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Feedback by stage director Maud Morillon
As a young artist, my main path of research is focused on new operatic and music theatre forms. How to invent a new operatic language? How to move lines between stage and audience? How to offer a new perception of operatic form to the audience? How to find a new way to listen to music?
I staged my first musical project in 2018. It’s a musical project for one performer, one piano and a lot of deflected daily objects. The performances were sold out, the work has been praised and the audience happy. Beyond the result and regardless my partial satisfaction, this first experiment generated tones of questions about the creative process.
The path to get from the intuition to a sensitive object, during the creative process and afterwards, represented for me a land of doubts and questions. Among which: How to create encounter between different mediums instead of just adding them together? How to get the performers (singer, musician) involved on stage in a new way? How to share the poetry i can sense coming from the materials of the project to a most universal perception?
But also, questions about my way of searching: Are there tools, frames or methodologies to get beyond the first good idea? How to transform the material in order to create sense and poetry? How to go deeper into my idea? How not to be only focused on small details? How to overpass my own personal satisfaction in order to talk to others?
Afterwards, I thought that perhaps, a part of the problem may come from the fact that, as a stage director assistant, I am rarely involved in the first step of the creation: the research step.
Of course I knew that “the one and only” method of staging does not exist and that it wouldn’t even make any sense if so ever. But I also knew that creation does not just magically happen and that there are several personal approaches that could feed mine.
So I was more than ever interested in observing and exchanging about the creative process of other stage directors/artists from different disciplines. That’s why I applied to enoa residency programme at LOD muziektheater which organises every year the Bijloke Summer Academy that provides space and support to 7 music theatre projects in development.
So, the aim of my residency seemed clear and simple: to come back with a maximum of answers to my main question “how do you proceed in creative research?” in order to nourish my own methodology.
My aim seemed simple but not so easy to implement… Indeed, how to be an active observer without being involved in a project? Without being too disrupting for the team? Also, observing a creative process requires to be present from the beginning to the end of the residency. So, another question came up to me: How can I follow 7 projects simultaneously? I would certainly have to narrow it down to one or two projects. But, which ones? The farthest from my esthetics and my research, or at the contrary, the closest from my approach?
LOD offered me a great and non-expected key to resolve this equation. It gave me the opportunity to follow the dramaturge of the Bijloke Summer Academy, Koen Haagdorens, on the first step of his work, which was to meet each group and exchange about their objects of research for the next two weeks. Then I could be able to decide which team(s) I’d like to follow depending on their problematics.
I discovered several projects as well as a part of the work of a dramaturge during this first day.
As Koen Haagdorens immediately involved me in the discussions with each group, I felt more than just being an active observer, I was also part of the reflection. So I took the opportunity not to be focused on one project only but to keep following Koen Haagdorens, in order to face the creative process through new perspectives.
My residency was not turning exactly as I imagined it, but it was a lot richer than I expected in many ways. Being in the position to assist a dramaturge has been a privilege. It offered me the opportunity to be present in a specific time of the creation but also deeply into the questioning moment of the creation. I learned from the teams and also a lot from the focus of reflection in the dramaturgy. I had the opportunity to observe how a good questioning from a “benevolent outsider” can be helpful in a creative process.
Even if each project and each encounter are differents, I learned that the big stages of a dramaturgic approach could be:
- to welcome each project in its specificity
- to detect a maximum of its potential
- to question it, and to play with it like an object with infinite possibilities beyond the first intuition of the team
- to offer some options – without being personally attached to them, but just interested in the echo of them on the creative team
- to drive the artistic team into shaping what could be the core of their material
- to be involved in the reflection process while keeping a distance in order to re-question it at any moment if necessary
- to nourish the reflection of the creative team.
The goal of the process is not to bring answers, new ideas or tangible solutions to the team, but to make them face their ideas, think deeper their project. Through the dramaturgic questions, the creator can assume and assert his subject and his choices. This is a moment made for questioning and strengthening the project.
The planning of the summer academy and the number of projects to support created an exciting daily schedule.
Most of the time, we met all the teams every day, at least for a small chat – meal times and the communal room fostered this type of exchanges - and we had a long time meeting every two days. After the first briefing, the other meetings were meant to show specific parts of the project and tangible evolutions since the last moment together.
It was great to be able to see that each talk had echoed on the project. It was fantastic to re-discover the performance afterwards and to see the team enriched by the previous discussions. Some of the ideas we shared took form, others were put aside … but in full consciousness.
During those 2 weeks, I managed to have at least a few hours to work on my own musical theater project.
I ended up questioning my project again as I was being stimulated by the way of thinking and questioning of Koen Haagdorens.
Thanks to those personal times working with a dramaturgic perspective, I have been able to identify more clearly why I hadn’t be satisfied with the first version of my staging.
I used the conception tools I had been collecting thanks to Koen Haagdorens and the 7 teams in order to question the artistic path of my project, and to build a roadmap to go further into my reflection.
Being acquainted with 7 projects under development, 7 projects very different from one to another, 7 approaches, 7 ways to transform a concept into a tangible and poetic expression on stage, 7 ways of building together music and theatricality, were super ingredients to nourish my own work.
Furthermore, I attended several Belgium performances connected to my subject of researches and it gave me the opportunity to discover new approaches of objects on stage.
It stimulated me to continue my researches about the poetry of daily objects and their narration through music.
I also had the opportunity to attend performances outside of my research area, which gave me a global overview of Belgium productions. It was also very precious.
Being part of the Bijloke Summer Academy has been a privilege and a rich artistic experiment. Being involved, during 2 weeks, in all those artistic interactions has fundamentally enriched my own reflection process as a young artist.
I’d like to add that the attentive and warm welcome of LOD's team has been an integral part of my wonderful experience.