Forced Entertainment’s Tim Etchells on rehearsals:
When it comes to improvising, a good half of what we do is useless — misplaced people, silly costumes, tangled-up texts, ideas that don’t come to anything. It’s a matter of “eliminating things from our inquiries”. We’re knocking on doors, a lot of them, and asking stupid questions. The rest of our work is spadework. Every now and then there’s a nice exchange, or line of text, or a sudden temperature change, that makes me sit forward and think: “OK, we’re getting somewhere.” What we’re all really waiting for, though, is the inspired 5% or so of improvisations that can make a project start to sing.
Regarding the 5%:
It’s watching this small fraction of inspired improvisations (maybe 3% would be more accurate) that reminds me how lucky I am to work with performers who can do this — this very strange combination of tuning and turning, doing and waiting, acting and not acting, pretending, playing, inventing, insisting, listening and taking chances.
This last series of “ands” truly did it for me. I have a long-standing dialog with a friend, whereby we discuss the “ands” in what we do. Confounded by titles, we like to compare the conjunctions in our work instead. Conjunctions are what’s important. “What’s the new and in your title?” we ask, only half jokingly. Adding “ands,” (perhaps related to yes ands) keeps us guessing, learning, listening, and importantly, never taking ourselves too seriously.