Wednesday 22nd March 2017
We started the process of working on our pieces today, by having our individual talks with Erica about the pieces we have been given for the ‘Art and Life’ commission. We first talked through the ‘Laura Wade’ ‘Alice piece, which was one of my suggestions for this commission. I already knew a lot about the piece, but Erica had said that she had a specific scene in mind that she would like us to perform. This is the iconic ‘Tea Party’ scene. I agreed that this will be a good piece for us to perform, as a lot of the audience members will be able to instantly recognise it and it gives us some really exaggerated characters that we can work on over the next few weeks. It also gives us a specific scene that we can research, on top of the play as a whole. I know there have been several versions of the ‘Alice In Wonderland’ story over time and it will be good to see some inspiration of where we could take the scene and look into how we can make our version different, to one that an audience member may be more familiar with.
For our specific characters, I will be playing ‘Alice’ as I am the only female in the group but Liam, Will, Erica and I all agreed that it would be good to read the scene through multiple times and try it with Liam and Will as different characters each time, to see what combination works best. We can then cast it from that. This conversation with Erica, has put our piece into a good place as we now have a starting point, as we have a specific scene to look into further and we also know now what we need to do in order to progress and get the piece fully casted.
For the ‘Jean Paul Sartre’ ‘No Exit’ piece, I am in a slightly different position as to the ‘Alice’ piece. I haven’t read the play before, so I will firstly need to read through it and become more familiar with it. Erica has given me a copy of the play, so I now have the means to do this. I also plan on watching as many different versions as I can find, to help familiarise myself with the text further. This is due to that fact that I will need to understand the play and characters in depth, so that I can give a more naturalistic and realistic performing of it.
For the casting of ‘No Exit’, Erica said that she already had characters in mind that she would like us to try. For myself, she told me to look at playing the character of ‘Estelle’, who I plan on researching and analysing with techniques that Lynn has introduced us to in some of her character lessons throughout the year. Liam will then play ‘Garcin’ and Jamie will play ‘Inez’. From here, I will need to meet with both of my groups, so we can discuss any of our initial ideas, regarding the performance and production sides of our pieces. This should then give us a good starting point which we can follow on from. We also need to do a read through for both scenes, so that we can understand the text better.
Thursday 23rd March 2017
My group that will be working on the ‘Laura Wade’ ‘Alice’ piece, met up so that we could have our initial discussion of ideas that we could use for this piece. We firstly started as we had planned, by reading through the ‘Tea Party’ scene, which I had sourced and is the scene that we will be performing and working on over the next couple of weeks. We read through the scene multiple times, with different people reading different characters each time. This was so that we could find the best combination of actors playing certain characters and work out who should play which character. This method worked really well for our group, as we were able to see who was going to be most suitable and also how we wanted to portray this group of characters. We ended up choosing Liam to play the character of ‘The Mad Hatter’, as he had an extravagance in the read though which fitted the character perfectly and was how we all wanted ‘The Hatter’ to be portrayed. It also helps that he looks like he could be casted as ‘The Mad Hatter’, so it will be more believable for the audience. Will is going to be playing ‘The Hare’ and also puppeteer and voice ‘The Dormouse’. We thought that he played ‘The Hare’ well, as we all saw ‘The Hare’ to have a more fidgety and energised madness compared to ‘The Hatters’ extravagant flowing madness. Will did this well, so we agreed that this should be the casting.
Initially we were faced with the problem of having four characters but only three actors. However whilst we were discussing various solutions to this problem, such as splitting ‘The Dormouse’ lines between Will and Liam, our tutor Lynn suggested the possibility of having ‘The Hare’ with a puppet mouse who he uses a different voice for. We thought this would work really well as the character is meant to be mad and this almost creates the idea of a split personality with this fake mouse, which would add to ‘The Hare’s’ madness and also the overall style of the piece, which is meant to be strange and quirky. It also could add some more humour to the piece, if we do it well, which works to our advantage as it is one of the more comedic sections of the play and it is intended to be funny to watch.
Also in the read through, we realised how things like the set and the props will need to be organised early on. We plan on allocating quite a bit of time to the production side of this piece, as we know from our last commission ‘Inspired by Film’, that it can be a very time-consuming element. Especially as in ‘Alice; there are such specific props and requirements to create the setting in which the three characters are in. We will therefore need to stay organised and include it in our schedule early on.
We also discussed if we should change any references in the scene that have a link to Sheffield, or change them to be in Suffolk. We decided against this as we didn’t want it to feel too much like a pantomime and we want to stay as true to the text as we can do. I found in my research that it is a huge part of ‘Laura Wade’s’ version of ‘Alice’ that it is set in Sheffield and that is where ‘Alice’ is from, as it helps to contribute in making the play more modern. Without this, we might as well have just done the origional ‘Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland’, so it was important to our group, that we keep the Sheffield references. This does mean however, that I will need to research the Yorkshire and Sheffield accents, to make the references make sence and give a more accurate performing of how ‘Laura Wade’ made the character, as I want ‘Alice’ to be realistic.
Below is a video of us talking about he work we did in this first session together. I am in the middle.
Also in this session, we began to think about how we all wanted to sound vocally for our characters. I had already identified the fact that I would need to do some accent research and possibly some work with Lynn to get the voice for ‘Alice’. Liam knew that he wanted to work on having a loud and fast paced voice for ‘The Hatter’. We both knew what we needed to do in order to progress and had things we wanted to work on. Will however, didn’t know where he wanted to go with the voice for ‘The Dormouse’ to make him sound different from ‘The Hare’, but still make it obvious that he was speaking as both characters, due to our concept of it being part of his madness. We decided to all try the lines of ‘The dormouse’ using some of the vocal techniques Lynn had taught us about experimenting with volume, tempo, tone and pitch, as we all have a role in making every character the best that they can be, by helping each other. Whilst reading through the lines, we all really liked the voice that Liam did for the character. Due to this, Liam then proceeded to try to teach Will how he could get the same vocal effect, so that he can play ‘The Dormouse’. This helped massively and Will began to get the idea of how he could talk as ‘The Dormouse’, which he can work on over the rehearsal process. Below is a video of Liam teaching Will how he did the ‘dormouse’ voice.
After this rehearsal, we have made a lot of positive progress. We now have our piece casted and have already discussed a lot of initial ideas for our piece. We have experimented with characterisation through voice and now we need to look into blocking and working on the movement. We also identified that we will need to spend some time on the technical elements of the piece, so we will need to do a lot of research and have more discussions on what we want to include in our version.
Monday 27th march 2017
Liam, Will and I aimed on blocking ‘Alice’ today, as planned in our last session. We wanted to experiment with some ideas and to see if we could get the piece roughly blocked, so that we can build upon it from there. We set up the large table and three chairs, which we had discussed when we initially talked about ideas for our set and production. We ran the piece and firstly positioned ourselves where it felt most natural. We then realised that ‘The Hatter’ and ‘The Hare’ would not likely move as normal people would as they are mad, so we decided that this wouldn’t work the best for our piece. We also decided that as ‘The Hatter’ starts and finishes the piece talking about the same topic, he should end up on the chair he originally started with. We thought this would work well as it would emphasise the fact that ‘The Hatter’ and ‘The Hare’ are stuck in a time loop and they keep repeating themselves. This got quite complicated as all three of our characters move around on to different chairs throughout the piece. However we managed to work out that it would work if Liam sat in the middle, Will sat on the chair closest to stage left and I sat on the chair which is closer to stage right. It worked out that Liam would then start and finish in the centre, which is what we wanted to achieve.
Something else we experimented with is ‘The Dormouse’. Will had been working on the voice since our last session and I think that it worked well for the character and it successfully made ‘The Hare’ look mad, as he talked to himself, which is what we wanted to achieve. We also tried one of our ideas, which was to have Will operate a toy dormouse, which Liam brought in. However when watching back the video of our initial blocking, it became apparent that it was too small and the majority of our audience members wouldn’t be able to see it very well. Therefore we are going to go with our second idea for ‘The Dormouse’ which is to make a puppet dormouse. That way we can make it so that it is larger and easier to see. It also gives us control of how ‘The Dormouse’ looks. We have agreed that Will is going to take responsibility in making the puppet and Liam and I will see if we can make two signs, which we would like to make, as they are mentioned in the play and will help make the scene feel like it is set in Wonderland, as the signs are confusing and don’t make much sense.
Looking back on the video of our blocking, we have been able to see what we need to work on before the performances. For ‘The Hatter’ and ‘The Hare’s’ characters, we think that it would be good for them to speak at a faster pace and for them to include bigger and more extravagant movements. Over all they need to be mad and this would help them to portray this. It also helps to create the juxtaposition between them and ‘Alice’, as they are so different and she needs to be seen as very normal, as this is what ‘Laura Wade’ has tried to do with ‘Alice’s’ modern day character interpretation.
For ‘Alice’ I need to do a lot of work on how I want to characterise her. The classic approach to having a posh and well spoken ‘Alice’, doesn’t work with the modern-day setting that ‘Laura Wade’ has chosen. Therefore the Sheffield accent is more important than ever. I think that on top of it showing where she if from, it might as well help me to find the toughness in ‘Alice’ and her more casual working class character attitude, that I found out when I did Uta Hagen’s character questions in my research which you can see here:
From here, we now need to work on our characters, seek advice from the tutors on areas in which we can improve, and I also need to spend some time with my group, so that we can work on ‘No Exit’.
Wednesday 29th March 2017
We showed our initial blocking of ‘Alice’ to ‘Erica’. She agreed with a lot of the suggestions for improvement that we came up with yesterday, as areas to focus on. She also suggested that we do our piece without the table. This would make ‘The Hatter’ and ‘The Hare’ seem even more mad and would fit in really well with Surrealism, which is the art movement that our painting is in and that our piece is inspired by. At first our group was unsure whether we wanted to do this, but by the end of our session we all agreed that we will try it after Easter when we are next scheduled to rehearse, as the suggestion could really add to our performance and make it very different from other performances of ‘Alice’. We also really wanted with this piece, to get the link to our painting to be as clear as possible, and this would help us to achieve this surrealism. Erica also informed us that our piece was going to be at a good length for the performance, so we won’t need to cut down the lines. It should be perfect after we have learnt our lines and got the pace of the piece, which we need to do and we are glad about, as we think the section of the play works well as a performance piece.
Wednesday 29th March 2017
In the morning, Jamie, Liam and I met up for a few hours to discuss ‘No Exit’. This was our first in-depth talk on what we wanted to achieve with our performance and any ideas we had for the piece. We all wanted to have read the whole play before we started to work on the piece and this really benefitted the discussion, as we knew what we were talking about, as we had context from the play and the research we had been doing.
After reading the play, we all agreed with the suggested casting Erica had given us when we first got the piece. We thought that it would show off our acting abilities the best, with this combination of characters. ‘Estelle’ is also a juxtaposition to ‘Alice’, which is going to be enjoyable for me as I get two very different characters to work on and my voice, facial expressions, movement and general characterisation is going to be very different for both.
We then talked about which part of the play we wanted to perform and we agreed that the beginning part would work really well. We came to this decision as our audience won’t struggle to understand the context, like they would if we performed a section nearer the end, as in this play particularly it relies on the audience knowing what has happened in the play earlier on. It also captures what the whole play is about and we will still be able to get ‘Sartre’s’ message across, that ‘Hell is other people’. This is something our group felt was important, as the message is the whole reason why ‘Sartre’ wrote the play, so we wanted to include it in our section.
We then went on to have a discussion of some production ideas for the performance. As the play ‘No Exit’ is set in Hell, our group decided early on that we wanted to keep our set and props to a minimum. We want the audiences focus to be on what we are saying and the message of the piece, rather than some props, which would not have fit our performance, due to the circumstance of them being in Hell. Therefore for the room that the three characters are in, we want it to feel empty, so that the thought of having to spend eternity there was not pleasant. That is why we made the choice not to have props and only the set which is specifically mentioned in the play. This includes, a red sofa, a blue sofa and a vivid green one. To create these pieces of set, we knew that it would be too difficult to use actual sofas, due to the fact they would be hard to source and we would struggle to move them between performances. Therefore we came up with the idea of using the sofa blocks that we have at college, and then drape them with the coloured material which each sofa is meant to be. This should solve the transportation problems, as they are much lighter than actual sofas. As well as this, we want a small square table, which again we could find at college, and this would hold a speaker or gramma phone. We want this, as our idea is to have the lines of ‘The Valet’ pre recorded and it would give the impression that the characters could hear the voice through the device. This solves the issue of us having three actors and four characters in the play. By having ‘The Valets’ line which introduces ‘Estelle’ into the room pre recorded, it means that although we aren’t going from the start of the play, the audience will still understand where the characters are and what is happening. It also adds and element of mystery as it leaves people wondering who the voice is and where they are. This is the only sound we want for our piece, as again we want to keep it as minimalistic as possible, as we think that style works well for ‘Jean Paul Sartre’s’ message.
To come up with all of these ideas we started by going through the play and writing down any mention of props, costume and specific set requirements. We then built upon this as a group and came up with some more ideas, which we think are achievable and would fit the style of our piece well. I then chose later to write these down and put them in a mind map, with the quotes which support our production choices in pink.
From here, we want to block the piece and then spend some time working on our characterisation. For ‘Estelle’ I have found in my research that she is posh and thinks that she is superior to others so I really want the way she moves and speaks to represent this. I plan on experimenting with both in our next rehearsal.
Friday 31st March 2017
In our groups we presented the progress that we have made in ‘Art and Life’. We explained some of the research that we had gathered, on the two pieces, which you can see in much greater depth in Unit 8 Task 5 and Task 6.
We also talked about what we had done so far regarding the casting and process of choosing our characters. We explained about the plays, giving the whole group of people involved in ‘Art and Life’ context to the pieces we will eventually be performing, so that they have a better understanding of our contribution to the show as a whole, along with our aims and intentions for our piece. We also mentioned the art work, and everything that we had found out about it in our research. It is important we all know about the inspiration for our pieces, as it led to a lot of decisions in our actual piece, such as removing the table in our ‘Alice’ piece, to fit the surreal style more. Overall I am happy with the content of our progress presentations as it explained enough that the group knew more about our pieces, but didn’t overwhelm them with information that is solely relevant for us as the performers in the pieces.
Tuesday 18th April 2017
The actors and musical theatre students shared a lesson today, so we used the time to have a discussion with Lynn about where all of our pieces are at, in the rehearsal process. Liam, Will and I performed a large section of ‘Alice’, which was received very well, as it is a comical piece and it received several laughs. It helped us to see what we had done well and what we need to work on over the next couple of weeks. People seemed to really enjoy how we had done the puppet dormouse, which was good as the idea was very unique and we didn’t know what people would think of it. I still need to work on my characterisation for ‘Alice’. Although I feel as though I improved on making her more of an average and everyday girl, by the way I slouched and moved, the accent still needs some work, hence I have now asked Lynn for some accent help for this to improve further. We also realised that there is a section of staging at the beginning of the piece which we could work on, as it is very clustered into one area of the stage and stays like this for a while. We want to open out to the audience more so we intend to improve this section on Thursday. Otherwise the session showed to us, that we are ahead on the ‘Alice’ piece and what we need to do now is have a run off the book, as we only have a few more lines to learn before we are completely ready to do this and it will help us massively as we will not be restricted by holding scripts.
For ‘No Exit’, we explained that the three of us had been having issues with the section of script we were originally going to do. This was due to the fact that the amount we had to do wasn’t equal between the three of us and also it didn’t work very well as a stand alone piece. Originally we thought it would be alright, but we soon discovered that it was confusing from an audiences prospective, so tonight I will piece together a new section that I can pitch to Liam and Jamie. We want our piece to make sence for our audience and it is of high importance that we do this quickly, or we will fall behind and not be able to stick to our tight schedule. We have also decided to add an additional rehearsal for Wednesday morning, to sort out these issues, as we want the piece to be in a good place.
Wednesday 19th April 2017
We had scheduled that this morning would be dedicated to choosing a new section ‘No Exit’ to perform and then we could begin to block what we had chosen. However Jamie realised that she had a maths exam so was unable to be there. We wanted the blocking to be a group decision that all of us were involved in, so we decided to leave the blocking for the session scheduled on Friday. Even though this was the case, we were still able to sort out the section we are going to perform. I took the lead in putting together the section of ‘No Exit. We were struggling to find a section that could work by itself and wasn’t too short or too long. We had discovered over the Easter break, that the section we originally chose was going to be far too long and also didn’t get across what we wanted, which was ‘Sartre’s’ message that ‘Hell is other people’. Therefore we thought that it might be better if we combine different sections by cutting out lines and piecing others together, so that it still told the same story, just in fewer words. This proved to be quite time consuming and I ended up spending several hours doing this. However by going through the play and underling the important sections and removing the others, I was able to accomplish what we wanted. I then typed up our new script section and gave Liam and Jamie a copy each, to see if they wanted to add or change anything. Although this was the case, both of them were very happy with it and decided to leave it how it was.
Liam and I then did a read through in character and got Sian to read in Jamie’s part, so that we could see if the piece had a flow to it. It also gave us a chance to experiment vocally with how our characters sound. For my character ‘Estelle’, I tried the posh well spoken voice with a superior tone, which I had decided whilst doing my character research would work well and was something I wanted to experiment with. When trying this in the read through, it suited her very well and immediately gave the piece more energy, as it gave an even bigger contrast between the characters. Therefore I will continue to use this for ‘Estelle’ and develop it further through out the rehearsals.
Once we had read the piece through and experimented with our characters voices, Liam and I found Will so that we could look for some costume pieces for ‘Alice’. We started by searching in Tweed where the college keeps the majority of their costumes. We thought that this would be most effective as we have a low budget for these performances and it would save us buying items that the college already has. We had several ideas about what we wanted for costume from our research on the characters, so we looked for anything that would fit this. We were successful in finding a colourful waist coat for ‘The Hatter’ and a grey waist coat for ‘The Hare’. We also found some other brown pieces of clothing that Will can wear. The grey and brown tones help to show that Will is playing an animal, as these are colours that animals are commonly associated with. The fact that Liam will wear bright colours shows his extravagance and that ‘The Hatter’ is a very over the top character. The costume is also similar to how other versions of ‘Alice’ portray the character, which will make him more recognisable. For my costume, I already own a blue dress and some black and white striped tights which would work for ‘Alice’ and that I will bring in.
Liam then showed us some signs that he had made from wood and we realised that we would need some paint for the writing. We managed to buy some in town along with some brown face paint, that I can use on Will, to make him look more animal like. All of these production elements will contribute to making the world of Wonderland and creating the crazed atmosphere that we want.
We then made further progress with our responsibility to sort out the set, by spending the next few hours drawing out the outline of the words and then painting the first coat of paint on the signs. I had done a lot of work in the last two commission in making props, so I had a good idea of what to do and how long the painting would take us. I knew we would need several coats of the paint, as it is the cheaper washable version, as we wanted to spend as little money as we could.
Thursday 20th April 2017
Work In Progress Sharing
We had to show and discuss all of our pieces for the work in progress sharing. Liam, Jamie and I explained how we decided to change the section of our piece, hence why we were further behind than we had expected to be at this date for ‘No Exit’ . Never the less, we read out our new section in which I had put together. We spoke in our characters and explained to Erica exactly what we had planned for the blocking and staging of the piece. Even though the section of the play felt much better to read and I am happy with the voice I have given ‘Estelle’, it is clear that we still have a lot of work to do. For our piece to be successful, I think that all three of us need to have more distinct characters. This may come out more once we have added movement and blocking but it still feels as though I am the only one who has made clear decisions of how I want to play ‘Estelle’. Therefore I think that our group should help each other to find Liam and Jamie clear characters which they can then work on. We can use advice that Lynn introduced us to early on this year, about finding stereotypes people can easily see and making characters of them. This would work well as I am playing ‘Estelle’ as a stereotypical upper class woman who thinks that she is better than everyone. By having three strong stereotypes for our characters, it will show how different they all are and emphasise how each of their versions of Hell, is the other two. Something else that I think we could do to help us make the piece naturalistic, is to go back to the Stanislavski techniques and Uta Hagen’s questions for acting. We could tell each other about our characters, with their back stories and go into more depth on what we think their purpose is in the piece. Once we are all clear on this, it may help the piece in becoming less one-dimensional. We also need to block it fully, and get off book as soon as we can do, as this limits the movement we can do.
I then went to talk to Lynn as she said that she would help me with the Yorkshire/Sheffield accent that I plan on using for ‘Alice’. Although I had already found some YouTube videos and worked on it myself, Lynn had found some more and was able to go through the script with me, as there were some sections I struggled to say in the accent. She helped me say the words in which I found hardest. She would say the word in the accent and then I would repeat it back to her. This is something we did for the season show ‘Lilies On The Land’ and it had helped me to learn new accents for that. Therefore we did it again for ‘Alice’ and it was really beneficial and I feel much more confident with it now. We also discussed if I wanted it to be a heavy accent or more subtle. I decided that I didn’t want it to be the main focus of the piece, but obvious enough so that people knew where she was from. This meant that I didn’t over exaggerate certain words that I may have done if I wanted the accent to be more over powering, such as the word ‘Spoon’. I just need to keep practicing the lines with the accent now, so that I can do it without over thinking. Below are the videos Lynn introduced me to. There is an interview with Millen Eve, Aly Bongo’s accent challenge, and Maxwell Martin’s show reel, specifically when she was in ‘White Girl’ with the extract at 2 mins 37 sec.
We also spent some time looking back at the blocking of ‘Alice’ before the work in progress sharing for it. We tried the piece without a table as Erica had suggested and really liked how it looked. It successfully added to the madness and meant that Will and Liam could experiment with placing their legs in mid-air, where a table would have been. We then showed Erica ‘Alice’ and where it was up to in the rehearsal process. This was the first time showing it to her without the table and with me using the Yorkshire accent. The accent had definitely improved and already it has helped me with the every day characterisation of ‘Alice’, who will stand up for herself and isn’t afraid to speak her mind. However this will be my main focus to get to a better standard to help improve the over all piece. Liam and Will had also improved at their characterisation of ‘The Hatter’ and ‘The Hare’. Both of them are strong on their vocal characterisation now and I think that they can now focus on their movement and making that match their mad voices. This will make them seem even more out of the ordinary and create an even bigger difference between them and ‘Alice’. The next thing we need to do is get the whole piece off book, we are nearly there but still felt as though we needed our scripts for the sharing, so it is something we need to address as soon as we can do.
After the sharing we spent the next few hours, working on the finer details of the piece. Such as adding more movement and speeding up the pace a little. We wanted to make ‘The Hatter’ and ‘The Hare’ even more mad so tried to find places where they could over react or walk in a strange way to emphasise this. This has brought back the energy of the two mad characters and works well. It creates a juxtaposition between them and ‘Alice’. We had more physicality and interaction between the three characters now, which makes the piece more playful and comedic.
As for the other groups, there were lots of pieces which I was highly impressed by and others which you could see, needed a little more work before they would be ready to perform. One piece that I saw a lot of potential in, was Crystal and Sophia’s dance duet. The precise movements needed a great deal of trust and teamwork which they displayed in this piece. You can see from the complexity of the dance content that they had put a lot of time and effort into making this piece. The music fitted perfectly and created a dramatic and tense atmosphere which went a long with their strange acrobatic and slightly creepy dance. Something I think they did particularly well, was their synchronisation of certain sections of the dance. Both of them were confident in the movements and this made me feel relaxed as an audience member, as they looked like they knew what they were doing, as both of them would move at exactly the same time. For their piece to progress further, they need to finish the dance and then clean some of the more difficult sections. There were moments when they lifted each other, where they didn’t quite get their balancing right. This may have been due to the fact they were used to rehearsing in the dance studio and they had less space in EO44, where this was recorded.
Another dance piece that I felt was in a good place in the progress sharing, was Katie and Becca’s fan dance. They were highly confident, which came across when watching it and this fitted really well with the style of dance, as it gave them flirtatious personalities. They had very clear characters in the dance, which made it engaging to watch, as they acted through the dance, with their exaggerated facial expressions. It was also the piece which I felt was closest to being the standard we need to perform them. The piece seemed finished and the only improvement that I think they can work on, is to emphosise these characters even more. Although this is the case, they used the fans well and now have a new skill from doing this commission piece, which is something they may use in the industry.
From the singing pieces, I felt that the most entertaining piece was ‘Who’s Crazy/ My Pschofarmaologist and I’. This is because it was unique and unlike any other act in the show. I think that the piece has been well casted, as it showed off each of their vocal abilities in a complex song. Even though the timing is difficult, they still had good characterisation, and it sounded great vocally, which shows that they had put the effort into the piece with rehearsals for the harmonies. They worked well as a group and interacted well with each other, which made me feel more of a connection to the characters. Something that I think will improve the piece further, is to block the piece and add movement in the chorus sections. This will then help to tell the story of the piece, as it will be told vocally and be seen physically.
A piece that has improved a lot since I last saw it, yet I still think needs a lot of work, is the ‘Hamlet’ grave diggers scene. Last time that I saw this piece, it was clear that Justin and Alfie weren’t very aware of what they were saying and hadn’t quiet understood the Shakespearean language. This time however, it felt as though they had worked out the purpose of the scene and understood their characters. You could see this through the emphasise on different words, which Justin especially had began to do. Something that I think they really need to work on from here, is their diction and clarity. There is a high likelihood that our audience will contain members who aren’t as accustomed to Shakespeare and will struggle to understand the piece. Therefore it is important that they both enunciate their words and speak with clarity, so that it doesn’t add yet another barrier to the audience, and they stand a better chance of understanding and following the piece. They could also work on making their character even bigger. As they are comedy characters and are intended to be funny, it would be nice to see them creating two distinct characters by making one of them sound dim or perhaps having a strange voice for them. Something that might help them to do this is for them to learn their script. By not having a script in their hands, they can start to experiment with their physicality and movement which should help their characterisation to progress.
Another piece which I think needs more work on characterisation is the ballet dance with Bronwyn, Jess and Lauren. As they are meant to be in a ballet lesson, it may have been interesting if they could experiment with different characters and how they would interact with each other. At this stage in the process, they looked more like three individuals and not a group. This may have been because the storyline of the dance wasn’t clear. After they have decided what this is, I think it will be easier for them to work together and react to each other. This will be more interesting for an audience member to watch as it will give the dance more personality and create a dynamic. Also with this piece, I felt as though some of the group didn’t fully know what they were doing. A lot of the movements were uncertain and Jess and Lauren would often look at Bronwyn for help. This was obvious through their facial expressions and I may not have noticed if it wasn’t for this. This links back to the idea that if they have three clear characters, they can focus on their characters facial expressions, rather than looking like they messed up a step. This will help the piece to progress, as it will make the piece feel more professional and controlled.
Mia’s song was another piece that had improved a lot since she last showed it to me. When I saw it previously, a lot of the notes were not quite right, which halted the flow of the song. This time, she sang the notes with far greater accuracy than previously, which allowed us to hear the tone of her voice better, which fits the song really well. She has a lovely voice which is enjoyable to hear, but the thing preventing her from reaching her full potential with the song is her confidence. Her body was quite closed off, which stops you from singing as effectively. It also showed that she was nervous which puts the audience on edge, as they sometimes begin to feel like the performer isn’t in controll. Another element to her performance which I think that she could work on, is her story telling in the song. It would be visually much more interesting if it looked as though she was looking out into the audience as if it was the harbour in which she is singing about. This is because she will likely make a connection to the audience through her facial expressions and her gestures.
Friday 21st April 2017
We spent today, sorting out our staging for ‘No Exit’. We wanted it to be simple and minimalistic and thought that this positioning for the sofa’s would work well. This is because it feels claustrophobic and uncomfortable. We want to give the impression that the characters are stuck, both in the space and with each other, which we feel the staging does, as it is closed and tight.
We then discussed as a group how we wanted to block the piece and gave any suggestions that we had. Below is what we ended up with. We wanted it to be more focused on the words and what we are saying, so we didn’t want anything too complex. The point of the play is that they are in Hell and there isn’t anything for them to do or anywhere for them to go. It is also clear in the play that the room that the three characters are stuck in, isn’t too elaborate, so all they can do is sit and talk, hence why it is hell. Although I am glad that we have finally managed to block the scene and progressed with the piece, I still feel as though we could get some help from Erica, as she can aid us to direct our staging in more detail. I am aware that she has acted in a version of this play herself, so we could use her advice to help ours.
Monday 24th April 2017
We began with an off script line run for the ‘Alice’ piece which was very successful. It is a difficult script as it is meant to be confusing and the topics can be quite spontaneous, which had made it difficult to learn. It is also fast paced and so I am glad that all of us have got the play off script. It gives us more room to play with the physicality as we are no longer restricted by carrying our scripts. We then proceeded by doing an off script run and then another but this time with costume pieces, to help give a better feel for the piece. This instantly pushed us to really show our characters and we are in a much stronger position with the piece. Although we were off book, we still took some time to remember lines in specific sections of the piece, such as when we go on to talk about ‘Joe’ but the runs showed to us which parts we needed to go over and work on more, which is useful. The costumes look very effective as each of our characters are recognisable for an audience, which is what we wanted. We now need to finish the signs so that we can run our piece with all of our set and costume, then we will be in a better position to perform.
Tuesday 25th April 2017
I was off script for both of my pieces but was only able to run ‘Alice’ for Erica, as it was an audition day and we had to book time slots. Jamie had a clash as she was meant to work on her song at the same time, so we all agreed that we could work on ‘No Exit’ with Erica tomorrow morning, before our producers run. After we showed ‘Alice’, Erica was happy that we would be able to perform it next week without any problem. We all agreed that what we needed to work on now was making ‘The Hatter’ and ‘The Hare’ more of a team, so it feels more like those two characters, against ‘Alice’. We are confident that we will have achieved this by next week, as we have been making a lot of progress over the last week on our characterisation. We also were able to do it with the puppet, as Will had compleated it and had been practicing using it. It was really useful to be able to see how it would work and it made the performance even funnier, as it was unexplained madness, just like the play. It also was highly effective, as it was big enough so that the audience can see it, and Will managed to give expression to the inanimate object, by rubbing the dormouse’s eyes and finding ways that the puppet could react, just like the other characters. This makes ‘The Hare’ seem even more mad as he has put so much thought into being this dormouse as well as himself, which leaves the audience not knowing if its three mad characters or two extremely mad characters. This adds to the confusion, which is what we wanted to achieve with the piece.
Wednesday 26th April 2017
We worked on ‘No Exit’ with Erica, as we thought that we could use some advice on how to improve our blocking. We showed what we had already got and then she suggested some changes, such as having ‘Estelle’ go to the middle sofa first, and then having us all sit and stand at the same time. It made it more systematic, which is the impression we all had when reading the play, so we are glad that we now have a way to show this in our performance. We also used Chris for the voice at the start of the piece, who I have now recorded. We decided to use Chris as we thought his deep voice would sound more threatening, mysterious and slightly forceful. We want the audience to feel as confused as the characters at the start of the piece, and after watching the video back, I think this works well. Liam and Jamie had also made a lot of progress with their characters. Liam now had made ‘Garcin’ seem as though he can’t be bothered with ‘Estelle’s’ drama and Jamie had worked on making ‘Inez’ the all-knowing one.
We then showed what we had worked on with Erica in the producers run, for everyone involved including Gary and Erica. I am satisfied with my performance but looking back on the footage, I think that I need to work on going a little slower and leaving time to react between my lines. However I think the characterisation works well and is obvious to the audience and the blocking fits the style of the piece well.
We then showed ‘Alice’ and after watching the video back, I think that we did very well and have improved a lot since the last time we showed the piece to the group. Even though this is the case, I still have a few small things that we could work on. For Will, I think that he could twitch more as if he was full of energy, as this creates a different type of mad character to Liam and ‘The Hatter’. It also works with what I say about ‘The Hare’ drinking too much caffeine. Liam’s movement was definitely his strongest point in this run, his strange legs and arms along with him taking up space, suited ‘The Hatters’ lines and the character extremely well. It is something we need to keep in our performance as it makes him unnaturalistic, which is what we want in order to show that he isn’t like a normal everyday person. I am really pleased with my accent and voice for ‘Alice’. It is now just how I intended, so that it isn’t the focus of the scene but feels natural for the character, showing that she is from Sheffield. I also think that her modern-day attitude is coming across much stronger now, due to how I cross my arms and get annoyed at ‘The Hatter’ and ‘The Hare’. For the whole group I think that we had good reactions to each other. The way that the characters interact in this scene is so important as they have such strong feelings towards each other and I think that our voices, movement and facial expressions all helped us to achieve this. We now need to focus on our production elements, such as the signs and seeing is we can find Liam a top hat, as this is a costume piece that is important in making ‘The Hatter’ recognisable.
Tech, Dress and The Performances
To see how the performances turned out and how the process continued during our tech and dress performances, see the following blogs: