The Theatre project “Tour de Babel” started rehearsing at the beginning of April 2008.
We planned the first month to be of open rehearsals, so that everybody could join, have a look, decide whether to get engaged or not. This aspect was particularly important to learn to know each other, to show the way we want to work and see if it fits for everybody.
This first period we worked on group and space awareness, on object theatre, on our expectations, on voice and with small impros. Towards the end of this period we began also dealing with characters. At that time we were rehearsing in a space of the Kuenstlernetz Neukoelln. When we were thrown out because the space got sold we had to care to find quickly a new space. We moved to a bigger space where we stayed till the end of the rehearsals in june 2008. At this point the group was already formed and we began to deal with the topics of the project. Especially during this period we worked very hard, during the week and on weekends, as well on group based scenes as on individual solo parts, to give everyone the possibility to develop and bring his/her own story inside the bigger frame that “tour de babel” represented for us.
We kept documentation of our work through foto and video material that gave us also the possibility of working with a continous feedback. Towards the end we added also the aspects of music and costumes, for which two more people joined the project. The only scene material we had already decided to include were Koffer (luggage), as a symbol for the identity and history every single character carries with him/herself. The Koffer were also flexible objects through which we created choreographies, we built and unbuilt towers, we made music percussing it.Through the Koffer we built up a market where we sold happiness and tried as characters to get along in this strange place called Eutopia.
The last week we rehearsed in the place where we were going to play, the house of artists L32, in Neukoelln.
Finally, we performed on the 20th and 21st of june of 2008.
What follows now is a brief diary of the meetings and of the main part of the work we shared in this Babel odyssey.
Tuesday, 14th of may
-Welcome the new space: one person after the other enters the main door, goes up the stairs, enters the space in which we will rehearse for the next time. We do it in silence. We explore the new space, every person for him-herself.
-Warming up yoga : the salutation to the sun.
-Sequence ‘survival kit’: the trainers chose 5 gestures from our previous work (“ if your best friend would move to Berlin what would be absolute necessary for him-her to bring?” The task was to find one or more object connected to a gesture), we clear the gestures and repeat them in series. Then every one of us chooses a personal order according to sensibility of his-her character and we work with this elements in a choreographical way, trying to involve also the Koffer (performing the kit lying-sitting-standing-hiding in-on-with-behind the Koffer)
-Work focused on the character: finding character in an impro (spoken through): trough walking, sitting, dealing with the Koffer, interacting with the other people.
-‘Market selling’ session: simulation of market situation in which our characters try to sell stuff to people (played by the trainers) in different situations and ways (also with emotions: under pressure, aggressive, different ways of seducing). The market place is the main place of the play, in which all the characters gather and all the actions take place. The idea is that all the characters try to sell something in order to survive in this new place in which they just arrived (Eutopia)
Saturday, 17th of may.
Sunday 18th of may
-Warming up and small dances with different focuses.
-Session ‘bodies floating and falling and stairway to window’: work with body, weight and group awareness in physical contact
Game of the falling bottle: in a circle with a person in the middle that leans and lets herself fall while the group is supporting and carrying this one person.
Later in advanced session Lisa is flying supported and carried by the group and finally reaching the toilet window.
-Session ‘Papercops coming- survival kit- running away’ :
We repeat ‘survival kit’ and scan it to a rhythmic choreography.
Then we try it out in a longer sequence: market situation- sound of Papercops coming.-characters in stress, they pack the survival kit, run away with their Koffer, stop in another place, repeat survival kit, come to a group, repeat survival kit last time now closer to each other - freeze in that position.
The Papercops is a new element we want to try out; they represent the authority of Eutopia and in general all the difficulties connected to burocracy that immigrants have to deal with. In a more abstract way they symbolize the conservative preconsitued order that does not allow changes.
-Antonin shares two meditatation-dances.
Tuesday, 20th of may
-Solo session with Nessi.
- Longer sequence: ‘market-survival kit- papercops coming and stopping characters- characters become zombies and move syncrone in a group choreography with the Koffer -wall of Koffer behind which characters are hiding- Koffer flying- Kofferturm - tour de babel made out of Koffer (main image of our piece)
We try, repeat and experiment different variations and improvise with this material.
Saturday, 24th of may
Sunday, 25th of may
Robert as a new participant joins for the musical part.
- We split the group: inside the rehearsal space we repeat ‘Survival kit’ and ‘Zombie defilé’ (the group choreography with Koffer) with rhythmic elements made by music, outside the Papercops rehearse in the Hinterhof.
- Joining the group again: sequence with ‘Survival kit’ and intervention of the Papercops that stop one to one the charachters, forbid them to sell their stuff and to stay in the marketplace.
-Session of ‘Evy’s funeral’: Evy’s character wants to die, goes to Pablo to have a solution (his character sells solutions), then is sent to Lisa who sings a song to make her die (part of Lisa’s character), Evy feels deasy, people of the market try to support her while she continues to fall, then she definitely falls down and is carried in the funeral.
Tuesday, 27th of may
-Watching trailer of “Tour de Babel” made by Dirk.
-Structure of the piece is explained and discussed: talk, questions and changes in the whole piece.
-‘Zombie defilé’, we repeat the single movements of the Koffer-choreography.
- We try the whole sequence from the end of ‘Survival kit’ to the end of ‘Zombie defilé’.
- For the first time we try the beginning of the piece: with the Kofferturm already standing the actors enter one by one the scene in a neutral position, they take one of the Koffer and take out or put on an object of their character which is inside. In this way they get into the character, find a place in the space and tell something concerning to why they are there, what they expect, where they come from…this happens one person after the other.
Saturday, 30th of may
Sunday, 1st of june
- ‘Zombie defilé’ and ‘Survival kit’
-‘Market selling situation’ , end of the situation through the entrance of the Papercops and change to Nessi’s scene, where the Papercops confiscate her Koffer and make her trouble hindering her to get it back. This experience is communicated to the group in a scene that we built up together as a group and trough improvisation;
Outside Papercops are rehearsing their topics and scenes.
-The group unites again. Scene of ‘Einbuergerung’: after the building of the Koffermauer where the characters try to hide from the Papercops, the Papercops call one after the other the characters and make them kind of interrogatory about what they can do or not and decide whether they can stay or not in Eutopia. In this context Evy’s solo takes place (old woman fainting – we changed this part, so she is not dying anymore).
-First run of the whole piece, later discussion in a smaller group, outside.
Tuesday, 3rd of june
Gesine comes for a first impression of the charachters, she will care about the costumes
First half of rehearsal: sequence ‘Survival kit- Zombie defilé’
Second half: we try out the first scene, with the actors going to the Kofferturm that has been built up by Pablo and Lucia in their clowns opening solo. Every actor chooses a Koffer, opens it, takes the object that is inside and through it gets into his-her character. He-She says some words, as a presentation, who he-she is, where he-she comes from, expectations…then begins searching for a place to build up the own stand for the market.
Saturday, 7th of june
First complete run through and work on unclear parts and details
Sunday, 8th of june
Impros and scores to clear characters and interactions between them in the piece:
-Square score with pathways: in the pathways the characters meet and interact, in every corner there is a specific energy
-Mass of sellers moving as a group opposed to mass of Papermen. The two groups move in relation to each other as if there would be a magnet between them (dynamic of attraction vs repulsion- with music)
-Impro concerning characters: they are sleeping on the ground, wake up and get in the attidude of having to sell themselves to reach the goal of being allowed to stay.
- Costumes organisation with Gesine
Tuesday, 10th of june
Focused work on the character continues:
-Fixing of the character: names, origins, dates of birth…
As a warm up we play different games about names (with the names of the characters: with ball, partner running etc)
-Rhythm of character: according to a common beat we work on the rhythm of each character. How it is for each one? Solo and group work, also interaction between characters through beating, sounds and use of voice
-Which is the motto of each character? Group session: walking, jumping and shouting out the motto of the own character.
-Each one presents him-herself considering the exercises for new character definition we did until that moment
-Rehearse of the beginning scene reworked with this material, until Cosmas’ solo.
-Repetition of everything with the new music made by Robert.
The last ten days we moved to L32 and rehearsed there. The last week we made mainly runs almost every day, dared about organisation of the performances, arranged the scenography, invited people to have feedbacks of the play and got ready.
Reminder: Rehearsals took place mainly in English, because we come all from different places. There are anyway some crucial words for which the established language became German. To have a precise documentation I wrote them down the way we use them (also because I wanted to stay loyal to our babelic concept)
For non-German-speaking-readers: Koffer = luggage/suitcase, Kofferturm = tower of luggage, Hinterhof = open area of the house/backyard. Defilé = french for procession/move, ‘Einbuergerung’=the formal action through which you get allowed to be a citizen in a place, ‘Mauer’=wall.