Week 5. (The most logical place to begin.)
It’s me – the composer, Tom Elstob.
I’ve never been asked to write a blog before - but as I understand it - it’s principally writing down your thoughts instead of just thinking them.
Sooooo here goes.
I started my CoDI Move project some FIVE weeks ago. I was tasked (in collaboration with a representative from NoFit State Circus) to create music for a one-off performance by Hijinx Academy students in Cardiff later this year.
I’ve been attending academy sessions for a few hours every Thursday afternoon and have many thoughts about the project so far.
Firstly, I LOVE academy 2. The students are incredible. They are passionate, inspiring, talented people and I’m still enjoying getting to know them all better. This is my first experience of working with neuro-divergent actors and I am well and truly out of my comfort zone. There is a huge range of personalities, abilities, idiosyncrasies and I’m still learning to read the room – it moves at a different speed to other rehearsal rooms I’ve been in; so much is happening at all times – tiny exchanges of energies, power shifts, interactions - and yet simultaneously it feels glacial; like we’re all moving in slow motion.
Secondly, I’ve been lucky enough to be pared with Francis Maxey of NoFit State – who has a wealth of experience as a performer & trainer and a great pre-existing relationship with Academy 2 – watching him has taught me a lot. I’ve plucked up the courage to lead the room – three times now, for about 40mins each.
We play a lot of games; call and response games, concentration exercises, moving as a pack - that kind of thing. I was told by an expert (who happens to live in my house) that the trick is to always plan twice as much material as you think you’ll need - as a Hijinx academy will always surprise you! Some things you think will work just won’t and vice versa. I certainly found that some of the rhythm games I hoped to play with them just wouldn’t land (for various reasons) and I had to change tack quickly.
As a composer out of my comfort zone; my knee-jerk reaction is to write some music. However, my instinct as a theatre maker is running counter to this. The theatre maker in me is saying “hold your nerve.”
I believe the best thing I can be doing now is focusing my attention on the students – getting to know them, finding what they enjoy doing and discovering ways to play together – I want this project to be a genuine collaboration and ensure the students have agency in what we create.
I’m determined to hold my nerve and stay out of my comfort zone for a bit longer… carrying on building relationships and trust that when the time comes… so will the music...