Festa Farina e Forca

Festa Farina e Forca was a site-specific promenade piece in and around a group of old aircraft hangars in Palermo’s Cantieri Culturali alla Zisa, created and directed by rooftop directors Ivor Houlker and Michelle Li, with local musicians/performers. The performance was based on the structure of the local feast of Santa Rosalia, referencing local culture and events, before finally asking what the audience would do for their city. The performance ended in a large outdoor banquet for audience and cast to eat and talk together.

Ch-ch-ch-changes (London 2013)

24/06/2013 — 27/06/2013

Ch-ch-ch-changes was performed in the gardens at Goldsmiths College on 24th-27th June 2013. The performance was conceived, devised and performed by Ivor Houlker, Michelle Li, Jeanelle Archer and Henrik Oppermann. The performance tackles issues around colonialism, via the conceit of sea creatures who are colonising the land. This takes the form of a site-specific promenade piece in which the audience interacts with performers and gets a vote which influences the ending of the show. The show includes detailed installations, music and projection.

Clips from Ch-ch-ch-changes

Photos from Ch-ch-ch-changes

Physical Theatre and Polyphonic Singing in Guangzhou

We were invited to Guangzhou by Friends Playback Theater (同声同戏剧团), to give a three day intensive course focusing on physical theatre, incorporating voice, breath and polyphonic singing (song theatre). We had a very interesting mix of participants, with people flying in from Fujian and North East China. This is our first time teaching in Mainland China, and we hope to do a lot more.

Second Day of Physical Theatre Training

We worked in a mix of English, Cantonese and Mandarin, and used some text in translation in all three languages. Not to mention the Georgian and Serbian in the polyphonic songs.

Polyphonic Singing on Day Two

We worked towards some short presentations at the end of the three workshops days, based on the Greek myth of Philomela, Procne and Tereus. These incorporated text with physical theatre and techniques we had been working with in the workshops, and even a little bit of song.

Final Day Performances

We’re extremely grateful to Friends Playback Theater for inviting us and bringing us together with great people, and for looking after us so well. Watch this space for news of our next collaboration.

European Physical Theatre Practice

Ivor Houlker’s series of workshops on European Physical Theatre Practice in Hong Kong, which started on the 6th May 2014. The workshop ran every Tuesday evening for two months (8pm-10.30pm). The workshops were held at Wedraman studios in San Po Kong – there’s more information at the Wedraman website (in Chinese).

Course Details

Dates: 6/5, 13/5, 20/5, 27/5, 3/6, 10/6, 17/6, 24/6 (Every Tuesday, 8 sessions)
Time: 8:00-10:30pm
Venue: We Draman Studio (3/F, Cheong Tai Industrial Building, 16 Tai Yau Street, San Po Kong)
Fee: $1,600
Quota: 14 participants
Target: This course is suitable for people with some previous experience in performance (but not necessarily phyiscal theatre)
Tutor: Ivor Houlker
This programme is conducted in English, with basic Cantonese translation.

Discount 1: Full time students – $300 off (fee: $1,300)*
Discount 2: Former students will get a 10% discount*
*These discounts may not be used together.

About the course

“Physical theatre” is a contemporary performance genre in which the performer’s body becomes the main medium of communication. This approach developed out of a revolutionary re-evaluation of the theatrical form, and intensive investigation into the expressive potential of the actor’s body, advanced by the likes of Grotowski and Barba.

Led by a theatre professional from London, these workshops will introduce key theatre practitioners who have changed the landscape of European Theatre in the 20th century, and explore their techniques and ideas. (For example: Jerzy Grotowski, Eugenio Barba, Tadeusz Kantor, Gardzienice)

Through exercises and explorations into movement, musicality and ensemble performance, participants will come to understand more about their own body, and develop a broad understanding of movement techniques and physical theatre devising methods. Participants will be encouraged to discuss their own artistic practice with the tutor, and to develop their work in response to the techniques encountered.

Course content

• Expressivity of the body – working with the body and voice together, exploring the performer’s potential (Grotowski)
• Understanding the body – developing bodily awareness, becoming more free and more fluent(Feldenkrais)
• Rhythm and Body – finding the relationship between these two, searching for the musicality in movement. (Gardzienice / Eugenio Barba)
• Ensemble performance devising – exploring outside the traditional theatre structure, finding new forms of collaboration and devising methodologies.

Tutor biography

Ivor Houlker Actor's Headshot

Ivor Houlker is a multidisciplinary performer and theatre artist, who works internationally as an actor, musician and director. He specialises in creating large scale outdoors site-specific performances, involving live music, choral movement, multimedia projection, sound installation, and audience interaction.

Ivor’s own devised work has been shown in London, Edinburgh, Brighton, Prague, Palermo, Epidaurus, Wrocław, Warsaw and Lublin. He has worked with many famous theatre groups and independent theatre artists around Europe, such as OPT Gardzienice, The Grotowski Centre, Andrzej Wełmiński (Cricot2), Mischa Twitchin (Shunt), Helen Chadwick (Song Theatre), Andrea Cusumano.

Ivor’s movement training is largely informed by European practitioners, including Włodzimierz Staniewski (Gardzienice), Grotowski, Lecoq and Tadeusz Kantor.

Downloadable details

European Physical Theatre Practice Workshop (English)

European Physical Theatre Practice Workshop (Chinese)

Polyphonic Song: Voice and Theatre Practice

22/01/2015 — 02/04/2015

Directors Ivor and Michelle co-taught a course on polyphonic song in Hong Kong. This workshop is the first of its kind to introduce traditional polyphonic singing to Hong Kong.

Polyphonic song is a tradition of singing together in different voices, which combine to make the whole sound. The origins vocal polyphony can be traced far back in the cultures of Greece, Albania, Serbia, and Georgia. Georgian polyphonic song is described by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity (as is Chinese tea!). Songs are taught through listening rather than by following scores, and are usually sung a cappella.

Course Content

The workshop will be carried out in two phases. The first phase of the workshops will focus on freeing the voice, practice and techniques of singing together and the importance of listening. We will learn songs mainly from the Georgian tradition, but will also go through several from traditional cultures. Towards the middle of the course, we will develop more complex rhythmic structures, including learning of polyrhythmic techniques (in which two different rhythms are simultaneous).
The second phase will be held in June 2015. It will involve further refinement of techniques learnt, and build towards a final presentation at the end of the workshops. This will be a ‘song theatre’ performance, which will incorporate some theatrical techniques into the performance of choral song.

Course Details for First Phase

Dates: 22/1, 29/1, 5/2, 12/2, 26/2, 5/3, 12/3, 19/3, 26/3, 2/4 (Thursdays, total 10 sessions.)
Time: 8:00-10:00pm
Venue: We Draman Studio (3/F, Cheong Tai Industrial Building, 16 Tai Yau Street, San Po Kong)
Fee: $2,000
Quota: 20 participants
Target: This course is suitable for people who are able to sing a tune, and are looking to develop new skills.
Tutors: Ivor Houlker and Michelle Li
Discount: Former students will get a10% discount*
Full-time students will get a $500 discount (Fee: $1,500)*
*These discounts cannot be used together.
This programme is conducted in English and Cantonese.

Actor Training Through Physical Theatre

Ivor’s workshops in Actor Training Through Physical Theatre took place at the start of 2015. These workshops focused on taking training and techniques from physical theatre and applying them to actor-training.

About the Course

There are two major schools of thought in actor training, focusing on either the psychological process, or on physical technique. Practitioners of physical theatre place an emphasis on the latter, but this physical engagement often leads to a heightened emotional responsiveness, and improves the performer’s ability to project (rather than simply experience) a character’s psychology.

“Physical theatre” developed out of a revolutionary re-evaluation of the theatrical form in Europe, and intensive investigation into the expressive potential of the actor’s body. Jerzy Grotowski, Antonin Artaud, Jacques Lecoq, and more recently Complicite, DV8 and Frantic Assembly have developed the form and refined training methodologies for their actors that carry over to all genres of performance.
Led by a theatre professional from London now working in Hong Kong, these workshops will enhance your physical expressivity and explore new ways into exploring a role from the outside in, using the body to its full potential to act and interact.
Through exercises and explorations into movement, musicality and ensemble performance, participants will come to understand more about their own body, and learn how to apply movement techniques and physical theatre actor training methodologies.

Course Details

Dates: 20/1, 27/1, 3/2, 10/2, 24/2, 3/3, 10/3, 17/3/2015 (Tuesdays, 8 sessions)
Time: 8:00-10:30pm
Venue: We Draman Studio (3/F, Cheong Tai Industrial Building, 16 Tai Yau Street, San Po Kong)
Fee: $1,800
Quota: 14
Target: This course is aimed at people with previous performance experience
Tutor: Ivor Houlker
This programme is conducted in English, with basic Cantonese translation available on request.
Discount 1: Full time students – $300 off (fee: $1,300)*
Discount 2: Former students will get a10% discount*
*These discounts may not be used together.

Course Content

  • Grotowski , Barba, Gardzienice – working with the body, mutuality, voice and musicality
  • Lecoq, Suzuki– mask, chorus, ensemble
  • Meyerhold, Commedia dell’Arte, Stanislavski – physical approaches to character

Actor’s Headshots, Clara Edmonds

Clara’s just moved from Hong Kong to LA, and needed to get some new headshots done in Hong Kong before she left. These were actually done over two separate sessions, with different hair in each session – as you can see, it makes a big difference. These were taken partly at the studio in San Po Kong, and partly outdoors.