Written by Beatrice Colbrant
With Taking Part and the Neighbourhood Theatre, some of the exciting artistic initiatives developed by the Young Vic Theatre, the local community is offered free tickets to see a play and free workshops with Corinne Meredith to further the experience and develop body and soul together within a group. Beatrice Colbrant shares her experience of workshops around Blood Wedding.
Our tutor Corinne Meredith’s workshops start around a play performed at the Young Vic, most recently Blood Wedding by Federico García Lorca, in a new version, relocated in Ireland, by Irish playwright Marina Carr, directed by South African Yaël Farber, a great experience for everyone. After the play we are asked to attend a series of 2 hour workshops once a week over a period of 3 weeks, generally on Thursdays from 11 am to 1 pm. Members of the local community who have applied to join the scheme are therefore given the amazing opportunity to attend Corinne’s training who offers a unique masterclass during which the participants are requested to do a number of exercises in a variety of fields : movement, coordination, speaking, writing, and generally reaching out to one another. It is a true group exercise whilst enabling everyone to reach for their inner selves and explore their artistic possibilities.
Corinne Meredith, a dedicated and passionate tutor, whose enthusiasm and dedication are obvious, is pleased to share some of her thoughts. “This year I have had the pleasure of working on Neighbourhood Play, starting with The Convert and meeting with the group to respond to each play up to Blood Wedding most recently. The group have been open and always up for the immense challenge of making a short piece of theatre inspired by each production, using movement and plays. I have learnt so much from each participant, their responses are always insightful, intelligent and passionate. I feel lucky to be with the group as they continue to connect with each other and grow in confidence. And to see them be creative, move together and inspire each other each week is an absolute joy.”
A real joy for everyone really. We often start with respiratory exercises which also include the pronunciation of a word. It can be saying yes or no in different ways or simply discussing the play seen during the previous session, trying to find words to describe the emotions it brought in us. As regards Blood Wedding it certainly did bring a lot of sensations: powerful, universal, timeless, tension, intensity, prejudice, sectarianism, tension, tragedy, heritage, contemporary relevance…
Some other exercises involve moving across the room, sometimes divided by a line, participants trying to communicate beyond this barrier with gestures, steps, looks, words.
Sometimes, as part of the movement exercises, we are asked to choose another participant and follow them as a shield, as another way to bond with the other party. Sometimes the exercise demands that we get away from each other as if not being caught was suddenly becoming part of the game. Being a lover or being a rival, that is the question…
We also work on stillness and speed therefore modifying our rhythm and steps according to the context.
Writing is also involved, often a prelude to the speaking part of the session. A few words written on a board are set as the beginning of the dialogue or short story to be told to others, just four or five lines to express our thoughts and feelings.
This incredible mixture of physical, mental and emotional sessions is no doubt most appreciated.
A great success indeed according to all participants. Let’s hear their feelings : It refreshes the parts that other parts can’t reach. This is really something to offer to older people (Caroline). It is creative joy, it wakens my imagination, it’s memorably uplifting (Jenny). I like the freshness of view points. We were all strangers and now we get to know each other, it is a great diversity of people (Tully). We can use the ideas from the play (Brian). You can act out feelings (Penny). We can get free tickets to see the play and I like that we are asked for an instant reaction (Pixie). It’s a lot of fun (John). It makes a good ensemble, it’s great team work ( Yvonne). It brings friendship, it gets you out of your home, it gets you mobile, it increases communication, it’s brilliant, it’s something to look forward to (Thelma). It’s a great way to meet (Sharon). It makes me aware of my body (Kevin). It’s great to be choreographed by someone as professional as Corinne who teaches us in such a fun way. I’ve noticed a major improvement in the amount I‘ve been moving (Deborah). It’s very entertaining, it brings people together (Annie). It’s powerful, it’s life-affirming, it’s all about fun and friendship (Caroline).
I am part of this lucky group and a huge fan too. I believe that these workshops contribute not only to our cultural and social development but also maintain a strong unity among us which is much needed these days and go well beyond the sad notions of rivalry, competition and jealousy, feelings which I despise the most, a total waste of time and energy leading only to conflicts and representing a real danger to humanity. In a time when violence is on the rise everywhere, these delicious moments of artistic peace are priceless.
During the last and fourth session of these workshops, the group offers a special mini-show, a sharing, to an audience of guests invited for the occasion. Time to play A Star is Born and Great Expectations whilst aspiring to recognition and why not, to a bit of love too.