Devised piece coursework
Our assignment for our exam was to create our own devised piece from a stimulus given to us by the exam board. When I saw the stimulus I first believed it to be a dirty dress, that had been washed up onto the shore of a beach. After this the group began to brainstorm possible ideas. Initially, our first idea was to do something based on the titantic as the idea of the shore had led us to the ocean, the to boats and eventually to the Titanic.
We started off with our idea of the Titanic, but decided to delve further into it, so from titanic we moved to shoddy workman ship as that was reason we decided the Titanic sunk (With the exception of the ice burg, of course). From shoddy work man ship we got rushed production due to greed. For two weeks we worked on a peice to do with greed which soon turned into sweatshops, unfortunately the idea did not work for us, because although we had managed to produce three tableaux’ we did no longer liked the idea and came to the conclusion that we should change it.
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After some more heavy duty thinking we came up with the idea of a fairytale for we managed to transform this disgusting, washed up dress into a beautiful dress fit for a princess, and so, we went from there. We had vaguely used the idea in a previous piece and after some discussion we concluded that using the idea of a fairytale would be a good one as it would be easily recognisable for our audience, this also would give us a means to ‘twist’ the story in ored to get our message across to our audience.
We chose Brecht as our practioner so we could expand our personal skills and knowledge by performing and learning about his practices. Brecht’s techniques would enable us to educate the audience as to understand the point of our theme (Is blood thicker than water? ). Brecht’s practices expanded our own thoughts and feelings, it also forced us to look at the world in a rather different manner. Overall it was very enlightening. After some research we learnt that one of Brecht’s most important principles was what he called the Verfremdungseffekt (translated as “defamiliarization effect”, “distancing effect”, or “estrangement effect”).
Brecht employed techniques such as the actor’s direct address to the audience, harsh and bright stage lighting, the use of songs to interrupt the action, explanatory placards, the transposition of text to the third person or past tense, and speaking the stage directions out loud. Before we revised our performance and remodeled parts of it, we sung certain lines rather than just speaking them, this would alienate the audience as it wouldn’t get them hooked on just the speech and what was going on it would bring them back should they start drift away from the message itself.
Eventually we decided on speaking stage directions, such as saying “Blackout” and “Lights on” to start and end the scene. We also selected harsh and bright lighting as well as the actor’s direct address to the audience. In our devised peice I play the character of Cinderilla, she is the protagonist of the story, although she could also be interpreted as the antagonist too. The name of Cinderilla comes from a mixture of the classical fairytale princess Cinderella and the hideous beast Godzilla, two iconic characters which our audience could recognise instantly.
The combination of the two characters is who Cinderilla is, because though she may have Cinderella’s looks, she has the personality of Godzilla. Cinderilla is pverbearing, egotistical and rather shrewd, she is easily angered for not getting her way and at such occasions, she will leave the room with a dramatic exit, and example of this would be after her stand-off with Cinderella. To show the sort of person Cinderilla is I used direct address to the audience and explained to them during the stand-off about the girls’ childhood and the way Cinderilla see’s it whilst Emily talked about the girls’ childhood from Cinderella’s point of view.
This shows the audience how Cinderilla see’s the world as out to get her because she ‘never’ get’s her own way. Persoanlly, I visualise Cinderilla as Rachel Berry from Glee in the way that she stands with her hands on hips and that she will do anything and go to any extremes no matter what the consequences to achieve her goals, but at the same time Cinderilla is her own character with her own view on life. I see Cinderilla as a strong woman who is rather independant and reluctant to show that she cares.
When it comes to Prince Charming, I don’t think she loves him in the way she claims to, I think it was a crush that became into something her sister had that she wanted. It was more a competition than anything else in Cinderilla’s eyes. To explore my character in further depth and to properly develop her in the best way possible, I used various rehearsal techniques. we frequently used tag improv, by putting our charcters in certain situations and dealing with them in the way we believed our character would. We used physicalisation techniques, such as kumala vista, which we did using the voice of our characters.
Hot seating was another, as was emotion memory. I think the rehearsal techniques worked well as they allowed me to develop my character and see things from her perspective. Over the course of the rehearsal period Cinderilla changed slightly, because originally Cinderilla appeared incabpable of any emotion but now she show that she has a softer side to her, in that at first her feelings for Prince Charming are genuine and even towards the end of the story she gives of the feel that maybe she does love him and she’s not just some demented fool.
We didn’t use music, though we did have a trailer at the begining of our performance, this was used in order to set the scene and give the audience a general idea of what was going on. For lighting we used went for harsh and bright. This was to show that the events that were taking place weren’t real and that the audience were to focus more on the message rather than the actual story. The harsh lighting also allowed us to show our facial expressions more clearly which was an advantage for us since Cinderilla and Cinderella may be saying one thing but their facial expressions and gestures are saying something else.
The harsh lighting would have alienated the audience because the audience isn’t used to harsh and bright lighting. They are used to normal lighting and human beings are creatures of habit, so since we threw something unexpected, like unusually bright lighting at them it goes against their normal and they feel uncomfortable. Over the course of rehearsals our performance changed quite a lot, in fact although the characters stayed the same the actual plot line itself differed quite a bit. Originally Prince Charming was married to Cinderilla but for the purpose of our message we changed this.
Also Cinderilla in the original not only killed Cinderella she also killed the Prince too in her fit of jealousy. Occasionally we rehearsed in front of an audience so we could take in feedback and tweek things they thought didn’t work well and also so we could see if our message was being conveyed clearly enough, and if it wasn’t we worked on it. We did have difficult at first when it came to blocking because we got so caught up in the scene that quite often we’d forget that we were supposed to be performing for an audience.
We also at first, had trouble with the Brecht aspect of the piece because we struggled to alienate the audience which was one of Brecht major principals when it came to epic theatre. We were originally unsure of how to make our performance Brecht which led to us doing some in depth research of Brcht and epic theatre and what techniques he used, which was probably the best thing we could have done, and overall it was incredibly useful to us. Our performance was admitedly a nerve-wracking experience though once I got into it I felt things were a lot easier and I didn’t feel quite so scared anymore.
The performance on a whole I believed went well, there was only a minor slip up which we covered pretty well for to make the audience believe that it was actually supposed to happen. Our scene changes and prop switch overs could have been quicker and we probably should have practiced those technical elements more during rehearsals but afterwards we realised that there was no way we could have gotten everything perfect and we tried our best which was really what would get us the best grade possible. As a whole group, I think we did well.
We worked together and made sure everyone knew there lines and if one person messed up the other would continue and just go for it as if it was part of the scene. On my induvidual performance, I think I too did well. I tried hard to convey Cinderilla’s character the in the way I saw her. The worst part was the entire time we were performing, although I was focusing on the task at hand, I found my mind constantly worrying about wether or not our message was clear enough. In relation to Brecht, I think our performance was quite effective in regards to our message – Is blood thicker than water?
Our techniques I thought were well rehearsed. I had some difficulty talking in the third person as although I found it easy to talk as the character I found it hard to talk as the actor about the character and how the character was feeling during the scene. If I were to do the exam again, I probably would not use Brecht because although it was a very interesting and educating experience to use Brecht as our practioner as I found it difficult to incorperate Brecht into our devised piece.