The Backpack Ensemble

When discussing the arc of our narrative, it became obvious that we needed an ‘obstacle’ in Charlie’s journey, something stopping her from reaching her goal. As the narrative already had her trekking through the Highlands, I suggested something as simple as the weather getting in her way; perhaps a storm. The idea of a storm aroused excitement within the group, but also hesitation, as we were to somehow come up with a way to recreate water onstage (without actually using water).

I went away and thought about the elements that make up a storm; wind, rain, thunder, lightning. These combinations of light, sound and force could all easily be done using industrial fans and lighting and sound effects. However, the DIY nature of our piece pushed us to go further, to find creative alternatives to these problems. We began experimenting with the sounds of falling objects hitting a surface, such as pouring skittles into a tin bucket to recreate the sound of rain hitting a roof. Although the sound was similar, we believed there must be a way to recreate the sound without any props. It made me think, if we want to create the sound of a storm, why don’t we ‘do it ourselves’? I began researching how to make a storm soundscape using just our bodies and voices, and found this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=29qaN0M0o0s

The video shows a chorus of people clicking, stomping and rubbing their hands together to make the sounds of a storm. The collection of sounds was captivating. We started off in rehearsals practicing with our nine-person cast, however it then extended to the audience- if we could get the audience to provide us with the sounds of the storm on the night, then we have scope to create the rest of the effects onstage. And that is what we did. Each part of the audience had a different role- to either rub their hands, blow outwards, click, or stomp their feet- lead by a performer onstage. The effect on the night was phenomenal, perhaps mainly because we got the chance to hear the sound scape in full force for the first time!

The other elements of the storm were also created with this ‘do it yourself’ concept in mind. For the visuals of the thunder cloud, I decided to use multiple blue umbrellas that could be bunched together to form the shape of a cloud. The umbrellas were a useful prop that could be extended and folded at ease, and also provided an adequate surface for projection. To create the lightning bolt, I attached small torches to the handle of the umbrellas, so the performers holding them could switch them on whenever there was a thunder clap. The plan was that the audience would make the thunder claps, which would then spark the fork of lightening onstage.

backpacl6

(LPAC, 2017)

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(Foster, 2017)

Although we’d successfully devised the properties of a storm, we needed something to happen that changed the course of the story. We decided that it should be Charlie’s life-list, as this is driving force behind her journey, and therefore decided to through the ruined pages out from behind the cloud, to portray how the storm is ruining her possessions.

Both the construction of the Albatross and the formation of the storm were the two elements that I was the most proud of throughout this production; as although neither elements were perfect, they represented the process of making creative decisions out of the limitations we set ourselves.

A link to the rehearsal videos of the final Albatross, the fork of lighting behind the umbrellas and the flying birds behind the umbrellas can be found here: https://universityoflincoln-my.sharepoint.com/personal/13459294_students_lincoln_ac_uk/Documents/Forms/All.aspx?RootFolder=%2Fpersonal%2F13459294%5Fstudents%5Flincoln%5Fac%5Fuk%2FDocuments%2FTheatre%20Company%2FPuppet%20Videos&FolderCTID=0x01200091E95A6E706BCF499C91FA4728FC4DEC

 

 

 

 

 



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