Physical Dramaturgy with Penelope McCourty
Research supported by the Network of Ensemble Theaters, October 2020
Thanks to the generous support of The Network of Ensemble Theaters (NET/TEN), Penelope McCourty shared her expertise in Physical Dramaturgy with Vagabond Inventions and the company's collaborating music artist Renee Benson. Penelope refers to the practice of Physical Dramaturgy more informally as entering a work as a "process doula". The artists applied Penelope's practices to the ensemble's current project, Requiem for a Stranger, exploring themes of grief and loss. Specifically, Penelope helped the ensemble explore ideas of "anti-colonialist" time and intention, especially in the work’s relationship to an audience. Penelope also helped the company question the image-based dramaturgy that Black and White bodies create together onstage in abstract performance, particularly unintentional narratives or dynamics.
Grief Mapping and Anti-Colonial Ideas of Time
Research supported by Alternate Roots, September 2020
Vagabond Inventions and Renee Benson began the third creation phase of our project, Requiem for a Stranger, with a workshop facilitated by Alaina Comeaux, the Raconteur who created the Decolonized Walks of Bulbancha. Alaina guided a questioning and searching process about our relationship to the land we live, work, dream, and grieve on. Through readings and discussion (defining the difference between de-colonial and anti-colonial), our ensemble explored how to understand time and grieving through an anti-colonial lens. As part of the workshop, ensemble members created personal "Grief Maps", physicalizing this rich learning process - a process which is ongoing for the company.
The Playwright and Collaboratively Devised Theater
Research supported by the Network of Ensemble Theaters' Travel & Exchange Network, June 2016
Vagabond Inventions and visiting writer Zina Camblin explored the role of a playwright inside of a collaborative devising process. Physical actor/ director-generated theater often struggles with a weakness in the craft of language and story. However, involving a playwright in the haphazard process of devising a new work can be challenging. There can be a natural and profound difference of process between devised, physical theater creators and writers who often come from a background of working autonomously. The company spent a week exploring this process in June 2016. Zina and the ensemble developed language and story for the company’s show, A Kingdom, A Chasm, when the project was in a crucial late-stage of development.
Read the results of our exchange here:
"It’s always nerve-wracking coming into something you don’t know at all with people you don’t know at all. You have, not just the work, but also you have four different personalities that you don’t know how to negotiate yet. You’re tiptoeing a little at first, until you get a sense of people’s energies. But it felt like a safe space to come in and try things. That’s important on my end. It felt like everybody was open." Zina Camblin