Would you rather be right or would you rather be free”…Master Class with Boom Circus!
On July 26th and 27th, ISACS had the pleasure of hosting David Poznanter and Peter Sweet from Boom Circus (US) for an intensive Master Class in Physical Theatre and Mask Technique at the Presentation Centre, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford. We had a very strong group of participants who traveled from all over Ireland to attend the workshop which offered techniques and insights into developing mask work individually and as a group.
David and Peter are very warm and friendly teachers and soon had the group working in a circle exploring space and connection to each other and as a whole. This became a strong theme for the 2 days and was nicely used as a centering point for the group to reform at any quick prompt. A lot of interesting exercises were incorporated based on techniques to create awareness of space around and moving as an ensemble, sensing and responding to each other as a group. There was a great dynamic within the space greatly helped by the inclusion of much of this work and by the supportive and trusting space that David and Peter form.
The basis of 'Look See Go' in combination with 'audience takes' built much of the preparation and basis for the mask work that was to follow. From such a simple instruction, the multitude and more of possible options with this technique was explored with participants encouraged to play with the structure at times, to move away from and to return to the technique. It is a great process to build a foundation with the audience, to play with levels of intent and of focus and it is easy to see how this practice can have wide reaching influences beyond mask to any work that breaks the 4th wall and requires audience interaction.
With such an amount of preparation and practice techniques offered by David and Peter the group were ready to 'respond' to the masks. 4 full papier mache masks in total, all beautifully handcrafted by David Pozanter. It is incredible to see how a single mask can take on multitude of lives depending on who is occupying it! The group took turns to work individually and as partners using the 'Look See Go' as a basis for movement, forming intent and filling the space whilst responding to the mask and it's reactions from the rest of the group who filled the role of 'the audience'. All the work was based on improvisation which worked towards 2 simple set ups of 'The Blind Date' and 'The Suitcase - someone is leaving!' In each of these situations the outcome could be anything and they proved very strong exercises in learning to respond to the improvisation partner, to the audience and to the mask within the same set up, not an easy challenge however the earlier group exercises in response and instinct became very clear in learning to stay and feel a moment and what to do with that moment.
Watching and observing the mask work was a crucial part of understanding how different movements are received by the audience. Whilst humour is often the first reactions that can happen (there were some side splitting moments!) the range of emotions and drama began to extend and grow as participants grew more confident to hold the spaces within the mask, the audience and with each other. The complexity of the improvisations by the end of the workshop were incredible to watch and even David and Peter commented on the strength and daring of the group in just 2 days. There was so much potential to take away from the workshop and after the closing chats within the group the experience seemed to have a profound effect on all involved.So now the Thank You's.....Firstly, ISACS cannot thank David and Peter enough for offering the time to deliver this very special Master Class within their busy schedule touring their own show Boom Circus in Ireland and internationally. We would also like to say a special thank you to Wexford Arts Centre and The Presentation Centre, Enniscorthy for hosting the workshop, to Waterford Spraoi for their support and to the Arts Council of Ireland for their continued support of ISACS, helping us to bring as many of these exciting training opportunities to Ireland. New experience, taking chances, trying out things for the first time and just seeing what happens...It is all so important to develop as artists individually and collectively. To end with a little line from David ' Would you rather be right or would you rather be free?'