October 05, 2008

Wednesday 1st October.

The Dress Rehearsal. It's incredible what lights and sound can do. The sounds of the bombardment are so believable it's easy to react to them. I've included some photos from the dress rehearsal courtesy of Peter Marsh.

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Monday 29th

The tech rehearsal. I had mixed feelings about the tech, i was both excited and apprehensive. Excited at the prospect of shooting Ben Jacobs and to see how the play fitted together but also nervous. What if it didn't come together? What if it was too ambitious?

Well it did come together. It took five hours, almos seven times longer than the forty-five minute show and it was exhausting. Yet it threw up major issues such as the stage not closing together which we sorted.

In terms of firing the gun, I have to honest and say I was pretty terrified. I've never fired a gun before. I'm a Quaker and as such hate pretty much all violence, so the idea of shooting someone was pretty difficult (a complete reversal of my earlier bravado, just shows what holding a gun can do). As well as the moral dilemma it's also bloody difficult to fire, and when it does fire it makes one hell of a noise. We practiced it five times till I got used to it. It's not just the noise. It's the smell of the gunpowder, the feel of the gun as it goes off. All these things combine to make the act of firing a gun horrible. And yet in films they shoot t each other all the time with no hesitation. I guess the immediacy of it is what's frightening. But I can tell you this I don't know whether i'd be able to fire a real gun.

Friday 26th

Notes from the run. We need to increase the uncomfortable silence at the start of the play. Then build on it.

We've come up with the idea of characters leaving prevous characters behind. So for example when Carl leaves as the First Spectator but then returns as the Woodcutter we want there to be a sense that he is the same person and that he has undergone a mini death to return. This creates an interesting idea about which character you actually are and how much you use this to hide yourself. 

The idea that characters have to create their own reality, something real and true to them. For example when Spectator two kills the Worker it is an act he can understand.

The idea of the Spectators being more performative. For example when I confront Jay about the revolution, I should actually get up on stage. This creates the idea that the Speactator has to perform in order to put his ideas across but the audotorium is the wromg place for it, so he needs to enter a performative space in order to perform. this is echoed by the behaviour of the Woodcutter who makes his speech in stage and then crosses into the audotorium after he leaves acting behind.

Thursday 25th

'The sound of Violins'. One of the only stage directions in the play. How to make use of it? We've decided tat the sound of Violins could symbolise when something from the outside world enters the theatrical realm, when reality and illusion mix. This creates quite a nice of clash and it shows the audience the melding of the two worlds.

The stage has also gone in today. It's not completely finished but the main structure is there. It's incredible to walk on te set for the first time, it makes everything seem more real. If that can happen in this play.

The differen states on the stage need to be heightened. The flick state for the Spectators needs to build to put across the feeling of impatience at the start of the play. It also provides a nice contrast to the slow state of the backstage area.

Wednesday 24th

The set is about to go in which is really exciting. I've got some rehearsal photos taken by Peter Marsh.

The Spectators enter    Director    20080924_278.jpg Fire!  

Tuesday 23rd

Today we experimented with the idea of status lines. Essentially a line dividing two seperate places which could represent anything from status to emotion. We had to experiment with how we would behave when approaching and crossing these boundaries. Through our behaviour we would define these spaces and essentially create a psychological landscape which would hopefully reveal character behaviour. What these psychological spaces will hopefully do is get across the significance of crossing the space, for example when the Woodcutter steps into the audotorium or the Male Spectator confronts the Director on stage. These are momentous points of transition in the play and by defining the spaces and therefore showing how difficult they are to cross we would hopefully highlight this to the audience.

After playing around with this idea we had notes from yesterdays performance. We've discovered that the piece really relies on intensity. No space on stage is naturalistic and because of this we have free reign to go over the top. This is paticularly useful when reacting to the Civil War.

Friday 19th

Today we concentrated on what is in my opinion one of the mos problematic characters, that of the Young Spectator. She seems to be a collection of ideas rather than a character. This of course is very interesting to study but very difficult to act to an audience. After discussing the character with David Johnston we came up with the idea of the Young Spectator as a post modern mirror. A character who passes judgement on the Director's ideas and Lorca's ideas. This would be a character without a defined sexuality or religion which would allow her to make these grandiose points about society and sexuality. We also considered whether she had some relaitionship with the Director, not necessarily sexual but perhaps they are united by a similar set of beliefs. She could be the Director's psyche, sitting remived from the action on stage reviewing it objectively. There is a definite sense that this character is asking the same questions as the Director but for different reasons.

The Spanish Civil War.

I'm going to try and give a brief summary of the Spanish Civil War in order to give some background knowledge to what's happening on stage. As the translator, David Johnston pointed out that the Civil War enters the theatre very quickly. So quickly in fact you have to wonder whether the actors and spectators would not have been aware of it earlier. Anyway, so the Civil War. It ran from July 1936 until April 1939 and pretty much devastated Spain. It ended with the victory of the Rebel Nationalists led by the fascist dictator General Fransisco Franco and the defeat of the Republicans. The Republicans supported the idea of a liberal democracy, the Nationalists in comparison opposed this seperatist movement and were largely defined by their anti-communism. The nationalists were generally wealthier, held more important jobs and Catholic.

I only mention this because it is something i've been thinking about a lot with regards to my character. Initially I couldn't find any sort of motivation for his behaviour. The character seemed full of inconsistencies, at one point he comforts his wife, yet five minutes ater he shoots someone dead. I didn't know whether this was because the play was unfinished and the character unclearly defined. But after researching the idea of Spanish nationalism it seemed to fit with my character's mindset. Someone who feels supremely confident that they are in the right, and therefore feel relaxed enough to go to the theatre, but when the war breaks in and confronts them, panics and kills a man in what he feels is self-defence. I think Spectator two is a character in a state of flux. He is obviously very religous and uses this to defend the killing of the worker, this would fit with the nationalist mentality. Yet there is a problem; we've not to set the play in Spain in 1939. Instead it's set in a seperate, undefined world, in which the war is just a war not necessarily the Civil war. So would a character have a nationalist mindset? Perhaps it would seem out of place. We'll have to see.

Thursday 18th

Today we looked at other media to influence our piece. First we watched the last fifteen minutes of a film called 8 1/2 by Fellini. In the film a director tries to film an unflimabel film and finds himself in the middle of an existential nightmare as he struggles to put himself in society. The film is called 8 1/2 because Fellini had made seven and a half films before it. The fictional Director's main problem with the film is that he realises that film as a medium is too limited to put across his ideas. This crisis brings about his panic bu the film ends positively enough when he is saved by his family and realises he can actually complete it.

We also looked at extracts of the Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter which had a puppet theatre in it similar to our own theatre. It gave interesting ideas about the idea of an automaton theatre with actors as puppets surrounded by a world where humans are puppets following what they think is their free will. Some interesting ideas to consider.

Wednesday 17th

Today we concentrated on the individual journeys of each character concentrating on Briony (the Stagehand) and Jesse (the Prompter) to get a sense of the theatrical world backstage.

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