Purposeless Movements / by scott twynholm

Purposeless Movements is a medical term used to describe involuntary movements caused by cerebral palsy. It’s also the name given to a new piece of dance theatre by Birds Of Paradise and over the past few months I’ve been writing music for the production.

After GirlX and If These Spasms Could Speak It’s my third collaboration with director Robert Softly Gale and the first time i’ve worked with brilliant choreographer Rachel Drazek and dramaturg Luke Pell.

The piece presents the stories of five guys with cerebral palsy, how it affects their lives, their gender, their masculinity and is told through music, video and movement.

With most theatre and film projects I look for a new approach and this was no different. We made the decision early on to play the music live and for that I brought in the wonderful multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Kim Moore. I wanted the piece to hang together on the simple pure sounds of piano, guitar, voice and strings but to warp and layer those live into something raw and interesting to mirror Rachel’s approach to movement and Robert’s overall vision of the piece. It had to be contemporary yet organic and blend seamlessly. Much of the material was developed in the rehearsal room with an array of guitar pedals.

There is also a strong element of songwriting and for that I took words generated from the first few weeks of rehearsal (one of the many advantages of being involved from the start). The songs themselves don’t function in the way they would in a musical, taking you from one place to another, but rather serve as another layer to support movement and video. I wanted them to feel like they could exist outwith the piece but carry a certain relevance.

The rehearsal room was a happy place to be, we formed a choir, danced and had a lot of fun. For that I thank Rachel, Robert, the cast and everyone else involved. There has also been talk of recording the music. I'll keep you posted about that.

We play the following tour dates

Tramway, Glasgow
Thu 25 – Sat 27 Feb, 7.30pm
£12 (£8)
0845 330 3501 / tramway.org

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
Wed 2 – Fri 4 Mar, 7.30pm
(4 March – post show discussion)
£16.50 (£13.50)
0131 228 1404 / traverse.co.uk

Eden Court, Inverness
Wed 16 Mar, 8pm
£12 (£8)
01463 234234 / eden-court.co.uk