Our performance was a dramatised historical account of Worthing Pier.

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Performance Studies A2                Annemarie Powell

Our performance was a dramatised historical account of Worthing Pier. I had six weeks to research the pier and think about opportunities within the pier’s history to utilise some of Godber’s performance devices. Godber is our practitioner that we were to try and re-create.

Within my class of 21, we split up into 6 groups, each taking a segment of the pier’s history to dramatise, which we linked together with narration, from super-hero time travellers. This was not my choice of narration. I feel that the connection between the narrators and the subject of the production was too tenuous, especially seeing as our main objective in doing this as a performance for the general public, is to make it easy to understand and relate to.

We did want our piece to be overall entertaining and light-hearted and having a silly theme certainly provided that. Devising a clever and more complex comedic performance may not of appealed to as wider a range of audience as our final piece did. Within our piece we did have a large amount of comedy, which mostly stemmed from the stimulus, the pier, and a kind of sarcastic or ironic praise of it’s role in society. In one part of the drama for instance, a very obviously stereo-typed Victorian couple talked about the pier, and it’s “marvellous affects!”.

An initial idea that I had during my research was that with so many people in my class, it was a wonderful opportunity for physicalisation of the pier. What really interested me during my research period was the different stages and styles of the pier’s life, when it was first built, it was more of a stick insect than the bulbous structure we have now. I thought it would be interesting to represent the different stages of the pier’s design as a visual presentation through time.

In our initial planning session, the class decided that we should have 3 songs, which tie in with the era we perform them in. The first song would be from the early 18th century, so I looked at other songs from that era, such as the “Oliver!” score, and the score from “Okalahoma!” and found that the up-beat songs (which is what we wanted to write) were in 6/8 time. In retrospect perhaps our opening number was in the wrong place, it would of probably been better placed after the first scene, after the pier had actually been built in the drama. This way the line “Strolling down the promenade in 1862” would have made more sense, although this could be viewed as a kind of prequel to the first scene.

We also decided, that we should put dance moves to the opening song. We thought a good theme for the moves would be a nautical one, because Worthing town was previously a fish town, and has many boathouses etc… We took some of our ideas for the movements within the song, from “The Hornpipe”, see the attached dance sheet (sheet one).

When we set about improvising the opening song, keeping in mind 6 / 8 time, we kept inside 32-bar-songform; this for me was very reminiscent of Gershwin. I would say that his stylistic devices greatly influenced our first song. We used the cycle of fifths, AABA verse form, these are all devices famously used many times by Gershwin. All of this is evident on the music sheet (sheet two). I also wrote an extra verse, which is on there. The class and I decided not to use that verse, because we could not dance and sing at once, and to add another 32 bars for a verse would make the opening song too laborious.

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In my group of four, we were given several events and topics to cover from the history of the pier. We were given the fire, world war two, post war trends, (teddy boys, modern rockers, hippies and punks). Obviously, for a five-minute piece, this was quite a lot of material that needed covering, so we decided to praisee the events into shorter informative snippets.

At first we thought about having some narrators, two older ladies, reminiscing about the past, and the other two in our group playing the younger ladies, so that we could switch between reminiscing and acting out ...

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