guide should, however, feel free to adapt the material to make it age-appropriate.

Learning Outcomes
The guide has been developed as a series of exercise formed sessions that focused the students on creating and taking part in a final performance. On the next two pages there is a planner that gives a possible structure through to approach the exercises leading up to a final performance.

We have coded the six individual layers so that course leaders can extract and develop areas of work
as applicable to their own groups.

Please feel free to download and print either the whole document or separate sheets as seems appropriate to your work.



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