This week has been a week of discovery and exploration, in theory as well as creativity.

From Monday to Wednesday we worked with the one and only Miguel Moreira, director of ‘O Duelo’, the show we went to see at the National Theatre the other week.

He set a series of workshops for us – the first being to picture a scene in our heads and each draw it on paper, making it as abstract as we wanted and imagined, focusing as well on the movement and patterns of our hand as we draw. He explained this is one of the techniques he would use to get ideas for scenes and imagery to use on the stage in his performances.

The second task he set us was to move to somewhere in the space, close our eyes, focus on breathing and on the movement with our hands, another technique he would use for movement in his performances.

When I tried this, I naturally felt the need to use slow motions when focusing on both my breathing and my movement.

I felt disrupted from my focus when he began to spray me with cold water from a bottle he had, which he had been going around the space spraying others with – my eyes were closed but I could hear various sounds of moaning as he repeatedly sprayed them with water.

After the exercise, he explained to us that he works a lot with cold water in his shows and as a director. This is with the intention of provoking or triggering a change in the performer’s imagination, which usually works – the temperature of the water also plays an important part in this. He also works with nudity, which was expressed in O Duelo.

He said he found it interesting how participants approached this exercise differently – with some choosing to work with their voices, some choosing to move around the space while others staying in the same spot throughout. I chose to be in the same location in the exercise.

In the last exercise of the day, the group got into couples and he instructed that we repeat the rules of the previous exercise, though connect to the partner – remove their clothing and feel them. We started the scene by hugging the other and holding the position.

After this exercise, he explained that he believed touching one another in art is greater than in real life, because of the ‘artificial tension’ that is formed.

On Tuesday, we started the day by colouring our abstract drawings we made the previous day, using a set of different colouring tools he provided that he said he would often buy from a coffee shop with a great view from its window.

After doing a physical warmup, we performed an exercise involving the whole group in one scene.

We all started in a corner. He played music from his shows, and we all tried moving about the space with his practice of closing the eyes and feeling with the hands.

We could finish what we were doing when we felt the need, and then go and sit on a chair from the line until everyone else finished.

Miguel then gave feedback to everyone individually. He liked my freedom of movement, which he seemed to find almost feminine.

In the afternoon we began working on the group performance involving getting paint into the space and then cleaning it up afterwards, all in the performance.

On Wednesday, we had our last day with Miguel. He gave us some time to work over what we did in the group exercise the day before. This time, I wanted to do different than what I did in the previous exercise of this. I was aiming to throw in emotional movement, such as feeling happy, angry, sad, lost.

In the feedback afterwards he told me I had lost detail in my performing compared to yesterday’s exercise, and my timing was off. I wasn’t very happy with how I performed, though I wanted to experiment with these possibilities being someone who has never performed.

In conclusion of the three days we had with Miguel I was very intrigued by him and his art and I have never met an artist quite like him. He would tell us that having tension between those you work with is very important, and a piece of advice he gave us that I noted, ‘If you don’t know what to do, wait’.

On Thursday, João Fiadeiro came to the studio to give us his theory on what he refers to as ‘real-time’ and reflex actions.

João is a choreographer for contemporary dance, and for twenty years he’s been studying and working with people across different professions to make clear his theory.

We played a game he created towards the end of the session, where we would use small tools and materials to try and create a system relevant to the previous actions of each person’s contribution with the tools. He would occasionally talk about the actions we were doing and how they linked in with his theory.

I enjoyed the time we had with João. I found his views very interesting and would like to learn more about it – he pointed out that he didn’t have a website but would be happy to email over to the group a package of his articles.

On Friday, we continued to work with paint and flour being used around the space and then cleaning it all up, with some improvised parts of music and dance being added into it. We also voted on a structure to the show, with the approved idea that we would perform a list of everyone’s ideas in a set order, starting with the group paint work and following individual ideas from then on, which we would present to João and Sara the following week at Teatro Ibérico.

Damon Coherton

Originally formed in 1991 as a community theatre project for Oldham’s Asian community, Peshkar has evolved into the UK’s leading participatory arts organisation targeting young people who are deemed hard to reach or socially disadvantaged.

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