February 19, 2005

Medea 2– clarification of ideas

The Session on friday began as usual in a group brainstorming and telling the ideas we'd all had. After we clarified what themes were central to the performance, (opposition of the sexes, and how this conflict can have repurcussions) we came together in our groups.

The Film and live perfomance group have merged somewhat as the interactivity between them is key to each of them working.

So Me, Owen, Rothelite, Sophie and Sarah sat down and threw about ideas:

Contemporising the story; could the film be a modernisation in terms of mise en scene etc. Grimy and seedy backstreets style to the presentation and/or characters?

Using more than one couple, several actors would take the issues from being about a relationship to being about society in general and depersonalise the opposing sexes.

Several ways of transferring the attention of the film from actor to actor, here's a couple:
Shot of actors upperbody,smoking->shot of ashtray, hand puts down fag, in the same shot another hand picks up the fag -> identical shot to first but with different actor smoking
One actor in foreground in focus and other in background blurred, effect like that of a flickering light bulb but flickering between images of both actors and then stabalising on the the other.

We've had a lot of inspiration from Requiem for a Dream (an AMAZING film, one of the best arguments against drugs and the most haunting soundtrack ever) with certain cinematic effects. For example; Macro shots that show a series of relevant objects/things in a sequence that is repeated; 'the camera walks with you shot' (you have to see it to understand); the beautiful effect of speeding things up ever so slightly to make things unnatural, give it the Verfremdungs effekt as an English + Theatre student might say; Requiem has a way of showing the perceptions of it's characters (love the fridge!) that I think is an important point when it comes to showing the themes and motivations of the male/female personas in the film.

Chiascuro lighting creates a great atmosphere of suspense <-> fear. It's used most frequently in Film Noir (Maltese Falcon, Chinatown, The Man who wasnt there, Minority Report etc.) with having the light source behind some kind of grid like window blinds or a roof fan etc. there is a pattern of light created only ever revealing half of what is there. This is a great way of creating a tragic-dramatic atmosphere instantly and I think it would be great to use to immediately establish the seriousness of the situation and struggle present in the themes.

There remains some indecision on the nature of the relationship between the film and the live performance, mainly because we haven't thought about the performance very much. Personally though I'd like the film and performance to mirror each other, possibly in the sense that one or the other showed the opposing forces in the sex-war. This connects to the idea of the female/male being in the foreground/the background and then vise versa.

Some general thoughts
There seems to be a lot of focus throughout the group as a whole that the film is a centre piece, I think I speak for the film/performance group that this shouldn't be the case. Just as the film is a supporting element to the performance, the two should be a support to the whole experience of the INSTALLATION. The piece should be affecting people from all sides, there shouldn't be focus purely on the film when it's going on.

With this in mind I suggest that the film shouldn't have a plot as such, but be abstract in order to create the necessary effect without drawing the audience into this one aspect of the whole.

I'm also very keen on using lines from the play to keep us rooted in Medea and not going off on too much of a tangent, this would be in keeping with my abstract point but also giving the film a clear meaning.

Location, location, location

Me Owen and the Rothelite went location searching (check the gallery) despite upsets like my stupid mistake in not putting the film into my camera properly and losing some good shots, we have a selection of locations that could be used. Since we're not entirely sure of the content of the film yet we went to a range of locations on campus, the closest thing we have to classical architecture (the pillared Maths Block and cathedral-like University house) and some natural locations in the Gibbet Hill wood.

Despite some great locations I still prefer any 'scenes' or dialogue to take place in a controlled interior space like the studio, I think to have too many 'natural' real life locations will detract from the supporting role of the film, too much detail I think will just make it too 'interesting' (not in the sense that we don't want the film to be interesting but that

February 17, 2005

Medea 1–Jason's Fan Club

1st Session of our Medea group

A quick recap of my arguments for why Jason deserves sympathy:

1)Medea never considers any other possible outcome than revenge over Jason, even if you take for granted that revenge is the only course of action, in my opinion it should only be taken out on those that deserve it, The children are innocents and the weight of the tragedy of their death is laid on Jason's shoulders. He was still their father and he certainly cared enough to persuade Creon and his new wife to let them stay. In the words of Owen, 'fathers for justice'.

2)Medea's been dumped,divorced and had a restraining order on her, but considering she murdered her own family we'd condemn her much more in present day conditions. Jason owes her his life, but it's clear she's more than a little unhinged in an obsessive way, lacking in empathy, back in civilisation Jason has probably started to be a little repulsed by his wife. He knows that she'll be cast out of Corinth, but knows that she has friends in Athens and the children can either go there, or as he later persuades Creon, stay in Corinth. Jason tries to make it an amicable divorce.

3)I'm not a fan of thinking that individuals should be pressured by society, it always seems inevitable that this divorce is going to happen and the proceeds can not be stopped. Considering that Medea is a woman who kills her own children, Jason probably thinks this is the easiest way of letting Medea down gently, after all, this way it's 'all society's fault'.

Obviously I can see all the reasons why Medea would deserve sympathy, but even as the Medea supporters said, it's difficult to sympathise after she slaughters her own children horrifically with a sword, considering that she is an expert in poisoning this seems to be a cruel way to mercifully kill her own children.

These are the notes I came up with during our visit to the library, from what books Gethin and Will didn't make off with. ;)

Two differing variations of the original myth –
1)Medea attempts to make her children immortal resulting in their accidental deaths. In this version Jason & Medea inherit the throne of Corinth and become king and Queen.
2)Medea's children killed by the Corinthians in revenge for the murder of their king.

Euripedes frequently used his artistic license to adapt myths, no one is absolutely sure whether his version was another actual myth or his interpretation. Most Scholars think his interpretation.

Despite the fact that Medea is linked to the supernatural in many respects and her actions can be seen as 'above human ethics', however Euripedes goes out of his way to make her seem more human, bringing her down to that questionable human level.

'She views her renewal of criminal resolve a return to sanity' suggesting that she views herself on this supernatural level living by the same rules as the gods or heroes (eg.Achilles)

Euripedes – Medea is bound by mortal rules
Medea – Medea is descended from the gods and above the rules.

The Presentation

Our primary theme of the conflict between Media&Jason /Male&Female/ etc. and the consequences of this kind of conflict on the innocents was the starting point of our conversation that lead to an exploration of different technicalities we could use in an installation style of theatre. here are some of the ideas;

Use of projected film combined with live theatre – debate on the relationship that there could be between the mediums, yet to be decided.

Possibilities – The action between them overlaps; they both display different sides of the argument; one reinforces the other; there is a concious relationship between people on the screen and on the stage.

Ideas – One displays Medea's point of view, the other Jasons; The screen displays the consequences of the events on stage;Two or more screens projecting a film based on the events.

Use of recorded sound
Those that had been outside interviewing people in the street suggested that we should use what had been said about Medea's actions as soundbites over the speakers.

A large collage of relevant material is intended to be displayed for people to view.

Use of lighting
It was suggested that the lighting should be quite minimal and the audience be given torches so that they were in control of what they saw and how they interpreted it. This would be particularly effective with the collage as the audience revealed parts of it at a time.

It's agreed there should be focus at some point on some live theatre..

We have split into groups to consider these different aspects of the piece. I elected to be in the Film group with Owen, Rhys, and James. These groups will be maleable as the development process and people's jobs may change where needed.

February 11, 2005

Into The Wardrobe

Come see my short but sweet Warwick theatrical debut – 'Into the Wardrobe'. It's a short (about 50 mins) play, surreal, funny in a quirky way. Written by a member of Codpiece, acted by members of Codpiece, quite 'Codpiece' in it's style. (Plugging Codpiece a bit here) Not sure how much it's going to be on the door, but it's only to cover the cost of hiring the cooler so it shouldn't be much.

It's on next Saturday (26th Feb) at 5:15 in the Cooler.

Look out for the posters going up soon!

edit – Unfortunately the play is void of anything from Narnia, I wish it had some talking animals in it as much as the next man!

November 12, 2004

Samia?.....The Samiad???... a connection in the sand, oh and some masks

Writing about web page http://didaskalia.open.ac.uk/issues/vol1no5/gettymac.html

Watching all the clips of Menander and reading about there performance of Samia (an obvious type-o, they mean Samiad, lots of wishes surely! remember the one where they went to the future? classic!), anyway I thought it might be worth mentioning a play I saw performed entirely in masks and without words…

I saw 'Island' by Trestle theatre company in Lancaster a couple of years ago and it was amazing. Based on a true life story of an elderly woman found dead on a traffic island the story revolves around her life and how it has lead her to become trapped on this roundabout. I remember coming out of the theatre and talking to my mates about it, and we all could imagine the play with full dialogue! We almost remembered it like that! It was a wonderful comedy because of the way the masks were brought to life by gestures and movements that matched them perfectly. For example the po-faced mask walked pompously and the jolly round mask was a road worker who had some hilarious gestures.

I digress..

The perfect thing about Island was that it could have been watched by anyone of any language. So it's a nice little reference point for me when imagining the use of masks in Greece. The difficulty for the actor I'd think is the fact that they have to perform all the side effects of an emotion rather than the expression itself. For example, slumped shoulders for disappointment, gestures of disbelief for confusement. etc.

The article in reference to the play '5 children and it', sorry, 'Samia' is very useful in understanding more details in the Old comedies and how they were transferred to Rome. For example the role of women in the plays, questions that were raised. And disappointingly, that there was and abandoning of masks. Jim Henson would not be proud. Interesting links at the end to slavery to the media and sitcoms.

October 22, 2004

Fresco fun with Mythological madness

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/theatre_s/ug/courses/th106/ancient/frescos/

*1. Consider the depictions of mythological scenes:

i What are the main similarities and main differences between the way in which the death of Pentheus is depicted in this fresco and in Euripides' Bakkhai? (Use an online text of the Bakkhai if you do not have your copy to hand.)*

Fresco – link

The similarities are simple ones, the fir branches and the rocks appear in both the Bacchai and the fresco. However they are not the actual cause of death in the Bacchai, the fresco suggests that he's about to be stoned and thrashed to death. In the Bacchai the maenads fail to get him that way, and have to pull a tree down and then claw him to death, dislocating and then pulling off his arms and clawing the flesh from his chest.

The Bacchai is far more brutal than the pussyfooting fresco, but then would you want a man being clawed to pieces depicted on your wall?

ii. Compare and contrast the way in which the death of Iphigenia is depicted in this fresco with how it is recounted in Aeschylus' Agamemnon, and/or in Euripdes' play Iphigenia at Aulis.

fresco -http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/theatre_s/ug/courses/th106/ancient/frescos/iphaul/

The fresco depicts Agmamemnon with his finger to his lip in self-debate, Iphegenia with her arms towards the heavens pleading as she is carried by two men and Klymentestra, hooded, hanging her head in mourning on the left. In the sky there are two classic depictions of Artemis (the goddess who is preventing the fleet from leaving for Troy), The deer was the animal most closely associated to Artemis, and both her and her brother Apollo were skilled archers, hence her depiction with a bow. I am confused as to why there are two depictions of her.

This situation is very close to the one referred to in the Orestia but with the reasons for the action clear and made physical, ie. Artemis' presence in the sky.You can almost see Agamemnon pondering the lines 'can I choose either without doing evil'

iii. Why do you think the similarities and differences which you have identified may exist?

Similarities are there because it's the same story! duh. Differences may exist because there were some changes always made in the transition from Greek Myth to the Roman ones.

iv. On reviewing your responses to the above questions, how useful do you find these Roman frescos to be as evidence for traditions of tragic performance in 5th-century Athens?

The frescos aren't really a useful resource when considering 5th century BC Athens. For a start there would have been an evolution of ideas in the time inbetween. And secondly they depict the myths, not the theatrical experience of them.

October 16, 2004

Staging the Eumenides –3

3. In Theatron, explore the model of the Theatre of Dionysos, which represents the theatre as it may have been during the Lycurgan period (338 – 326 B.C.E.). Compare and contrast its stone skene with the wooden Phlyakes stage.

i.What possibilities and limitations for performance does each type of scene building allow or impose?

The possibilities of the Dionysos theatre are seemingly endless, there are plenty of interesting aspects of the structure that could be used in performance or left redundant in order to concentrate the action. Also it conveys a far more grand and royal impression compared to the ramshackle Phylaxes, something which the producers may have considered important considering that all greek tragedy focuses on their aristocracy, a trend that continued all the way to 19th century. (ooh cross-pollonation of modules)

The limitations of the Theatre of Dionysos are directly related to the sheer scale of it. There is little room for intimacy when the actor has to shout loud enough for the crowd in the nose-bleed section. Fortunately The Orestia doesn't really ever call for any acting on an intimate level. But that doesn't mean that you couldn't take it in that direction, as a modern director probably would want to. The Phylaxes small scale means that there was far more scope for a more intense play, in my opinion.

ii.The action of the Eumenides is set in three locations. What are they?

The Delphic Temple of Apollo (outside and within), Temple of Pallas (Athena, ie. The Acropolis)

October 15, 2004

No Purple, but lots of Greeks…..TOGA!!!

Writing about web page http://www.blogs.warwick.ac.uk/shimonastarling/gallery/toga_party/

i. Is it possible to determine whether the ancient vase paintings are depictions of theatrical performances, or of the myths upon which the plays are also based?

Can't remember if women were allowed in plays, get the feeling they weren';t though, so their presence on the vase would indicate that it represents the myth rather than the play. Natalie says so too. Good old natalie :D

Kate thinks that Orestes' costume is very theatrical, especially the helmet, I think if I was going to make a vase, I'd give him a pretty helmet too, if it was the myth or the play.


Snakes appear on several of the vases especially with Erinyes, it is doubtful whether the furies onstage would have carried around live, poisonous snakes.

ii. In the light of your response to i. above, how significant may ancient vase paintings be as evidence for ancient theatre practice?

If they really are based on theatrical performances they may be slightly useful, they provide information on costume and props. However we doubt it.

How to write a good analysis??

Pictures, although not a necessary element of answering the question, do provide backup in immediate understanding of the content. Plus they break up those huge reams of text with a bit of colour.

The General worship of Hugh Denard that lightly breaks up comments, along with the immortal words 'Purple, purple, purple' are hugely beneficial to the group, not to mention the country as a whole.

Some people ie. Scarfed Jack, prefer to punctuate their work with satirical wit. Which is a blessing because he writes so damn much.

Sparse but plenty of notes can make for difficult reading, just the paragraph will do.

Kate suggests a rating system may be a good idea, she's right.

October 10, 2004

SST1 – Places of Perfomance – Active Learning


A great resource to establish some geographical knowledge of the places we're talking about especially as it labels the places in their antiquitous names. Helpful.

http://ancienthistory.about.com/od/greekarchitecture/ + leading to http://www.stoa.org/athens/

Very detailed descriptions of locations such as the pantheon. Especially useful are documents such as the one describing the differences between different types of column. A trivial topic maybe but a good example of the kind of detail the site goes into, also includes a good number of photos for most articles at a useful resolution. So providing a good background history of Greek architecture, which may be useful when considering the skenia or other parts of the 'theatron'.


Hundreds of photos from seemingly anywhere touched by antiquity, unfortunately most are accompanied by no description at all. Therefore it could be useful if you knew exactly what you were looking for but far less so if you didn't.


An extensive links page, not really a website in itself, but a portal to other sites containing images and descriptions of theatres and other structures. Several of these have 360 degree quicktime pictures allowing you to move your view over the whole theatre. A good variety of sites linked into this one place.

3) http://duke.usask.ca/~porterj/skenotheke.html – This site provides a directory of useful websites in this subject, therefore making it a great starting point when setting out to research practically anything on Greek and Roman theatre, not to mention even Asia Minor, Aegean Islands etc. It is also far easier to navigate the others, wth one simple page where all the links are listed according to their country of origin, it is vastly uncluttered compared to the others. Making finding a certain picture or theatre quick and easy and browsing unconfusing.

4)http://www.theatrehistory.com/ancient/greek.html – Seemingly anything and everything to do on Greek Theatre. Including biographic notes, architecture, records and preservations of the original plays, the roles of different elements of theatre (eg. the chorus). Found by searching for 'Ancient Greek Theatre' on google, an obvious but effective searching method. It should be added if only for the structure of the site, for example if you click on the biography of Aechylus you get a list with it of his plays with a brief history and synopsis of them. It doesn't always go into great detail on anyone subject, but is good for browsing or clarifying things.

5) Euripides – The Cyclops (Available on shelf) PA 3973.C9

Deviant Art

Writing about web page http://www.deviantart.com

Here is a site that is simply the largest art gallery in the world, with currently over 8,000,000 pieces of art of all category and genre. There is also a huge selection of the art available to buy as variously sized prints, as well as mouse mats, mugs and that kind of thing. Most is reasonably priced, excluding the few looneys who try and sell stuff for hundreds of pounds (and fail miserably). The Prints themselves are really high quality, if I compare them to the poster sale that takes place in the Cooler now and then, they are thrice the quality of the artprints that were selling there for 7 and are usually available in glossy, matte or lustre prints. I highly recommend the lustre ones as they combine the sheen of the glossy ones with the texture of the matte.

There is literally something for everyone, from Photography to Anime and Pencil to paint. And a huge range of stuff comes in the right size for your desktop. You don't have to buy the art to appreciate it.

I suggest you start here – http://grigari.deviantart.com because it's my gallery :D;) With some reasonable prints I may add ;)

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