Text in Action, artists working with words

“THERE’S A cool web of language winds us in,” wrote poet Robert Graves and for those in the arts who deploy text as a key element of their work the recurrent challenge is to break free of that web and find fresh, stimulating, ways to express themselves and communicate with their audiences.

This autumn, a course being given at Galway Arts Centre promises to help local artists discover new ways of working with text and creating artwork across a range of media. The course is titled Text in Action and it will explore what text can do in a performance context. Its chief objective is to encourage its participants to think anew of how text is defined within artistic practice; where it comes from and what its function is.

The course is being given by writer/performer Claire Louise Bennett. Bennett worked as an actor in Galway for several years before completing the MA in drama and theatre at NUIG. From there she began to write her own work, creating site-specific and installation pieces, which were included in Project 06 and Tulca LIVE. Her most recent project, The Surrounding, was shown in Dublin gallery thisisnotashop. She is currently doing a PhD at NUIG on the impact performance theory has on contemporary playwriting, in addition she works as a critic and dramaturg.

While her own background is in theatre she emphasises that Text in Action can be of benefit to artists working in other media also. “The course is intended for anyone whose work has a text-based element; that could be film-makers, performance artists, even dance artists. My own impetus for the course did come from my theatre-based background and a need I perceived to find new ways of creating artworks. I don’t write conventional plays but I believe what I do still has an outlet within theatre, but it can be difficult to develop a dramaturgy to enable that to happen. I was aware over the past couple years that you have companies like Water Donkey who are departing from conventional models of creating theatre, and I would also have been influenced by innovators like Tim Crouch and Forced Entertainment. I wanted to bring together a group of people in a context where we could explore alternative ways of working creatively with text and performance.”

Throughout the course participants will become familiar with a range of cross-disciplinary workshop strategies which depart from employing text as a representational aid and instead approach text as an event. It will look at specific techniques including open text, bricolage, constellations, repetition, listing, fragmentation, hybridization, and accident. This course takes the form of a laboratory and is commited to the generation of new, performance-orientated work, in whichever medium, and will culminate in a short showing of the work developed over the 10 weeks. The course takes place on Tuesdays from 6.30pm to 8.30pm, starting September 15. The cost to participants is €130, with a €120 concession rate.

Enrolment details from Galway Arts Centre 091-565886.

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