The next scene we had to perform involved the car journey to the hospital with Stephen’s parents. In this piece my group showed the parents saying things to one another and we used the “Thoughts Aloud” technique again in between their spoken words. It really showed how what the parents were thinking was totally different to what they were actually saying. Again, because we were thinking about feelings as well as words it made it easier to act the scenes out in a realistic way. My group used physical theatre with people as the car seats and acting as the consciences of the parents. Again this improved our serious acting skills and made us more aware of the characters’ feelings.
The next part of the story showed the parents arriving at the hospital and meeting Dwayne for the first time after the attack. We were instructed that this scene had to be non-naturalistic. My group discussed how Stephen’s father would feel and came to the decision that Stephen’s father felt anger towards Dwayne, blaming him for the attack even though inside he knew it wasn’t his fault. We used Robert, a member of our group, as Stephen’s ghost. The strange thing about this was that he didn’t know he was dead as kept trying unsuccessfully to talk to his parents and find out what was wrong. Again we used “Thoughts Aloud” to further involve ourselves in the characters of the parents and Dwayne. As always it helped us to understand the characters thought patterns better than if they were in conversation where people don’t always show their innermost thoughts.
At the end of this lesson we sat with our eyes closed and choose to be a character that was either Stephen’s mother, father or his friend, Dwayne. In this set up we used “Thoughts Aloud” once again with each member of the class speaking their thoughts as they were tapped on the shoulder in turn.
The end this section we read the prologue to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet which provides a summary of the entire story. Our task was to show how we’d present this in a modernised version of the story. The way my group chose to show this was in the situation of a fortune teller, where the fortune that was told was that of Romeo and Juliet. By doing this firstly we thought about how we could interpret Shakespeare’s plays, which would be helpful in the future, but also pointed out the fact that prejudice is not a new problem and made us ask if there could never be no prejudice.
The Stephen Lawrence story hasn’t been the only famous racial related attack, for instance on the 27th of November 2000, Damilola Taylor was murdered by four teenage boys. He was only 10 years old and the attackers were only 14, 15 and 16. The attackers were charged a few months later, but the attackers claimed that they saw Damilola playing with broken glass and so far no one has been convicted of any crime.
After I had done this research I realised that the Stephen Lawrence case wasn’t an isolated incident and that racial prejudice is occurring all the time all over the country and we don’t seem to have learnt anything from it even though these cases have had such wide media coverage.
The Development Phase
I still haven’t come to terms with what happened, it happened right in front of me. It was all my fault, I was the one that suggested we went off on our own and look how that ended. The reason why I’m writing this is because I have no one to talk to. The police don’t care, the Lawrences obviously blame me for what’s happened and my mum just doesn’t understand how I’m feeling.
Here’s what happened last night, the way I saw it. Me and Stephen were on our way home when we got on the N13 bus, it was not our usual bus, but we were sure it would take us in the right direction. Straight away we noticed it was going the wrong way, but the bus was full of dodgy looking people. I was terrified at this point because we were on the wrong bus going the wrong way and it was so late. The bus came to a stop half an hour later and we got off at a very deserted part of North London. We began to walk off towards the left and found ourselves at a square. This was when I made the biggest mistake of my life, I suggested to Stephen that we split up. I began to walk off, hoping I’d find somewhere I recognised when I suddenly heard Stephen shouting. There was a gang of some kind surrounding him. My heart began to beat so fast that I froze for a moment, I couldn’t believe my eyes I was petrified. I ran towards Stephen almost crying hoping it wasn’t what I thought it was. Stephen was lying in the road crying and badly injured, with his clothes covered in blood. Luckily a middle aged woman was walking past and came over to see what had happened. She decided to phone the Police and the Police arrived very promptly. These police men weren’t interested though, they didn’t seem to care about Stephen. They kept on saying things like “Don’t worry, we’ve got plenty of time your friend will be fine”. These kinds of comments were making me furious, I felt I had to do something, I was shouting at them asking them to hurry before it was too late. About half an hour after the attack, an ambulance came and took us away to the nearest hospital. This was where I met Stephen’s parents for the first time after the attack. So this experience has taught me a lot but if only there was someone out there that I could talk to that knew how I felt, a human being not some stupid piece of paper.
How successful was I in developing my character and performance skills?
This half term we have been devising our own drama pieces which had to involve racism or prejudice of some sort. The people in my group were people that I don’t usually work with and at first we found it hard to think of a good idea. Our first idea was to have a group of friends sitting round the TV with one of the characters being sucked into the TV, and finding themselves in a parallel universe where everyone was a racist. The problem with this was that we couldn’t think of where this was going to end so we devised a new piece which showed different situations of prejudice in a collection of different sketches. The first was about sexism, the second ageism, and the third and fourth were a bit more silly and showed “fruit”ism and “drink”ism. We used the two serious sketches next to the two humorous sketches to try and get a balanced at the subject and to show off our skills at playing different types of character with different themes.
As our pieces consisted of four short sketches, I was playing several different characters. In the “fruitism” sketch my character was a strawberry, as this was an inanimate object I could develop the character in any way I wanted. For the voice I chose to mimic that of a young child making it quiet and soft. I tried to make my body language express a lazy summer’s day when you might eat strawberries by moving lazily and silently. For the “drinkism” sketch I made my body into a tall thin bottle shape and hopped around. The “ageism” sketch was easier to get into character because, I played a young person and clearly I understood the character a lot better than if I had been old.
Our group skills were very poor and we got very little work done. Because no-one came up with any good ideas or wanted to take the lead, sadly, all of our sketches were really short because we couldn’t think how to stretch them in useful way. They never got into a rhythm or had any sense of pace, so it really wasn’t very good. Because they were so short, and there were four of them, my characters were not developed, and because of this were not very realistic at all. Because of our lack of ideas and willingness to put in the work, the story lines were very poor and were very short on interest and even humour.
The evaluation phase
This is the final part of my coursework which has taken me ages to think of ideas on what to write about. I’ve put it off and off all down to the fact that I wasn’t really satisfied with the final piece that we ended up with.
All the other groups had a good initial idea quickly and their pieces were to quite a high standard. My group however could not think of a decent idea at all and spent a lot of our lessons wasting time because we changed out piece so much. Our piece eventually consisted of 4 sketches agesism, fruitism, drinkism and racism.When we performed it to the class I felt that these sketches were no way near long enough and had enough of a story line. Anyway since I started on the bad things lets look at the good things that I learned from this. Firstly I think there was quite a good use of different character voices one of mine was just a normal teenagers, another was a typical Irish mans voice and in the fruitism sketch I was a sweet little baby strawberry with a little boys voice and finally in the drinkism sketch I was an evil vodka bottle that sounded very lonely. I have found from this that I’m not very successful at thinking of ideas and I think everyone in the group was the same and that’s why it wasn’t so successful. I have realised that I need someone with a good initial idea and then I can develop that into how my character will act with his voice and body language.
During the final performance the audience seemed to be laughing basically the whole way through because of how poor the quality of the piece was. There were only a few moments that were actually funny, such as the racism sketch. It’s about an Irish comedian that makes a racist joke and someone in the audience gets offended, and the audience member changes the joke around to see how he likes it. We tried to use as many drama skills as we could fit in. In the ageism sketch it shows some kids ‘hanging out’ on the street making lots of noise. Then an old man comes out to complain. To get the old man back they through a brick through his window and hit him by mistake. We used “thoughts aloud” then to show that he’s having big regrets for what he did. We used “thoughts aloud’ again in the drinkism scene where there was a vodka bottle that was hardly ever drunk and there were two coke bottles which were always drunk. To get back a t the cokes the vodka bottle opens their lids making them flat. We then get to see the vodkas thoughts and how he regrets doing it. Also in the drinkism sketch the cokes have a synchronized movement dance where they sing a song about being fizzy.
I am currently in the middle of a mock GCSE drama exam where I’m in a group that has to act out parts of A Journey’s End. I think this will be quite successful because there are people in my group like Joe who have good ideas of how to act certain bits out that I can work on for my own individual character. Also there are a lot of people in this group that are enthusiastic about this drama piece and will put a lot of effort in. This is also having an effect on me making me put more effort in and out of lesson times.