Creating a play using Edward Hopper as our stimulus
After we decided to use Edward Hopper as our stimulus, and to look at the loneliness ever present in his work, we came about shaping our first character an individual who suffered from loneliness. We felt that this person could have an alter ego to act as a defense mechanism to combat the loneliness and isolation he suffered. Then we looked at how influential a persons experience is as a result of he/she’s childhood. As a result we created a playground scene in which we saw ‘Richard’ for the first time at the age of a child. My role from the start emerged to be Richard due to the direction I put forward about the piece, and my enthusiasm I expressed about it. I created a back-story to Richard of which the main pints can be seen below:
* He created an imaginary friend portrayed by a doppelganger as a consequence to the bulling, loneliness and isolation he suffered.
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* He focused on his education
A member of the group brought in a poem by T.S.Elliot ‘Wasteland’, which consisted of the social and economic issues around the 1970’s. We were able to combined issues from both the poem and Hopper, to develop our story line and for characters to emerge. Through the rehearsal process we were able to dismiss and develop ideas we liked. We tested a variety of different ideas related to costume, delivery of lines and body language.
Originally our costume were going to be all identical black suits, this was going to show how we all small parts of a bigger picture. However because my role emphasized loneliness and isolation, I didn’t want to convey a group. So my interpretation was to wear a grey suit, gray is a neutral, cool, conservative color that seldom evokes strong emotion although it can be seen as a cloudy or moody color. The cloudiness inside me I wanted to communicate as my doppelganger, which I felt worked well through my costume. The costume was also dynamic in that in the opening scene we just wore a shirt, tie, trousers and shoes. We wore ties round our head to communicate children in the playground scene, all members wore the ties to the right but I wore mine to the left, this I thought was a subtle way of showing ‘Richard’ being different.
Physically I found myself practicing a lot during rehearsals as it was fundamental for me to convey status and the relationship of the characters to the audience. In rehearsal each group member would allocate themselves a number between 1-10, this would reflect there status 10 being the highest. Then we would improvise the scenes with the priory lying on our status, this help us flesh out the best way to interact on stage. My first significant physical movement I choose to use when I thought or spoke to my ‘doppelganger’. This I choose to be a symptom of my mental illness, and I wanted it to link in with ‘Wasteland’ and Hopper, so I choose mechanical movements to express “cogs in a human engine”. The movement was a characteristic to Richard which pushed him away even further for being different, and helped show the context of the play.
To help me experiment different ideas with my character I decided to improvise in order to try different ways of structuring the speech and to allow the character to develop. I wanted to character to seem real to the audience so I used a technique called personalization. This meant tapping in to experience from my own life and applying the emotional impact of the experience to the acting scene. I wanted the audience to be shocked by the monologue as it was unlike Richard to explain his thoughts that was the Doppelgangers job and what the character said so when writing the script I kept it short and to the point in order to create that effect. To draw the audience in I spoke and looked directly at them throughout the monologue and to captivate their attention at specific parts I moved centre stage. I wanted the audience to concentrate on what the character was saying so I made sure that when I was speaking the movement was simplistic, and just to reinforce the dialogue.
When I initially started rehearsing the monologue on my own, I played the character as very bitter and recluse. The more I practiced the more I felt the character needed more to it in order for the words to gain impact with the audience. After showing it to my piers to gain advice from an onlooker’s perspective and decided to change the way I was playing it. Instead of being so withdrawn and bitter I decided to contrast this and the character talking almost normal as if what she was doing wasn’t wrong or out of the ordinary. By playing the part this way it made the audience sympathetic when they found out the truth about Richard.