When I first began to think about how I wanted to plan and organise for the ‘Art and Life’ commission, I firstly looked back at what I used and what worked well for me in previous commission projects. For ‘Inspired by Film’, I broke down how much time we had until the performances and then with in that, how many sessions of commission lessons we had with a tutor and also how many useable study periods I had. This helped me previously to break up my time and to dedicate certain days and lessons for different aspects of the rehearsal process and in deciding how I wanted to use my time in the best way possible. Therefore I chose to do this again, which you can see below.
For commission lessons, I wanted to spend most of the time rehearsing with my groups and working on the performance aspects of my two pieces. As we have the tutors there to provide suggestions and feedback with their opinions of our work, they can inform us of what we need to work on in more depth, which is useful as it helps us to know what we need to do to improve our pieces. This should hopefully result in a better end product. Study sessions will be mainly used to make improvements by ourselves to the pieces but also will be the time we do the majority of our prop making, costume sourcing and other production based elements of our commission. This is because we want to make the most of having our tutors in commission lessons and think that they can benefit us most if they help us with performance aspects. We have also had enough experience from the last two commissions with prop making, that we feel as though it is something we can do by ourselves in our study periods.
Something else that was really important to successfully organising my time in ‘Inspired by Film’, was working out when the musical theatre students and the acting students shared time where they were able to rehearse. It was difficult as we have different timetables but by working out when we overlapped early on, it meant that we didn’t fall behind on our piece, as we had set times that we knew that we could rehearse together. As ‘No Exit’ also has both acting and musical theatre students in it, I worked out that Mondays and Fridays were the days we could rehearse with everybody, so I was the one to suggest that we used those two days for ‘No Exit’. I then allocated Tuesday and Thursday for ‘Alice’ as we are all acting students and as we are together for lessons all week, we can adapt to the other pieces rehearsal requirements, which need those specific days. I left Wednesday to be used for other college work that we will need to do for other lessons and also for what ever needs doing at the time, as I realised in the last commission that although it was good to have a plan, it does change and we need to be ready to be adaptable to what ever may happen in the process. So it is good that we have this day to be used for what ever we require at the time. We also have the option of doing further research as we have access to the computer room on Wednesday morning and the more research we can do, the more informed our character choices and over all decisions will become.
Within this project I will undertake several roles and have several responsibilities in the creation and process of the two pieces in which I am involved in. The first of these is to act within both of the pieces. For this I will need to work closely with all the other performers in my pieces, so that we can create and then get across the character relationships we chose upon. It is important that we all put the time and effort into researching our piece and characters so that we can successfully collaborate to make a piece with substance and depth. We want to make sure that all of us are working towards the same goal and that we can create the right atmosphere. The tutors will also be a part of the collaborative process, as they are going to help us by transferring their knowledge onto us and guiding us with any techniques that may be suitable to use or ideas we can try in rehearsals. Their feedback will also lead to changes and hopefully improvements to our pieces that will likely have an effect on our final performances. Lynn has already said that she will help me with a Sheffield accent for ‘Alice’, which will help me to accurately play the character.
The second role I have is to be a part of the directing of the pieces. ‘Alice’ is a play that I already knew quite well going into the process, so our group made a decision that I should take the lead in staging and finding the section of the play that we are going to perform. I also may need to take charge if there are any elements of the piece that we can’t all agree on. However we still want to make the decisions as a group and contribute as equally as we can do. Again tutors will be people who we will work with to direct the pieces as they may have valuable contributions and experiences. I know that Erica has performed in ‘No Exit’ herself, so she may be able to advise us on what could work for our performance.
For the production elements, one responsibility we will have as a group, is to organise and source costumes. We will need to discuss our research as a group and then see if we own any of the items we need. We may then need to ask for help with the production students to see if they are able to help and look in Tweed, where the college keep their costumes. If this is still unsuccessful, we will then look in charity shops in town to see if they have what we need. I will also be responsible for doing the face paint for Will, as he is playing ‘The Hare’ and we want him to look more like an animal. Therefore I will need to do some more specific research into how I want to do this. Another production element that I am specifically taking charge of, is the sound at the start of ‘No Exit’. I will need to record Chris for the opening sound clip, then I plan on asking Leah, who is a production student, to help me to turn it into an mp3, which they can then use for the shows. For prop making, I will need to use the skills I have gained from the previous commissions, where I have made a robot, a cudgel and several masks, in creating two signs for the ‘Alice’ piece. We have agreed that Liam will source them and then I will paint them. That way we are using the right people for each job, as Liam is confident in working with wood and I have done a lot of painting in the last commissions.
After working out how much time I had to work on the two pieces for this commission, I then made myself a calendar which I could use to write in rehearsals and deadlines. You can see below that I have updated it through the process, as we re scheduled and had new targets that we wanted to meet.
I then filled in the first week and what we wanted to achieve. The green ticks show that we successfully stuck to what we intended to do for that day. I also had to take in to consideration that there were things such as the college audition day on the 28th, and the Easter holidays, which meant that we wouldn’t have rehearsals. However we decided that this could be a good chance to work on our characters and we could come back after, with more ideas that we could share as with the group. We knew from ‘Inspired by Film’ that quite a few pieces didn’t go into the final performance as people ran out of time. I was one of the people who wasn’t able to put one of my pieces in, so I was determined this time to make sure we organised our time, so that both of my pieces can be in it. The calendar has definitely proven to help, as this time round I have been able to get both pieces to a place where they can be performed to a good enough standard. It also helps that for both groups that I am in, I have taken charge of organising our rehearsals and our schedule. Due to this responsibility, I have pushed myself further to make sure we stick to our plans, or if something causes them to change that we find time elsewhere and re schedule and adapt our plans.
There were some rehearsals such as on May 17th and 18th where some of our schedule changed, as we were unable to achieve what we set out to do for those days. For the 18th we had planned a run of ‘Alice’ which would have been off script and in full costume. This was probably an unrealistic goal reflecting on it now, as I was in a show for the majority of Easter, so I was unable to give my full focus to learning ‘Alice’. There was also a unscheduled sharing, which the tutors hadn’t previously told us about, so we were required to do that instead of rehearse by ourselves as we had intended. Therefore we put the date for our run a little further ahead, to give ourselves a more realistic goal. We also realised that because we hadn’t had our session for ‘No Exit’ on Monday 17th May, we were a little behind, especially as we had realised a flaw in the section of script we were originally going to do but have since changed. Therefore we added an extra rehearsal for Wednesday the 19th, which gave us a chance to pick the new section of the play and also to do a read through.
This was then complicated slightly by the knowledge that Jamie had a maths test that she had not informed the group about. Liam and I then made the decision that we would have to continue the plan that we had made without her, as we were running out of time and the show was getting closer. We made sure that Jamie got to read and have a say in what we chose before finalising the choice, but I am glad we still used the morning to look for the right section by ourselves, as it took longer than we had originally anticipated and Jamie ended up liking what we had chosen and put together. Although we went ahead with putting the section together, we decided it wouldn’t be fair to block it without Jamie being there as we wanted the whole groups contribution, so that we had a range of ideas to consider.
There were also times where we had to change our plans because of Gary giving us a script to learn for his Wednesday script lessons. We needed to rehearse these and although we left Wednesdays free to do other college work, that only gave us the morning before we showed back our work, to rehearse his pieces. It may have been good to leave an hour on Tuesday to work on Gary’s pieces as well, to get all of our work to a higher standard. Although, this may have meant we didn’t achieve what we have done in our commission pieces so we would need to be careful of that, If I were to schedule more time for script lesson rehearsals.
I also made sure to see the tutors about accent work and then give myself a weekend to go over the ‘Alice script’ again but this time with the accent, as it’s almost like re learning a script. I am glad I did this, as it gave myself time to grow confident in the accent and saying the lines in a completely different way. If I were to do it again, I would have seen if it was possible to do the accent session with the tutors before I learnt the lines. That way I would only have to learn the script once, in one voice.
I am glad that we scheduled a run in costume earlier than we needed, as it gave us a chance to practice the scenes in what we will be wearing and also to see if it suits how we are portraying our characters. For ‘Alice’ it is quite physical and it is important that we can all move easily, therefore making sure that the costumes were suitable was something we wanted to make sure of early on. I am also glad that we came in to college to rehearse still on the second audition day, as it gave us the whole day to practice what we needed to. This was when a lot of our finer details came into the ‘Alice’ piece particularly, as we had the time to go through the piece section by section and look for small things we could improve.
As well as performance targets, it was important that we put in deadlines for the props and production elements as well. The signs were something we knew that we wanted, so we pushed ourselves to try to meet the deadline, so that they can be used for the show. Although we have accomplished this, if I were to plan the process again, I would have perhaps put the deadline for them earlier on, and given more time to making them, as they were more time-consuming than we thought that they would be.