Next stage of development of Unamunos Quorum

After the initial excitement with which the group started the "paradox of practicing to improvise" started to become obvious. How to rehearse improvisation becomes a paradox that needs to be resolved more or less at each rehearsal. A number of approaches and ideas came to the foreground as the group developed.

Liu Ponomorew and Sjaak de Jong during the performance at the Mechanics Institute in Brunswick as part of the Jan Saric& Emidio Puglielli Exhibition

A lot of personal came and went in the first 2 years, since we constantly recorded al these permutations and combinations of people some analysis was possible. It became clear that there was a kind of blanket sound of a particular size group, that became more and more chaotic and similar as the number of people involved became larger.
This "blanket sound" appears to be a function of our perceptional capabilities. One can only clearly hear the others in a group if it is a trio, if the group becomes larger then our hearing tends to group participants in order to perceive them, i.e. two people doing rhythmical things will be grouped together as "rhythm unit".

As time went on some people became regulars to rehearsals (Mark Lewis, Liu Ponomorew, Edgar Loutit, and Yasmine Shoobridge) , introducing stability and a way of getting to know the others style and capabilities.

When we performed at the Mechanics Institute Art Gallery (Oct. 29 1994) we walked around the artwork and sang our impressions of it. During the performance one of us accidentally knocked over a piece of sculpture which was then (almost) caught by another, who couldn't quite hang on to it either. In the end it took all four of us to catch the sculpture and stop it from falling. Somehow this was an exciting event, it showed how much of a "unit" we had become.


Yasmine Shoobridge, Julie Drysdale and Robert Calvert at Cafe Muse in Elsterwick January 7 1995

Julie Drysdale, also in the shadows behind her are Edgar Loutit, Sjaak de Jong, Melody James and Yasmine Shoobridge during a performance in the Sacred Heart Church in St Kilda, October 12 1995


We started to workshop improvisation intensively first under the guidance of Robert Calvert who had studied with John Stevens and Maggie Nichols in England.


After perceiving the rational behind these exercises we started designing our own methods, and after a while we came across a book by Augusto Boal "The Theatre of the Oppressed" that also had a lot of interesting workshop ideas. Much to our surprise some of the ideas in there were identical to the methods we worked out ourselves.

 

Somehow it started to become clear that "workshopping in this way" had its own limitations and indeed gave rise to a particular and recognisable sound and look.

By now we also had started to work on a regular basis with Julie Drysdale who had studied Butoh and Noh theatre in Japan, and shared with us some of her insights into improvisation perse and also some of its relations to ritual.