Supporting Notes. Play – My Mother said I never should, written by Charlotte Keatly. Skill – Acting Practioner – Max Stafford-Clark. Role – Margaret Section 1: -700 Max Stafford-Clark is one of the most influential directors to embrace British Theatre in the past 40 years. Nearly every play Max has directed is political, including themes such as Marxism (like Brecht), socialism, feminism, poverty and many more political themes.
Max says he chooses to direct plays like this because “I am socially curious, and I take theatre as tool of investigating society” from his book Letter’s to George, which alone with Taking Stock, has documented his directing experiences of theatre and his life. He co-founded Joint Stock Theatre Company, alongside Bill Gaskill. Here he developed his workshop theory, of working alongside actors, and new writers especially.
Throughout his time at the Royal Court Theatre he directed plays such as Top Girls (Caryl Churchill) and developed new significant writers: Sarah Daniels, Jim Cartwright, by incorporating his workshop ideas into directing them. Max founded Out of Joint Theatre Company in 1994, it developed into a National and even International theatre company, which Max dedicated its work to the expanding and the production of new writing. The workshop process was a new way of producing plays for British theatre.
Max didn’t believe that there was a hierarchy between the writer, director and actors. He believed everyone was equal and the play would be developed by the whole group. The whole company would research the books and themes, developing ideas through creative workshops. Then the writer would go away and write first draft of the play, which would be rewritten several times by the company during their conventional rehearsal period. The principle of the workshop technique was to motivate the writer.
Most of Max’s plays have started with a workshop. Max also incorporates lots of research on the issues of his plays. He directed “The Overwhelming” which was a play about the Genocide in Rwanda, he took him and JT Rogers the writer there, to get a direct view about the events that happened . After the trip the actors would have to prepare a piece from the information given, helping them gain the information how the people were affected during the horrific ordeal. Which helped them gain character and more information on the issue of the play.
This made us choose Max as our practitioner through his rehearsal techniques, because with 4 generations occurring within ‘My Mother Said I never Should’, we had to go research our elders like Max, and ask them questions on their beliefs on the subject of illegitimate children. Therefore, this technique helped us develop our characters in the different time period we had to play influencing different beliefs. Max uses many other techniques in the rehearsal processes. He is famous for using playing cards in his Workshop.
One way he uses the card is to work out their characters status and how they should behave in different situations that their character could entail. A King is a High status, and Ace is a low status. Each one would behave different towards one another. So, the Cards are used to determine, for example how passionate each character is in a scene and how they’d portray themselves across. We used this technique to see the different groups there are in childhood, from bossy popular type, to quite get bullied.
This was a good choice as it showed us how each character had to act towards each other He also uses other key techniques such as Actioning, and interviewing in his workshops, clearly another good choice for choosing Max as our practitioner for this play. In conclusion, Max creates realism during his rehearsal processes, helping the actors feel at home with the characters and the issues in the play, because of this he’s made a massive influence on British Theatre, which resulted in him becoming one of the best Theatre Directors ever. Due to his techniques and research methods, we choose Max as our Practitioner.
Due to his techniques of research and the card games, we felt this fit our play better than any other Practioner, because his techniques, helped us gain knowledge about our characters, and clearly helped us realise the different opinions and changes through generation; thus, gaining the full message that the play is trying to portray. Section 2: -655 My Mother Said I never should is a piece that is meant to make the audience question what their views are on sex before marriage and in the worst case scenario, pregnancy occurring as a young teenager/mother.
It also makes you question how society’s views have changed. This effect is shown through a fable of four generations in one family: Doris, Margaret, Jackie and Rosie. Margaret, mother of Jackie takes on Jackie’s daughter Rosie. This was due to the time period and beliefs that the time period entailed. Margaret was a ‘proper’ woman, and from what her mother Doris had taught her, sex wasn’t allowed before marriage. The play shows how hard it is to give a child away, and make you think that you should think before you act. In the end the whole truth is revealed.
You clearly see Rosie’s view upon the situation, and how her opinion on the subject differed from that of her mother Jackie, and Grandmother Margaret. Rosie feels that she never would have given up her baby, and shows her hatred towards Jackie for doing so. All of these events in the play round off the main aim of the play, to shows the difference in social and political views over time. Our intentions for this piece are to raise the issues of underage sex, and how it can affect you, but also your family and people around you. Also to give over the point that social view has changed swiftly over time.
Our aim is not for the audience to be drawn in to the plot of the play, but to make them think and what affect is given off and how the consequences of different acts and attitudes towards the subject of the play, and make them take a step back, and realise the harsh reality that has happened in the play, and why this occurred, due to the irrespective view of the time period. Our target audience would be any generation. This was so that people could see other views on the plays situation as well as their own beliefs and think about it.
Due to this, this meant that we had to find the right scenes to perform so that we could get across the situation and beliefs that the play required us to. This was a confusing and challenging process, as there are many scenes relevant to the intentions of the play, but i believe we persevered, and choose the right scenes to do so. In relation to Max Stafford-Clark, we choose to use a minimalistic and un-naturalistic set like he also tends to use in his plays, for example ‘The Convicts Opera’, where they did exactly this.
In relation to our choice of set we decided to choose a minimalistic set also, this was so we didn’t draw the audience into the storyline and making them be able to picture the full environment of the time. By using an un-naturalistic set, this would allow us quick scene changes, and allow the audience to focus on the message of the play, and therefore make them think about their attitudes and feeling’s on sex before marriage. Also we choose Max Stafford-Clark because of his use of Actioning. This is where you go through the script and add an action to the word of what you are trying to do to the other characters. For Example:-
Margaret: (Anger) Knickers. Doris:- (Warning) Margaret, come out! Margaret:- (Diverting) It was Suky. This allowed us to make sure we successfully delivered our scenes to the audience to give the complete effect that our play is trying to achieve, due to being able to establish how our character was trying to make the other character feel at that moment in time. We also choose him for his use of Improvisation; this helped us in the child scene, so we could focus on our character, and portray our age properly. Section 3: -700 The rehearsal process has been intriguing, and we have enjoyed incorporating Max Stafford-Clark’s rehearsal technique.
We used the status games, using the playing cards that Max uses in his rehearsal process to establish the anger, frustration or happiness each character needs to portray. We used these techniques to work out how each character would react in different situations. For example when Jackie is being talked down to by Rosie, in Act 3 Scene 5, to indicate the level of isolation and fear that she needed to use. You have to draw playing cards, and assign different emotions to the character; depending on whether they picked a low or a high card.
Using this technique it helped us gain our character, and how they’d react with their emotions in different situations. Margaret was a challenging character to play because I had to perform different ages during the performance, which would mean I would have to alter all of my performance techniques. Margaret seems to be a well up brought child, clearly inherited from her mother’s beliefs in society. I modelled Margaret around the beliefs of my Grandma, due to the time period, and how her beliefs in society are extremely similar to Margaret’s.
I haven’t modelled her due to the situation; however sex before marriage was deeply frowned upon when I interviewed her. This is also another one of Max’s techniques that has helped me gain my Character. I have found it challenging to portray Margaret older than Jackie and Rosie, because they are both taller than me. However, after using the playing card games by Max. It helped me alter my performance techniques, thus including my stance and voice to be able to portray an older character, than when I was younger.
For example, my posture was straight, my hand movements were slow and different to Jackie’s due to our age difference. Also we improvised in the children scene, so that we weren’t thinking about the words in the play, but the actions of the character, and how we could portray ourselves to look like children. This was another of Max’s techniques that helped me develop my character. This was successful, as it helped us break free from our shell, as we are much older than our characters, and it helped us alter our movement, tone of voice and our relationship with the other characters.
We have chosen the scenes which portray the message of the play, so that the audience can think about their views on the issues in the play. It is a challenging play to create on stage, as we are all playing ourselves at different points in the play. However, we still have to portray the same beliefs throughout in our character. To do this, we choose scenes which focused on the key issues. For example when Margaret took the baby from Jackie to take care of, showing she believed that sex before marriage wasn’t right.
We have to show the different views that they have developed through the society that they had in their childhood, and due to the scene choice I think we have portrayed this successfully, which is therefore fulfilling our intentions of the play. We received positive feedback that the audience had understood each of our views and who we were throughout the play; achieving our intentions. Essentially, I feel that we made the audience explore their views and issues about sex before marriage, which I thought was affective, because that was the main message of the play and our intentions.
Our Performance does entail a few health and safety issues. We did choose to use a minimalistic set; however we did have a swing and a piano which brought some difficulties. We had to make sure the swing was secure, and wasn’t swung on too high, so no accidents could occur. But we also had to rehearse a lot with the piano, as people go went there. We had a limited space, which meant we had to be accurate with our steps; as children we were moving at a fast pace. We also had to have a sand pit behind the set, in-case anything caught alight when we lit the candles.