The FTH:K Autocourse

Posted: August 10, 2009 in Autocourse, Training

In 2008, FTH:K launched a new element to its Integrated Professional Development Programme called the Autocourse.

What does this mean?
Glad you asked…

07 headless corridor 9 may - smaller On Monday, Company Trainees (and some of the professional performers who want to have some fun) are given a theme by way of a sign, a word, or an image, and by Friday, they must present a short performance to the rest of the company and invited guests.  Quite simply.  While allowed to use FTH:K‘s 04 Into the Shadow 4 Aprilresources (props, set, rehearsal space, training, exercises etc), they can’t get assistance from anyone in the Company.  In their own way, on their own time, they are tasked to interrogate the theme how  ever they choose to, and create something worthwhile putting onstage.  It can be anything, from the beginning of a narrative to an opening image, to a short scene, but the idea is for them to channel their investigations in such a way as to begin honing their own personal signatures and voices.  And after everyone has performed, the audience offers feedback, comments and ideas.

06-death-of-marat-visual-25After a couple of months, our Artistic Director, Rob Murray, upped the ante by introducing the “I’m Bored” signal.  Why?  Coz he’s mean like that!  No, no, not really.  The “I’m Bored” signal is simple: if any audience member is bored when watching an Autocourse presentation, they can raise their hand and stop the performance immediately.  No  questions asked.  Now, this might seem a little harsh (and those members who have already experienced the feeling of being in mid-performance and having to stop would agree!) but the “I’m Bored” signal was designed to encourage performers to make their creative choices very carefully, recognising that an audience needs to be engaged from beginning to end of anything they produce onstage: in this case, a short performance.

What results is two-fold.  On one hand, the performers are creating small scenes or kernels of what could be developed into a full-length work later (which has happened on a number of occasions already); 03 Dirty Shirts Design 14 March copyon the other hand, a process of self-screening happens, where performers have to take a brutal look at their material and decide what is performance-ready and what isn’t.  Knowing when something is ready for an audience is difficult enough at the best of times, and we totally respect the value of putting a piece onstage that might not yet be complete, and allowing the feedback from the audience to guide you in the completing of it.  But that doesn’t mean we should not practice the skill of identifying when something is ready or not.

I think we may owe Jacques Lecoq a bit of cred here, as I think the Autocourse is borrowed from his school, but hey…I don’t think he’d mind, do you?

These sessions happen every Friday afternoon from 12:00 – 1:00’ish, so if you’d like to be a part of our audience, get hold of us and we’ll put you on the list.

Ready or not.


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