An Echo, A Stain (2016)

*featured in the Cabaret Fringe theatre production of RAW: For we are young and free

Composed and performed by: Nicole O’Rielley and Tanner Muller
Movement assistance: Catherine Campbell and Kim Miaco

Through An Echo, A Stain, our intention was to present how movement and theatre could be merged into a seamless whole. It was a way for us to push theatre, and the production of RAW: For we are young and free, in a new direction. Climenhaga (2009, p. 2) describes this as the creation of a new form. ‘No longer [were] we telling a theatrical story through dance movement or playing out characters in a drama through physical action. The theatricality of the moment [was] enacted on the bodies of the performers [our]selves.’

We based a lot of our movements from Pina Bausch’s work and her methods of combining theatre and dance. Through the performance Cafè Müller (Artes, 2016) we were able to interpret how fluid motions of the body could be utilised to construct a story for the stage, without the use of dialogue. Artistically, it struck a cord for us, as some of the movements in Bausch’s piece were repurposed and expressed differently to fit within our means and our abilities.

While adapting to Bausch’s work, we also employed DeKoven and Ebrary’s (2006, p. 12-13) technique of repurposing a familiar object and ‘observe it as though [we had] never seen it before.’ To analyse it and focus on aspects some might disregard. ‘The whole purpose of this exercise is to sharpen [one’s] ability to observe, recall, and recreate sensory detail (Dekoven, Ebrary 2006, p. 12). As such, the table in our scene was used as a barrier to separate the couple and to prohibit them from connecting. For example, this was shown when we used a push/pull method at opposites ends of the table.

In spite of the song’s fluid, non-linear structure, we found to have more control over our destructive/flowing movements, as we observed and reacted to the music in a theatrical way. This allowed us to easily structure our movements around the song and ‘to get in touch with the original impulse behind the work, as well as the work itself’ (Landau 2000, p. 1184).

Additionally, I found the process of An Echo, A Stain to be gratifying. The ideas we expressed were valued as we recognised them as a contribution to the development and potential of the scene. Through a process of trial-and-error, we experimented with every idea and, if we found it would enhance the piece, embed it into the structure. Despite this, we maintained a clear direction, as were able to remain true to the scene’s intention and its place within the production.

Artes 2016, Pina Bausch-Café Müller (1978), video, YouTube, 24 Feburary, 18 June 2016, <;
Climenhaga, R 2009, Pina Bausch, Routledge, London; New York.
Dekoven, L & Ebrary, I 2006, Changing direction: a practical approach to directing actors in film and theatre, Focal Press, Amsterdam, Boston.
Landau, T 2000, ‘Source-Work, the Viewpoints and Composition: What are they?’ in The Harcourt Brace Anthology of Drama, W B Worthen (ed.), Boston: Thomson/Wadsworth, pp. 1182-1190.


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