All entries for Tuesday 23 September 2008

September 23, 2008

The Flyer

The flyer

Friday 12–Sep–08

Today we started trying to develop our characters. What physicality would they have? What quality would their movements have? To help us discover this we started experimenting with the Laban Technique. The Laban Technique is a system used by dancers in order to make notes on performances. Essentially it defines actions into direct, meaning the action is straight and has a clear goal and indirect, where the action is more physical and experimental and not necessarily goal driven. Actions are also classed as heavy (a strong movement) and soft (a lighter movement) as well as fast and slow. An action combines all of these for example it could be direct, heavy and fast or indirect, soft and slow. These are known as Laban states and embody a distinct quality. An action which is direct, heavy and fast is known as a punch and is quality normally adopted by an angry or dominant character. Movements can also be bound (meaning they have a definite end) or free (meaning they can go on.) We each chose an action our character would perform and played around with various Laban states to see which suited our character best. I think from a basic understanding of my character he is direct, heavy and fast. Yet, I am having problems with my character. I can’t seem to get a sense of his mindset. Some line seem to say he is angry, others that he is more vulnerable and at the moment I can’t seem to unite the two. He has such a strong political vie I struggle to see how this would not be ever-present in his mind and yet he has gone to the theatre showing he has other interests. I’m also unsure about his tone. His language ranges between the formal and the theatrical making it difficult to find a voice suitable to play both with. Still it’s something to work on. I reckon once I’ve learnt my lines it’ll be easier because at the moment I’m losing fluency by having to constantly looking at my script.

Thursday 11–Sep–08

After a refreshing bout of Alexander Technique to start the day we moved on to exploring the text. We first experimented with the blocking of the space, seeing how relationships developed. I discovered that because the auditorium space was so intimate and small, we as an audience automatically became united against the Director. There was also a clear feeling of competition between Spectator One and Spectator Two. Spectator Two was of slightly higher status and therefore occupied a better seat. When Spectator Two enters the space I feel it would be important for him to try and dominate the space thus showing why he might be so angered by the behaviour of the Director. It’s also interesting to discover how the Spectators may react to the Director’s speech as it progresses. At the moment the major problem I have with my character is how to play him when he’s not angry. Everything my character says, he says in defence of something so it’s difficult to get any idea of how he might behave when he doesn’t feel threatened. Would he be constantly grumpy, annoyed and politically minded or is there any way of revealing a softer side through his relationship with his wife?

We also explored the more violent and grotesque elements in the play namely characters beheading a turkey and crucifying a cat. Why does Lorca include these? Is it to merge the theatrical and the real, by describing something supposedly happening in the real world in an overtly theatrical sense? What we discovered whilst trying to re-enact these scenes, is that there is no way to play them realistically.

The cat torture sequence acted out.    A tortured cat (Drama Students!!!)    Torturing a turkey  Pouring whiskey down the turkeys

Wednesday 10–Sep–08

We tried some Alexander Technique today in the warm-up. Standing feet parallel, shoulder width apart, bending down and slowly rolling up through the spine. This relaxes the spine and allows the actor to breathe properly. We then moved on to looking into the musicality of speech by speaking lines of poetry to each other and reacting to the sounds we made. The actual language was unimportant it was the way the lines were said that mattered.

We then continued our detailed reading of the script. We considered whether the characters in the play are acting or not. The obvious example of this was the Leading Lady a character who comes on stage dressed like Titania. Is this an example of the theatrical intruding into the real? When she speaks her language is overly dramatic and hyperbolic possibly indicating that she has been altered by the parts she has played, something the Director accuses her of when he claims she is not speaking but quoting. The Director goes on to accuse her of being a shell, which is inhabited by characters. It’s as if she is so absorbed in the theatrical that it has overtaken her. Because he views her as being fake the Director feels unable to hurt the Leading Lady as it would be too real, indicating he believes the worlds of the real and the imagined cannot interact. The Leading Lady’s response is to morph into Lady Macbeth in an effort to be more real, yet she does it in an overly theatrical way which undermines this decision. As she becomes Lady Macbeth the lights change to red and backdrop comes down making the change seem deliberately theatrical. It’s interesting to note that the Leading Lady uses red light to create the imagined blood whilst the Director will not allow real blood on his stage.

Should the actor be visible in a character? Stanislavski argued that if you cannot be seen then you would be completely submerged in a character making you mad.

We continued our discussion of reality and illusion. Surely if a play contains its own reality which has a logic of its own then we can’t accuse it of not being true? The stage has a truth of its own.

We finally got the opportunity to mark the space. First we took positions on the set and mimed an action, which our character would do. Mine was the simple act of writing in a notebook. We then increased this in intensity to see how manic the stage could get. We then got our first chance to improvise in the space. This interaction gave us crucial insight into the motivations of our characters. I learnt just how frustrating it was when you were waiting for something to happen on stage after you had paid for it and it was clear that nothing was going to happen. The dominance and power of the Director was quite antagonistic and I could understand why the Spectator would get annoyed.

20080911_131.jpg    The Spectators watch on.

Tuesday 09–Sep–08

I have discovered the limtations of a blog; apparently you can't back date anything. Sadly as I have been without the internet for several days I have been unable to publish the last few records so they are all going up at once. This might be a little confusing but it should work out okay.

We started the day with a physical and verbal warm-up. After stretching, we moved onto tongue twisters, for example, ‘All I want is a proper cup of coffee, made in a proper copper coffee pot.’ That particular tongue twister helped us practise the use of plosive consonant sounds. We then practised the phrase whilst walking around the space turning on the start of each line. This enables you to learn how to pace a line.

We then settled down to discuss the script. One major question the play brings up is what is the difference between reality and illusion? To test this out we performed a section of the Director’s speech stepping forward on any lines, which praised the theatre and its illusions and stepping back on any lines, which praised reality. We then measured how far each of us had got which gave insight into how far we thought the Director liked theatre and how much he liked reality. One of the major paradoxes of the character and his philosophy is that he constantly dismisses theatre for being false yet he uses theatrical technique as part of his oration. The Director’s speech has been designed to change people’s opinions and this preparation puts the speech in the realm of performance. If he were speaking in the realm of reality his words would be hurried, improvised and not nearly as powerful as his trained speech. Nothing on stage can be the truth because the minute it becomes a performance it removes itself from real life. Yet this raises the question what is real? If as Shakespeare says ‘Life’s a stage’, then surely nothing is real? Do we indeed act our lives? The Spectators in the play do when they argue with the director. Even the Young Man acts as chorus summarising and commenting on the action.

The Director has an interesting theatrical philosophy. He questions why people go to the theatre. He claims they go to escape the monotony of their lives. So is the theatre a modern opiate for the masses? The Spectator’s claim they go to the theatre to be entertained. Yet the Director maintains the theatre cannot show real life, it can only reflect it. Do the people go to theatre to see life or to escape it?

We then considered where the boundary lies between reality and imagination. In our stage design where a small stage separates the backstage and the auditorium (all three visible to the audience) it asks the question which section is real? The auditorium, the stage or the backstage? There are arguments for each. If you presume you go on-stage pretending to be someone else then surely this is a false environment. Or how about the boundary between the wing and the stage? Is that a boundary between reality and illusion? Your life and the life of the character you are playing? Perhaps there is no clear boundary between reality and imagination. Surely what we imagine is based on what we see and therefore it cannot be possible to move from one to the other so easily. There must be a grey area. I believe this area is the stage, where we take reality and use it to create drama. Or it could be the Lip of the stage? Where the soliloquies are given, a space of direct address, where the actor breaks the fourth wall. Surely there where the actor touches reality whilst still in character is the ultimate expression of reality and illusion blending. Surely the audience is real? Or at least they are not deliberately performing. Is the boundary in fact within the actors themselves? How much of what they do is real to them and how much is fabricated? How far does method acting go? If when the actor performs a part they truly believe it, is this experience as real as when it happens in reality? Is the audience’s behaviour itself a careful performance? Take for example the coded etiquette used by an audience whilst watching a pantomime where they boo the villain, cheer the hero and laugh at the men in drag. Perhaps the boundary between reality and illusion is purely subjective.

the artist and the world (these plays were often impossible to stage) and his Theatre Beneath the Sand, which questioned the nature of hyper-reality on stage and explored experiences beyond the known.

Rehearsal Photos.

        A model of the set            20080911_102.jpg            The directors watch.     

September 2008

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