Flora Marston and Nic McQuillan from Kopfkino talk about how competitive games in their warm ups became a storytelling devise in their show The Bearpit.
The Bearpit arrives at CPT on Dec 8-9, get your tickets here.
Our games started off on a very basic level: we had a week of truth or dare, staring competitions, races, arm wrestling, hashing out the broadest of brushstrokes right at the beginning of the process. Many of these games still remain in the show in one form or another. The forfeits for losing were generally degrading or humiliating. The worst forfeit we found, or arguably the best forfeit, was jumping up and down on the spot to heavy metal music for an hour. This transformed from an act that was liberating and funny to downright painful. 3 days in, neither of us could walk properly; we were moving like thunderbirds and unable to climb stairs. Saving face became more important than saving our knees.
About a third of the way into the show, we play a game where Nic tests Flora on her knowledge of capital cities around the world. It begins as a way of connecting with each other, so the capital cities are straightforward (France, Spain, Italy). As the game progresses, he begins to realise that her knowledge is actually quite limited. Nic has a choice to make: act kindly and stop the game, or continue, and embarrass her in front of the audience. The game has changed, from silly, fun, maybe even a little flirty, to an opportunity to humiliate and undermine. It has become a power struggle, a way to exert control over a situation.
This idea of having an ulterior motive, which was often at the cost of the other, became a wholly integral part of the show. Games are a playful way to express how we feel, whilst probing and questioning each other’s limits. They came to represent a private, shared world that exists beyond language, one that the public doesn’t see.
Except in theatre, we can all see everything. The audience watches us play slaps, for real, on stage. Throughout the show, there is a tension between real and not real; public and private; our true selves versus the image we project outward. Same team, different team.