For my research, I started off by looking online and in books to find pieces of art that I could use for this commission as my inspiration. As I didn’t know much about art before this, I first researched artists that I already knew and managed to find a lot of pieces which related to plays, songs or musicals that I thought we could put on at Conservatoire East, which will be our venue. I created the mind map above, which shows all the ideas that I have had for this ‘Art And Life’ commission. It shows the artists in which I researched which included:
- Vincent Van Gogh
- Claude Monet
- Andy Warhol
- Johanna Spinks
- Leonid Afremov
- Pablo Picasso
- Ivan Guaderrama
- Bobby Wylde
- John Tenniel
- Authur Rackham
- Henri Matisse
- MC Escher
- Edvard Munch
- Brigid Shelly
- Salvador Dali
- Burne Jones
- Aubrey Beardsley
- Frederick Daniel Hardy
- William Adolphe Bouguereau
As well as the artists, it shows the pieces of art work in which I have found along the way. It shows all the pieces of art that I have been inspired by and have then found plays which related to them. My favourite ideas have been circled in purple. Unfortunately, I am only allowed to put forward two ideas, which has meant that I have had a hard time cutting down my suggestions. The ideas I was initially deciding between were:
To do a performance of the play ‘Uncle Vanya’ by ‘Anton Chekhov’. This was inspired by the ‘Andy Warhol’ 1981 artwork that I found, which is called ‘Gun’. As brilliant as I think that the play is and however much I would have loved to have put the idea forward, I think that we wouldn’t have had enough time to make it the best performing of the piece that we could do. We would have to analyse the text, which is long and complex in places and as we have only got a few weeks, I don’t think it would be achievable to put in the level of character analysis and look into the pragmatics as much as we would need to for this particular play. It would also be very problematic to cast, with the group of people we have, due to our casting types and casting ages as a group of performers. This may have hindered the realism and naturalistic Stanislavski approach that Chekhov and his plays often use. Therefore the reasons why I haven’t chosen it as one of my two main suggestions.
The second idea for a piece that I considered putting forward, was a section of the play ‘Stones In His Pockets’ by ‘Marie Jones’. I had the inspiration for this from ‘Cows’ which was painted by ‘Brigid Shelly’. I found the painting early on in my research, when I was looking into art showing ‘rural’ and ‘countryside’ scenes and settings. The painting really reminded me of the play and I liked the fact that it had the versatility to be performed either by two people, who would have to play multiple roles in the storytelling, or it could be done by several cast members, who all took on a role each. The only reason that stopped me putting this as one of my two top choices to pitch to the group, was that I am currently in a play at the college called ‘Lilies On The Land’, which is very similar in style and I thought it would be good to try to find something a little different for the final major project, which touched on different subjects and topics.
Another of my ideas that unfortunately won’t be one of the two that I put forward, but was still an idea I really liked and considered, was to put on a performance of ‘The Railway Children’ by Edith Nesbit. This was inspired by the 1888 ‘Vincent Van Gogh’ painting above which is called ‘Railway Carriages’. As I have a relatively young casting age, I thought that this would present lots of opportunities and characters that I could possibly play. However, there were other ideas that I prefered and I also think that it didn’t necessarily suit the casting of the other people in my year. Another reason that I decided not to pick it as one of my top two, was because when I discussed my idea with ‘Sophie Clare’, she expanded upon my idea and wanted to change it to be a physical theatre or movement based piece. We then decided that she would be the one to suggest the idea, as she had a lot more creative plans for this particular piece of art and play.
One other idea that I thought might be really interesting to do for the final collaborative performance, was to perform a section of ‘The Birthday Party’ by ‘Harold Pinter’. This is one of my favourite Pinter plays and I would have loved a chance to be able to perform it. However, I think it is a hard play to do just a small section of and it might be confusing for an audience member if we just had a half an hour section or an even smaller one. A lot of the play relies on context from the rest of the play. Therefore it won’t be one of my suggestions. However the two paintings were ‘Breakfast In Bed’ by ‘Bobby Wylde’, and the second is the 1867 painting called ‘Baby’s Birthday’ by ‘ Frederick Daniel Hardy’.
These five pieces of artwork above, connect to the five one act plays in ‘Confusions’ by ‘Alan Ayckbourne’. The first painting is called ‘Innocence’ and it is by’ William Adolphe Bouguereau’. It has similar themes to ‘Mother Figure’ which is why it is a good representation of the first play. The second painting is by ‘Vincent Van Gogh’ and is his 1884 still life called ‘Still Life With 5 Bottles’. This relates to the second play ‘Drinking Companion’ and again symbolises the main topic of the play. The third painting is another ‘Vincent Van Gogh’ and is called ‘Interior Of A Restaurant’, which I associated with third play called ‘Between Mouthfuls’. The fourth play out of the five, is called ‘Gosforths Fete’ and I found ‘Fayre Day’ by ‘Johanna Spinks’ which I think works perfectly. Finally, the fifth painting I found is ‘October Park’ by ‘Leonid Afremov’ which goes a long side the final play ‘A talk In The Park’. The idea I had for the piece, would have been to split the acting year one students into the five short plays and then perform each one. I think that it would have worked well, as all the plays are all connected and link, yet have separate characters. However the reason that it didn’t get chosen, was that I was more passionate about the two ideas I have chosen. I will remember my idea for this piece in the future, and would still be interested in looking further into the play.
The first of my two actual ideas that I will be presenting to the group, is to have a large section of the play ‘Equus’ written by ‘Peter Shaffer’ performed. Equus was written in 1973 and it tells the story of a psychiatrist who attempts to treat a young man who has a ‘pathological religious fascination with horses’. ‘Peter Shaffer’ was inspired to write ‘Equus’ when he heard about a seventeen year old who blinded six horses in a small town near Suffolk. This makes the play an even more relevant choice for us to perform, seeing as that is where we will be performing the play. ‘Shaffer’ created a fictional account of what might have caused the incident, without knowing any of the details of the crime and I really like the detective feel to the story. It is definitely a genre I would like to explore and experience working in a little more and this play would allow for that. One of the main reasons why I am suggesting it as an option for the final major project, is also that the characters are complex and I think will be really interesting to play. It will require us doing a lot of research and character analysis, as the play deals with some not so typical topics, but it would be brilliant to be able to work on making them believable and look into the pragmatics of what they are saying. The original stage production was at the National Theatre from 1973 to 1975, which was directed by John Dexter. It has even been adapted for film. The play has also been nominated and won several awards, including 1975 Tony award for best play. I think by doing this play, it would allow us a look into a new genre, give us characters with a lot of levels and complexities and also introduce the cast and audience to a brilliantly written play. I got my inspiration for all of this, from ‘Pablo Picasso’s’ 1906 painting called ‘Boy Leading A Horse’. It shows a naked boy and a horse which is the two iconic images associated with the play and gives a summary of what the play is regarding. It is an almost perfect painting to link to the play and is why I think it is a suitable inspiration piece. There may be difficulties in the fact that there are only a few characters, but my idea would be to have it as one of a few plays that other students suggest. There is also the difficulty of finding a section of the play that would work best, there are parts of the play which may make students uncomfortable to perform, such as when ‘Alan’ is naked. But there is plenty of the play that would work and im sure that if a group get given it, they can choose parts of the play that they are most passionate about performing. I would especially like to include the scene between Heaster and Dysart, which we looked at briefly in a script study lesson previously. It had an intense atmosphere that would be good to re create.
The four pieces of art above are the inspiration for the second suggestion I have for my final major project. They are all illustrations, which I thought was a little different and took a relevant but unique take on the task ‘Art And Life’, as they are different to paintings or sculptures, which I think was what I looked at mainly to start with. Two of the illustrations are by ‘John Tenniel’ who did the original illustrations for ‘Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland’ by ‘Lewis Carol’ in 1865. The other two are illustrations that ‘Arthur Rackham’ has done since of the same characters. His were in 1907 and something I found when researching. I am very familiar with the classic story but my idea is to have a performance of the 2010 ‘Laura Wade’ adaption of ‘Alice In Wonderland’ called ‘Alice’. This premiered at the Sheffield Crucible and takes a darker twist on the classic story. I think that the illustrations are instantly recognisable as ‘Alice In Wonderland’ and that will mean people can see the clear link to the piece. It also provides a juxtaposition as they are the classic images and ‘Laura Wade’s’ version is much more modern. This I think, will make her updated approach to the characters even more interesting for the audience. The reason I think that the script will work well, is that there are lots of characters that are very castable for the group of people we have. They are also very fun and eccentric, which will mean we can have a chance to experiment fully vocally and physically. We can also do interesting and creative staging and costumes which represent the madness of the play. I have some ideas of doing it all in black and white, or the complete opposite and have very bright psychedelic colours and patterns. It also gives a unique appeal as it isn’t just the classic story that everyone knows, yet will still appeal to people who enjoy the classic story. Some problems we may face if the piece is chosen, is that it will likely be a larger cast which can get hard to organise, especially if there are people from different courses. It also may need a director as it will be a lot to take on, if it is a large company. Otherwise I think that this piece could be really succesful, especially if its a small group and I am hopeful that it will be chosen.
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