Thursday, January 31, 2013

Thoughts on a Handful of Leaves-Leah Stupniker

I apologize for the lateness of this post, as I have been sick on and off for the past few weeks which is why I wasn't in class. I had a medical emergency and I couldn't make it.

I have, however, reflected on the journal of Leah. 

I have to say, the thing that struck me the most (and I'm sure many of you as well) was the foreshadowing of her ultimate demise. The Eeriness of her decision to begin equating her suffering to another young girl who also died of tuberculosis is uncanny. I would wish that I could read in Hebrew so that I may fully grasp her use of words. It seems so poetic in English- I'm curious as to how accurate the translation is.

I have done some image scanning of Islamic Tombs and It would help to know more of what the actors intend on doing for the particular scene. I assume that Leah will be laying on a slab, so we will not need to have one in the picture. I can imagine using all 5 of the screens so the audience has the feeling of being immersed in the tombs, which are all very cave-like. I think we could utilize Isadora somehow, or even create an animation in Final Cut, and create a lighting effect. Maybe try to accomplish a fog like layer moving across the background. Here is another concept image I created in Art Rage. I'd be making the final in photoshop:

Word Clouds..

These images may (or may not) be useful for thinking about mood of Leah's writings. Here are two different versions of word clouds generated from here diary entries and poetry selections.

Quiet Refuge

 "I am not at all afraid of darkness or the dead. Death is not terrible like life. There
is more to fear from coercion than the quiet refuge of death." --- Leah Stupniker

This quote stuck out like a soar thumb to me. she refered to death as a refuge. its hard to put myself into her situation or to even imagine being in a situation that gave me thoughts like that. comparing my roughest time in life is nowhere near leahs and for me that gap shows how strong of a person she was having lived through this time.

Leah Stupniker - Happiness

"'Above happiness there is no happiness and underneath it 
hides disaster' - I want to die before I sense that
my work is at an end, before I feel that there is nothing more
for me to do, or because I cannot do any more."

I found this quote struck a chord with me because it deals with strife and meaning.  Leah has a revelation with achievement in her life - that she wants to leave the world at or before the pinnacle of her time. She believes her meaning comes from struggle and that to finally achieve what she has struggled for is the point at which she should no longer need to exist.  There is no greater happiness to achieve after that point, and to live a life without a pursuit of happiness is useless.  This is such a profound concept discovered by such a young mind and one I find myself relating to.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Leah: Noting on Death

"Death is not terrible like life. There is more to fear from coercion than the quiet refuge of death"
-Leah wrote this at sun down on the Sabbath. The Sabbath being a day of reflection and rest.

More remarkable than many other connections made in her writings, this one kindles my heart. In comparison to the other immigrant stories, we really don't have the opportunity to exam why Leah was so profound, and what specific happenings actually followed her. Since her writings seem to be mostly internal, we must digest that Leah was exposed to death, therefore she knew it well.

Perhaps this macabre tone lures me in due to my own experiences with death. Unfortunately I have seen many loved ones suffer, some of this suffering leads to death, other cases life prevailed however the suffering never ended. "I am not at all afraid of darkness or the dead," as morbid as these words might sound it makes all too much sense that the deceased suffer not, but the living live without. In a more recent death I've witnessed, a woman much older in years, and tolerating pain beyond what I've ever experienced finally passed after weeks of agony. I know not many could rejoice at this, but to her she was ready to meet her maker, and excited to separate herself from the body she had used for a lifetime. So I guess what I'm trying to say is if death stares me in the eyes, I'm not going to look away; for fear that if I miss my opportunity when it calls, pain and strife may some looking for me instead.

Most youth feel invincible and don't see the end, since it's so far beyond their reach. Leah not only sees her end, but walks with it and lets it foreshadow her unfortunate untimely parting. So this feeling of being on the 'brink of death', and seeing it before it comes, much like Leah should remembered when devising this piece.

Gloomy story – gloomy color uniformed for design

For the first year anniversary of her death”,“the story of an immigrant child who had died on Ellis Island from tuberculosis at the tender age of 14.The story brings me the emotions of gloomy, sad, dark and other bad moods after reading the whole story. The scenes of the story often switch back and forth between reality and dream, which along with all kinds of experience of pain and injuries. Based on the scenes and environment of the story and the color ideas from web team at present, we should be able to determine the fundamental key of whole design.
1.      Whether we should unify the whole tone among 2D, 3D and web design which in order to achieve the harmony in integral performance.
2.      I totally agree with the color idea from web team. I think other groups can follow the web team directly.
I just some references images, which are matched the gloomy color that came from web team to achieve the sad atmosphere.

Teenage Angst

"Ah! How long will pass before I can do what I want! What is wrong with me all the time - I don't know. The head and the heart ache." - Leah Stupniker

I wanted to reflect on this quote because of the universality of what might be described as teenage angst. When reading this, it took me back to a lot of thinking that I went through when I was of a similar age to Leah. In most artistic endeavors, there is an importance to connect with your audience, and often these moments of universal feeling are points to connect with your audience. I think showing a 14 year old girl who is thinking about her role in the world, and wishing she was grown up already will really resonate with the audience, and allow them to feel an empathy and familiarity with the character.

A Quote

"Death is not terrible like life. There is more to fear from coercion than the quiet refuge of death."

This is a heavy quote for a 14 year old. I know her next entry speaks to her reaction to this quote, but it still speaks to the emotional state of the author at that time. I have two kids, both boys, and therefore do not have the perspective of what it would be like to deal with the emotions of a 14 year old daughter. I do have friends who do and from what I have seen and heard this seems consistent with their experiences. My younger son, Ty, who is turning 10 this year does hit those emotional lows once and a while. For example, if we give him a hard time about eating his veggies, we will get a response like "I feel like you think I should never have been born!" or "why do you hate me!?!". Sometimes it is hard not to laugh. So reading this, I don't take this as a literal wish to die, but rather an over dramatic expression of

I do like this quote though. It shows a unusual elegance to the all too common emotion of a teen trying to deal with the unpopular wishes of her parents. "The quite refuge of death" really struck me as poetic and meaningful.

Leah's Story

Many things came to my mine when I was reading her story and all her sadness in her words. I think many of us or in general many people has crossed similar situation with a little bit of Leah in it. She expresses so much discomfort and frustration on everything she's leaving behind, but at the same time she exited and anxious for her soon to be new life.

There is a quote, I personally love and which got stock with me since the first time I heard it, "Caminando se aprende en la vida, y caminando se sabe lo que hay", it means "By Walking, I learn in life, and by walking I know what's there".

I think that the hardest decision in my life was when I came to the USA leaving everything behind at that moment, my family, my roots, my language, customs, friends, and so much more, but that really helped me to understand what my goal was. I walked a long path to figure out what God was having for me. Living your country is not an easy decision to make, but at the end you are doing it to get something much better for you and your family. This is how I relate my life and story with Leah's.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Late on Leah; personal journaling

"I too will suffer and suffer greatly, but if that is all then it is not all bad."
I believe this statement said it all to me.  When reading this journal, I had the feeling that I was reading something written, not by a girl, but by an older woman.  Normally I do not think of children as being miserable or conditioned to the realities of suffering, but it would appear that she is better versed than many at the collegiate level, even.  Not to get off topic, but it makes me wonder slightly about the intelligence level back then as opposed to today, or at least the level of eloquence.

As for the personal journal, I just hope I'm doing what was called for... It's 2:45am and it's now technically my birthday.  Well... no technically about it.  I can't help but wonder why I wasted so much time in the past day or two working on personal projects?  I understand that it's important to get personal things done, but I didn't do the work I've wanted to get out of the way since early in the weekend so that I wouldn't have to do it all ON MY BIRTHDAY.  Oh well.  All I know is I got a couple awesome presents early, and I'm looking forward to some more awesome presents on the way.  Although I know I won't be able to do too much on the actual day, I'm thinking it would be a good idea to have a Superbowl / Birthday potluck party with just as many people as can cram into the little viewing room at my place this weekend.  Whatever I do, all I need to know right now to be content getting to bed is that I'm happy... I have plenty to complain about, but I have so much more to be grateful for, and the fact that I could even think to feel anything but gratitude just amazes me.  I don't know what's ahead of me, but it's big, and although there's a knot in my chest about the whole thing, I can't help but feel I'm ready to take it head on.  I'm gonna remember that name...

Quote relation

"Today is the last day of my studies at school. How long have I anticipated this day, and now – emptiness in my heart and nothing more. There was a place in my heart that the school filled. Now it has been emptied out and nothing will fill it."

I was actually glad when you mentioned our blog post this week would be to find a quote that you can relate to in the diary of the young girl. The moment I read this line from the book it really hit me. Although this moment has not come for me yet, I feel it will. I have been in school since Kindergarten. I never took a break to "find myself", or travel, or relax. I am ready to graduate, and yes I look forward to it very much. Yet at the same time it has always been there for me, almost as a safety blanket. Reading this line from the her journal really gave me a close moment of relation.

This could be a good scene to add to the show as well because not only does her graduating from her studies lead to a void in her life, it can also be seen the same way when she is leaving her country.

- Chelsea

Coming to America: Leah Stupniker

This young lady is very eloquent with her words and has demonstrated a wide range of emotions in her diary. Her stories are entirely her own, but if reminds me of stories of my family coming to America. Just like her my uncle really did not want to leave his home but against his wishes he was forced to go. What if Leah stayed, she might not have gotten sick but there was a number of other things going on in that region at that time. You never know, but I would like to believe that her mother had her best interest in mind. I was born in the US but I understand that America is the proverbial "land of milk and honey" for many immigrants. Many people have come here and made a good life for them and their families. In the autobiography of Dr. Merdinger he came to America after a terrible ordeal in Europe and had to put up with a lot of hardships here as well before he was able to final settle down. One cant help but to feel bad for Leah Stupniker but those were the times and similar hardships was common place. 

Conceptual background: Belgium

A Quick Sketch-Up during class, utilizing Iconic Belgium churches, and a mountain scape.

FInalized image will of course be a lot more detailed, but the dreamlike watercolor feel I hope to perpetuate during the memories of Belgium before the war.


The Marine Shark

On page 262:

"August 15, 1947, I boarded the boat Marine Shark, and after thirteen days, with apprehension I held the welcoming Statue of Liberty. Since we arrived in late afternoon, we had to stay in the boat overnight."

I have been trying to find a pic of the ship, but the best I can do is to find one of it's sister ships. Which isnt 100% accurate.

The configurations are slightly different for each ship, but this will give you an idea of the vessel. It was a C4 Cargo Ship and the design designation is a C4-S-A3 and it was built by the Kaiser Corp in 1945.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Web Team Update: Mood Board

After reading the source materials, Chad, Juan and I worked to put together a mood board for the website. Additionally, we reviewed some images from the Leah Stupniker Collection. Since we have a dual mission of telling a story while convincing the viewers to donate the materials stored away in their garages and attics, we wanted to evoke feelings of nostalgia, old books, and old photos.

Given that the journals themselves were handwritten, we left a handwritten option for the title, but for readability sake, we prefer the "old printed book" metaphor.

Color was based on old books and posters from the 1930s and 1940s. We prefer the first color scheme because it provides some contrasting colors, but provided a few options. The textures are darker in color, but they can be colorized, and were selected to imitate handmade book materials (linen).

We additionally used the image of the front of Leah's diary to create some signature elements.

While this will be used to guide our design of the website, there may be carryover into titles, segue design, credits, etc. in the final show. Chad is working on turning the mood board into a "style tile," translating the design elements into a more cohesive image.

If you have any feedback please comment!

Leah's Diary

  Leah’s journal is interesting, because while she writes about her specific situation and her sadness at having to leave for America, she still has universally relatable feelings. Her anger at not having any agency because she is a child and her bitterness about leaving her friends and school behind are something any young teen would feel in her situation.

  There is a duality in her feelings, as one day she writes about how depressed she feels and how dark the world itself is, and the very next day feels much better and is not sure why she was so emotional the day before. Her writings, too, reflect this, with themes of light/dark and life/death. The tumultuousness of her feelings is understandable given her situation; she has no choice in the matter and has to express her feelings using this outlet. 

  One of my favorite parts was the friendship book in which she writes to her friends, expresses her appreciation for them, and wishes them well in the future. I feel that this section gives a lot of insight into Leah’s personality, showing that she was well-loved and had many friends. I’m not sure if this is part of the production or not, but if it is I think we could do something interesting with it. 

  Going along with this is the section written about her, which gives insight about her from her friend’s perspective. Her sadness at leaving was clearly evident to others, although one friend mentions how she distanced herself before she left. Her diary was likely her way of expressing feelings that she had trouble sharing with her friends.

Leah Stupniker: Perspective

The journal of Leah Stupniker provides astounding insight on the mind of a young girl emigrating during the early 20th century.  I found her words to be deeply expressive and courageous.  The way in which she writes was well beyond her years, both in grammar and especially in experience.  The reader observes the suffering and hardships, most adults would find hard to endure, expressed intimately in her writings.  She has a certain optimism characteristic of strong-minded individuals but with a grasp on the reality of her world and an adult awareness of her situation.  Her yearning to return to her homeland makes the heart ache.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Thursdays Guest

Thomas Bittikoffer is from Dallas, Texas where he got his start in post production and visual effects.  In 1996 he began work with an eclectic studio Intelecon, He began with Alias' Power Animator until the introduction of Maya in 1998.  While at Intelecon, Thomas helped pioneer stereoscopic 3D production by making the world's first stereoscopic music video which was the largest stereoscopic projected image in the world for the rock band KISS.  After the success of that project, Thomas started a small boutique visual effects studio in Dallas called Tribe FX where they served corporate and commercial clients  In the fall of 2001, Thomas took leave from his studio to pursue a bachelor's degree in English, all the while freelancing to help pay expenses for school.  In 2005, Thomas continued freelancing but expanded his clients to include west coast production agencies.  In 2007 he and his family moved to Los Angeles where he freelanced at some of the best regarded studios in the commercial visual effects industry.  In 2008, he took a staff position at Interlace Media where he built a production pipeline for streamlining the rendering of CG elements used by a team of compositors to build final picture.  In 2012 Thomas resumed freelancing, landing at Stardust Studios where he currently is a VFX generalist.  Thomas's research interests include generating a volumetric, tiered lookup table for the addressing of full-parallax 3d content and the display of such material using MEMS and piezoelectric optical elements.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


I am copying this here for the sake of everyone, i will email it to Production Coordinators too:

A Handful of Leaves – Immigrant Stories
A devised theatre piece
Rehearsal Schedule:

Nadine McGuire Theatre Pavilion
Sunday, January 27, 7 PM
Sunday, February 3, 7 PM
Monday, February 4, 7 PM
Tuesday, February 5, 7 PM
Wednesday, February 6, 7 PM
Sunday, February 10, 7 PM
Monday, February 11, 7 PM
Tuesday, February 12, 7 PM
Wednesday, February 13, 7 PM
Sunday, February 17, 7 PM
Monday, February 18, 7 PM
Tuesday, February 19, 7 PM
Wednesday, February 20, 7 PM
Sunday, February 24, 7 PM
Monday, February 25, 7 PM
Tuesday, February 26, 7 PM
Wednesday, February 27, 7 PM
Spring Break
Monday, March 11, 7 PM
Tuesday, March 12, 7 PM
Wednesday, March 13, 7 PM
Sunday, March 17, 7 PM
Monday, March 18, 7 PM
Tuesday, March 19, 7 PM
Wednesday, March 20, 7 PM
Sunday, March 24, 7 PM
Monday, March 25, 7 PM
Tuesday, March 26, 7 PM
Wednesday, March 27, 7 PM
Monday, April 1, 7 PM
Tuesday, April 2, 7 PM
Wednesday, April 3, 7 PM
Thursday, April 4, 7 PM
Friday, April 5, 7 PM
Monday, April 8, 7 PM
Tuesday, April 9, 7 PM
Wednesday, April 10, 7 PM
Thursday, April 11, 7 PM
Friday, April 12, 7 PM
Digital Worlds Institute REVE:
Sunday, April 14 7 PM Tech Dress
Monday, April 15, 7 PM Dress
Tuesday, April 16, 7 PM Final Dress
Wednesday, April 17, 7:30 PM Performance
Thursday, April 18, 7:30 PM Performance
Friday, April 19, 7:30 PM Performance
Saturday, April 20, 7:30 Performance

Being in charge of the documentation of this work has brought on many exciting ideas as well as questions. I have some ideas of what I would like to film, how I would like to edit it, as well as how to put it all together. I am looking forward to everyone else in the production departments input, as well as the rest of this class. Over the past week I have made up a list of shot I would like to film. If anyone has some other ideas of what could be added into the list, as well as anything you think that might not be a good idea, please let me know!
  • Actor/actress auditions/practices - As well as interviews with the talent
  • Interviews with Kevin Marshall, Pat Pagano, and the leaders of each group in class to get the low down on what each group is contributing to the show.
  • Still photographs of the cast/production crew
  • The room/scenery/props
  • Living writers of the work/who the work is written about. (possible?)
  • People hanging out or hanging up fliers for the show
  • Film the actual show on various nights
Post production
  • Interview with the cast/production crew about how it went
  • Interview/questionnaire with the audience.
Let me know what everyone thinks, and like I said any input is good input to me. Thanks, and see you all in class later today!


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

In regard to Devised Theater

Devised theater is also called collaborative creation, which is a term I can make more sense of. I also see it as a excellent way to hone our individual skills into a greater production than most of us could accomplish alone. I must agree with what some of the other students have stated, that we will have to work together to weed through our creativity to produce a product that will convey all the complex themes covered in the letters as well as exemplify the hard work put in to it, without making the movie too large of a pill to swallow in just one sitting.

I look forward to the finished creation, and also look forward to all the challenges that will be solved as a unit. Devised theater seems to have an overall unique perception of the creating process, and will hopefully help us create a work unlike any other.

Thursday Guest

On Thursday we will have a visit from Tiza Garland: Tiza has worked extensively in the past few years with New and Devised works and brings a unique perspective to everything she does. Most recently she worked with a recent Digital Worlds Graduate Student, Brittany Powell on The Last Unicorn which included innovative movement and projection design in the REVE Classroom Theatre. She will be giving us her perspectives on devised work and her experiences as an actor in grotowski based works.

Her Bio:

TIZA GARLAND is an Associate Professor of Theatre at the University of Florida where she teaches in the MFA, BFA, and BA programs. Her primary teaching responsibilities including teaching the Movement for the Actor courses, Stage Combat, Period Styles Movement, and Dialects. Professor Garland has taught various movement and stage combat workshops and Master Classes at universities across the country including Michigan State University, Trinity University in San Antonio, TX, Western Michigan University, Georgia College and State University, Rhodes College in Memphis, TN., as well as workshops at state theatre conferences and at the Southeastern Theatre Conference. Professor Garland has a varied movement training background. She is a classically trained actor and has trained with the Dah Theatre in Belgrade, Serbia in Grotowski-based work, she has studied Meyerhold's Biomechanics with Gennadi Bogdanov, as well as trained with the United Stuntmen's Association in Seattle, Washington. She has attended the Aerial Dance Festival in Boulder, Colorado where she trained in various aerial dance techniques and apparatus. Professor Garland is a Certified Movement Analyst (CMA) of Laban Movement Analysis (LMA). Professor Garland is a Certified Teacher with the Society of American Fight Directors (SAFD), a Certified Teacher with the British Academy of Stage and Screen Combat (BASSC), and a Senior Teacher with Dueling Arts International. She is Past-Chair of the Movement Committee of the Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC), a member of ATME (Association of Theatre Movement Educators and VASTA (Voice and Speech Trainers Association).

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

devising theatre

This seems like an interesting project with a nice diverse group working on it. Hopefully this allows us to make something really awesome that we can all put on our resumes. But I hope we don't get carried away and try to do too much. I believe in the kiss method, that means keep it simple stupid. With a piece like this with so many people working on it thing could begin to escalate in therms of what what we want to do. To avoid this we need a well detailed plan of attack, to avoid any problems pre-production and communication will be our best bet. Working in group is one of the hardest things to do but it can be very fun and interesting.

Devised Theatre - A Collaborative Creation

What makes devised theatre so unique is how everyone has the ability to put in their own creativity into it. Its a team of talented individuals working together.

I like the idea of devised theater but i feel like it has to be done in a way which everyone is always on the same page as far as creative vision and style is concerned. If that fails everything fails.

We are working with talented teams of people who specialize in several different areas and together I think we will be able to make some awesome visuals.

Cant wait to get started on this Project!    

-Brian Moghari-

Handful of Leaves

Hello everyone,

I'm glad that there is such a devise group of people working on this piece. I am going to be working with Professor Pagano to code the projection design for this show. I think one of the main advantages to having people of all different types of creative fields is that we can learn and help each other.

I hope that today we will be able to decide a general mood for the show, and  discuss what process we will have for creating the media and what deadlines have to be put into place.

-Eliana Pabon

Devised Theater and an expression of creativity

Chelsea here, so I am really looking forward to working on this piece with you all.I did some research on the topic and watched a few youtube videos and it seems like a very exciting challenge.

I think the most exciting part for me is going to be watching everyone put their own key elements into the project to develop the final show. With people from all parts of the digital worlds as well as mass communication school I think everyone in the class will be a great tribute to the peice.

I would also like to include a link that I found helpful when trying to learn more about what a devised theater really actually is. Since prior to speaking with Pat I had no idea of.

Look forward to chatting with you all today about the work that will be done in the upcoming weeks!


Devised Theatre and Collaboration

I am excited that were are using devised theatre to put on this production, because we have a talented group of people who can put together a great show. The fact that we are not just working on the show but actually creating it means that each person will feel ownership over the show. This also means that everyone working on the show will need to be sure that what they are doing works with the creative vision of the group as a whole.

The subject matter is an ambitious one, but this could be a very powerful show. As others  have said, there are many different tones with which this subject could be approached. It could be completely tragic, or it could introduce comedic elements like the film Life is Beautiful (1997) does, which combines tragedy and comedy. The film is certainly a tearjerker, but is ultimately uplifting. What is important here is that everyone agrees on the tone that we are trying to achieve so that there is consistency across different scenes as well as across the aesthetics, music, and other creative choices.

Communication is key to make sure that the various elements from the teams come together in  a way that is consistent and makes sense for the production. I also believe that our digital assets should always work to serve the production and the performers, not vice versa. The performers should not have to compete with overwhelming graphical elements, as this will ultimately detract from the performance.The assets we create should only be used to directly compliment the show. Hence, we should also be sure to work with the director and performers to ensure that the show is cohesive, and make sure that we understand the tone and meaning of the show from their perspective as well. 

Therefore, I think the things we need to decide and agree on are:
  1. What is the tone of this show?
  2. What is the overal aesthetic sense that should guide our work?
  3. How do we want our assets to play into the performance?

A Handful of Leaves, A Devised Piece

Hello all,

I'm excited to see this show come together over the next few months and be a part of the collaborative process of the show. As I touched on a bit in comments already, I think we have two major goals with this production:

1. Convey the stories faithfully, to pay respect to the authors of those stories
2. Draw the connection for audience members, let them see that their stories, or their family memoirs are important artifacts for libraries to maintain and make available

With those goals in mind, I believe our biggest challenge in this production will be to "not do too much." When dealing with sensitive subjects like internment, sickness, death, it seems that most artists go with a quieter, more pensive mood. I think it would probably be a good idea to follow in this manner, and allow the audience more "thinking time" to reflect on what they're seeing.

This overall mood can be punctuated with light-hearted moments (such a singing to the girls in the windows, or jumping up out of the grave, for example). But whether we choose to create a somber piece or a more minimalist pensive piece, I think we need to have the discussion of atmosphere, mood, and theme, very early in the process.

We have so many talented people ready to contribute, and I think it would be a good kickoff point in devised theater to say "What are our goals? What mood are we trying to create? What kind of experience are we trying to give to the audience?"

Secondarily, I think we need to put a lot of thought into "What would motivate an audience member to go to their garage, dust of their grandma's memoirs, and donate them to a library?" This is the ultimate goal of the piece, so I think early in our sessions, this should take precedence as well.

Looking forward to a good semester, and a great show.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Devised Theatre Performance

Hello everyone,

This is my first time to participate in this kind of show on design course. For this project, I will create the 2D design with three other students in our team. About 2D, I want to say something. I think we can have a try to design varied different style characters and images at initial stage. After that, we will take out plans for comparison and select all satisfactory solutions for continuing to the next step job. Such as, 2D design could contain hand painted, existing pictures edited and other ways.

I completely agree with the subject of performance and the content of story and I like the approach for Scrum. The performance will bring us lots of fun and wonderful things, I believe.

Devised Theatre and the production of A Handful of Leaves

Hi everyone,

     On the topic of Devised Theatre and applying it to our current project, A Handful of Leaves, I feel that it’ll be a very exciting and involved experience that I believe we all will gain from. I very much so appreciate the “scrum” approach to development, it allows wiggle room for modifications as well as a very open and adjustable environment. I think that the opportunity to work in this fashion will allow us as students to gain great insight into the process many product development companies are adopting now-a-days to create their products.

Devised Theatre Performance

Hi everyone,

I don't know for many of you, but this is actually the first time I heard the term Devised Theatre, and from the initial concept, I feel that this is a totally new experience for me. From what I have read so far, I can say the every artist in and out the stage has its own identity in the play which leads toward a more realistic and better performance. Design elements can carry as much or more weight as performers, spoken text is often only one fragment of what makes up a devised “play,” and storytelling sometimes takes a back seat to pure experience.

A Handful of Leaves is something that could relate to many of us including me as I came to this country also as an immigrant from a different country and culture. This play creates the story behind many people and I feel that the audience in general would identify themselves with it.

As I would be helping with the 3D modeling and website creation, I think all together can come out with so many ideas based on the written diary, and this would give us a unique sequence of events that would represent us in a successful work. I think we can all express our own feelings in this as they will coming out with each created piece. Devising a piece of theatre like this one ahead of us can be a stimulating and exciting journey towards the development of a performance which is a fusion of the unique talents and creativity of the group.

I just hope to get the most of this new experience and learn from each one of you.

Devised Theater in A Handful of Leaves

When looking at the stories behind the play, I would normally consider turning it into a documentary type film.  While I would still consider doing much of it in this fashion, I do feel that devised theater would have much to offer in the way of representing significant portions of  the stories so that what is filmed is more of a suplemental and biographical piece that sets the scene between the portions of live theater.  In this way, I feel it would seem more personal and real through the footage while still offering the impact of acted scenes that can still in some way potentially incorporate the audience.

A Golden Thread?

Hi Everyone,

I am in brand new territory here, but I am excited to experience the devised theater process. For this production, I am going to be working with Brett on the audio, so from a design perspective, I think we may be a little separated from the visual artists. But I am curious if the design team needs a reference point or reference stimulus to work from to avoid a smorgasbord of styles. It could be anything; a series of photos, music, or even just a cinematic style? Is that common in this situation? It might help create a "golden thread" of design that creates a common theme through a process like this to keep the visual elements from going in complete opposite directions? I have always worked with an assigned Creative Director, so I guess I am curious/nervous how this will work with out one. But maybe that is the point. 

In reading about Devised Theater and Grotowski, I like the idea of not competeing with film. I think we should really think about this and see if there is a way to include the audience. We have a unique opportunity to use all of the tools in the digital realm to immerse the audience and have live interaction. Maybe make the first row of audience as props, extras, or whatever, might be a way to take it to 11.

I like the Scrum approach and analogy. That will be fun and I hope everyone speaks up.

White Board from 1st Production Meeting

Friday, January 11, 2013


When it was revealed that the work for A Handful of Leaves would be a devised theatre performance, I was immediately reminded of the Scrum software development method. There are risks involved with both processes: They both depend upon iteration and introspective course correction throughout the process, and they are designed to promote creative, collaborative contribution and involvement of all members of the production team. The performance and script will be devised by the actors and the director, and so shall all of the supporting elements of the production be devised by the students of this class. The supporting media and supporting production materials created by the class will be its own sort of devised work.

As with the Scrum development methodology, the success of the project requires the engagement and honest feedback of the members of the team. In an effort to make sure that the supporting media that we create for this production pays the proper respect to the source material, I will make my best effort to point out things that I think do not quite communicate the tone and message appropriate for the subject. I encourage fellow classmates to please do the same.

Grotowski’s Akropolis resonated with its original audience, in part, because of its effective use of supporting thematic elements. In this example, this was achieved by surrounding the audience in a simulated crematorium and dressing the cast as concentration camp prisoners. The large canvas of the REVE allows us to incorporate any imagery that we can imagine. But, before we put any images on the screen, we should be sure to ask a few questions:

  • Are we putting these things in because we “like” them, or because they communicate something? “It’s cool” is probably not a very good reason to include it.
  • Does this support the setting?
  • Do these elements reenforce the tempo and motion of performance?
  • Do the sounds and images support the emotional tone of this part of the story or do they create dissonance?
  • Do these images and sounds support the message, themes, and objectives of this piece?

As we learn more about the performance, we will be better able to make decisions about how best to support it. I think we are off to a good start (especially considering how little we know about the final performance at this point).

Let me know what you think in the comments. Any extra questions that you think we should ask ourselves during the process, or disagreement and corrections to any or all of what I have written here, are welcome.