Laura discusses a key aspect of her process as director/facilitator:
One of the challenges of directing a devising process is figuring out how to facilitate exploration outside of pure discussion—facilitating on-your-feet, improvisatory material generation that resists the temptation to just sit around and talk about what should be in the piece. In the case of this process, we had already done a fair amount of talking about the piece as we collaborated on the narrative with writer Hattie Naylor, who developed a ‘treatment’ of the story that we brought into the rehearsal room with us. The task was to take this treatment and bring it together with the puppets in an open way that allowed the puppets themselves to lead the creation process within an existing structure.We used a facilitated improvisatory process with the puppets, in which I led each puppet individually through a guided improvisation based partly on what I already knew of them from the narrative, and partly on how they responded to verbal prompts drawn both from the narrative (such as ‘how did you feel when you realised you couldn’t help?’) and from the space (such as ‘what’s so interesting to you about the ceiling?’). The puppets were silent throughout, except on rare occasions when I needed clarifications on a detail, so most of the improvisation was movement-led. We found this process extremely helpful in digging into the deeper levels of each character, and in developing the dramaturgies of specific character arcs – developments that informed both the subsequent staging and the writing of lyrics. The fact that the verbal prompts were influenced by the puppets themselves (I never knew at the beginning of a session where the improvisation was headed, and the puppeteers were just as often surprised by how the puppets responded) meant the puppets themselves were leading their own development – an important point for us as we want our work to be puppet- or object-led as much as possible, as we believe puppets/objects have their own meanings and stories embedded within them that can be discovered, rather than imposing our own ideas on them.
Some behind the scenes process photos:
And some pictures from the songwriting and promo recording sessions: