How did rehearsals and the production process contribute to the final performance?

We did our rehearsals in and out of our lessons in school to give us an advantage. The rehearsals went over a six week period and then we finally performed our piece. In the first week, we decided to use the theme of ‘the perfect family’. We all agreed that this would be a good choice of theme because it was unusual and the idea of a perfect family is unauthentic. As a group we thought of a story that we could use, we wanted to have a realistic story but make it so it has an abstract side to it.

So we decided on a psychotic woman who took people out of their lives and made them into her family, ideally creating the perfect family. We started to work on the opening in our second lesson of the week, we wanted to connect with the audience and so we decided that myself, Ashley and Kingsley should all sit in the audience and so the audience would feel like they were more involved. It would start off with Paris talking about her family being the perfect one, but in reality we were going mad with hatred and paranoia towards her.

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We really liked to idea of scaring the audience because we looked like we were in a fragile state of mind, while sitting next to them. We wanted to show how the woman’s life started off and so we showed a man sitting in a chair watching television and his two daughters were sitting with him, we showed him being nice to one child and nasty to another which could show sinister emotions. In the second week, Kingsley wasn’t in and Ashley, Paris and I spoke about our production and we all figured out that we couldn’t see it going anywhere and so we thought about how we could change our production so it had more to work with.

We came up with a woman who was in a mental hospital and she had a fragile state of mind, she also had an imaginary friend who she thought was real but the audience didn’t find out until the end. We also changed the beginning to it being pitch black and you hear eerie voices calling out a girl’s name. However after discussion with other group’s ad Kingsley we realised that this was similar to another group’s production and so my group had to have a serious discussion about our group.

We decided to ‘merge’ both themes into each other and so created a woman who was in a psychiatric hospital because she had taken people and then massacred them all, when her secret was out. After deciding what we were finally going to do, I went home and I wrote up a rough draft of our first three scenes, in hoping that we could start working on our production instead of discussing it. In our third week, we worked on our second scene, which was Ashley in the psychiatric Hospital, and how she was full of drugs and so the character should be sedated and timid.

We also worked on the next scene with Paris and the voices, at first we wanted the voices to come in straight away but we all agreed that it would work better if we showed Paris’s life before she kidnapped people, and why she did it. When the voices are introduced we decided that they would come in on their hands and knees and stay that way to show that at this point in the production that the character had more control than the voices. After school we came together to discuss the next scene which was Ashley’s rape scene.

We decided that we wanted to use a sheet, which would show her rape but in an abstract way, however to do this we needed to use a movement scene, and after around an hour of trying we couldn’t think of one and so we left it for then. In our forth week, we worked on our forth scene with the psychiatric hospital and Paris with the voices once again. We wanted to make it more authentic and so we made the voices more cynical and violent towards Paris to show the change in power and relationship.

Paris then wrote a rough script for my scene, where I am screaming at a child who will not stop crying, the voice are once again introduced and I am pushed to breaking point where I finally kill my child. We also changed the voices appearance, we wanted them to wear masks and so seem more jumpy and creepy by leering at Paris rather than crawling round on their hands and knees because that’s more connected to animals/pets that to control. We then started to work on Kingsley’s scene where he is writing about his dead friend and his wife, feels as though he has given into his thoughts of revenge for his death.

At first we thought we should just go straight into the scene, however after discussing it we decided to add another psychiatric hospital scene between my scene and Kingsley’s, because it would make a better connection. We made it an examination of Ashley, and Kingsley was the doctor, and every time he went to examine her she pushed him away causing him to walk towards the audience and pause. This then went into his scene where a heartbeat was played and Ashley, I and Paris became doctors, telling Kingsley of his friend’s death.

We also came together after schools on 3 days this week, and tried to make the movement sequence up again, however with every idea we came up with there was disagreement and so once again we left it alone. Half term also came about, and so my group decided to come into school and practice on the Friday. In this time (12-2:30), we tried to come up with the second part of Paris’s scene, where we decided to do a complete copy of the scene with the voices but have Kingsley in the scene as the doctor and the voices aren’t visible, and so it shows the audience what is actually happening in the scene and that the voices are in her head.

It shows Paris being pushed down like the last scene but me and Ashley were standing behind the boards at the back. In the fifth week, we added one more scene onto our play, and this was the torture scene, showing Kingsley’s revenge for his friend’s death, and in this scene you actually see Paris kidnapping Kingsley and so wrapping up the mystery of how she stole the people for her family. Our technical then approached and we discussed what lighting we wanted.

We decided that whenever there was a perfect family scene that the light would be direct on us so that it looked like a portrait. We also wanted the lights to be blue whenever the voices entered the scene, this was to show that they are cold and manipulating. The technical was also used to help us think of an ending, in which we decided to use a strobe light to add a dimensional feel to the scene.

As our dress rehearsal was nearing, we realised that we still didn’t have a movement scene, and so we asked our teachers for some help, they gave us ideas and told us things we should do and gradually we came up with a very abstract movement piece, which showed Ashley’s pain and assault. When our dress rehearsal came we were quite happy with our performance because it was the first time we had properly run through our play, however our teachers told us that it needed alot of work because it was still very ‘sloppy’, such as the stage exits etc.

In the sixth week, we worked on our movement scene so we could make it fit with the music and so that it worked better and flowed. We also worked on our ending because we had changed the music and so we had to make the scene slightly longer to fit into the music perfectly. After school on two of the days we worked on the characterisation for the voices, because we and the teachers felt that the voices weren’t distorted enough and that they needed to look more out of place that any of the other characters.

We also worked on Paris’s opening scene and we made it so that myself and Ashley made the static noise which suggested that we were showing her past, we thought that this added sense to the scene and also we didn’t need to find the sound on a computer etc. When our performance came we were very happy with it because, through all the tantrums and storming out of rehearsals, we had finally come up with an abstract piece of work.

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