Luke BurroughLUKE

This is your 6th production for Jasmin, what attracts you to her work?

I came from an acting background before I started to dance and was involved in a lot of youth theatre. I had worked with other dance companies such as Green Candle, creating children’s dance theatre tours and I trained at Laban, a dance college that places an emphasis on the emotion of movement rather than movement for movement’s sake, and that’s what I love about Jasmin’s work. It’s about feeling the character and the narrative of the whole production – her work is very much at the theatrical end of the dance spectrum, which really appeals to me.

 

How has your experience of working with Jasmin developed?

The process has remained quite similar each time, as Jasmin is always interested in building a character and she fits that into her overall idea of what she imagines the piece is going to be – that can be quite elusive to the performer during the rehearsal process and can be very challenging - I certainly found it hard to begin with, not really knowing the through-line as such. There’s no script to guide us at the beginning, it’s really down to having trust and faith in what Jasmin will do at the end of the day. Some of the performers who haven’t worked with her before found it quite a difficult process, but satisfying in the end.

 

Justitia’s story is told through the integration of dance, movement and script. How did you approach this in rehearsals?

We started working on the characters long before the script arrived. As performers, it takes time to find your own personal journey with a given character, but I realise that’s how Jasmin works - so I was maybe more relaxed about it, knowing it would all come good in the end. Rebecca, the script writer came to rehearsals early on to get an idea of the characters we had created. It was still early days when she first joined us and the characters weren’t entirely clear for us, so it was challenging work for everyone. The rehearsal process was a joint collaboration between Rebecca, Jasmin and the performers, and once the characters became more defined and Jasmin had settled on the narrative that she wanted, Rebecca was able to cement some of the script. Jasmin has the final edit, but there’s certainly a lot of input from the performers and everyone brings something of themselves to the role. It’s always a work in progress with Jasmin and it’s been changing all the time - nothing is ever perfect enough to be fixed forever.

 

Has the process changed now that the company is creating work for larger theatres?

Jasmin has always been very specific about what she wanted so the process is the same, just more lights to focus, and bigger sets to negotiate. The attention to detail hasn’t changed at all.

 

Have you experienced any specific challenges working with the Justitia set?

Locating it during the rehearsal period was tricky as it was difficult to house it in a big enough rehearsal space! The revolving stage that we’re working with means there’s always something to do - if you’re not on stage, you may be turning it or setting something round the back. There’s never a moment to relax, but I prefer this as a performer. I don’t like sitting around kicking my heels waiting to go on.

 

 

Christine Gouzelis

CHRISTINE

This is your first time working with Jasmin, is the process very different to working with other choreographers in your experience?

Jasmin’s work is very intelligent and creative, and there’s a unique chemistry between us that inspires me to be more creative than ever before. Jasmin is willing to focus on each performer to develop a character that you wouldn’t even try to explore on your own. Compared to other choreographers she is very pure in her thoughts and her ideas, and I like the fact that she integrates all artforms – it’s not only dance, or movement, she combines all elements of theatre – she weaves it all into a beautiful pattern.

 

How has Jasmin’s approach impacted you as a performer?

The work is very physical and demanding, but at the end of the week you feel a huge sense of achievement at having explored so many different processes and ideas. She gives each of us the time to explore so many levels, and I have gained much more from this than I could ever have imagined, and I thank her for it. I feel there’s still more for me to give – we’ve created many ideas that haven’t been put in this piece and I hope we have the opportunity to develop them further in the future.

 

Tell us about your character in Justitia

My character, the stenographer, lives her everyday life in the courtroom. On the surface it appears that she has a very plain existence, but in contrast, we reveal the imagination that she keeps inside of her. She is quite an anti-social person and the only contact she has with people is through her work. She creates her own little imaginary life stories for the people she encounters in the courtroom. Her typewriter is a symbol of this - we focused on the quality of her fingertips, like the way a spider weaves a web, knitting together people’s stories.

 

What emotions have you experienced in developing your character?

It’s a choking feeling when you’re playing this role as you’re always wanting without getting. I feel there’s a great deal to seek in her character – she’s quite mysterious, with many secrets that she can only reveal through body language. It’s a very stimulating challenge. 

 

 

 

Victoria FoxVICTORIA

Your character is the narrator of the story. How do you balance your speaking role with the physical demands of the piece?

As the defense lawyer I have the largest speaking role, which is a challenge in itself. I haven’t had a great deal of experience working with texts before, so we worked with a voice coach from the National Theatre to help me project my voice. There are certain points in the piece where I have to move from very physical movement straight into text, which I have struggled with, but I’m learning how to cope with both approaches at the same time. It’s well worth it, as it’s great to have a character with multi-sides to her and a range of emotions to explore.

 

How did you develop your character in rehearsals?

Jasmin had the idea of a female defense lawyer – she wanted to create a very strong woman, very good at what she does, very good at presenting the case and fighting for what she believes is the truth. I spent some time researching various law cases – reading about real life stories and watching courtroom dramas on film and TV. The challenge was to put this all together and make my character believable on stage by actually creating a person very truthful to myself. Jasmin helps us as performers to reach into ourselves to try and achieve this.

 

Which tasks helped to define your character?

One of my early tasks was to wear high heels. I never wear them in real life at all, I’m always in trainers – but wearing high heels immediately made me walk differently and made me present myself in a new way which helped start to build the physical movements of my character.

 

 

 

Tim CassonTIM

This is your first professional job. Tell us how you got here

I’ve just recently graduated from College, where I trained in musical theatre, though I also studied all sorts of dance styles. I auditioned for the company originally and got quite far, but then I heard they were holding apprenticeship auditions. So I called everyday for weeks and weeks and eventually I was called up, and got through, which made me really happy! I felt a strong connection with the movement, the style and the theatricality of Jasmin’s work because I love theatrical dance. It’s nice to have the freedom and opportunity to be creatively collaborative, and a very exciting first job!

 

How does your character react to what goes on in the courtroom?

TJ the security guard gets to hear everyone’s point of view, but I think it’s all in a days work for him. Sometimes he responds to the characters in the courtroom – he’s either disgusted by them or in contrast, he reveres them – but he doesn’t get too involved and remains fairly emotionally detached. I think deep down he really wants to be free -  in his solos his movement is always just trying to escape and get out of his body.

 

Tell us how you were able to add your own creative input

We get set lots of tasks to help create the movement for our characters, which Jasmin then plays with and chooses which elements to develop. I perform a duet with Christine, and I was set a task to study how she moved. That was really fascinating as I had to learn somebody else’s body movement which is totally different to mine. I created some material in the style of her movement, which we combined with her own material to make our duet. It was great, and we discovered a strong dynamic.

 

 

 

Athanasia KanellopoulouATHANASIA

Tell us about your character

She’s a lady who is not quite schizophrenic but is multi-charactered – for example, she changes from being a very neurotic woman who doesn’t know where she is and where she belongs and finds herself running all over the place; to being a seductress, with eyes for her neighbour; to being a rough and aggressive woman, lashing out and trying to vandalise him.

 

How did you explore your character’s complexities in rehearsals?

One of the tasks Jasmin set me was to create a sequence with Luke with three different versions. The first version would be to create a very neurotic and anxious woman who goes to his house and makes everything a mess. I found this easy to develop as I’m quite like this in real life! The second version was to create the aggressive woman, which I found much harder – she’s not very feminine, which is very unlike me, so I tried to imagine someone in everyday life and to adapt this to my character. You have to bring your own feeling into it, and I’ve really grown with this character as I’m always bringing more of myself as the process develops.

 

How much freedom do have in your performance once your character has been established?

The movement is choreographed and it has to be presented in a certain way, but every time I perform, it’s different. I don’t have to be the same in every single performance. It cannot happen. It has to be honest. When I try to be honest with myself, it works. If I’m not honest and I try to ‘play’ the character then you can really see it doesn’t work. Jasmin is not a choreographer who works by numbers, and she allows you the freedom to bring out something of yourself in the movement.  Of course it’s about the technique, but it’s not ‘how’ you move, it’s what ‘moves you’ from inside, and I really like that.

 

 

 

Paul BlackmanPAUL

How did you begin to create your character, the group therapy leader?

He’s based a little bit on the character of Tom Cruise in the movie Magnolia – that’s kind of where we started. To create the character we began with the movement, finding things that were natural for me to do. We then incorporated his mindset and how he would act, and blended them together.

Most dance is set to music; there are shapes and lines and so on, but when you add a character into that dance environment, that’s when the theatrical experience evolves and turns into something else. It’s a challenge to make people believe you’re someone that you’re not.

 

How did you approach your speaking role?

It was quite hard at first to get the confidence to project my voice – as most dancers don’t do that – so first of all I started ad-libbing, making stuff up that might be funny or could work in certain scenes. When the writer came into rehearsals she incorporated some of the lines that I was already using and worked them into the script. I have had speaking roles before, but never actual lines to learn with a real narrative thread. The hardest part for me was to connect the two - you can’t just move, stop, and say your lines, you have to integrate each story-telling approach into the whole performance. But it’s been awesome fun, and cool to move beyond the confines of dance.

 

Your performance embraces a wide range of dance styles. Tell us about your training

My mum was in the circus and when she was younger she owned a sports acrobatics school in Australia. She used to teach me forward and backward rolls, back flips and cartwheels so that’s where my acrobatic skills originated. I started my dance training with ballet, which I took seriously for many years – but in the end it wasn’t really for me. I discovered my true passion in dance when I started B-Boying (break-dancing) and totally fell in love with the free expression it offered me. I took a couple of classes and found I could incorporate a lot of my own stuff, from ballet, acrobatics and contemporary dance which I was learning at the same time and kind of melded them all together. I love throwing a b-boy skill into the Justitia piece - it gives me the chance to practise plus its enjoyable to make people go wow!

 

You pull off some impressive stunts on stage. How did you work on these in rehearsals?

The stunts with Luke were created by initially roughing around in the rehearsal room. We found moves that ‘looked’ painful - but actually aren’t. It’s all in the way you throw and receive the energy from each other. There’s a point when he hits me over the head with a cushion or when he throws me onto the couch – it’s the way you land or get hit that makes it look realistic – so if you make it look like a bigger deal than it really is, it’ll work. It’s definitely about trust between us, if he goes in without thinking we’re both gonna get hurt.

 

 

 

SONG

How would you compare this experience from your previous role in PARK?

I had just joined the company when I performed in PARK, and I didn’t really know very much about how Jasmin worked. I played a tourist – who was actually me – and she reminded me of when I was travelling across Asia, discovering different cultures to where I come from. In contrast with Justitia, my character is much more complex and therefore much more challenging. Sometimes I have felt quite emotionally drained and depressed when working on the Mimi character as it’s such an intense role and deals with some very serious issues. I have had to remember or try to connect with my own experiences in the past and to bring myself to this character, which has been a real challenge. Playing the tourist was much easier as I felt more comfortable playing myself. But I have discovered so much – in fact I’ve surprised myself – and working with Jasmin has allowed me a freedom to discover who I am.

 

Did you do a lot of research to get into the mindset of your character?

I watched about 20 films to help find my own character, and I read about Ruth Ellis, the last person to be hanged in the UK in 1955. I also visited a hospital to talk to a woman who lost a baby – this experience helped me under stand Mimi’s emotions and helped me discover the feelings that I needed to convey. I spent much more time researching my character in Justitia than for PARK.

 

How do you translate these emotions into movement?

Jasmin would ask me to create a certain movement then ask me to change the qualities – for example, from a really strict movement to a smooth and flowing one. The change of quality in each movement helped me to connect my emotion – it’s easier for me to connect with the character this way.

 

The title of the piece suggests that JUSTITIA – lady justice – presides over the courtroom. Is your character a winner or a victim of the Justice system?

My character looks really innocent but there’s more to her than what you initially see on the surface. She changes her character so much in each scene, it’s really up to the audience to decide whether she is innocent or not and whether Justice is served.