Play based on “Adult Child/Dead child” by Claire Dowie
At the beginning of this unit we were given 2 poems and a monologue to read and discuss. Our group particularly liked “Adult Child/Dead child” by Claire Dowie, a monologue following the life of a disturbed and abused child. It seemed to be very emotional and one sympathised with the speaker. We then had to base a play on our chosen poem/monologue. We decided, not to act out the story of the monologue, but act out the life of another abused child, and show the consequences. Our initial idea was to show the life of a young girl, who was being abused by her father. Her mother was unaware of the abuse.
However, this seems to be a very common circumstance in the modern world, so we changed the story to make the mother abusive and the father aware of the abuse, but unable to do anything about it. A couple of the members of our group, including myself, had recently read `A child called “it” ‘ by Dave Pelzer, showing the young life of a badly abused boy. This was a very moving story, which also showed the mother being abusive. Together with the monologue, we used this story as a guideline for our play. We started off with a scene from the present, a young woman (Nicole) n her mid to late 20’s going to a psychiatrist to try and forget her past, and we focused in on their conversation. We brought in another character later on when we were practising the play.
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We decided for the young woman to have a love interest, so we brought in her fianci??e who gave his point of view on his girlfriend. We also got the young woman to give her point of view on her boyfriend. We could see here that they seemed to care about each other a lot because of the way they would talk to each other, concerned and gentle. Unfortunately he young woman could not bring herself to tell her boyfriend of her childhood, which bothered the boyfriend because he trusted her 100%. I liked this scene because it used soliloquies in it to express the characters feelings. The acting between the boyfriend (played by me) and the young woman seemed to be natural, which contrasted from the soliloquies. The psychiatrist’s room is centre stage, the main focus of the play at the moment.
This way the audience would be interested in the conversation, because there was no movement going on anywhere else. I think for this part we could have made the dialogue more nteresting because I felt that it didn’t have much emotion or anything to capture the audience’s imagination. We decided to show life how the woman wanted it to be. The main focus was then downstage right. It was a freeze-frame of a young girl asleep with her mother and father close by. As the young woman (played by Nicole) and the psychiatrist (played by Emma) went into a freeze-frame, the young-girl-with-her parents image came to life. It began with the two parents seeming to have an exciting conversation about waking the young girl up.
This scene, where the father wakes he girl up on Christmas morning, where she goes downstairs to find a bike (just what she wanted) and the husband and wife being very loving, seems to be exaggerated, which was good because it added the imagery of a perfect family, like the ones you see on television adverts. We decided to show this in contrast to Nicole’s actual life. If we had introduced lighting to our play, I believe we would have faded out on that scene to go onto a spotlight of the psychiatrist’s room. The psychiatrist and Nicole then discuss that that wasn’t what her life was like, and I believe that this got the udience interested in what life was really like. We added another freeze-frame and again focused in on downstage right. This time it gave off dark imagery with the young Nicole (played by Sinead) hiding away, crouched in a ball, from her mother, and her mother (played by Hannah) looking less than sober. Also the father (played by Ashley) seemed to be glaring at the mother. The scene immediately started with shouting, which I thought was good because the previous family scene had started with silence and then soft conversation and this was the first contrast in the scene. It as basically an argument between the mother and father about Christmas dinner being ruined. We could see the mother dominating both Nicole and the father in this scene because she was shouting at them both.
I particularly like the image with Hannah standing over Sinead and shouting at her because that seemed to show that Hannah thought she was above the girl and the girl faced away from her because she was too scared to fight back. We got the impression the young girl was so intimidated by her mother’s ongoing verbal abuse and threat of physical violence because she said hardly anything, and it eemed was too afraid to even look at her, as there wasn’t a lot of eye contact between the mother and the daughter. I would like to have seen Sinead have a conversation with her mother/father because this would maybe have developed her character a bit more, shown what her thoughts of her parents were. That scene ended with a freeze-frame of the father walking out of the door, leaving Sinead in Hannah’s incapable hands. Instead of returning to the psychiatrist’s room, we went to the waiting room which was upstage left, where we found Nicole’s boyfriend looking very worried and anxious.
We again had a soliloquy where he shared his thoughts, and became increasingly worried about Nicole’s behaviour. At first we thought we would show the boyfriend leaving then, because he had become too impatient with Nicole, but we decided to let him leave just as Nicole broke down in tears, later on in the play to make matters even worse for her, and to really show how they felt about each other. That scene ended with a freeze-frame with the focus returning to the psychiatrist’s room. Nicole then, began to show her emotions a bit more. We thought that the character of Nicole ould try to hide her emotions a lot, to try and hide her past, but when pushed she would show them. The main focus went again to Nicole’s past life, with the opening part of the scene being Hannah throwing up(ugh! ). She had had too much alcohol, and I think this was the audience’s first realisation that the mother was an alcoholic, which caused the violence and abuse towards her child.
We decided that the exit for the dad on Christmas day didn’t seem to show any emotion, so we decided to bring him back for this final scene. He comes into the scene with a knock on the oor, which the young girl goes to answer. They have a brief conversation about why the girl wasn’t at school, and the dad enters the house to be greeted by a pile of sick, to which he comments “Not again. ” His tone of voice suggested that this wasn’t an unusual event. The mother and father again had a brief argument and the father stormed out of the door with his little girl screaming behind him to come back. This next point I thought was very well acted because it was so emotional. It ended with the first loving conversation between a parent and the daughter in the play, where the ather promised to come back to the girl to take her away. After a brief scene at the psychiatrist’s room again, we come to the next scene. Nicole is in her mid teens and returns home from school in a happy mood.
This was good because it was ironic, as in the next two minutes she would be breaking down in tears. When she entered a room the audience saw her mother laying on the floor still. We thought this was good because the audience would’ve thought that she had possibly fallen asleep from the alcohol, along with her daughter’s thoughts. However, we decided that the daughter should show some motion towards her mother, and we changed the idea from her mother being asleep, to her mother being dead. Even though her mother was horrible to her all her life, Nicole(young and older) seemed to be absolutely distraught at her mother’s death. At this point we thought it would be good for the young Nicole to start crying first, and then to have the older Nicole join in with the crying. All three scenes seem to come alive at this point because the boyfriend barges into the room, whereupon the young Nicole stops crying. This is at the point when the boyfriend leaves Nicole, putting on more upset for her.