Stanislavski's Cat

Recording voiceovers for the tiny Shakespeares, with a group of local drama types, seated round a massage table. None of us is an "Ac-tor", so we try to find ourselves in the story...to speak as-if. Dressing up "like a witch" in pointy hat and stick-on warts as-if Dressing in our best butch to pre-empt certain types of undesired attention. To pass unnoticed...or to challenge and brazen out. If the story is right we should all be able to find a personal truth in it somewhere, which means we can speak for ourselves rather than try to be a Jacobean era witch/herbalist/batty old lady.

stolen from pinterest. Cat from Maeterlinck's Bluebird
None of us is an "Ac-tor", so there was a certain amount of confusion, hilarity and collapse of stout party. In fact, most of the cackling happened off-the-record as we just chatted, teased and generally improvised around the theme. Our host suggested that instead of one of us making a cat noise, why not record the cat? Ah, I have failed to explain that the point is there is no cat. We fashion an imaginary cat to make believe we are witches. Directing is a whole lot more difficult when there are actual people involved. Let alone cats.

Witch one (which one?) suggested we should just record all the bits in between the script...Woman 1 (not yet a witch) replied that that might be the basis of another and much better film - about 3 women pretending to be 3 witches, who in turn are anachronistically commentating on a play in which they were actors. About how the contemporary sensibilities, politics and social structures would commentate on that. About a group of feminist/ lesbian/ non-actors interpreting the behaviours and words of 3 women who were really men, and whose words were crafted by a man.

No, stop, my head hurts. In the end, there really does need to be a "good bit later where Lady Macbeth goes nuts."


Community of Practice Revisited

animating painting...
Last week I had a random tutorial with a Masters student... from a course I don't actually teach on.
From a different subject area.
Except that we are both painters now trying to make animations. Trying to animate paintings.

OK, it was his first and my Nth, but while I was talking I realised both how much I had learnt since MY first - and how much I still had to learn; how many things I had to try and to explore...

He was doing things "properly" - storyboards, pencil tests, animatics (I had to look it up to even find out what an animatic was); I seem to have made an artistic career out of doing things improperly. But what was interesting was not which set of processes we each were using so much as how the process affects the form. In painting there are always happy accidents, interesting marks and ways in which the paint reacts with the surface, the solvent, the other paint.It isn't so easy to see but there are ways in which a technical or computer process also affects the form, and offers opportunities for random accidents of inspiration. Where the problems and frustrations - or the need to save time - generate creative solutions.
We talked about the different demands of learning as much as possible through the project, and of completing a fabulous movie...that old thing of process vs product but somehow still hugely relevant, hugely important to remember. We say that the learning is vital...that it's research...but are we maybe too keen to steer our students  - and our practice - towards the perfect product?

We always say - especially to the students - that teaching is an exchange, that we learn from the process just as the students do. That this is a community of practice in which we can all help each other to grow and develop;  to reflect on our own practice and where it fits with other peoples'. So it was nice to be reminded that that does actually work. Cheers, Christopher...