In regards to the process for the ‘Theory Of Everything’ piece, I learnt a lot about the advantages of good organisational skills. When we were first given the piece, we found as a group that we were initially struggling to get the three of us together to talk about the piece and to rehearse. It was difficult due to the fact that we were made up of two students from the musical theatre course and then I was in the acting course. This meant our timetables were different, so we often had different lessons in different places. We were all also involved in other group pieces that needed to be rehearsed as well. However, although this was initially and issue, we decided to create a schedule for when we would rehearse and managed to go through our time tables to find when it would be best for us all to get together. Once this was put into place we found it was much easier and met up regularly. The scheduling also meant that we used our time more effectively as we began to plan ahead and could see visually how many rehearsals we had left. This meant we could then decide what we wanted to do with that time. I will definitely remember the benefits of scheduling at keeping the group organised and also helping us with time management. I would do it again for future projects as it was an effective tool for us and If I were to do this project again, then scheduling our time is something I wish that we had started even earlier, this would have avoided the initial struggle to meet.
Also within the rehearsal process for ‘The Theory Of Everything’, I believe that one of the reasons our performances were successful, was due to the communication and team work in our group. Small things such as creating a group chat where we could then share ideas to one another outside college hours, was an effective tool to keep us on track for the project. We had a good balance in the group of contributing ideas about what we wanted for our piece, which meant that we were all as equally involved and invested in how the piece turned out. This team work and care, I think is probably what helped create the connection between the characters as we could bounce of each others energy in the performance and also if we had any issues, we could trust that we could work it out as a group. Team work is very important for group pieces such as these and in the career we are wanting to go into, we will have to work with a huge range of different people that we will need to be able to work with no matter if you get along with them or not.
The planning and decision making as a group was something else that I feel was done effectively. We had the challenge of starting from scratch, we had no monologue, no music and no dance choreography previously existing, so we really did have to create the entire concept of what we wanted to portray in our performance from almost nothing. In our first group meeting, we decided that we should just spend a few hours brainstorming as many ideas as possible to get the ideas flowing. This helped us enormously as although a lot of those ideas were not used in the end, we came up with several ideas which influenced our final piece and lead to what we ended up producing. I will try to incorporate an initial brainstorming of ideas session into the next commission and future pieces I work on, as it really did give us a direction to work in. After this we had a discussion of how we were going to go about pieing together the three elements of the monologue, the song and the dance. After a long talk on which order we should work on each section, we agreed that it would work best to start with me writing the monologue, then finding the music which fitted and then choreograph the dance to fit the two. By creating an order of what we needed to do and talking through it as a group, we managed to form a plan. Over all our planning was effective and so was our decision making all through the means of discussions, brainstorming and ordering the tasks we had to do. All three of these things benefitted our over all performances and helped the process to run as smoothly as possible, hence why I will be taking these successful methods and applying them to future productions and projects.
As for the actual writing of ‘The Theory Of Everything’ monologue, I am pleased with the results. I think that the research helped me to effective portray the person and character in a genuine way, which is what my goal was to do. I wanted to create a speech that was natural, realistic and stayed true to ‘Jane’ whose perspective it was from. For the research, I started by watching the film and by the time the performances arrived I had seen the film five separate times. I had also done some character research and analysis by reading ‘Travelling To Infinity: My Life With Stephen’, which is the memoir written by Jane Hawking. By spending so much time looking into the person whose perspective I would be writing from, I think it massively impacted how the monologue turned out. I also used some quotes from the film and the memoir. All of this lead to a more truthful monologue that was in a more believable tone than what it would have been without the research. In the performance I think this is one of the reasons which helped the audience to become attached to the characters. Another aim I had early on, was to show a juxtaposition between the start when ‘Stephen’ and ‘Jane’ first meet and are very happy, to where they find out he has Motor Neurone disease. The research I think also helped this. I looked into the illness a lot over the rehearsal process and this helped me to capture the devastating struggles it adds to both the life of the person and the people around them into my words. We also put in the idea of having a huge juxtaposition from the start then to around the middle of the piece where things started to go wrong, into the movement in the dance. I helped Ryan and Sophia to choreograph this into the piece. We had high levels of movement at the start such as when Ryan would run around the Thrust pulling Sophia along, to make it even more saddening that he couldn’t once the illness kicked in. The research of the film, the people and the disease, enormously helped us with our characterisation and leaving at getting such a positive emotional response from the audience. Research is something that I will again use in later projects as it was something that was the most influential in the creation of this piece. I have also learnt that when you are playing people who actually exist and are showing what really happened in their lives, it is important to get the facts right and to show sensitivity in portraying the characters as accurately as possible.
For the technical production side of things, we also had good organisation and managed to sort out what we wanted to do for costume early on. We wanted to clearly show the characters we were playing and for the costumes to be easy to move around in, as Sophia and Ryan had to be able to dance in it. We also needed a way of showing that Sophia and I were both representing the character of ‘Jane’ through different means and at different ages in her life. The simplest way we thought would effectively show that we were the same character, was to have us wearing the same costume, with the same makeup and the same hair. I also took of my glasses for the performance, which I think worked well as we looked more similar than what we did originally. We decided on wearing a white top with a long skirt as it was similar to what the character of ‘Jane’ was seen wearing in the film. If we had more time or a higher budget, then it would have been nice to find a long skirt in a blue colour as it is the colour ‘Felicity Jones’ wore as ‘Jane’ in the film. This would have made for a more obvious re-creation of the characters style. However it still worked at showing we were the same person, Sophia could dance in it, the neutral beige pink wasn’t too far from what ‘Jane’ wore and we were still recognised to be playing the character we were from the audience. Therefore It was relatively successful and effective for the functions we needed it to perform. For Ryan’s costume, we managed to create almost a perfect recreation of what ‘Eddie Redmayne’ wore as ‘Stephen Hawking’ in the film and he was able to move in it easily, so his costume worked perfectly. Costume is a huge part of showing the character and so its useful to spend some time working out the functions that it needs to perform and then look for the most fitting pieces of costume available. I will do this for future pieces also and maybe spend a little more time at finding something even more accurate when recreating a character and person that already exists.
For ‘The Theory Of Everything’ particularly, I found the staging quite complicated. As we were performing in Thrust and there was a dance taking up most of the stage, I found it hard to position myself where I wasn’t going to be blocking off the audience but also didn’t invade the metaphorical bubble around the dance which separated the memory world and myself and the monologue which was present day looking back. We wanted to keep the two physically separate and I was only able to look back on them but not physically interact. This limited myself to the edges of the stage and my blocking was not solved until the second night of the show, where I paced around the dance going to the corners of the stage. The dance was choreographed so that they played it out to all the different sides of the stage, but I was originally just standing in one corner. This limited my movement drastically and is something I would definitely have liked to improve on if we were to do this again and had more time. Although we considered the staging, it might be useful that next time we struggle, we ask for a tutor to work with us a bit more on that area in a piece which limits your movement.
The music was a technical element that I am pleased with as I think it really emphasised the story told through the dance and monologue. We managed to time the music, my dance and the monologue together really well and I think the fact I listened to the track so much and rehearsed to it helped this. I also recorded myself to the music and would often listen to it, which really helped me at learning which points in the music I said certain things. This is a technique that proved really successful for me at learning the piece and is a technique I will use and apply again for line learning, both to music and not. We also chose the length of the piece well as it gave us enough time to build a connection between the audience and the characters so that when the tragedy hits, the audience care about the characters and feel moved and effected by it. We got across the story and the music added atmosphere by the tone it gave, even things like the tempo worked to our advantage at creating the mood of our piece. A reason it helped build atmosphere so much, may be due to the fact it is a track from the soundtrack used in the film. It was track 7 ‘A Game Of Croquet’. This just created another link to the film and helped emphasise the fact that the project was ‘Inspired By Film’. Our music worked exactly in the ways we needed it too and emphasised the atmosphere.
This was also true of the lighting which as well as the monologue, song and movement had a juxtaposition from being brighter at the start to darker when the illness kicks in. We wanted an intimate feel that had cool tone colours to fit the serious and sad topics in the piece. I was the one to explain this to the technical theatre students, who helped bring our visions for the lighting to become a reality. It worked well for the space we had got and I think it effectively achieved the intimate atmosphere we wanted.
On the night of the second performance, I unfortunately was ill and began to lose my voice. Even though this was the case we effectively dealt with this situation and quickly solved the issue by giving me a mic. This meant that although my voice wasn’t strong, it could still be heard. The ability to deal with unexpected situations is something I have learnt is useful in the industry. You have to be ready and prepared for anything but also have solutions ready if something unexpected arises. This skill is very useful and im glad to have some experience of needing to make quick decisions on the night to ensure that the piece goes a head no matter what. To find a way for the show to go ahead no matter what, is an ethos I plan to keep for every show ahead of me.
Overall for ‘The Theory Of Everything’, I am pleased with how effective the process,production elements and performances were at fulfilling the functions we wanted. I learnt a lot about organisation, the importance of team work and a variety of other useful skills in the industry, that I plan to take forward to future performances.
For the ‘Silent Movie’ piece that I was involved in, Liam and I were assigned the roles to focus on the technical elements. By sorting out as a group early on with who would be acting and who would be focusing on the technical elements, it allowed for us to plan ahead and kept us organised, as we knew who was doing what and what we needed to focus on achieving individually as well as in the group. It re enforces what I took about staying organised from ‘The Theory Of Everything piece’, and proves yet again that being organised is a great help in these type of projects. Liam and I started off by researching old black and white silent short films. One that we found particularly useful as a group was ‘A Trip To The Moon’. It was a similar story to what the actors had decided for the plot and also was a similar style. The research helped us to then draw out some ideas for the robot costume we needed to make and also the two spider legs for the giant spider. The research was again a huge help and I will remember to research before starting each new project, seeing how beneficial it proved.
Once we had designed the props and costume, we also needed to make sure that they were achievable and budget friendly. We did this by using the skills we got at prop making from the last commission. I decided to use the same types of materials such as cardboard boxes, paper mache and paint as I knew that I could get them for a cheap price and knew how to make things from them. It showed how important learning as many skills as possible and being able to recall them for different shows is. You never know when they might come in useful, as here they really did. I was able to create the robot costume which Will could walk around and move like a robot in easily. The only thing I would change is the shoes, as they were made from tissue boxes and tinfoil, which wasn’t the most sturdy. I had to keep attaching the tinfoil after each use and I think with more time, we could have found a better and more suitable alternative that would have improved the ease of use. But overall we achieved what we needed to and Will was recognised as a robot and Liam managed to make the spiders legs. We operated the spiders legs on the night and although the spiders legs were primarily his project, I had suggested that he cover the wire in tights to look more spider-like. I am glad I did this because they also turned out really well and we were able to insert our arms into them without getting scratched by the wire. It isn’t something we had considered when making them but a lucky accident. Therefore when working with wire props, I will next time remember that it can cause injury and be painful if it has to be worn on the arm without a cover. Health and safety measures are something to think about next time when it comes to the making of these large props.
For this commission, I was originally involved with two other pieces which ended up being cut for various different reasons. Although they did get cut, I got a lot from them and are perhaps the pieces I learnt the most from. The first piece was a monologue from ‘Bridget Jones Diary’. This unfortunately didn’t happen due to the time left to get it done and the fact that I always put priority onto the group pieces and therefore side lined the monologue. I didn’t organise when to rehearse the piece in as much detail and discipline as I did with ‘The Theory Of Everything’ piece which may have led to its removal from the revue. Next time I will try to spend an equal amount of time planning each piece and also will learn to recognise when the point is that I have taken on too much. If I had done all of this, then it may have gone ahead but for this project I’m glad it was cut as I know it wouldn’t have been at the same standard as everything else.
The second piece which I was involved in but also was cut before the performances was the movement piece inspired by ‘The Titanic’. I think one of the main reasons it was unsuccessful was the fact it was a late addition and we only started the week before the two performances. We simply didn’t have enough time to get the piece to a good standard. However the piece came with its advantages, such as that it got me over my fear of being lifted and I also was able to learn a small bit of dance, which I haven’t previously done. I worked with Chris, doing some trust exercises which then lead me to being lifted. We then made the lifts more complex and this work is something that we could definitely bring to a different performance and is a new skill that I have learnt. This is also true for the dance and is an opportunity I am glad that I had, even if the piece wasn’t in the performances. Another factor that hindered the piece, was the fact that there was people from all three course and a lot of them. It became increasingly hard to organise and if we could do it again then I think it would have benefited from the help of an over all director. There were just too many conflicting opinions and arguments which meant that the work didn’t get done. There was also different visions for the piece, some wanted it to be more of an interpretive dance and others wanted it to be more character focused. This wasn’t helped by the fact that all three courses had different styles of working. Some people wanted to experiment on big moments like the lifts, others wanted to improvise the whole thing and then work on perfecting it and then some wanted to talk through it all first before doing it. I can definitely apply some of the things ive learnt from this piece to the next commission and have learnt a lot from the reasons it didn’t go ahead.
Overall we worked effectively throughout the process and I am pleased with the performances that did go ahead. I have learnt a lot from what went wrong and also from the things that really positively influenced the final performances. I will take all of the skills and techniques that I have learnt from this project and apply them to the next commission and future shows.