Author Topic: Blocking Notation for Movement Show in Development  (Read 4044 times)

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sgoldsbo

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Blocking Notation for Movement Show in Development
« on: Jun 01, 2010, 01:55 pm »
Hello!

I'm a first time poster and budding SM - but have been lurking around for a while. This forum has been so helpful when I have questions or need advice!

My company does work we call "hypertheatrical" - a blend of traditional theatrical traditions, like mask and puppet work, with modern technology, like projected animation, complex sound design, and special effects. We’re very production-based.

We are currently in the workshop phase of a movement/tech based show. There is no dialogue or script but it’s not really a dance show, because the movements are not count-based, or set specifically to music (though the entire show does have pretty constant underscoring). I guess if I was going to compare it to anything, I would say it’s most like a clown or mime piece. Plus masks and giant puppets.

So, my question is – does anyone have experience with notating blocking or building a “script” for something like this? My assistant and I are basically just writing down really detailed blocking notes, but I think it’s a bit overwhelming to refer to because there is no dialogue to break it up. Right now it looks like a novel. And, this document will eventually become the document from which we call cues.

Anyone have similar experience or tips? I looked around the forum some, but couldn't find any similar posts.

Thanks!

loebtmc

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Re: Blocking Notation for Movement Show in Development
« Reply #1 on: Jun 01, 2010, 02:21 pm »
sounds similar to either modern dance (which can be without music or to various sounds) or to circus work.

Granted I have not done much of those, but when I did, I counted on the dance-captain-equivalent for maintaining the movement and simply took notes on the blocking patterns  - gave myself specific abbrev for the dancers or "block R moves UC, block L moves DL" for large clusters, highlighting specifics where I might be able to use a move for cueing (is Sarah X DC for solo sequence, group catches/lifts Martine)


SMrose

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Re: Blocking Notation for Movement Show in Development
« Reply #2 on: Jun 01, 2010, 03:30 pm »
I would put the detailed notes in some form of "paragraphs" with headings like" walking in wind, mime".  This would help me find my place in the "movement score" and help me transfer notes to cue music, lighting, what have you, when the show goes into tech.  When I SM'd Miracle Worker, the movement director did not use the existing text the way it was written in the dinner scene confrontation.  I did, indeed, paragraph the movements into groups, identifing the exact movement in each "line" of the paragraph.
 

Rebbe

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Re: Blocking Notation for Movement Show in Development
« Reply #3 on: Jun 01, 2010, 03:45 pm »
I would put the detailed notes in some form of "paragraphs" with headings like" walking in wind, mime". 
 
Yes, I find that in movement-heavy shows, we start to give sequences names during rehearsals “let’s take it from River Dance,” or “Everyone in Frog Line-Up” or “Prepare for Giant Mask Entrance”.  You can pick up on these informal names and use them as markers to break up the script, with more detailed blocking below.  You could bold these headings to make them easy to find.  You could also make bold headings related to the time on the music underscore or the sounds in the music itself; even if the moves aren’t based on sound or timing alone, these could still be useful reference points of when to start looking for a cue. 

When I’ve been involved in “non-traditional” productions, it’s not been necessary for me as SM to take train-the-replacement-worthy blocking notes; the shows are so organic that actors know their own moves, or the director/choreographer would adapt it for someone new.  You may want to do your best to take in the whole picture, and in tech you’ll note in detail the actions that have cues attached to them, working backwards to build a script that is callable for you, noting movements that are relevant to or leading up to cues.  If there is a real possibility of a re-mount, you can brainstorm ways to make a formal script, in collaboration with other son the production team,  once the show is set and opened. 
"...allow me to explain about the theatre business. The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster."  (Philip Henslowe, Shakespeare In Love)

sgoldsbo

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Re: Blocking Notation for Movement Show in Development
« Reply #4 on: Jun 22, 2010, 01:16 pm »
Thanks for the good ideas. I wanted to follow up on the post and let you know what we ended up going with, in case anyone else is curious.

My professor had an awesome suggestion that we type out the characters actions narratively - like stage directions in a traditional script or screenplay. And then we will write blocking notes into the action just as you would on a traditional script.

Luckily, since I wrote the last post we've had a writer join the production team, so I think I'll pass along the bulk of that task to him!

 

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