ISTA TaPS: A practitioner’s view from Georgia Munnion

11 May 2016

ISTA TaPS events are one of the most rewarding experiences I take part in as a theatre practitioner and director.

There’s nothing more inspiring than working with a group of participants who are equally as passionate and enthusiastic about theatre, and want to challenge themselves and create and explore with new people. We, as artists, offer the participants a pool of ideas, experiences and opportunities over the three days. We ask them to take risks, challenge each other and come away from the experience with more questions than answers.

My inspiration as a theatre-maker comes from the exploration of how we can communicate and build relationships in the space, purely through the use of physical and/or gestural language. I use this exploration to influence how I go about structuring a process for the participants over the three days, always leaving room for discussion and idea-generation, and for the process to be influenced and change direction in response to the participants’ input.

It’s always imperative to build a sense of complicité amongst the group from the very beginning, ensuring that the notion of the ensemble is at the heart of the process. I consistently tie this back into the collaborative nature of the IB Theatre Arts course and the need for the participants to continually create, share and discuss with others. I also highlight the importance of ‘play’ to keep the work fresh and exciting, and to explore elements of surprise in their work.

We dive into games that focus on the transformation and manipulation of space, where actions are followed by reactions, and where I challenge participants to act on impulse. Game-playing is a fundamental part of making collaborative theatre, and participants need to be able to enjoy and commit to ‘playing’ in order for the rest of the process to have an impact.

Experiment, explore & create

The journey I guide the participants on draws on my knowledge and experience of European theatre practice and theory to practically explore two main elements: space and time. I encourage participants to question what our bodies and the relationships we create in the space can provide us with, before we add any more layers.

We investigate different theatre traditions that use physical and/or gestural language as stimuli for creating theatre, enabling these to influence our work as performers, creators, directors, designers and spectators. I constantly bring the process back to looking at how participants can make use of this experience in their course and how they can research and develop this work further.

Once we have explored and played with material, we then look at how we might add on building blocks to the work, such as with text, music and/or sound, and experimenting in different performance spaces. I consistently draw the participants’ attention to what the intention is with what they are creating and what effect they are trying to achieve.

In three days, it is extraordinary how much the participants experiment, explore and create, so as much as possible I offer them space to be able to record all of this and reflect with others on their learning and experience. I also provide them with opportunities to work as peer-mentors for each other, as feedback and collaborative suggestions for improvement are extremely beneficial.

My aim is to ensure that participants leave with a toolkit of ideas, experiments and new discoveries, eager and equipped to keep digging further and deeper.

Discover how TaPS can benefit your students

Georgia works as an Education Programmes Developer for the Royal Shakespeare Company, creating exciting education work for young people around the productions, engaging with the local community and collaborating with actors and creatives. Alongside this role she also works as a freelance theatre practitioner and director.

Georgia has delivered theatre workshops to street children in Nepal, engaged community groups including refugees and asylum seekers in theatre workshops and co-directed her own theatre company.

Her first experience of ISTA was as an IB Theatre Arts student at a TaPS and she now attends both TaPS and festivals as an SEL.