PMPs stands for Post-Monash Players, and we are a loose collection of folk in some way connected to the (now-defunct) Bachelor of Performing Arts (BPA) program run by Monash University.
Essentially, this is an ongoing rehearsal, a part-time theatre laboratory, and those of us involved frequently (though often irregularly) come together to trade ideas and test them out in a safe and controlled environment. The only qualifier for entry into our troupe is experience with the BPA or recommendation from someone with said experience. Since the post-Monash crew is both active and extensive, participation isn’t actually that limited.
The main reason for this is that people from a shared background seem to have also have a shared language. Similar to slang terms utilised amongst friends (that often have no bearing beyond that context), the PMPs have a shorthand that allows us to move quickly when an idea lands – even if we have never directly worked with one another beforehand – and adjusting on the fly. The “downside” to this is that we often get lost in conversation because we’re interested in what the other members are doing outside of the rehearsal space, so at times it takes a while for us to actually get on the floor to begin with.
Another “negative” is that, while the BPA program sold itself as more a devised theatre program than, say, the VCA or NIDA equivalents, it still often attracted those with dreams of acting rather than making. For us, this means that some of the fresher members are more inclined to listen rather than speak, to follow rather than lead, and ultimately many-a-rehearsal has the feel of a single director creating a vision with a handful of warm-props…
Out of the rotating line-up, there are three of us who have been there from the beginning and accordingly we three appear to take the lead whenever things stagnate. What is interesting is that all three of us have exceedingly different major drives – somatic intelligence & direction, character workshopping & script analysis and (in my instance) playful anti-theatre and “open source” performance development, what I might call meta-modernist performance – and yet we freely interweave our threads to create combinations of all of our perspectives.
For me in particular, the PMP set-up allows me to enter with an idea and leave with another, and while clearly I’m making “art”, my main pursuit is a little more like the scientific tradition insofar as testing my artistic “hypothesis” to see if it holds up. This for example:
was a way for me to
(a) get everyone working “backwards” by denying us the usual verbal catch-up we have at the start of each session
(b) explore performance that removed the aural/oral capacity of voice
(c) focus on the performative properties of smartphones
(d) make something that anyone could be a part of – “actor” or otherwise
(click here to read more about how the above score came about)
This specific exercise was fundamental to my research, leading directly to my overwhelming interest in (what up until recently I’ve mislabeled as orality but is actually) voice. However, since that particular rehearsal, the PMPs have largely been on hiatus and my time has instead been dedicated to the more “scholarly” aspects of my research.
The PMPs meet up again in March 2015.