Moment Work and the Henry 5 Project

by Anne Flinders, dramaturg

The development of BYU’s Young Company production of Henry 5 is growing out of a series of workshop-style classes that are part of the course TMA 401 Contemporary Theatre Practices.  Last week the students began blocking some of the segments of the play. Blocking is the process of planning where, when, and how actors will move about the stage during a performance. Normally in blocking a show, the director determines where the actors will stand or cross and position themselves in the course of the play. For Henry 5, however, blocking is being determined by the cast, the crew and the class of TMA 401 using a process called moment work.

Tectonic Theatre Group

Moment work is a technique developed by Moises Kaufman and the Tectonic Theatre Project (The Laramie Project, 33 Variations). It focuses on the importance of theatrical exploration in the creation of new work, especially in the early stages of new play development. Describing what moment work is the Tectonic Theater Project’s web site states: “Using a laboratory setting, the technique encourages the participants to create work that is uniquely theatrical. It pushes writers, actors, designers and directors to collaborate in the making of work that focuses on using all theatrical elements. The technique breaks apart the traditional roles of theater artists, enfranchising artists of all disciplines to move out of their defined roles and become theater-makers: true investigators of the possibilities of the medium.”

In the TMA 401 class, members of the Henry 5 project selected a single line, a primary action, or a minute circumstance that arises somewhere in the script of Henry 5, and developed that bit into a moment of the play, an articulated moment of movement and meaning that encapsulated either the concept or the progression of the play as a whole. These moments developed by the students may later find themselves becoming part of the BYU production of Henry 5, which will then travel with the Young Company touring group to elementary schools up and down the Wasatch Front next semester.

Works Cited

Causey, Trish. “blocking – A definition of the theater term blocking.” Welcome to the Official Theatre Site on About.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2012. http://theater.about.com/od/glossary/g/blocking.htm.

“Tectonic Training Lab.” Tectonic Theater Project. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2012. <http://www.tectonictheaterproject.org/Tectonic_Training_Lab.html>.