• Nadia Ross

Basic structure and how to use a platta

Photo by Eric Fruhauf / George Acheson does the ‘dance’ in 7 Important Things

Platta In practical terms, the platta is the list of actions or events that comprise a show. It’s a name I use and I took out of a book I read on Shakespeare. Basically, a platta is a kind of map or recipe or menu or list of actions. Backstage in the wings before going onstage there would be a list of the scenes to be acted out, called a platta. As a performer, you’d look at the platta like a guide map telling you where to go next. For example, in Hamlet, on the list would be: “The King and Laertes plot their revenge on Hamlet”, and the performers playing the King and Laertes would look at the list and see that is the next scene to play out “revenge on Hamlet”. I liked this method. I had broken down story into pieces and was exploring each piece individually, and with plattas I could explore how the pieces looked when I put them in different orders or only used one and multiplied it, or used some elements and not others. I would make lists of all the different elements that make up stories. Lists of the parts and their order. Next thing was to make them modular and work with them like modules. Then I started moving the parts around to see what different line ups created. It’s like working with the pieces of a universe and making new ones depending on where the pieces land. Working with the platta this way has the feeling like you are shifting channels on a tv or surfing the net, jumping from one site to the next when you jump from module to module. One click and you are in a different universe, if you want to be, and the next click you instantly are somewhere else. Very different things get put side by side in our minds. It is Brecht’s alienation effect in action and in hyper drive, in some ways. I wanted to work with those leaps our brains make, because story doesn’t function the same way when you are surfing the net. The story isn’t one story, but a series of clicks that lead into different universes, billions of stories. The result can make one feel isolated and alone – not held. It feels like the glue that holds us together is not there anymore. What can hold it together? There is a glue that holds moments together, but it is less defined and extremely powerful. The underlying glue is the thing that we have to work on the most, when working with a group of performers, for example, because the story isn’t going to hold things in the traditional way, it isn’t lined up in the way we expect it to be. This glue is what I work on the most and I hope to find the time to write more about it. What I was doing at the time, not lining the story up ‘properly’, was a revolutionary act that pissed people off, made them crazy. To those who were clinging to past structures and the power that went with it, I was simply mad. Confronting how stories are made can feel like a direct affront to the ego, if you have identified with a particular structure so deeply that you can’t see beyond it (or the present moment). It’s working with very powerful forces when working with story. That’s why you need to work on the energy that is holding you together, as a group, because there will be pushback as change can be challenging.

7 Important Thing PLATTA 1. Song and Dance # 1 - 2. True Story #1 - 3. Discussion #1 - 4. Dramatic Scene #1 - 5. True Story #2 - 6. Dramatic Scene #1 7. Song and Dance # 2 8. True Story #3 9. Discussion # 2 10. Dramatic Scene #2 11. Song and Dance #3 12. Dramatic Scene # 2 continued 13. True Story #4 14. Discussion #3 15. Dramatic Scene # 3 16. Song # 4 17. True Story #5 Story existing on different levels: The story The oppression: the cost of Freedom The form The “Thinking” The “Feeling/Spirit” The “Gut”

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