Your boots scuff across gravel as you begin to see lights coming from a compound behind a metal fence. The gate is open. There is a shipping container with tables full of science equipment emerging from it. In one corner of the compound, you see what you assume was the kitchenette although the dishes are rusty and whatever food was here has long since been removed. By people? Animals? As you explore the main container you understand it used to be a Climate Research Station but has since been abandoned — seemingly in a rush: papers, tools, vials and beakers filled with liquids and questionable materials, even pictures of those who used to work here still populate the station but are covered with spiderwebs and the dust of time.
You can almost imagine the life that was here long ago; their voices seem loud in your ears as you rifle through their work, trying to piece together any evidence you can that would shed light on their evident demise. As the night falls and the winds pick up, you hear footsteps against the gravel and the clanging of pots and pans. A new source of light makes its way into the compound and a hooded figure enters the site, a large pack on his back. It’s almost as if he doesn’t see you as he begins to search through the contents of this mysterious site. What is he searching for?
These were the opening moments of Frog in Hand’s 2021 performance Stories in the Woods, a site-specific, promenade dance-theatre piece set in a mysterious post-post-apocalyptic reality. The world we created helped us channel our thoughts about the themes of climate anxiety, the uncertainty of the future and the resilience of both nature and humanity into a container (quite literally) to house the piece’s dances.
World Building can be an integral tool to elevate your show.
It can be a method for you to collect your thoughts into a cohesive whole.
It can be a way for you to make sense of those themes you want to approach and display to your audience.
And it can be a way to entice your audience to want to meaningfully engage with your piece.
I’m happy to be joining Colleen Snell to co-lead a 4-week online class about worldbuilding in performance. In it, we’ll talk about character design, setting, story vs. world and think about crafting immersive experiences and rich worlds for our audiences to inhabit, explore and experience.
Worldbuilding for Choreographers is a mix of lecture-style presentations with activities sprinkled throughout to help reinforce our approach and to get you to immediately apply the theory. You can join us live the night-of or catch up on your own time by watching that week’s recording.
We start tomorrow night, Oct. 20th and run to Nov 10th, but there’s still time to sign up! Just click the link and you’ll be taken to Eventbrite.
I hope to see you there!