Working on an artist residency with students at Plymouth University’s School of Humanities and Performing Arts gives a glimpse into their preoccupations and thought processes. As part of the residency I organised, students worked with a series of strategies for material generation and various methods of collaboration and activities comprising both field and studio research. In addition, they participated in sessions with invited guests: a workshop with performance writer Mary Paterson, a presentation on lighting design by Martin Langthorne, alternate modes of attention introduced by Eilon Morris through a series of polyrhythmic exercises, and appropriation of musical structure with musician Boris Hauf. One student said, “thanks for the ‘holy shit’ moment, Boris” and another, “it’s like I put on glasses and now I can see.” This effect of increased awareness and sensation and perspective shift happened in large and small ways every day.
We mixed practical work with critical attention and reflection which functioned hand in hand to increase each individual’s understanding of their own discipline and their own relationship to the work of making live performance.
There was plenty of cloudy thought around, and sometimes a lack of interest, but mixing theory with practice and simply getting them to try things out, more often than not, the result was an engagement with material and a new relationship to the work of making performance. My goal was to help them find ways to make performance work that speaks about what is important to them in particular. Through identifying their own interests they begin to discover clarity, flow, and the energy and enthusiasm needed to spark and support creative work.