What to do? Where to start? These two questions are always in my mind when embarking on a new project with my company BYTE (BackYardTheatreEnsemble) which is based in Melbourne. BYTE has created original devised theatre pieces for many years now. The first thought that always occupies our minds, our actors, designers, composers and myself (in the writer/director role) is:
Where do the words go when we have said them, the images, the silences?
Maybe in one ear and out the other? That applies in real life more and more as multiple conversations happen in everyone’s life 24/7 – a WhatsApp call in one ear, a phone call in the other, Facebook updates left hand, a quick text with the right.
But in theatre? The poor writer has slaved over crafting a cacophony of words for the audience to hear, analyse, be moved by… Pinter has even chiselled his pauses into an art form so that the words can shine. But there are other ways, particularly for young people to explore.
I would like to encourage fellow artists/teachers to create original work with young people that at its heart is about storytelling. Not lighting, sets, costumes but the stripped back purity of the story.
Have you ever sent a text message or even an ‘old school’ email to a friend, only to have the person you are sending it to misinterpret the emotional content of that message? One of the problems of digital communication has to do with the lack of context that body language (or, more accurately, nonverbal clues) those messages have.