My task for the controlled condition test was to construct a 15-minute presentation centred around the thematic area of IRONY and things that aren't as they seem.

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Coursework evaluation

Hannah Taylor 11A

Introduction

My task for the controlled condition test was to construct a 15-minute presentation centred around the thematic area of IRONY and things that aren’t as they seem. Although irony played an important part throughout our performance we were able to closely link it with a particular form of irony named dramatic irony. This is the irony that occurs when the implications of a situation, speech etc are understood by the audience but not by the characters in the play. Our presentation was about a pair of 18-year-old twins played by Sophie Wong and Rachel Steyne and their best friend played by myself, on a holiday near the beach. An argument occurs between one of the twins (Rachel) and the friend resulting in the murder of the twin. The surviving twin can see her spirit but the friend cannot. The murderer is a schizophrenic, with two personalities, the evil side played by Alison Verona and the good side played by Johanna Thorpe. The dramatic irony within this is that the audience knows she is dead but the characters do not.

        We chose to work in a group of five as we all take dance and drama and so would be able to concentrate on both performance techniques closely and as a group with no interference. Working as a five meant we were able to use a variety of characters and techniques in the performance, which was needed to accomplish an adequate and well-depicted story line. I felt comfortable working around these people as I had worked with most of them before.

Planning

We chose to portray dance and drama in a number of ways and for a number reasons. Dance played an important role in our performance and we were able to incorporate a total of 2 dances into our presentation, aswell as a variety of dance techniques. As a group we agreed that dance would make our performance more stimulating and would be a proficient way of stylising our piece and giving the audience a more in depth perception. We concluded that communicating our story including the use of dance and dance technique would increase the performance’s depth, allow emotion to be exhibited and highlight prominent components of the performance that would therefore enforce meaning and importance of a particular part.

        Using drama was the base of our performance and would introduce characters, the storyline and the theme of irony. We decided that we would be able to use a variety of techniques such as narrative, mime and pace to build up any potential tension, mood and atmosphere used in our storyline. It would also give us means of introducing dance as so to integrate both performance techniques. Some parts of the performance may have been more appropriate in communicating through drama than others and so we felt it necessary to begin our performance using drama and slowly integrate dance once a sufficient understanding of the storyline had been introduced.

        Because we felt that the theme of irony would be hard to compose through dance we decided that the foundations of the performance would come from drama.

        The theme of irony was hard enough for us as a group to tackle and so we decided that our audience would have be one with a capable perception of irony and with the capability to handle such topics as death and schizophrenia. Our storyline was potentially confusing and at times quite in depth and would only be fully recognised by a mature audience.

        As a group we understood that any ideas we may have would have be closely linked to previous studies such as ‘Ghost Dances’ and ‘Cabaret’ and ‘a talk in the park’ and so brainstormed relevant words and phrases that might inspire any ideas. From Cabaret we used the idea of contrasting scenes within scenes and tableau with acting around it, from a Talk in the Park, we wanted to exert a sense of fakeness we were able to represent this with a photograph and fake smiles. From Ghost dances, we assembled much of the basis of our theme for the presentation and this was spirits. We used the exact routine taught to us in previous projects within our presentation to portray to the audience that one of our characters was a ghost.

        Having clearly understood irony, we thought of instances, which would efficiently fit under this theme. We considered using domestic violence as our theme but quickly rejected this as we thought it was too unoriginal. We were quick to think of a new idea as Alison and I brought up a play we had seen in the summer called ‘Blithe Spirits’. The story tells of a married widower Charles who is haunted by the ghost of his deceased first wife Elvira, though not haunting him she does taunt him and poor scorn upon his new wife Ruth who is unable to see the spectre. We thought this was quite relevant to the theme of irony and also because it includes a ghost and so adapted it with a storyline of our own and with characters that we felt we would be able to play suitably. Over the weeks our story progressed and further characters were introduced. We didn’t reach a final storyline until weeks into the project as sections were added, adapted and removed. I wouldn’t say this was a weakness but perhaps if we had discussed more in depth and completed the performance scene by scene verbally then we would have been able to work more smoothly.

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Investigation

Each member of the group volunteered to research different things, usually according to their character or their access to resources. The first piece of research I carried out was finding out the meaning of irony, as none of us were sure of its definition. I looked it up in the dictionary, also noting the interpretation of dramatic irony as when seeing this I thought it was incredibly relevant to our storyline and might be the basis for further inspiration. It gave us an idea of its meaning and how to use it accordingly to ensure we ...

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