Thursday, December 21, 2006

what I learned from my students

I’m still in the middle of my ‘real’ writing, thus the paucity of entries of late, but I could hardly leave 2006 like that, so, due to popular demand (or singular demand anyway) I’ll let you in on what I learned from my students.

A lot of us have ‘played tag’ in the context of improvisation. It’s very simple, if you’re not playing, or you’re off stage, you can ‘tag’ a player out and take their place. A simple scheme for rotating players and a performer-centered way of altering orchestration.
I’ve encountered this being done between ‘pieces’ (i.e. the tagging takes place when the performers are not playing). I’ve also encountered tagging during the ‘piece,’ but in large scale, long-duration performances where the ‘frame’ boundaries (beginning and ending) were insignificant. Both these lead me to presume (without evidence, anecdotal or otherwise) that the changeover of players during a small scale, short-duration (less than 5 minutes) performances would be unworkably disruptive.
I’m glad, despite my protests, that the students (VT in particular, who was largely responsible for devising the scheme) stuck to their guns.
Well, not only does it turn out I was wrong about the disruptiveness of the scheme, but the results (‘disruptive’ or otherwise) have interesting/creative possibilities in regard to, for instance, ending, structuring, and in terms of thinking about responsibilities (or lack there of), and the consequences of actions.
I’ll return to some of these issues in the future, but I’ll leave this post by saying that the results of this scheme were really interesting from the point of view of the performers (those being tagged out, those coming in, and those unchanging), and from the point of view of the audience. Additionally, those habitual set of tactics I carry around with myself (and it’s only under these unfamiliar circumstances that you realize how much baggage you carry around) just didn’t work, or needed major re-engineering.

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