During the first research residency week at Chapter in Cardiff, we began to expand our working methods. Our aim was to incorporate the public in the creative process. This idea rose from our observation of how much productions and our own perceptions of them change once they are performed in front of an audience. In 2014, during a research project called: Please Switch On Your Mobile Phones, we started experimenting with engaging the public in the creative process in an active way. As a choreographer, I am interested in exploring how the public can be more involved in the creative process and what it brings to the work.
During our recent Cardiff residency we organised three open research sessions, during which we developed and tested ways to take the artistic research forward with help from the people who turned up to the sessions. It is about taking the idea of an open rehearsal a step further and rather than invite people to watch us rehearse we invited people to take part in the process in an active and meaningful way. Each day, two or three people came in to experiment with us. We miked up the volunteers, gave them a pair of headphones and short and simple tasks to work with. People had a choice about how much or how little they would engage with the work and with the team and how long they stayed. Big thank you to Johanna Nuutinen, Akiko Takeshita from Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media, Caroline Sabin, Krystal Campbell, Louise Lloyd, Ailsa Richardson all the others for their great contribution to the research.
There were clear aims for using these open sessions: 1) they needed to take the project forward rather than just create extra work for us and 2) they needed to provide interesting and meaningful connections between the participants and the work/TaikaBox in order to build strong and long-term relationships on a personal level – in other words it was about investing in the participants. Our investigation into this method is still in its early days, but our experience of it so far is very positive. We believe that this way of working and sharing the process with people can be rewarding to both parties with potential mutual long-term benefits.