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Josette-Bushell Mingo described STORM as when 'unexpected forces come together and nothing is never the same after that'. STORM was exactly that, an opportunity for emerging artists and theatre-makers to gatecrash the visual and physical theatre party and discover wat it takes to create boundary busting-theatre: from spoken improvisation to installation, site specific to spoken word, puppetry to physical theatre.
In a week of intensive activity directed by acclaimed directors, Josette-Bushell Mingo (PUSH), Jenny Sealy (Graeae) and Sean Holmes (Lyric Hammersmith), 40 european theatre-makers (although most of them based in London, and I was one of them) were given space and time to discover contemporary theatre companies inside out.

[image: detail of polaroid wall with all the stormers ]

The week-long workshop was 'staged' at the Lyric Hammersmith, literally taking over the building in every possible way (to the point, that the walls were painted and drawn upon) and brought together an array of established theatre-makers that included: Helen Paris and Leslie Hill (Curious), Ferdy Roberts (Filter Theatre), Josette Bushel-Mingo (Push/TystTeater), Javier Marzan (Peepolykus), John Wright (The Wright School), Barby Asante, Benji Raid (Breaking Cycles), Toby Jones and David Jubb (BAC centre), Sean Holmes and Simon Stephens (Lyric), Aitor Basauri (Spymonkey), Paula Garfield (Deafinitely Theatre), Scott Graham (Frantic Assembly), Mem Morrison (performer), Steve Tiplady (puppetry), Lee Simpson (Improbable), Jenny Sealey and Mojisola Adebayo (Graeae), Vicky Amedume (Upswing Aerial), Helen Chadwick (voice coach), Richard Greogory (Quarantine), David Farr (RSC), Wolfgang Stange (Amici Dance Theatre), Paul Hunter (Told by an Idiot), John E Macgrath (National Theatre of Wales), Emma Rice (Kneehigh Theatre) Francesca Beard (poetry performer).

Impossible to resume the full experience of the workshop, here follows a glimpse of my own path through the week, through the myriad of wrokshops offered, trying to rationalise the experience, emotions, feelings and sensations, that punctuated each hour of these never-ending days.
We started the week with two questions: Where do you come from ? Where are you going?, in a ice-breaker session led by Helen Paris and Leslie Hill for 40 strangers that sat around the tables in the main foyer of the Lyric Hammersmith. In colourfull pieces of paper, yeallow, blue and pink, histories and dreams were written down: I am coming from 'darkness to light', 'home', 'a city where people's names end with Buttons', and 'I am not sure where I am going but I intend to be busy', 'I am going with knowing what Is the mening of going', 'I am going on a trip', 'I am going'.
And off we went to our first workshops, the groups became smaller, the space changed, in a minute we were in the main stage of the Lyric with Ferdi Roberts of Filter Theatre, that after a brief talk about Filter's on-stage fusion of live and recorded music and sound, naturalistic and stylised physical movement, and video images, led us into a world of wonder experiences. The group of strangers holding each other in the centre of the stage, heads with heads, shoulders with shoulders, started breathing together, silently, a silence that became a sigh, small ressonances of each others body, that grew bigger and louder, to the point that the sounds created made us travel to an imaginary space: space of storms, accross highways, winding away the fauna of the far away landscape, and back again to the plateaux of background sounds of the Lyric.
After luch time, where ther was time to chat, rest, meet other stormers, get a breath of fresh air, sit and dream, plot an plan (as they said in the programme whatever you need to do or whatever feels right), we went to our next workshop.
John Wright received us with a huge smile, welcoming us like children welcomes their playmates, and 'play' was the ruling word of the day, or at least, this afternoon where we investigated concscious and unconscious play, finding the game, revealing and hiding the game and the devolopment of text and situations out of nothing, or better saying, out of playfulness. Out of basic and simple movements, the exercises were puinctuated by hilarious situations that started every time with the impossible provocation: Well, I heard you know all the moves... Yes, I certainly do!
The first day ended with a conversation with Toby Jones (Every Boy Deserves Favour, Infamous) and David Jubb (BAC) who talked about their own personal and professional path, their dreams and fears, their way of living theatre. Of the myriad of great moments or lines of thought, one stroke me as really special and hilarious: Toby took off his shoe and threw it in the middle of the human circle, that sat around the stage of the Lyric Studio. The shoe just laid there, without any interest, but as Toby made it clear, it all changes when the actor enters the stage, at that precise moment, the shoe becomes incredile important. 'Oh! I know he lost he shoe!', 'Someone robbed the shoe!', 'It is not a shoe, that is obvious!' were some of Tony's lines enacting the audience in its eagerlness to try to make sense of the uninteresting shoe in space. And that's all it takes!

The next day was spent with Sean Holmes, artistic director of the Lyric Hammersmith and Simon Stephens, playwright (On the Shore of the While World), in a workshop where we should basically Write a short scene and stage it. Well, that's quite a challenge to someone who is not used to write. The morning session examined how character is dramatised rather than described and how dialogues and action can be charged to release words in a way that engages audiences. Simon took us step by step through some basci questions such as: what qualities are need to be a playwright? or What must all palys be about? or what's the difference between a human and an animal, that took us deep into 'deep structure grammar'. In the end, what we arrived to was Inclination, observation, analysis and technique as basic skills for the playwright as the main function of his endeavour is to actually map behaviour, namely people's behaviour, as this is ultimate the thing that all plays should be about: People. We actually ended up with thre basic questions that all scenes (and basically all plays) should respond: What do they want? What is stopping them? What do they do to get it?
Sean Holmes took the lead in the afternoon, staging some of the 14-lines short scenes and actually staging them, concluding with scratch performances that worked mainly the possibilities that are buried in a simple amalgamation of words, words that mean actions, that construct people, characvters and situations, a conflict and its resolution ( I will post the scene I wrote in one of the next posts).
In the evening, Mojisola Adebayo presented a first rehearsed readind with British Sign Language (BSL) interpretation of her new play Matt Henson, North Star, inspired by the true story of Mathew Henson, an African-American who in 1909 was denied his place in Artic history as the first man to reach the North Pole. Set in an imaginary Vaudeville decadent theatre, Danny Sapani, Matt Henson, was exponentially amplified by the interpretation in BSL by Jacqui Beckford, the Weather Lady, which gave visceral expression to the voice of the man, the adventurer in a full lived experience of his great adventure, his life.

The following day started in an Improbable way, with Lee Simpson wanting us to create work by the seat of your pants and the skin of your teeth and stepping on stage before you are ready. Foccusing on the improvisational approach that underpins the creation of an Improbable show, the work was done in the most imporbable way, how to put two human beings, telling the seame story simultaneously wihtout knowing what the story is about. Just go along.
The afternoon was set to other tunes, with Helen chadwick leading a a workshop where we explored singing in harmony as a group. Leraning songs from scratch in just a few minutes, we filled the room with harmonious sounds and melodies, that spread through the building, other workshops and ended up in the square in fornt of the Lyric in the middel of the city, singing to the four winds, that when you go out far, how far is far enough far? And realizing that when you think you are far enough, you are just scratching the surface of yourself. It was beautiful, I cannot explain it, so I am going to continue, because it had to be experienced to fully understand it (I guess).

The last day of workshops started with Paul Hunter of Told By an Idiot, fascinating us with the idea of the fine line that exists between comedy and tragedy, and how the work of the company strives to explore the human condition by revealing it in a style of theatre that is bigger than life. Through a variety of strcutured exercises including verbal and non-ver-bal improvisation, rhythm, timing and ensemble work, we created hilarious situations that wre basically and amplification of our own lives.
The afternoon workshop lead by Emma Rice of Kneehigh Theatre, continued along the sme lines, with more intense and extreme physical work, we actually became bigger than life, experimenting positions and perspectives that changed our relation to space, gravity and the other people. Intensified through the introduction of musicality, the simple physical movements, became charged with the power of an embedded story.

[ images: Claire Cunningham perfoming a site-specific piece based on the workshop led by Josette-Bushel Mingo (PUSH) in the patio of the Lyric Hammersmith ]

The day ended with the Open Mic Night where some of Stormers presented improvised work, the results of the exercises developed in the workshops, in what became a rather emotional night, full of sketches of life, love and theatre. Caroline Parker was unforgetable as Kate Bush: Heathcliff, it's me--Cathy. Come home. I'm so cold!Let me in-a-your window. 5, 4, 3, 2. The end!

PS: This one is already too long and at the same time too short to say so many little huge things and moments that punctuated these never-ending days and nights.

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Emanuel de Sousa, arq