Thursday 4th May 2017- Dress run and FMP First Show

Today started with some notes on our dress run in which we did yesterday. The notes were about how the tutors felt our pieces went and what they think we should do to improve. For ‘No Exit’, the first note that I got was one that I already picked up on whilst we did the run. It was to be prepared and ready to improvise a line to get our piece back on track, if Jamie happens to forget a line again, like she did yesterday. For this I plan on having a line that I can use in any situation if someone forgets a line, which is ‘Do you mean to say that…’. This fits in well with ‘Estelle’s’ character and is something she would say, as well as being a way to prompt my group on a missed line. Even if I don’t say that exact line, I just need to be alert and ready to help out the group and the piece as a whole if something goes wrong or someone forgets something.  The second note I got, was to cheat it out to the audience. Due to the way the sofa’s are positioned, for a lot of the piece, all the audience would be able to see is the side of Liam’s and my head. This hinders the piece, as the audience will miss out on a lot of our facial expressions, which help to get across the plot of the piece and show how our characters feel. Therefore I plan on turning my head out towards the audience when I am on the stage right sofa, even though it isn’t what she would do naturally when talking to people, it means that the audience will see more.

For ‘Alice’, I had a positive note that my Yorkshire accent was consistent throughout the piece which I am glad about, as I want it to sound as realistic as possible. The only other note that I had, was when I first entered I missed the light and I need to walk a little further towards the chairs so that I am lit in the whole piece. This is something I made sure to take on board and rectify for the dress later today.

We then had our second dress run, which gave us all a chance to work on any notes that we were given, and have one more run of our pieces before the first show later tonight. For ‘No Exit’, I made a great effort to sort out the fact that the audience wouldn’t see much of my face If I didn’t change something, by turning outwards as much and as often as I could. Watching the video back, I can see that it made a huge difference, and looks a lot better from an audiences perspective. We also had no missed lines this time and I stayed in character throughout the piece. I am really happy with how ‘Estelle’s’ voice has developed over the last few weeks, as it is in a good place and fits the characters posh voice that show her superiority. It is a clear character that has been built from easy to recognise stereotypes, that take from common ideologies. I have done this in hope that this makes her an entertaining character to watch.

For ‘Alice’, I came further into the light when I first entered, which I can now see where I went wrong yesterday, and I will make sure not to do it again for the two performances. We all felt confident with this piece and knew that we just needed to keep the madness and energy at a high level to make sure that the piece is enjoyed by the audience tonight. We have also now challenged ourselves, to be even madder than we have been and make the characters as bold and eccentric as we can do, as it isn’t often that we will get such big characters who are able to be larger than life and over exaggerated, so we want to take advantage of this and to do the piece justice.

Then we had our first commission performance. For ‘No Exit’, there was one part where I interrupted Jamie, thinking she had forgotten her line, as this is something she had done in this place in the tech run but it was just a dramatic pause that she hadn’t previously had in that place. Even though this wasn’t ideal, we still carried it off smoothly by staying in character and just moving on and continuing with the script. I also was consistent with my character and maintained a strong posh accent which helped to show her status and authority. I also am pleased with the volume, clarity and diction I had in this performance. It meant that the audience were able to understand what I was saying and I better communicated the plot of the play. I also did what I did in the dress run, where I cheated my lines out to the audience, which corrected the issue of the audience only being able to see half of my face due to the sofa positions. Liam spoke much louder than he had previously, which is good because there have been times where we ran the piece and an audience wouldn’t have been able to hear him and with this performance he improved upon this. Although this is the case, there were still some times where he didn’t commit to the character as much as he could have done. I still think that Jamie and Liam could both have worked further in making their characters clear and distinguishable. This would have changed the dynamics of the piece and made it more interesting to have such stong personalities stuck in one room together.

For the ‘Alice’ piece, we successfully maintained a high level of energy, which helped to create a light-hearted and fun atmosphere. This may have been the reason why we got such a positive response and a lot of laughter from the audience. Our character interactions and character relationships were very clear and the piece fitted the style of Surrealism well. One way that linked our piece to the art movement of Surrealism was the table. I am glad that we chose not to use the table and to just have it being in the minds of the characters. This got a good response from the audience as it added to the humor, seeing Liam and Will lean in mid-air, where the table would have been and then for my confusion towards this madness. I also think we pushed ourselves to make the characters as extreme and big as we could. Liam particularly, did well at making ‘The Hatter’ mad by making his movements even larger than he had previously. Vocally our group was strong in this performance. I had a consistent Yorkshire accent and found the light and the shade of the piece, as she is confused, annoyed and then gets progressively angrier in this section of the play. My voice was something that helped to show this. Will also used his voice to great advantage, with how he swapped between playing ‘The Hare’ and ‘The dormouse’. The high squeaky voice for ‘The Dormouse’ helped again with adding humour to our piece. It showed that ‘The Hare’ was insane. Liam too added a mad laugh which he hasn’t done before but it worked very well at showing his lack of sanity. Something else I did that I took from our first tech run, was making sure I was always in the light and could be seen. I successfully did this for this first performance. Our story telling was another strong point to our performance. The clarity in our voices, and the way we interacted with each other made it easy to follow, even though the script is mad and is hard to make sense of in some places.

Even though ‘Alice’ went well in several respects, there were a few production and technical elements which went wrong on the night. Will’s face paint makeup for ‘The Hare’ came out a little darker than when I had done it previously for our dress run. The reason this was a slight issue, is because you couldn’t see his face and therefore facial expressions as well as when it was a lighter shade of brown. We didn’t have time to lighten it before we went on stage for the piece but it is something I am going to try to improve tomorrow for the second performance. I plan on using more water when I apply the face paint, as this should weaken the colour. This should also make it easier to apply and give us more time to make sure that we are ready to perform. The only other technical problem was during the time when Jess performed her monologue, which is the piece after ‘Alice’. We all had to stay on stage but frozen and in a black out, whilst she would stand on the steel deck platform above and then would be lit so that she could perform.  However in the performance there was a lighting issue as they thought that Jess had finished, so they went to black out when she hadn’t finished. To make things worse they then brought the lights back up after they realised their mistake and they skipped two lighting cues, which meant that ‘Alice’ was accidentally lit. This was something outside of our control and I am sure that the tech team will make sure to avoid this for tomorrow. Even though it happened, we handled it well and just stayed frozen in neutral and in our places. This helped to not draw any more attention to the fact that something had gone wrong.

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