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DREAMED an experimental performance piece bringing together elements of Kathak dance, movement, music, fragments of text and snippets of song


Directorial Musings

20 May 2010 saw the launch of the Ranan Repertory. A motley group of dancers and actors came together in Ranan’s rehearsal space committed to working and playing together as performers. Dreamed emerged out of a year’s work with repertory members through acting and movement exercises, dance and text explorations, voice work, workshops led from within the group and by guest artists, film screenings, sharings and more.

The original idea was to create a series of small pieces bringing together performance elements that we have begun to explore and experiment with in our repertory sessions – sessions which take place without the pressure of an imminent production, thus providing a secure space in which we can imagine, try out, fail, create, learn and push ourselves as an ensemble of performers. The aim was – and still is – to stage a possible way and process of working and creating performance – a way and process that we are at the very early stages of discovering for ourselves.

We began by selecting elements and ideas to work with: a text or two we were already dabbling with, something written by a repertory member, some songs we had started on initially thinking only of voice exercises, rhythm cycles, and other random ideas put together collectively. There was no attempt at threading a logic or continuity that would bring everything together in any way. We were playing, exploring, experimenting, creating, discussing, dispensing…

It was only very late in the day that very tenuous connections began to occur to me. Each piece that we had had zeroed in on as a final selection seemed to have something to do with desires and dreams expressed or withheld, fulfilled or neglected, remembered or forgotten. The words ‘dream’, ‘dreamed’, ‘dreamt’, ‘dreaming’ and various references to and images of ‘home’ recurred in the texts and lyrics we had selected as both as initial impulses and as responses during the process of work – apparently purely by coincidence.

I began to look at the act of dreaming as an expression of secret desire, of memories real or imagined, of regret and loss, of reaching out to achieve or touch something just out of reach – unattainable but very much there. Why was it not achievable, what obstacles blocked the way… each separate piece we were working on seemed to be finding answers to this question, seemed to be striving to reach a particular point, seemed to be – indeed – dreaming of creating something that existed only in our heads and refused to actually take shape in space and time.

A strange jigsaw began to emerge of a plethora of characters – some related, some not, but all with dreams they reached out to, all with obstacles that hindered them, all with a desire to find themselves in another space, another time, another home. The dreams could be triggered by memories tinged with regret, secret sorrows, lost loves, wanting to be loved or even the urge to dance freely and joyfully. The metaphor of this dream-space became embodied in the idea of a pomegranate tree, a pomegranate grove – somewhere one wanted to be but couldn’t. How could one get there? Why could one not? Was there a spirit which called to us from that grove urging us to keep trying, keep pushing till we found a path to the garden, to the fulfilment of what we dreamed?

Dreamed is the first time any of us in the repertory have attempted to work in this fashion. I have myself never devised work collaboratively or alone, in fact have steered clear of it. This experience has touched not only on devising together, but on drawing together varied performance elements that many of us are only just beginning to discover for and within ourselves. The group comprises performers from a range of backgrounds and levels – some experience, some still training – all stepping out in some way or the other from their comfort zones of performance that they are familiar with into trying, playing, dreaming with a little something else.

We do not call Dreamed a production – it is not one. It is an expression of the very nascent stages of an idea of how one can work, can create, can play in a performance ensemble. We present it as it is – complete with its rough edges, unanswered and unasked questions, trailing threads and unattained possibilities. Dreamed is therefore perhaps only the beginning of a dream we have yet to travel through.
[from the premiere brochure: May 2011]


More: read blog posts or watch rehearsal videos on the creative process:

- love, bonds, freedom, regret, dissatisfaction, bitterness…>> related video >>

- Four unrelated texts >> related video >>

- In Search of Balance: how do we stand? >> related video >>

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