Drama could re-create an apocalypse situation where
Drama Controlled AssessmentRationaleMy devised piece was called “Control” and was performed at XXXX School on 11th June 2014. Our chosen stimulus was The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali and our chosen practitioner was Brecht. My group had 4 members and I played Kelly Brown and multi rolled.Cast List:xxxx – Trevor Johnson and multi rollingxxxx – Sophie Harris and multi rollingxxxx – xxxx Isaac and multi rollingxxx – Kelly Brown and multi rollingWhen we started our devised piece our teacher gave us three stimuli to choose from which would be the base of our devised piece. We were given the song Paint It Black by The Rolling Stones, the word “Shadows” and a painting called The Persistence of Memory by the artist Salvador Dali. We went through each stimulus and discussed ideas for them. We found out that Paint It Black was released in 1966, the same year as the Moor’s Murders, we thought about making a recreation of the murders or basing our story around them. Another idea we had we got from a line in the song that said “I wanna see the sun blotted out from the sky” which we thought could be an apocalypse, we thought we could re-create an apocalypse situation where only a few people survive and what they have to do to stay alive. We dismissed both of these ideas as the Moor’s Murders were too dark and we didn’t want to make it dark, we also dismissed the apocalypse situation, even though we were very keen to do it, as it would have been too difficult to re-create. We then discussed the word “Shadows”. We thought of two things when we read the word; Ghosts and Conscious. We liked the idea of a ghost story but couldn’t think of anything original, the same thing happened with the idea of a story where someone’s conscious controlling them. Finally we discussed the Dali painting. I noticed in the foreground of the painting was a creature that we saw as quite ugly; this was, supposedly, a representation of Dali from his own perspective. We used this and thought about how people are influenced by the media about what we see, therefore altering our opinions of ourselves and others. We thought about how magazines Photoshop and airbrush images to get rid of “Imperfections” and so it makes us think that there is nothing wrong with that person, making us think there is a lot wrong with ourselves. We thought this was a very current and relatable topic and there were many ways we could go with it.We had decided our stimuli, next we had to think about what practitioner’s techniques we were going to incorporate into our piece. Over the year we have studied the works of the drama practitioners Stanislavski, Brecht and Artaud. After discussion, we decided to use Brecht’s techniques for many reasons. We liked the way Brecht broke the fourth wall and spoke to the audience, Brecht also believed in portraying a political message in his pieces, which would work with our idea of media influence and would help us to get the message across to the audience.We had further influence for our choice of practitioner by the live performance we saw of The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui by Brecht himself on the 8th of November. The story was written by Brecht with the intent of exposing Hitler as a “Shmuck” and a nobody. There were many techniques used throughout the performance that influenced our choice of Brecht. We took from it the use of direct audience address; at the end of the performance Henry Goodman, who played Ui, stood on a tower and addressed us, the audience, as if he was talking directly to us as he was giving a speech, he broke the fourth wall between him and the audience. We liked this technique because it got the audience involved and made us pay attention because we were being spoken to directly. Another thing we took from it was the Brechtian technique of Recognise, Laugh, Condemn. One moment where this really stood out was in one scene were Ui was being taught how to walk and talk with power, however he isn’t very good at it. It was a very entertaining scene; however at the end of the scene, after we had all been in fits of laughter, he walks off doing the famous goose-step and the Hitler salute. So as we were laughing the Hitler salute and goosestep was born, this is the condemning as we found it funny but realised it serious and that was his first step to gaining power. Lastly, we took from it that we were allowed to break out of our characters. At the end of the performance when Ui is delivering his speech, the tower he was standing on collapsed to reveal a tower of skulls, symbolising how many were killed in the Holocaust. Goodman then removed his moustache and address the audience in his normal voice and stature as himself, instead of as Ui, this showed that the issues that were shown in the performance were real, maybe not as dramatic as that, but they were real none-the-less. We liked this because it showed the audience that the play may be funny but there are real messages behind it in the real world that you should go away and think about.We had decided our practitioner and had influences, now we had to decide on our story. Our theme was clear; media influence, but now we had to come up with an interesting story to go with it that brought across our message. We started with one character, a model, who is against how much her photos get edited. I was chosen to play this character because models need a lot of confidence, which I have. We then decided to make 3 more characters: a singer, a journalist and a Youtuber. We decided to have 4 separate story lines but link them together somehow. The stories would show how each person is affected by what the media says or does and how it affects their careers, personal life etc.DevelopmentMy role was an actor and I played Kelly Brown and multi-rolled. I was chosen to play Kelly because she is a model and models have to have a lot of confidence, which I have. Kelly doesn’t agree with how much her photos are edited by magazines as she felt it was an unrealistic portrayal of what people look like. To develop the character of Kelly I watched a documentary about models and focused on how they spoke and walked, the walking was important because models stereotypically “strut” so I felt I had to do that so that my character was more obvious. One technique we used in our performance is the Brechtian technique called Verfremdungseffekt. Verfremdungseffekt prevents the audience from losing itself entirely in the narrative and makes it conscious of what’s happening. This technique also links in with another Brechtian technique of direct audience address. We used this technique a lot in our performance, but one bit where it came through strongly was when I played the director. Before the interview I spoke to the audience and said, “Right, good afternoon audience thank you for being here today, right so today we are going to be filming an interview with our special guest ixxxx give him a round of applause please ladies and gentlemen *audience claps*” This is an example of direct audience address and verfremdungseffekt because I am talking directly to the audience. This technique is important to use because it keeps the audience interested in what’s happening because it involves them. It is also useful to bring across a political message in a piece because you can talk to the audience about what is happening and tell them it happens in real life. The fact it is useful to bring across political messages was good for our piece as Brechtian pieces have political messages behind them and we had quite a strong political message that we wanted to get across to the audience. Our use of verfremdungseffekt and direct audience address was very successful because the audience listened to us and were interested in what we had to say.In our piece, we really wanted to use the technique of stereotyping. Stereotyping is a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing. The use of stereotypes ensures that people knew who the character is straight away, there was instantaneous recognition. Stereotyping is also Brechtian and gave characters comedic value. My other main character I played was Lord Salt’s Secretary named Stacey. When we first started to devise the scenes involving Stacey, we all thought that me looking as though I was working wasn’t stereotypical enough and I could have just been noted as another worker instead of a secretary, so we wanted to make the character more recognisable as a secretary. To help with the stereotyping, I watched a few episodes of BBC’s Waterloo Road in which there is a character called Sonya. Sonya is, what we though, a typical secretary; heavy Essex accent, didn’t do much work, reads magazines a lot. We decided to try and recreate this in our scene so that I was recognised as a secretary instead of a worker. We found that this made our scene work better because it made it funnier and my character was more easily recognised. We felt that the stereotyping was very successful because minor characters were still noticed without having to give them a backstory. It was important for the audience because they knew who we were without having to introduce ourselves.Another technique we used in our piece was multi-rolling. Multi-rolling is where one actor plays more than one character, we did this by giving everyone one main character to play then lots of smaller characters for scenes that their main characters weren’t in. The use of multi-rolling allows a scene to be more developed because it means that there is wider variety of characters, giving more response and thoughts on the current scene. We used this technique in all of our scenes, for example in our adverts scene I played my main character, Kelly, but in the next scene I played Stacey and a few scenes later I played a director. Multi-rolling is important because it allows you to use more characters and doesn’t limit you to only the ones that you have already created, it allows for the creation of more characters that could be important to that scene. Our multi-rolling was very successful because we each had more than one character, giving us more time on stage, and no characters overlapped so no one played more than one character in each scene.Lastly, we used the Brechtian technique of giving our piece a political message. Brecht did this in his pieces so that when people went away they thought about the performance, instead of forgetting it. It also meant that they had to concentrate during the performance and not switch off. Giving your piece a political message also means that there is a purpose behind the piece; to inform people of something they may have not already known, instead of it just being for pleasure. He portrayed a political message through a technique called Recognise, Laugh, Condemn or, for short, RCL. RCL is where you show something people accept as every day in a comedic aspect, but with a darker message behind it. It helps to bring across political messages because the piece would show a comedic every day scene but have a message behind it. Our play did this by making things such as photoshop and adverts affecting young people seem funny, but with a serious message behind it. Having a political message behind a piece is important because it means the audience will go away and think about your performance and pay attention during it and wont zone out. It also means that they will remember your performance because showing them things that they accept as normal as comedic then very serious. I think our political message and the way we portrayed it overall was very successful because it was modern so it was relevant to the people watching our performance.We faced a few problems during our devising time. One problem we faced was figuring out where props and set needed to be at certain times, and how we were going to move them to their correct places in time for scenes. To overcome this problem we decided to walk through each scene very slowly and put each piece of set/costume/props to the side of the stage they needed to be for each scene and record it down. We then had a place for each prop, costume and piece of set. We placed each prop at the side of the stage it needed to be on and walked through our play again. We realised that a lot of our props needed to be onstage immediately and it would waste a lot of time walking on and off stage to collect them. We decided to turn the blocks on their sides and use them as storage; this meant we could put specific props inside of blocks for more than one scene and no one would see them. This saved a lot of time in our piece because we had the props immediately in the blocks. This worked well for the transitions between our adverts scene and our scene in the office. Because we had my secretary costume and props inside my block that I was pretending was a desk I had them all immediately and we could start the scene straight away with no long pause while we were trying to find props and costume.Another problem we faced was that the scene which had xxxx as Lord Salt and xxxx as Sophie Harris discussing false accusations made against Sophie in an article Lord Salt’s magazine had published. Originally, the scene began with Sophie entering Salt’s office without knocking, and Salt making Sophie go back and knock before being allowed in. We realised that this was unnecessary and didn’t make much sense to the plot line; it also made the scene very slow. We decided not to remove this scene completely but to shorten it so that Sophie enters without knocking, but then it goes straight into the conversation rather than Salt making her go out and knock before entering. This sped up the scene but still had the comedic value that we had in the original scene.One of our most important scenes in our play was the scene where Kelly’s images were being photo-shopped. This scene was important because it portrayed our message of how the media influences what we see the most and was the most realistic example of how the media influences us. It showed how images are photo-shopped by them doing it to a real person in real life. We had to show how much images are actually changed, so as the scene went on the changes became more drastic, starting at simply changing hair and eye colour, to moving arms to be in completely different positions than they were originally. It was important to show the audience how much photos can be changed and how their perception of someone can be changed, which is why it was one of our most important scenes.For our set, we decided to use a proscenium stage design, as it gave us space for a large set and our theatre is already laid out like that. Many groups didn’t, but we wanted to use a large set because we could use it for many different purposes. In our set, we had a board with a hole cut out in the middle which we used as a TV screen. In some scenes, we acted behind it, giving the idea we were on TV or in a video, but a few times in our play we decided to use video to give it a better effect. At one point, we projected a video of xxxx and xxxx doing an interview in to the hole to make it seem as though we were watching it on a screen, it also meant that we could show the jump cuts easier, which was the main point of the scene. Another use the board had was when xxxx was pretending he was in a YouTube video; we projected just a white screen on to him, meaning the whole cut out lit up. This gave the effect that his video was on a screen and we were watching it on a computer. The only mobile part of our set was the chairs, two single blocks and one double block, which was good because it meant that we didn’t have to keep moving larger bits of set. We also decided to use a lot of props, but minimal costume, because we wanted to scenes to have detail. We also used the Brechtian technique of placards which we stuck onto our set, this help the audience to know what to expect. Our lighting was very simple throughout; at most points it was just a white wash. In one scene where Kelly gets angry about how much her photos have been edited we, however, decided to use a red wash as red represents anger. We made the red fade in gradually to show the anger growing as Kelly is talking. We also decided that for the interview scene which I had to pretend to film, we would take down the back lights and keep the main lights on the characters; this made it look as though we were on a film set with professional lighting. At the end of our performance, it was my idea to have a black out, so that it was left on a cliff-hanger. We decided to leave it on more of a cliff-hanger by making the blackout come in the middle of our sentence. To tie this in with our theme of media influence, we wrote a poem about how the story wasn’t real but the message behind it was, which half way through the last line was when the blackout came. We then decided to add a projection saying “Error: Connection Lost” and have a loud beeping noise when the blackout came on, this was to give the impression that the media was cutting us off and stopping us from saying what we wanted to say.EvaluationAfter months of preparation, the day had finally arrived to perform our piece. As we were setting up the set and putting our props in place, it hit us that this was the first and last time we would ever perform our piece and we realised how much we would actually miss the devising process. We all felt very nervous, but excited, and had confidence in our piece.Overall, I felt that I performed strongly in our final performance, however one scene where I felt I really succeeded as an actor was when I was the director for ixxxx and xxxx’s interview. I felt it was successful because I feel like I portrayed the character very stereotypically by having a loud and dramatic voice and exaggerated movement. To create a loud and dramatic voice, I made sure I pronounced every word correctly and spoke with a lot of emphasis on most words. To create exaggerated movement I help my arms out a lot, walked backwards and forwards as I was talking and arched my back and leaned backwards. I feel I succeeded because I used the Brechtian technique of stereotyping and I made the audience laugh, which means the character was well received by the audience.One thing I felt I could have improved on when we performed was the use of facial expressions, this was obvious in one of my final scenes where I had to have a rant to the audience about how magazines photo-shop images. I feel like I could have made my face look angrier by scrunching up my nose and lowering my eyebrows and making my mouth look more like an upside down U. In this scene it was important that I used this technique as it showed my anger towards the topic and the audience would have been able to identify that I was angry even if I hadn’t have said anything at all. This is a Brechtian technique because it is stereotyping how an angry person would look like and the audience would recognise it instantly as an angry person.Overall, I felt our group performance went really well; however one moment where I felt our group was really strong was the transition between xxxx’s scene in the office to xxxx’s Youtube video scene. To change the set completely, my character leaves the set early, and I take off my piece of set (one chair and a single block) with me, xxxx’s character then leaves the set and goes behind a big board, behind it xxxx is changing into his next costume. As xxxx is changing, xxxx and xxxx have a scene in which they talk to each other to give xxxx time to change. At one point in the scene, xxxx gets up off her chair and goes and sits next to xxxx, as xxxx stood up from her chair, I moved her desk (single block) offstage, and her chair to the back of the stage, I then removed the placard at the back off the stage that said “In The Office”. Finally, I moved around to the other side of the stage, as xxxx begins performing his Youtube scene and xxxx and xxxx are pretending to watch. At one point in the scene xxxx pauses the video to ask xxxx a question and after the pause, xxxx and I move the desk (double block) off stage and xxxx moves his chair next to the other chair I placed earlier ready for the next scene. I felt this worked really well because it was a very smooth and simple transition that worked really well and it meant that the piece flowed more because we could get straight into the next scene. It is also very Brechtian to have the actors moving set while the lights are still up and the audience can see them.As well as I thought our group performance went, one moment I think our group acting could have improved was when my character, Kelly, was looking at her photos in a magazine and reacting to them and xxxx, xxxx and xxxx were on the other side reacting to it as well. I felt this scene was not successful because I felt it was quite slow and didn’t flow very well, I also found it a bit awkward to act as, to me, the lines that my character had to speak didn’t go with the lines that the other characters had to speak. Overall, I felt our performance went very well and we received a lot of positive feedback from our audience after our show. I really enjoyed the whole devising process and my group and I were very pleased with how our final piece turned out.