We used this technique of sound collage to get the situation of a London market. Some people could be on the stalls shouting their special offers out. “Three bananas for £1” for example. Others might be rustling their pockets for change.
When most people are doing something different and you are out of the circle, the atmosphere is peculiar but seems very real when you imagine it.
We also performed “The Bivouacs Fitful Flame” in a sound collage. My group consisted of Adrian, Lisa, Hannah and myself. Lisa was a person hidden by a box; she was knocking on the box in a rhythm that got gradually quicker. This showed that the tension was rising. Hannah’s tall body showed a tree looming over me, swishing about in the wind. I showed a scared man. I was shivering in the wind, looking about wearily until Adrian’s scream. After her scream, I immediately changed character from a frightened man to a man totally in control. We had to restrict ourselves to just one sentence or phrase for the whole play. Ours was “Now it’s done”. As if to say that someone has been murdered or raped.
These all contributed to the atmosphere we wanted. We wanted to show a frightening and eerie kind of feel to it all. The light was turned down to a dim light and also aided to the mood of the performance.
If an audience were to watch a sound collage and close their eyes, they would get the atmosphere of what is being shown. This skill is about imagination, co-operation with others.
Improvisation has a few meanings:
- Allowed only a short time to think up and create a play.
- Having no script to learn.
- Performing a play with no props. Having to pretend we are doing something.
My group comprised of: Adrian, Lisa, Sheldon, Luke and myself. We had a couple of minutes to think up a play called “Toys”. We based it on toy story. I was an army soldier proposing to Lisa-a Barbie doll. Adrian was a toy who tried to split us up and succeeded. She told both Lisa and I some lies to push us apart. Sheldon was a new toy for birthday boy Luke.
Lisa dumps me after rejecting my proposal and goes for the new toy. At the end of the play, we find out that Sheldon is gay. He is more interested in me.
I think that improvisation is easier than script work because the feelings, reactions and emotions are genuine and there is no script to learn.
Our group, in my opinion, worked well with each other and I got to know people better. Working in different groups helps me to co-operate with different people, not necessarily my friends.
The audience saw quite clearly that Adrian was trying to split us up. When something happens and you don’t know about it, your reaction and emotions seem more realistic, especially to the audience.
Bringing to life
In the poem “Toys talk of the town”, we were using the technique of bringing to life. We had to interpret the way our character was. Luke was the narrator; Stephen was the donkey, the plastic bird and part of the kite. Adrian was the fat top and ball I was the vase and the kite frame. We learnt our lines mostly. We manipulated accents or voices when I sounded really posh, spoke very clearly and walked elegantly. Stephen put his hands behind his back to represent the wings of the bird and used his duck impression. Adrian spun around us while speaking. Luke tapped us all on the shoulder to brought us to life.
The audience liked how we moved fluently into different characters and used the space well.
In the play “Toys”, the theme was about love and jealousy. As soon as Sheldon, the new toy, came on the scene, the couple-Lisa and myself-split up. With the help of the jealous and malicious Adrian, she embedded a gap between us by giving us some horrible lies. For example, Adrian said to me about Lisa “She has been hanging around the reject pile for a while now, you best keep an eye on her”.
We both pretended to believe her, but our reactions and emotions were pretty genuine. As I’ve stated before.
The audience found that the play was quite amusing. Especially when they saw Sheldon at the end. The tale took another twist when the audience saw Lisa ask Sheldon out after dumping me. We all found out that Sheldon, in the play, was gay. And he said he would prefer me to her.
This was a big storyline that lasted for all of the play, from the beginning to the end. The theme of jealousy was shown well by Adrian, playing a convincing evil role to split us up. She kept moving from one character to another quickly. Having private conversation. Unbeknown to the unsuspecting eye of the audience, she blended in well.
The characters were a bit like in toy story because of a new toy coming onto the scene. We were intrigued by the new toy and wondered what it was. We pushed imaginary buttons while Sheldon made robot style sounds. This added to the questions like “What is this toy?” “What does it do?”
Luke, who played the little boy, played his role rather well because he seemed to be a little child. When he screamed; it made us laugh. He was moving us around like little dolls. I remember that I was in a box-it was my boat-he was pushing the box all over the place. We all used the props well, which was another good point.
For the poem “Sleep, Sleep”, my group comprised of Adrian, Becky, Sheldon and myself. We spent a lot of time on the way we were going to present this poem. We eventually got the idea that Becky, Sheldon and myself should chant the poem out loud like witches in a circle, circling Adrian.
We also thought that as we got nearer the chorus we should gradually get louder and start circling Adrian quicker. We practised during lessons but couldn’t get it right. We were told to perform it while enjoying ourselves. We were given a suggestion of picking four people while performing. We chose four people including Mr. Tekerian.
When we performed the poem, we got quicker and louder the closer the chorus was. We shouted the chorus and when the “scream” came, Adrian scared everyone. We had replaced the word “scream” with Adrian screaming.
I found it hilarious watching everybody’s faces as Adrian jumped out from under the blazer she was under. Nobody was expecting the scream. Everyone was caught out.
This built to an effective climax because the audience, especially the four participators were scared. The volume built up and the speed of the play increased, this helped to build up to the scream. As the volume and speed built up, the tension and excitement also accelerated.
In this poem we based the whole thing on the chorus. As we led up to it, the volume rose gradually and the quicker movement the more tense the atmosphere was. When we picked the four people they knew that they could be picked for audience participation during the poem. We picked the people a little late but that added to the suspense. We held out on them by using this technique. This left the audience wondering if they would be chosen.
I prefer to interpret a character instead of being shown how to portray a character. I like to put on a voice to get into character. There are many characters in films, poems, plays and stories and many more ideas of how to play them. There are many opinions on how the character should dress, speak and walk.
Harold Pinter’s plays were mostly within the absurd category. Nothing really changed in the whole play. They are just conversations between a few people.
We had to perform a Harold Pinter script; there were only two characters. My group consisted of Stephen, Adrian, Luke and myself. We, as a group, had to split into two and had to share the characters and the play. I worked with Luke and Stephen worked with Adrian. I was a man who walks into the café or bar where the barman was. Luke shared the part of the barman with Stephen. I shared the role of the customer with Adrian.
Luke played the character of the barman in a rather enthusiastic way. Like he was enjoying life, always smiling and bantering with the customers. He also kept moving about, cleaning the table and doing some useful jobs while it wasn’t busy. Stephen played the barman in a similar way, except he put on his impression of a traditional English way of speaking. Stephen and Luke could have characterised their characters in a completely different fashion from each other.
I played my role in a dumb kind of way, as if my only option of working was by selling papers. I had no other ambition. Adrian spoke normally but a little hesitant.
Luke and I interacted well with each other, making a lot of eye contact. In the play, we mostly faced each other whilst looking at the audience.
When we switched partners, it kept the play flowing, Luke and I waited for Adrian and Stephen, until they tapped us on the shoulder. The tap let both pairs know when we should switch characters. Luke and I stayed in our positions in a freeze frame until the end of the play.
These methods of interaction created a friendly atmosphere creating a bar man and customer that everyone would expect, a stereotype character but with some additions.
I found that both roles kept rambling on about the same thing forgetting what they said before. Changing subjects at will as if time had no meaning. The conversation never had a starting and ending point, no climax to the play. The play never went anywhere.
My group for “Sleep, Sleep” used the technique of rhythm, pace and tempo to create tension. As we progressed through the play, our movement quickened. We pranced around her as if we were witches casting an evil spell on the hidden Adrian. As we sped around her our volume grew and grew. Gradually it increased until we got to the chorus. The chorus was the main feature in our play; we revolved everything around it.
When the chorus finally came and suddenly, after picking four of the audience, Adrian jumped out from under the blazer and belted an enormous scream. In between Adrian deafened the crowd, Becky and I were shouting out the chorus to add to the impounding atmosphere. We carried the volume through the rest of the poem, which was good.
The performance was great although when picking our victims could have been a little smoother. But it was worthwhile in the end when everyone jumped at Adrian’s screams.
As well as the volume and speed of the play increasing, Becky and I created a booming rhythm to the poem. We carried it on throughout the play because it was a very simple rhythm but very effective. We paused for breath after every line. Whilst keeping to the rhythm, we also increased the volume and speed building up to the scream.
The speed, volume and rhythm gave an eerie kind of tension in the piece. These aspects of the play were more effective to the four participants. They were expecting something to happen, but didn’t know what.
The volume and speed were the main factors in building up to the climax. These built up the tension and when the scream ended, the tension was relieved. The sigh of relief when the play was over was funny especially the four members of the audience involved.
The audience were involved during the play in two ways. The four participators were involved in the play; and also the rest of the audience felt the atmosphere and mood of the play.
Evaluation of my own performance
The performance I have chosen to evaluate is a poem called “Toys talk of the town”. In performing this play, my group comprised of: Stephen, Adrian, Luke and myself. We used a dramatic and strange technique of bringing to life, which worked well with another involving characterisation. We played the part of the toys.
I thought that we did well by using the stage to our advantage we moved about quite freely. We also changed to other toys very smoothly which added to the flow of the poem. We made the play tidier by learning our lines mostly so we weren’t reading from scripts. We delivered our lines clearly and loudly, which kept the play neat.
I believe that we characterised well, Stephen put his duck impression on. He also put his hands behind his back to represent wings which he waved around frequently. Adrian, to represent a fat top, he shaped his hands to make himself rounder and spun while speaking. Luke narrated well; he spoke clearly and loudly. He also acted as a toy-maker who tapped us each on the shoulder to bring us to life. I walked around slowly, speaking in a very posh voice. To add to my character, I also positioned my hands in order to represent the vase.
The audience found it quite entertaining especially when they heard the little plaster bird. They also thought my posh voice was really good as well. They thought the play flowed really well; when Luke tapped each on the shoulder to bring us to life and to change characters. They thought that there was a lot of effort put in; this was shown when we didn’t need scripts. Also, in their opinion, we portrayed our lines fluently, clearly and loudly.
In order to improve we could have:
- Put more expression in our voices and used more varied facial and bodily expressions.
- Moved about freely and used our bodies or hands to do something. For example, we could have searched for some change or sip some tea.
- For me, in my opinion, I need to increase my speaking volume a bit, to make the words clear.
I have learnt from this performance to keep eye contact with the other people who I perform with, in this case Luke. Also, while maintaining my eye contact but keep looking at the audience. I was surprised when we were filmed, I thought I would be a bag of nerves but I performed it well. I have never been acting whilst being filmed; it’s a new experience for me.
Evaluation on Luke’s performance
I have chosen to evaluate Luke in a play called “last to go” by Harold Pinter. This was one of the plays that he wrote which we performed to the class. Some of Harold Pinter’s plays are within the absurd category. Mostly his plays don’t start anywhere or end anywhere, nothing within the story changes. His plays usually consist of only two characters, just like in “Last to Go”.
For this play, my group consisted of Luke, Stephen, Adrian and myself. We split the play into two pieces and the group split into two. Stephen went with Adrian, whilst Luke played his part with me. Luke and Stephen shared the role of a barman, whilst I shared my part with Adrian as a customer.
Luke moved around the stage looking busy. He used the technique of mime as he performed, both clearing and cleaning tables in the café. He did this by pretending to wipe across the table with a wet cloth and drying it. He also used this technique whilst pretending to fire a trigger that released some disinfectant.
Luke Spoke enthusiastically, just like a normal barman. This added to his movement to help create both a great, enthusiastic bubbly barman and a fantastic atmosphere.
He learned his lines well over the period given and spoke clearly and fluently. Performing without the script showed the effort he put in. This also helped the play to keep tidy. The camera didn’t seem to affect him as much as me; he did so well. He didn’t seem nervous before performing whilst being filmed.
He seemed to make a lot of eye contact with me, his partner, and kept it throughout the play. He kept facing the audience throughout the play, whilst maintaining his eye contact.
He used his own knowledge of a barman and added his own ideas to create an improved stereotype barman. He characterised his role well to good effect.
These skills, which he performed throughout the play; the other characters, especially me, responded to with enthusiasm and did the same.
When we swapped characters, Adrian tagged me and Stephen tagged Luke. From then on he and I held our position whilst in a freeze frame. When Luke and I were tagged we got into our freeze frame positions easily and flowingly. When Adrian and Stephen carried the play on to the end; they played their roles very well.