What’s your story? | Daily News

What’s your story?

‘Table Top’ Performance Making Workshop Series, Colombo-London-Kathmandu

A salt and pepper pot for the king and queen. A vase for the prince. A matchbox for the servant. A kitchen table for a stage.

January 2021 began for Floating Space with an opportunity to collaborate, reconnect, and slip back into thinking with a community of artists about what creative practice might feel like again, especially how it might take shape following a year of constraint and uncertainties. Interestingly, working within this broad-based collective sharing, artists returned to thinking through patterns and approaches to storytelling, and how we might find our voice through the structures of a story.

‘Table Top Stories’ is a performance making workshop series led by the UK-based theatre company Forced Entertainment. The workshops were convened by Floating Space in Sri Lanka, and Katha Ghera in Nepal, in collaboration with the British Council. These workshops, which for each artist became a means of returning to practice and finding community amidst isolation, brought together 10 performers/performance makers from Sri Lanka and Nepal to create a series of performance work conceived and performed using the top of a table and a selection of objects. This performance making approach is based on Forced Entertainment’s Complete Works: Table Top Shakespeare at Home which tells the plots of all of Shakespeare’s 36 plays featuring a table top, household objects and a compelling approach to storytelling.

The creative provocation thus comes in the form of a table – the most functional of furniture, the most ubiquitous of props – transformed into a ‘stage’ that one might explore as form and structure, as well as experience the dynamic of storytelling in deeply personal, as well as playful ways.

Over a period of four weeks, and a staggered process of large group workshops and partnered mentoring sessions all conducted online, artists came together in an act of translation: where tables they found in their homes were transposed into a stage where stories might unfold, where worlds may be imagined. Another compelling aspect of the performance making approach was the way in which entire casts of characters were made up of objects found around the house, in pantry cupboards, or under the sink, for example. Sometimes decorative, sometimes banal, these objects that lie around the house, were seen anew, as they came to hold the core of the stories told. What ‘Table Top Stories’ has given this community of artists is the space and context to ask questions; questions that have always been asked in some ways: why we make work, and how we approach making. That this collective sharing straddled a pandemic heightens these questions, as collaborators also explored the problems and the poetics of the online interface, finding ways of being present.

The participating artists from Sri Lanka are Abiramy Patkunam, Arun Welandawe-Prematilleke, Chalana Wijesuriya, Sumathy Sivamohan and Tasmin Anthonisz. Having completed the workshop period, artists will be sharing their works-in-progress online. For more information on the sharing, please visit the Floating Space website (www.floatingspace.org) and Facebook Page.

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Forced Entertainment

Forced Entertainment is a UK-based theatre company founded in 1984. Touring and presenting their ground-breaking provocative performances across the UK, Europe, and the rest of the world, the group have sustained a unique collaborative practice of genre, narrative and theatre itself, drawing influence not just from drama but from dance, performance art, music culture and popular forms such as cabaret and stand-up. “Forced Entertainment have long had an obsession with virtual or described performance, exploring in different ways over the years the possibilities of conjuring extraordinary scenes, images and stories using language alone. Complete Works: Table Top Shakespeare explores the dynamic force of narrative in relation to Shakespeare’s comedies, tragedies, histories and late plays. What follows is simple and idiosyncratic, absurd and strangely compelling as, through a kind of, the stories of the plays really do come to life in vivid miniature.”

Floating Space

Floating Space is a contemporary performance company based in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and was initiated in 2007 by Jake Oorloff and Ruhanie Perera as an independent interdisciplinary artistic, teaching and research context to explore possibilities and question perceived limits in performance.