Workshops with Julia Lee Barclay

In the basic workshop Apocryphal offers, I touch on the basics of techniques I have developed over the past nine years working with performers in New York City and London and have subsequently taught and refined in both cities. The initial techniques have to do with levels of address, using first text and then gesture. If there is a time constraint, we will focus on text. I ask participants to come up with some common phrases, usually clichés having to do with issues such as class, gender, religion and/or nationality. We then break down those phrases into specific levels of address, after which we will begin a process of cutting them up in the moment, so that a kind of jazz-like word music emerges that, together with the specific levels of address and presence, can shine new light on these words and the possibilities of the presence of text in the theater (outside of its usual narrative context). (When I have taught similar work in Portugal and Brussels, I gave space for the work to become bi-lingual and it can in fact work in multiple languages – this in fact creates a whole other level of distortion and cut up – along with multiplying the audience depending on who understands which language.) If there is time, I repeat the experiment adding gestures, to give a taste of the possible permutations of textual and gestural language in this context.

The levels of address we work with are: to one’s self, to each other, to the audience and to the “grid”. The grid is a word I use to point to that reality which we think of as unchangeable, all that we say “that’s the way it is” about. Another way to view it is as the “rules of the room” – meaning the very specific theatrical rules, but also the social and political rules that create those rules. While the idea is quite abstract, it does have a concrete form which, when manifest, is quite palpable. The tools any performer needs to bring to this kind of work is primarily the ability to listen intently and hear language work on multiple levels (literal, metaphoric and symbolic).

If the workshop takes place over the course of a week or longer, we can also explore new work being discovered in our current lab regarding levels of presence and different types of gesture and text. See lab description on the website for more on the most contemporary work.


©  Birthe Jorgensen

“…the work began to deconstruct what it means to 'perform' and it brought a level of honesty and truth that I had never explored before …actors tend to act like they are 'listening' or 'staying in the moment'

and your exercises offered opportunities

to actually DO those things, rather than ACT them”

- Rose Condo, Leeds 2006 MA workshop

If the workshop can take place over the course of a few days, we move this language into stage space and working with objects, along with creating cut-up texts and beginning to let students create their own structures for this work.

“I constantly question myself the relation of words and movements/gestures ever since.”

- May Bo, Wu MA student on Julia’s workshop at the Centre for Performance Research Conference

Aberystwyth 2005.

“It made me look to a whole new level … I could take this and apply it to

lots of other work

that I do”

  1. -Danielle Bertin,

Brunel undergraduate on

a short-form workshop

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