All entries for Saturday 04 October 2008

October 04, 2008

Synopsis of Play and Context

I've just realised that for anyone reading this blog a synopsis of the play as well as some contextual background would be very useful. So here goes-

Play Without a Title, or Untitled Play (Comedia sin título), is an unfinished experimental play by the Spanish twentieth-century modernist playwright Federico García Lorca. Lorca conceived the work as a three-act drama and had referred to it by the title The Dream of Life (echoing, perhaps, Calderón's classic Golden-Age comedy Life is a Dream), but he completed only the first act. Lorca's play was probably written in 1935, but remained unpublished until 1978; it received its Spanish-language première in 1989 at the Teatro María Guerrero in Madrid, in a production directed by Lluís Pasqual.


The play is in no way simple and if I were to tell you every event in the piece it wouldn't make much sense. Essentially a Director walks on stage before a performance (of which we are not certain though it's hinted that it may be A Midsummer Night's Dream) to tell the audience that it has been cancelled and that the theatre they have come to see is a lie. An enraged Spectator (we'll call him Spectator one) argues that the theatre's worth is in the audience's reaction and as a paying customer this is all that matters. The Director accuses him of having no interest in the real world as it's ugly. He describes a play he put on a few days earlier that depicted two starving children falling asleep on the dead body of their mother after eating shoe polish. Spectator One dismisses this as ridiculous and tells his wife they are leaving. His wife is however interested and tells her husband it is just a story, but when she learns it actually happened she and her husband leave. A young ambiguous spectator called (interestingly enough Young Spectator) applauds the Director's experiment but tells him it's ultimately foolish. They are interrupted by a Waitress bringing the Director a coffee and they debate the nature of reality and illusion. The Waitress being able to cope with horror in reality but unable to cope with it when it's illusory. She leaves and a Prompter interrupts the Director asking him whether he is rehearsing A Midsummer Night's Dream? He responds that he is leaving theatre and intends to never direct again. She leaves and the Director is confronted by his Leading Lady, who represents the opposite philosophical view. She argues that theatre is needed whilst simultaneously declaring her love for him. Their argument is interrupted by the sound of shots as the Civil War starts to invade the theatre (crazy huh!) at which point the Second Spectator (who is coincidentally extremely attractive) takes to the stage and starts debating the relevance of the Civil War. The Director is on the side of the revolutionaries as they represent freedom whilst the Second Spectator, an ardent nationalist believes they should be crushed. As events come to a head and the Second Spectators worry about their children a stagehand known as Bakunin offers to go and rescue them. Rather than being thankful the Second Spectator takes a note of her name to report her. A massive bombardment then hits the building as the workers start to break in and in a fury the Second Spectator shoots a worker. The rest of the Spectators are shocked by his action, especially the Young Spectator. As the bombradment increases the Director re-enters leading the Workers bringing fire and the Spectators watch in horror as the theatre starts to burn around them....then blackout. It's pretty heavy going!




Tuesday 16th

It was a very intersting day today. We had to run the piece but in a very heightened form. I mentioned in earlier entries the idea of raising of lowering a performance in terms of intensity with one being the lowest (virtually non existant) and ten being the highest (pretty damn mental). Well, today we had to perform the entire piece at around ten. Needless to say the piece took about twice as long. It's interesting to see just how far you can push yourself as a performer, it's also pretty exhausting. But, some useful material did come out of the run. One thing we did notice was that during the bombardment our overblown reactions didn't really look out of place, showing us that we needed to heighten them during the actual run.


Monday 15th.

Today we continued to run the piece whilst ironing out any problems with the text. I've found that no i've learnt my lines the piece flows much more smoothly and I have space to react to my surroundings and the other characters. It's interesting how the relationships between the spectators has changed. Initially Zoe and myself were in the front row as we were higher status characters, but now because of problems with the script we decided to move ourselves to the row behind and let Carl and Maria have the front row. This would allow the argument between the First Spectator and the Director to be more intense and when Carl leaves the second set of Spectators are exposed to the Director's scorn. This is a prime example of how we are working with this text. The text is unfinished as i've mentioned before and has very few stage directions so we are constantly trying to find the best way to stage it.


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