Momenting Phase is probably my favorite phase of Blood Ensembles’ process.
Our Ensemble gets to come into a room and put ideas up on theirfeet. Ideas that we had in the spur of a moment, images we’ve seen in dreams, vaguely thought of concepts that we desperately need to see translated to an audience.
The Ensemble comes in with their “homework.” As an actor, you learn how to specifically ask questions of your Moment Director to get their vision represented accurately… questions like, “do you want me to walk in this straight line neutrally or do I have a sad feeling about walking towards the unknown?” To which, your Moment Director will respond, “I hadn’t thought about it. I think sad… but sad AND hopeful because I want that unknown to be something the audience looks forward to.”
In that room, everyone is a director, an actor, a writer and a designer.
For Barn Show, we learned a lot during our Momenting Phase. We learned that Moments constructed in the barn felt much different than moments constructed in various rehearsal spaces in Seattle. We learned that the walls of the barn were talking to us through these moments… we realized that moments that spoke to us seemed to be “of the barn” somehow. It feels as though when everyone agrees on a moment, that moment seems to be a part of the wood that constructed the barn, part of the foundations holding it up, part of the memories that any building can hold. It feels like we’re dancing in Dumbldore’s pensieve of memories and when we create, we pull out a few… and somehow? We know when we’ve got one.
It feels magical.
The weird part about this process is that we find some magical things that we totally leave to the wolves. We construct these fantastic conventions or beautiful images and we hang onto them tooth and nail… until suddenly? They don’t fit. And then it feels like a burial service. We tentatively throw the dirt on the coffin and erect a mental monument to a beautiful art baby that we just killed.
A convention I presented to the group now sits in Blood Ensembles’ Moment Graveyard.
It went something like this:
The audience was divided up by three performers. Each performer led a small chunk of audience out into the night. It’s dark, the ground is uneven, and each performer has a source of light: a lantern, a candle, and a flashlight. Once the performer stopped, they handed the audience a piece of paper with a riddle on it. The performer instructed the audience to remain with the light source until the riddle was solved, and then return to the barn and give us their answer.
What spoke to us was the feeling of being led out into the night and told to band together with a stranger in order to return to safety. We liked forcing our audience into camaraderie. But, when we got into our writers meetings last week? There was no place for riddles in our show. They didn’t fit. But what did fit? Was the amazing feeling of being led into the dark with only a lantern and a performer.
That feeling remains in our show, but riddles you shall see no more.
One thing that I love most about doing this work is that an entire group has to exercise ego restraint. It’s about the story, the show, the characters, and the space. It’s not about one persons’ role or moment they brought. Everyone sits back and takes stock of what the show needs… its’ not just one director hoping to carve an arc or shape out of a bunch of disparate individuals—it’s several minds shaving off pieces of the marble statue at the same time… and no one knows what the statue will look like at the end.