A Thoroughly Stimulating Week

Last week not only did I celebrate the anniversary of my birth, it was lovely thank you, but I participated in two incredibly enlightening workshops; each one in a realm that deeply fascinates me.

The first was Seed of a City - Object Theatre Masterclass with Olivier Ducas who is an absolute object animation wizard, white magic not black. Through many short activities, we learnt the basics of how to find stories in objects and the different ways they can be used for communication. Not only did we explore the puppetry potential of many humdrum, everyday things but we became very aware of how we acted as the presenters: where you are looking, what level you are at and how to use your own expression for a 'close-up'. Then there was the added layer of text and the struggle to find just enough words to carry the story, not an easy feat I can tell you. All this learning culminated in each one of us giving a small presentation of a City - a short story about life in a city, real or fictional, using objects from our collective pile of miscellany. It was a joy to see how different each of our cities were, yet, how each one reflected the little tokens of wisdom from Olivier. To witness the birth of all these cities felt very special, despite the diversity, they were each rich and captivating.

I emerged from the masterclass full of inspiration and hungry to further explore the potential of objects as storytelling devices.

I've got a plastic bag, what do I do now?  Photo credit to Andy Catlin and Puppet Animation Scotland.

I've got a plastic bag, what do I do now? 
Photo credit to Andy Catlin and Puppet Animation Scotland.

Then came the second workshop - on my actual birthday you know, did I mention it was my birthday? This was a whirlwind guide to everything the human voice can possibly do with vocal expert Yvon Bonenfant. It was part of the week long initiative PUSH Gender Lab in conjunction with Imaginate, a brilliant Scottish organisation who support and develop the performing arts for children. Yvon shared with us some of his encyclopedic knowledge of the human instrument and even managed to pack in a bit of gender theory too. His main aim was to introduce the group to the idea of the ‘queer’ voice, which he deems as anything ‘extra-normal’. Through his work he seeks to enable children to explore their full vocal range and experiment with many different identities.

In the afternoon the group participated in some practical activities, which allowed us to discover our own vocal capabilities. All in all it was a very liberating  experience and we covered a great range in a short space of time. One minute we were vocalising the feeling of touching a crazy synthetic wig, the next we were trying to pass on an intimate note by gently humming and holding hands, then we were screaming our heads off. It was very cathartic and at times, incredibly moving.

I learnt a great deal about the effects of posture, body language, facial expression and mood on the voice and unfurled from the workshop feeling truly illuminated. 

It was also my birthday, I was supposed to feel special.