The theme of our devised piece, 'childhood', gave us a base on which to explore different ideas and research possible acts. Our researched topic possibilities include extracts from: "Invisible Friends" written by Alan Ayckbourn.

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Jonnie McCauley

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        The theme of our devised piece, ‘childhood’, gave us a base on which to explore different ideas and research possible acts. Our researched topic possibilities include extracts from: “Invisible Friends” written by Alan Ayckbourn. These have elements that are beneficial such as a teenage girl living with her parents, and an interaction with the audience, which is an important principle in our play. We acquired ideas for characters from the television series, “The Royle Family” written by Caroline Aherne, Craig Cash and Henry Normal. Although the characters never leave the confines of their home in Manchester (with most of the "action" taking place in the living room), other locations are sometimes referred to - "The Feathers" - a grimy local pub which often has "lock-ins", or Nanna's sheltered accommodation housing. None of the characters have ever been to London. Much of the humour is depicted through the cast's ignorance of the world beyond their estate. Nanna claims that a girl she knows has got a job working for an airline. "Which one?" asks Barbara. "Oh, Heathrow I think", says Nanna, who confesses she's never been on a plane; these quotes reinforce the ignorance of the family. In researching the idea of childhood we thought of having an invisible friend of a child in the play, we thought this would enhance the plot and give us more options in producing a play. The film, “Drop Dead Fred” written by Carlos Davis and Anthony Fingleton was imperative because I obtained costume designs, and focussed on how Rik Mayall plays the part of an invisible friend effectively. There were very few problems in producing the play, only minor inconveniences such as coordinating the sound effects with activity on stage; this meant that the audience did not grasp all of the intended “punch lines” that were rehearsed. I think all of the actors worked well because we seemed to “compliment” one another on stage. Adam, playing the role of Bob, gave a good first impression of his character by using facial expressions of perplexity and confusion distinctly. Rachel playing the role of Maureen, was a stereo typical housewife derived from similar roles in soaps such as Coronation Street and Eastenders. Short cameos were used to illustrate Maureen’s lifestyle and character, Hazel narrated the cameos to ensure that the audience understood the activities. We used two characters (parents who were very serious characters played by Rachel and Adam) in contrast with two other younger, exciting characters played by me and Hazel. The contrast of these characters added humour to the play and gave the audience a reason to keep interest. We allowed each other to contribute segments and ideas towards the play; I think this was a good idea because it provides different qualities to suit different tastes.

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        We knew that the stage area was going to be limited so we had to keep that in mind when designing and preparing the stage. The Royle Family television series gave us the idea of using only a living room and kitchen illustrated by a grotty old couch and remote control for the living room, and pans on a table for the kitchen. This simple staging was effective, a ‘kitchen-sink style drama was used because it provided adaptability in the area around the living room where we could have activities such as, a bingo hall, a darts tournament and a ...

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