First Performance Workshop with Richard Layzell

I participated in two performance workshops with Richard Layzell, as part of a group of a dozen or so. This is an account of the first.

The very first action he had us do was simply to be aware of our breathing, deliberately and consciously taking each breath in and out, and then standing fully upright, concentrating immensely on our posture. After a few moments of this, he pointed out that should someone come into the room at that moment, they would notice something was going on, and see us all as other – somehow more focused and therefore outside the regular relaxed state in which we normally interact or exist in shared spaces.

There were then some exercises, some paired, others as the whole group. Two particularly interesting ones for me were the group copying an individuals actions and the ‘sticky fingers’ were we held out our hands connected in front of us with a partner and had to feel the flow of direction, improvising movement through intuition. The former had me very interested in group rhythm. A lot of the actions people chose were short, and so did not lay down a rhythm, but when it came to me I started to stamp my feet to a simple time signature. What was then nice was that instead of the group’s actions being an echo, mine and the groups actions merged as soon as they had caught up to the rhythm exactly. This was a bass rhythm, on top of which I tried clapping, making rhythmical percussive sounds with my mouth and so on. This was much, much more fun and effective because it was a group exercise. This could lead on to exploration of music, which this proves, is a necessarily social endeavour.

Another part of the workshop involved devising short pieces, where as little as possible happened.