Ryan brought the cast of Tisinthe! to the house this morning to workshop the second episode of Mary's story with us. Firstly they played it through and then invited us to make touch tag interventions, which we joyfully did for an hour and a half.
Tfac's methodology around intervention differs slightly from Theatre of the Oppressed orthodoxy in that it encourages participants to replace antagonists as well as protagonists in the Drama and it wasn't long before Drama St Mary's students were playing the teacher, Mary's mother, the head teacher, an MP, a best friend, Mary's auntie and, of course, Mary herself in the Drama.
To me the most impressive part of the workshop was the smooth way in which the seven cast members swapped in and out of the Joker role. It was a seamless ensemble display of team facilitation. Each actor confident enough to both to lead the discussion and to defer to a colleague if it became apparent that their services were needed on stage. In their workshops Tfac use a focus ball to indicate who has the floor and to enable facilitators to ensure full participation from the group and I began to wonder whether in forum work like this that that consciously rehearsed approach to contributing and listening wasn't paying huge dividends - like having stabilisers on a bike. No focus ball was used during our session, but the actors were deft enough to collectively keep the momentum going.
The more we explore this form of radio inspired forum, the more possibilities it seems to open up. Tisinthe! is essentially a soap opera and I began daydreaming of a genuinely interactive Archers or in the not too distant future Eastenders or Coronation Street. The interventions never threaten the narrative drive of the work, but unlike the faux 'press your red button now' text in democracy of audience participation talent shows, do offer tangents, alternatives and most importantly suggest that we are active humane participants in life with decision making capability, responsibility and the power to change things for the better. .
Mark is the Academic Director of the Drama Programmes at St Mary's University in Twickenham. He has worked internationally as a theatre director and educator for the past 15 years, focused mostly on youth, community, and conflict resolution work.
As a lecturer Mark taught at Goldsmiths College, Coventry University and was Head of Performing Arts at Canterbury College prior to joining St Mary’s in 2006.
His Professional directing credits include Henry V (One of US?) and Valhalla for RSC Education; The Wind in the Willows, Jack Cade, The Red, Red Robin for Sevenoaks Playhouse; Tender Souls, The Quality of Mercy and Playhouse Creatures for the Ambassadors Theatre group.
Mark is a director of subVERSE Theatre company for whom has directed fringe premieres of Chief, Dinnertime and OxfamC**t at Theatre 503.
Site specific work includes Purka and Shadow on Icelandic volcanoes and Novocento with students from the University of Genoa.