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Fall 2013


MOTION THEATER

21M645 M 7-10pm, building 50-201 (Walker Memorial)

9 credits (4.5)

Performance workshop examines the theatrical event from the perspective of
composition. Studio exercises address the process of developing a theatrical
work through an internalized understanding of compositional principles in
the theatre. Principles examined include Image, Movement, Shape, Repetition,
Gesture, and Spatial Relationshipuses of Time, Space and Action.
Complemented by outside readings, video-viewings, short essays, and in
class discussions, this workshop provides the performer, director,
choreographer, and designer or writer opportunities to engage with large and
small group ensembles in the creation of theatrical events.


Contact Information:
Jay Scheib, assistant professor
10-269
phone: 917-612-2137
jayscheib@jayscheib.com or jscheib@mit.edu


Office Hours
Meeting with me is great: so call me and arrange! Whenever. Preferably not
after 2 a.m. if you want me to answer.




Description: Composition/Viewpoints and Motion Theater

The Viewpoints are a vocabulary used to describe some of the tools at the
disposal of the performing artist (actor dancer performer designer)whether
solo or in an ensemble. By training with Viewpoints the performer gains a set
of tools with which to address the spatial and temporal challenges of a

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performance event. There are nine Viewpoints: Spatial Relationship,
Architecture, Kinesthetic Reaction, Tempo, Repetition, Gesture, Shape,
Choreography (Floor Pattern), and Duration. The Viewpoints may be divided
into two categories: Temporal and Spatial. The course begins with an
exploration of viewpoints as a means of introducing a common vocabulary.

Composition is a means of training but also a means of conducting researchof
exploiting otherwise hidden possibilities within a text or within a theme.
Composition as a studio practice is the equivalent of sketching. When we sketch
we are sometimes recording our ideas for later development. We are testing our
ideas, challenging them, and ultimately exposing expressive potentials in time
and space. Composition in the theatre has much in common with composition
in painting or in music, in writing, or in the cinemain our case the montage
is instantaneous. The writing happens in real time directly on the stage. Motion
Theater demands that we understand the theater as a composite form of
expression. We take our lessons from an array sources and disciplines: dance,
cinema, literature, the visual arts, and life itself in an endless re-thinking of
theatrical languages. It is the practice of drawing together, or sequencing,
potentially (personally) expressive elements into a composite whole: a piece of
music, a range of color, an instant of video, a line of spoken text, a burst of
laughter, a gesture, a thought too complex to utter (lest it disappear in
language)

As we express ourselves on the stage we are aware of the theaters ability to
amplify our perceptions of reality, and our interpretation of the necessity of
fiction or of tragedy is put to the test through our understanding of the content
of any given work. We are compelled to make use of the language of the stage as
a means of satisfying our desire to express something essential about our
existencewhether with tragedy or satire, by romantic or abstract means. This
is true when approaching Shakespeare or Chekhov, Brecht or Aurthur Miller.
This is also true in the developing of original works.

In the final weeks of the class, students will have the opportunity to assemble
various compositional works into a final presentation. These short
performances, ranging from 10 to 20 minutes in length, will be presented to an
invited public. Instructor and student moderated discussions following each of
the presentations will give further opportunities to contextualize what has been
made.




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Grading

As this is a studio class, all exercises, presentations, short assignments, and
class participation enhances your grade in equal measure. We are interested in
process. Sketches receive the same credit as a finished work.
Attendance is mandatory. So just be there. Being chronically late is the same as being absent.
Two missed classes you get for free. Please inform ahead of class if you will be absent. Obviously
exceptions will be made if you are in the hospital? Or if the doctor says you are contagious? If
something extraordinarily happens... By the way, you may bring something to drink if you want, but
do not bring your breakfast, do not bring lunch or dinner. Please, this will be an intensive course,
and definitely not a cafeteria! In order to get a B, all you have to do is all of the assignments well
and be present. Be present and do your best. To get an A you have to do more. At least one
genius thing is required to get an A. A risky idea that harnesses all of the energy necessary to be
geniuseven that which takes a big chance and fails miserably might, in some circumstances, be
clearly classifiable as that one beyond average thing that will tip the scale! Be Bold. Be on time.
Do the assignments as well as you are able to do them and above all, be Bold! In-Class
Presentations comprise 70% of your grade. 20% of your grade will be drawn from your research
presentations and written responses and the remaining 10% will be determined by your
contribution to discussions in the class and online.



Week 1
Monday 9 September

Viewpoints Training: Space

Space is divided into positive and negative values. Basic ensemble exercises
explore the malleability of representation according to the manipulation of
Viewpoints of Space. The Viewpoints of Space are: Architecture, Shape, Spatial
Relationship, and Floor Pattern. Week one is devoted to a precise examination
of the performers relationship to the theatrical event from the perspective of
the viewpoints of space.

Selected Readings: Anne Bogarts Viewpoints, Bizets Carmen (libretto) the
libretto in English is available here:
http://www.dennisalbert.com/Opera/Carmen.htm and in french it is available
here (and if you have time please also LISTEN to it!):
http://www.naxos.com/education/opera_libretti.asp?pn=&char=all&composer=b
izet&opera=carmen&libretto_file=00_Synopsis.htm


Exercise Due Week Two: Working in groups of two or three (or alone) Please

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prepare a three minute sequence of events based on the opening scene from the
libretto of Bizets Carmen. Find a way for Space and time to play a significant
role. Heres the challenge: No Text. Just three silent minutes that Speak
Volumes! Please include the following elements that may or may not be
described in the libretto: one funny accident, laughing to the point of crying
(or vice versa), one tragic dance solo of at least 30 seconds with a strong use of
shape and repetition, drink as much as possible in one go (bring your own
water!), 3 entrances and exits per performer, one embarrassing TMI or boundary
crossing moment, one example of closeup, one example of longshot, one example
of a hurricane in my heart, one complex multi-part-action repeated three
times each time slower first with zeal, second with despair, and the third time
as though to say, Im sorry. One example of passion without bound.


Week 2
Monday 16 September

Viewpoints Training: Time

The second week is devoted to the use of time. The Viewpoints of Time are:
Tempo, Repetition, Gesture, Kinesthetic Reaction, and Duration.
We will continue to introduce the viewpoints, focusing on the Viewpoints of
Time. Experiment: how does the sequencing of physical actions affect our
perception of an event. What are the consequences of telling a story backwards?
Or Forward!? How does an event in space engage or disengage our experience of
time?

Reading materials discussed: How do the viewpoints suggest a specific structural
strategy for the use of time? How is it that Artistotles description of dramatic
structureand specific sequencing of narrative eventsremain relevant
discussion of film, opera, contemporary theatre etc.

Selected Readings: Please listen to Bizets Carmen in its entirety.

Assignment Due Week Three: Please prepare a two page response to Carmen that
discusses the work in broad terms. Address both the social and aesthetic aspects
of the work. What do you see?

Exercise Due Week three: Prepare a three minute sequence with up to fifteen
lines of text from Carmen in which time plays a significant role. Allow Tempo,

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Repetition, Duration, Gesture, and Kinesthetic Reaction to play major roles in
the work. Again based on a scene from Bizets opera, Carmen. Please include:
one staged accident, one failed kiss, two costume changes that radically change
your shape, thirty seconds of fast forward, thirty seconds of rewind, an example
of love at first sight, and an expression of beauty in the face of oppression.
Choose a scene from anywhere in the opera. Work in groups of two or three.

In-class viewing of video: Excerpts from Zefferellis Carmen and Carlos Sauras
Carmen Pina Bausch's Caf Mller and selections from the dance film Die
Klage der Kaiserin

Suggested viewing: Carlos Sauras Carmen
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nt1DKQNHVlw
(turn on closed caption for subtitles.


Week 3
Monday 23 September

Viewpoints Training: Motion Composition / Social Composition

Work on Spatial and Temporal Viewpoints are synthesized. Exercises
concentrate first on very specific combinations of temporal and spatial
viewpoints, such as Duration, Shape, and Repetition. As fluency is acquired,
music is added to the improvisations.

Reading materials discussed.

In-class viewing of video and image materials: DV8, Dorky Park, Santiago
Sierra,and others Selected Readings Antonini Artauds Theatre and Plague and
Theatre of Cruelty

Assignment: Please view Godards adaptation of Bizets Carmen: Prenom
Carmen
http://www.youtube.com/movie/prenom-carmen
it costs 2$

Assignment: Please send a one page response to me via email or in a word doc
or pdf. In this short paragraph please take a leap at the challenge of explaining
Godards project. How do Godards strategies complement or refute the concepts

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discussed in class.


Week 4
Monday 30 September
Viewpoints Training: Motion Composition

Continued Viewpoints exercises with music. Themes are incorporated into the
Viewpoints vocabulary with a concentration on basic principles of composition.
Short compositions are developed in class. Tactics for compositional practice are
explored through exercises focused on the sequencing of compositional elements
with a focus on Motion Images.

In-class viewing of image materials: Sam Taylor-Wood, Velasquez, Goya,
Caravaggio, Cindy Sherman, Francis Bacon: The knock-off versus the
Adaptation.

Assignment for week 6: Develop a composition using a Music Video of your
choosing as the Text. Compositions are to be developed with special emphasis
on use of space. These are 3 to 5 minute compositions, which must make use of
direct and indirect quotations of light, color, costume, sound, and videobased
on the Music Video selected during the prior week. BE BOLD. Limitation: The
text of your piece must be the words that are are sung in the music video word
for word.
The music video compositions are made by small ensembles of 3-7 individuals
and presented in the studio.

Selected Readings: from Broken Screen (interviews with Mike Figgis, Claire
Denis, Olafur Eliasson, Pipilotti Rist)



Week 5
MONDAY 7 OCTOBER
TBA Guest Instructor /Open Rehearsal.


Week 6
Monday 14 October (COLUMBUS DAY, NO CLASS)


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Week 7
Monday 21 October
Music Video Performance: We will present all Music Video inspired
Compositions.
Composition: Duration / Time Specific Composition

Subversive Compositions often have ways of making minor elements major. For
us it is the opportunity to sketch with ideas that sometimes reveals unusual
interpretations that sharply define or serve to overturn staid conceptual
speculations. The point of this exercise is to build these muscles and to stay
limberto react intelligently and without resistance along thematic,
analogous, parallel, associative or contradictory trajectories in relation to a text
or to a themethis is the goal.

Music Video Performance: We will present all Music Video inspired
Compositions.


Assignment #1 for week 8: Please write a Composition recipe. Use the above
written Assignments as your models. Focus the recipe in such a way as to learn
something intrinsic about what you are making and about the interactions of
people, their interests, their passions, or how the light falls on their faces in
the eveninguse the recipe as a means of understanding something about the
concrete reality of Carmen.

Assignment #2 for week 8: Please bring to class 5-7 images, which you feel
provide interesting perspectives in relation to Carmen. Images may be taken
from magazines, art books, newspapers they may be staged photographs taken
by you or by friends, or photos taken on the street. We will hang them on the
wall in the studio discuss them. And then put them to use.

Final Project Assignment #3 for weeks 12 and 13: Please prepare a brief
proposal for your final project. Your final project should be a work of
approximately 15 to 20 minutes (not less than 5 and not to exceed 30
minutes-Ill explain!). It may be text based or theme based. You may work in
any ensemble configuration. In your proposal please discuss the kinds of
research you are doing, ideas that you have regarding sound, or light, or
costumes, or color. It is your performance. I will also welcome proposals that
seek to return to / build upon past worksthe music video, or your own

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adaptation of Bizets Carmen. Your Proposal could include images, scripted
materials, sketches for the stage design or diagrams that describe special effects
(ie story boards) and should be 3-5 pages in length.

Suggested Reading: Hemingways short story THE CAPITAL OF THE WORLD
http://archive.org/stream/firstfortyninest030256mbp/firstfortyninest030256m
bp_djvu.txt

(This web page contains 49 short stories by hemingway. I will try to get a better scan for
everyone!)



Week 8
Monday 28 October
Composition: the movement image

During this week we will concentrate on exploring the expressive potential of
images that move. Our initial focus will be on the creation of static images. We
will then move our focus to the making of motion images. How do images in
flight remain semantically intact?

In-class Composition Assignment for groups of 2-3 (We will use part of this
class to prepare presentations):
Please make a 5 minute composition with the following ingredients: Choose 5
images from the images that have been brought into the class which you relate
to or are intrigued by or were shocked by (?) most powerfully. Study the images
in their finest detail. What is it exactly about these images that allow them to
speak to an experience of the world as it relates to Carmen? This composition
should be exactly five minutes long. Each image should take shape and last
precisely 60 seconds. The images must be as exactly copied as possible. Exactly
copied but none the less made by You! Allowing your personality to flow
through. Pay special attention to the social dimension of an images
composition. The image need not necessarily be still but must remain
semantically in tact for the duration of sixty seconds. The composition must
contain the following elements: an excellent use of All of the Viewpoints; 2
excerpted songs from Carmen, a scandalous use of colour, one surprising or
shocking or scandalous use or misuse of costume or makeup, and 20 seconds of
top speed action. Not more than 20 sentences. Exactly taken from Carmen, or
from Godards Prenom Carmen.


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You will have 15 minutes in class to prepare the assignment. We will then
present them and discuss their importance as a means of making a detailed
inquiry into the use of this technique to develop a play from scratch! We will
then begin, over time, compiling a successful list of images, gestures, spatial
relationships, dance phrases etc a list of things which WE WOULD WANT TO
KEEP IN OUR PRODUCTION!


Assignment for week 9: Making use of Compositional tactics explored in the
class and the Viewpoints Please prepare a 10-15 minute presentation. You may
work in any ensemble configuration you wish and you may make use of any
text or image materials that you choose. No matter your primary source, please
bring secondary materials to bear on these works. My only stipulation is that
Projects must be discussed with me prior to presenting them. I encourage you to
use as little text as is possible. I encourage you to develop recipes with which to
rehearse the work. Do not forget considerations of colour, architecture, shape,
gesture, floor pattern, spatial relationship, perspective shifts etc Think
about the entirety of your Carmen if you choose, but show us only a finished
moment.


Week 9
Monday 11 November
Presentation of Carmen compositions.



Week 10
Monday 18 November
Continued Presentations followed by:
FILM SCREENING: Excerpts from five Filmic versions of Carmen with
discussions.


Week 11
Monday 25 November
Presentations and
Viewpoints Training: Review

This will be an opportunity to come back to some of the fundamental ideas

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presented at the beginning of the semester. We will again undertake a detailed
physical inquiry into Architecture, Spatial Relationship, Kinesthetic Reaction,
Tempo, Repetition, Duration, Shape, Gesture, and Floor Pattern. Remaining
time will be spent discussing final projects, along with some in-class rehearsal
time.

Reading: TBA
Readings and film screenings will be further discussed and contextualized.



Week 12
Monday 2 December

Composition: Final Presentations
First round of presentations will be open to invited guests

Week 13
Monday 9 December

Composition: Final Presentations
Second round of Final presentations will also be open to invited guests