Coffee & I: a tale of routine, expectations and identity

It was Friday 14 February and we all fell in love with Coffee & I.

Pupils from the RSA Academy in Tipton, Holyhead School and Ipsley CE RSA Academy were absorbed by the fusion of Japanese and English sounds, the intricate movement of the actors and the anticipation of the unknown – what was this?

In the theatre at the RSA Academy we sat facing two actors, a chair, table, and a few props. Used to fabulous effect, a hat, a coffee pot, a frying pan and spatula, representing the everyday and the mundane, became extensions of the actors’ bodies as their movements allowed the story to unfurl.

Performed by tarinainanika, Coffee & I allowed us to explore the routine and repetition of life and how this relates to the ways we construct our sense of self. What are the narratives that become the building blocks upon which you tell yourself this is who I am? The wonderfully choreographed ‘corporeal mime’, a technique using sometimes small, sometimes large, sometimes slow, sometimes fast, and at times, very fast, yet controlled and deliberate movements was quite captivating.

Through this experience teachers were able to:

– demonstrate that you can create detailed story telling even when working in pairs, and with limited resources

– illustrate the interplay between dance and drama that creates physical theatre

– show what mastering a craft looks like in practice

– explore the work further to build on existing learning

Tania and Kentaro left everyone reflecting on the ‘universal language of the body’, the way each of our movements and posture communicate messages about our feelings, our intentions, our attitudes. When we think about the importance of oracy, the after show talk prompted us to consider the term in its fullest, that when we talk, or don’t in fact talk, we are constantly saying something.

‘I spent much of my earlier life thinking that if I didn’t speak I wasn’t contributing. I now understand that through physical presence we have immense power and freedom … and therefore responsibility. So we need to learn how to use it, consciously and creatively.  Corporeal Mime is one way to do that.’  Tania Coke

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With our huge thanks to Tania Coke FRSA, Kentaro Suyama, creative directors of tarinainanika, for their performance and for sharing their career journeys to date. Thanks also to Kate Montgomery, intern, tarinainanika and RSA Japan Fellows’ Network for technical support.

With huge thanks to Lorna Middleton, Director of Learning and Standards in Performing Arts, RSA Academy in Tipton for facilitating this opportunity.