Fear and Inspiration at Back to Back Summer School

As the 1st component of my Accessible Arts professional development program I attended Back to Back Theatre’s 2 day Summer School in Geelong. Back to Back Theatre is a professional theatre company that employes and creates new work with intellectually disabled individuals. I was keen to attend  partially because it has been a number years since I engaged in any form of performance training but additionally  I wanted to explose my self to an environment where I would be working along side intellectually disabled people.

Miniature City Scape made with "found", pop-out cardboard shapes.

Miniature City Scape made with “found”, pop-out cardboard shapes.

One of the aims of my Amplify Your Art program, The Seeing Place, is to develop skills working in a community arts context and with performers with divers needs. I will be honest, I was a bit scared of working along side intellectually disabled people. I’m not exactly sure why maybe I was worried I wouldn’t understand them or had some unacknowledged prejudices. These fears evaporated during first warm up, which was ably lead by the Back to Back Ensemble. In fact I found little difference in working with them creatively than I have with so called “normal” people.

Over two days I participated in 4 workshops and I had the pleasure of sharing 3 of them with Ms Jane Hopskins. The final one we attended was lead by Tanja Beer titled “Environmental Stage Design and Devising”. Tanja got us to imagine what super power we would like to have. Inspired by that we made made costumes, props, and set pieces from “found” objects and recycled materials.

Jane had been inspired by the cartoon TV series “Captain Planet” (which many children of the 1990’s will be familiar with) and wanted to have a magical ring that gave her power over the 4 elements. And thus “Lady Neptune, Queen of The Deep” emerged. The costume and set was made by Jane and myself using only folded magazine pages, staples, string, cardboard boxes and brown paper. It was great fun and almost like being back in primary school art and craft class. I’m hoping I might be able to meet up with Jane later in the year when I head up to Queensland to do some training with Zen Zen Zo.

Some where Tanja had found these cool little pop out cardboard pieces that we  we played with in the second part of the workshop.

Most set designers makes small scale versions of sets in preparation for a production. Part of Tanya’s creative process is to play with objects on a smaller scale to inspire her desgins. I found this quite helpful, as I find it rather difficult to conceive visual concepts unaided, especially when it comes to scale and movement in a specific space. I feel many trips to Reverse Garbage coming on!