Today we looked at the magic paintbrush which is one of our commission pieces. We spent the lesson going over the ordering of the events which take place and also started choosing things that varied between versions of the story. We decided that we needed to come up with the most physical, achievable and dramatic telling of the story that we could. Some of the decisions we ended up making included the fact the villain would be an emperor and that he would firstly steal the paintbrush and would not be able to succeed in making the paintings come to life. That then gave him an excuse to send his spies to arrest Ma Liang. We also managed to decide that Ma Liang would draw what the emperor wanted him to but would then conjure up a storm which would end up being the defeat of the emperor. We thought we could take the ideas we came up with about the ribbons on sticks the other day and accompany it with bubbles as these can be a real crowd pleaser, especially as this is targeted for families. After we had mapped out the story line for the magic paintbrush we were then told the cast which I thought had been done very cleverly as the people suited their characters really well and played to the strengths of our group. I am looking forward to doing the physical theatre of creating the atmosphere which I will be doing. This means hopefully ill be able to develop my physical theatre skills across the rehearsal period which in theatre is a useful skill to be strong on.
In the second lesson we had with Lynn, we started by doing an improvisation activity called turn left. I had previously done this with youth theatre and even used it in between a show at the theatre royal, so I was happy to be able to do it again. It is an activity where you stand in a square formation with a group of three other people. You get told a scenario or character to act with the person to your left and a different one with the person on your right. When someone says turn left you do and change the scene to be the one with the next person. Its a really fun activity that helps to develop improvisation skills as you’re thinking fast on your feet and what you create is completely done on the spot. For the first one I took part in I was given the location of ‘the outback’ so I adopted an Australian accent which immediately helped me to get into character. After that I used the stereotypes of Australia to get a comedic effect as its understood by everyone watching. Another turn left I took part in I had the stimulus of a parents evening which I had to do with Justin. It was really fun to do as we over exaggerated and made an unrealistic scene which large characterisation. The last turn left I did was a safety aeroplane sketch with Ryan that really built of the stereotypes of aeroplane safety videos. I have found that quickly finding the stereotypes from a stimulus in improvisation and either exaggerating or mocking them can be really funny and such a useful starting place.
We carried this idea of making characters from stereotypes onto the next part of the lesson. We took the two binary opposites of a child/toddler and an elderly person and talked about the stereotypes of how they move and reasons for this, so that we ourselves could recreate this believably. I have learnt that the reasons why a person does something is really crucial in acting and goes back to Uta Hargens questions for acting. The understanding is good for knowing what to do with every joint of your body and physically creating these stereotypes. Stereotypes are good in theatre as it can show an audience exactly who you are playing, this will be especially useful in the commission work as story telling through theatre often have stock characters. For the elderly we followed the dominant ideology that they are slow in moving and this is often from fear of falling and painful joints. To do this physically we had to make our joints feel heavy meaning we moved slower and in more of a shuffling form. We also had to look at our feel which gave us a slight hunch and also showed the fear of falling over. Then for the characterisation of a toddler we picked up on the fact that they have large heads in proportion to their bodies which is why they often lead with their heads and stumble about, due to the fact they find it hard to balance. We also tried to make our eyes as wide as we could and tried out different scenarios such as moving as a toddler if they wanted something or if they were crying. I found this enjoyable and also useful to talk through the steps you would do when taking stereotypes and recreating them yourself to be believable. I also think I contributed a lot to this part of the lesson as it was a really engaging topic that I wanted to share my own thoughts on.