Tim Etchells on chaos

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This is an extract from an interview with Tim Etchells, Artistic Director of Forced Entertainment – read the full interview here.

Chaos is the order that you weren’t expecting! That’s what my 19 year old son tells me. I’m not sure that there is such a thing as chaos really. Any set of actions in time and space has a structure. It might not be easy to see at first glance. But it’s always there. Pattern and structure are always present.

Of course there are plenty of moments in our performances that look chaotic. Many times there will be material created in improvisation where a number of performers are working, making their own decisions in a kind of friction with each other: some striking off in this direction, others going in that direction. It’s a very complex interaction and when you look at it, it can appear chaotic – hard to map or contain. But in the theatre works we tend to control that kind of chaos very carefully. So chaos tends to be a recreation rather than anything really out of hand – we study the video recordings of the rehearsals and recreate the best of them, move for move, line for line. Someone once observed that the things that look most chaotic in our pieces are often the most completely and precisely choreographed. We’re very interested in that texture – that feeling that the eye doesn’t know where to rest, that the centre is missing, you see it, in shows like Real MagicThe Last Adventures or Bloody Mess or even the new one Out of Order, but we know we couldn’t improvise those every night in the theatre (it’s too unpredictable). So the only way that we can get anything to look out of control and multi-directional is via choreographing the most dynamic of the improvisations – scoring them in relation to the video and then working on notation and mechanical repetition. It’s acting – making it look real when it isn’t, making time flow, but controlling it somehow. Chaos on stage is, by its nature, perhaps slightly oxymoronic!

Out of Order. Photo by Hugo Glendinning
Read the full interview here.

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Tim Etchells on editing

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This is an extract from an interview with Tim Etchells, Artistic Director of Forced Entertainment – read the full interview here.

Part one of a process for us is trying to throw a lot of material on to the table and part two is editing. That’s often about trying to carve up chunks of improvisation that have been done on different days or different weeks, maybe even in different cities, and to arrange them on the timeline of the piece in a way that feels like a show to us. In that process, usually, if we’ve got ten sections, by the end of editing they would typically all have been in every possible position in relation to the piece, and they would have all been thrown out (and then brought back in)! It’s a really big part of the work for us, basically making lists of the structure and rejigging it before running it and seeing what doesn’t work, then reordering it all and doing it again and seeing what doesn’t work once again. In this way we slowly accumulate the knowledge that we need in order to compose something using the materials that we’ve got. It’s a process in which we are trying to understand what the material will do energetically and dynamically but we’re also testing what material will join to other material, and in what sequences. We’ll keep doing that – rearranging endlessly – until the show opens. The normal thing is that in the days before the premiere (even on the day of the premiere) we’re still moving things around.

Through editing we try to understand the material: where you can put this scene, this dance, this text and what changes when you move it? We talk a lot about the timeline – from minute one to minute one hundred and twenty: Where are you? What’s changed? What’s building up? What kind of knowledge is accumulating? What shifts in energy or information or understanding are happening? In that sense it is totally like film editing or editing a novel – you just look at the big time line and say, “What can I move?” “What can I tighten?” “What can I cut?”

The Last Adventures. Photo by Hugo Glendinning
Read the full interview here.

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