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Response to Journeys End Essay

In the novel Stanhope has the most physical status, not just because of his rank but also because people look up to him. Stanhope may rank the social hierarchy level amongst his fellow comrades but inside he is emotionally distraught, he does not show this and somehow stays head strong, on the other hand there is Hilbert who is tired and has lost all hope and hates the war and then decides he would like to pull out claiming that he has neuralgia but he is just trying to find ways to get home. To create a dugout like entrance we set up a few plinths on top of each other and the lined chairs up behind it creating a walkway which was on the width of our shoulders, this helped us to show great emphasis in our gestus as we clambered in and out of the trench.

Workshop Two – Lighting/ Staging

Our stage set was very minimalistic so that we could re-create what it would be like to be in a trench, to help us adapt and realise this we set up chairs as a border and them established a rule stating that venturing outside the border was ‘forbidden’. For our play we had only a few lights on stage, we did this to try and achieve the same amount of minimal lighting just as it would be in the trench. In one of our lesson we even used live candles to help build the low lit and damp surrounding of a trench and we also cramped all of the furniture together to make ourselves adjust to such a small so space just as the soldiers would have had to in journeys end.

Workshop Three – Crosscutting

In our third work shop we focused on the dramatic explorative strategy of cross-cutting, first we assembled ourselves into groups with sizes of 2-4 people and then we had to take a scene from the book and re-enact it using the dramatic strategy of cross-cutting. My group chose the scene where Riley dies from a battle wound. To add the element of cross cutting we showed a small part of the scene where riley dies and then we had 2 other scenes which showed his arrival to the regiment, and an argument with Stanhope.

The final scene which was a vital part to our short performance included an extended, and more detailed version of riley’s death. The way that we used cross cutting helped us to raise tension in the audience and also made the audience assume a conclusion to our piece or build assumptions on what it was about, but the catch of cross cutting is that no matter what the audience may think the actors always have the ability to twist the last scene and maybe even end the performance on a cliff-hanger.

Workshop Four- Hot seating

In our fourth workshop we used the D.E.S ‘Hot seating’ so that we could have a better understanding and wider knowledge of the characters in journeys end, the vital part of hot seating is that you do not just pretend to be your chosen character but to put yourself in the characters shoes and wield the characters personality, habits and lifestyle. In the work shop we split ourselves into groups of four and then took on characters in the book that we did not know a lot of information about so that we could gain a greater insight into what that character is like.

After that we asked our characters questions in which they would have to answer just as their character would as if they were in the same setting as in the book, this gave the other members of the group a chance to note down information on what the character’s personality is like and what their thoughts are in the book. After we had hot seated each member on their chosen character we reformed with the rest of the class and did the same thing. I think that reforming the class and having a bigger audience was a very clever idea as it widened the variety of questions that could be asked about the character and also gave us a larger insight into the characters lives in the book. I feel this workshop went very well because it benefited all in the room and we all shared and therefore gained information on the personalities of the characters.

Workshop Five – Forum Theatre/Still image/ Thought Tracking

For our fifth workshop we used the D.E.S ‘forum theatre’, by using this strategy it enabled us to receive feedback from the audience live on how we could better our performance. Once we had received this feed back we put it into practise straight away. Our teacher also created a stage set using chairs which enclosed around the actors all around apart from the back of the stage this made us feel very exposed due to the claustrophobic effect of the stage. Our task was to perform a small part of the book so that we could receive feedback on how to better our performance, as each group performed their piece our teacher changed the positioning of the stage set too create a different effect on the actors.

As we received feedback our peers changed the theme of our piece at one point from a sad and solemn piece to a comedic and vibrant one. Due to the sudden change in the theme it enabled us to improvise our lines and tint the tone and accent of our voices so that it would match with the theme. Another advantage of the change in them is that we all changed our levels and status when the comedic twist was incorporated. Overall I think forum theatre is a great, successful technique. It enhances your performance because you receive ideas and use them to improve your performance.

Workshop Six – Still image/ Thought Tracking

We used thought tracking because it helped us fully explain the particular theme of whatever still image we were trying to express, it also helps because there is a lot of unnoticed emotional tension within the atmosphere. By using this technique we gave our characters a chance to expresses themselves in a way that they are too afraid to in front of their fellow comrades.

Emily Davison: Protests

Workshop One – Narration

This workshop was focused on Emily Davison who was a famous suffragette, who gave her life to stand up for women’s rights. In our workshop we worked together as a whole class so that we could introduce many different characters that held different views on the thoughts and actions of Emily Davison. Our teacher gave us some information on the history of Emily Davison and her struggle for equal rights amongst the women and men of Britain. We were then to act out a small scene by improvising with the information that we had received, sir picked two people to start the scene and gradually assigned people to join them but first he gave each person a role.

As we were all eventually in the scene he started to narrate and tell us what we were to do by telling a story, this helped give us an understanding of each character which helped us to produce the scene with ease although we had no formal script. Next we were all split into two groups and then we had to act out a key event in Emily Davison’s life with my group which consisted of four others. Our group had decided to recreate the time when Emily Davison was sent to prison for the second time and was almost drowned in her cell, one member of our group became the narrator and the rest of us acted out the scene but we also included still images and thought tracking to equally express the emotions flowing through the character at the time.

Workshop Two – Devised Piece/ Role-play

In the second workshop we had to devise a piece using the information we had received on Emily Davison’s history. We were split into groups of four and then we had to plan on what we intended to do, we decided on having 4 scenes in our performance which explained a mass sum of Emily Davison’s life in a short amount of time I think that as a group we acted smartly as to only include vital events in her life as it was paramount to the last scene which was very tense; 1. The school classroom that Emily taught in. This included a monologue where a member of our group played as Emily who was talking about her aspirations for the future. 2. A demonstration march to campaign for women’s rights. This is after she gains followers who believe in equal rights for women as she does. 3. The prison where Emily was horribly mistreated in. This scene shows the pure brutality of the struggle that Emily Davison went through. 4. The race track where she died through an act of martyrdom.

This scene shows how far Emily Davison went to stand up for what she believed in and unfortunately she paid the ultimate price for it. All of these scenes we included the vital key parts that were needed to help the audience to understand the life, death & history of Emily Davison. To develop our piece we used dramatic explorative strategies like chorus were we all joined in when shouting at another member of our group during the performance this helps to express the characters emotions or the theme of that particular moment in the play. At one point we also used thought tracking so that we could express the characters inner feelings i.e. when Natalia (Emily) is arrested by the police and taken to court she uses the thought track as an opportunity to make the audience aware of her emotion at the time. By developing our own piece based on the history of Emily Davison it allowed us to build our own perspective of her personality and the many troubles that she faced throughout her life.

Workshop Three – The Race Track – Contrast

In this workshop we had to explore the aspects of each characters physical/emotional level by using contrast, our teacher also gave us some rope as a stimulus and we were asked to incorporate it into our piece. As a class we decided to use the rope as a way to split the characters in a social aspect i.e. on one side of the rope we had the women and on the other we had the men. To show mass contrast within the group of women we had Emily Davison and two of her fellow campaigners placed away from the large group of housewives. Over on the boys’ side most of the men who were betting on the race standings were focusing on a member of our group who used physical theatre to interpret that she was a horse by using a mask and using incorporating the element of gestus and physical theatre.

The rope is a very strong stimulus because its shows highlights the ability and how easy it is to divide relationships, emotions and even society, this was strongly shown in our performance when Emily ran in front of the horse and both sides stopped in awe and then in chorus whispered ‘the woman…….the horse’ eventually this whispers grew into shouts and then everyone rushed over to tend to the horses needs. This particular moment shows how in those times society was a lot different and women were seen as second class citizen.

Although Emily Davison wanted equality for all women, not all women agreed with her and some were very comfortable with their life at the time we showed this in our performance by having a member of our group who played the role of a housewife do a thought track which expressed her hate for what Emily Davison was doing. I think that the rope as a stimulus helped us greatly to bring across our point society’s clear line between how women and men were respected and seen at the time. The rope also represented how divide society’s thoughts were at the time and that only material things such as horse racing we greatly prioritised over the life of a woman who stood up for what she believed in.

Rosa Parks: Ride to Freedom

Workshop One – Bus Boycott – Marking the moment/ Still Image/ Thought Tracking In this workshop we watched a short part of the film ‘Ride to Freedom’ its about the moment when Rosa Parks was arrested for standing up against being prejudiced for refusing to give up her seat on a bus for a white person. Our class was split into half and then we worked in groups to recreate the scene that we had watched. Although we had ample opportunities to use many elements of D.E.S we went too far and tried to cram too many things in our performance.

Unfortunately the fact that we had so many D.E.S strategies conflicted with the fact that we all had to remember our cues, due to lack of organisation our performance was very slow and robot-like because everyone was trying to do too much that even when improvisation was attempted it greatly lacked in co-ordination which also led to the mass confusion within our minds when on stage. There were some good moments in our performance i.e. we used split staging well when I left the scene to get the police officer and everyone on the bus was still carrying on trying to get Rosa off the bus, but other wise I was not very happy with the way our performance went and I have also learnt a lesson and that is not to over complicate things.

Workshop Two – Devised piece/ Chorus/ Levels / Signs

In this workshop we worked in groups of fours and were given a poem to use as a stimulus, the poem was made by a famous author called Maya Angelou. We incorporated the theme of the Rosa parks story with our stimulus and created a short performance. First we read the poem and decided as a group to only use lines than empowered the mental status of our characters as it would help us greatly in our use of physical levels we also had many elements of D.E.S Within our performance we decided to use chorus so that we could help the audience realise the passion that our characters had for what they believe in, as a group we had also decided to do our best to maintain a simple bold and stern voice when saying our lines so that we increased the depth of anger that we were portraying to the audience.

At the end of the performance we all stood at different levels on plinths which gave the impression that we were physically and emotionally rising higher and higher by the end of the play all of us were standing at attention showing great power through the since of our bodies. Through the positive feedback we received from the audience we could tell that the way in which we had used DES was very successful and that it was a great help to us as many of the audiences feedback pointed out to us whilst being briefed about our performance. I think that by us using a stimulus it helped us to build a story around it in a way that we felt comfortable and therefore I feel that is why this was success.

Workshop Three – Physical Levels/

For this workshop our class was split into two and were given a stage to use as a stimulus as we continued to explore our ideas on the theme of Rosa Parks, our teacher also gave us a set of plinths that were all on different levels, he also said that we were only allowed to stand on the plinths throughout the whole performance limiting our movement on stage. Our main objective was to create a piece that used all the themes and aspects from our other two workshops on Rosa parks. Before we started to build our story we assigned characters according to our own strengths so that we would be able to achieve the best we could when it came to developing lines that our character would say. To gain the most out of our performance and to use as many useful D.E.S and different drama techniques so that we could enhance the quality of our performance.

Our group decided to use thought tracking and still image to play out the scene of when Rosa Parks challenged the bus driver and was arrested and as our space on stage was limited we had decided to use thought tracking and split staging to make our performance effective. All the characters voiced their opinion on Rosa parks refusal to move out of her seat and then one member of our group narrated a scene so that we could add the element of split staging to performance. When we had received feed back from our peers they had greatly expressed their positive views on our use of staging and that having a narrator helped to tell what was going on due to there being a lack of conversation within our performance between our characters. I feel that due to the great organisation of our group and selected role assignment that we were able to pull off the performance well.

Pitmen Painters

Plot

The Pitmen Painters was a spectacular historical/ cultural play about a group of miners in the 1930’s that lived in Ashington which is a small town by the cost in Newcastle, it is about 5 men and an unemployed teenager who through art classes explore their own hidden talents using their emotions to express themselves through painting. Through the play they also develop mentally as people and eventually start thinking g a lot more positively and see the world as a place full of opportunity.

Sub – Plot

Out of the whole group of miners Oliver Kilbourn is the main character as he is quick to become a pawn to the appreciation of real art. His talent in painting and interest also increases due to their raise in public awareness and eventually he meets a rich collector called Helen Sutherland who is a dear fan of his work, they grow to become good friends but hit a bombshell when Mrs Sutherland ask Oliver to come out of his life-long job of being a miner down in the pits to becoming an artist and working when he wants. Angered by the arrogance that Mrs Sunderland is posing although she is unaware of it at the time he declines the offer and loses his temper, but then apologises at a later date and then sets up a union for the miners to help better not just his future but his new found friends and the rest of the pitmen in Ashington.

Staging

The stage that we watched the performance on was simplistic and very small compared to the size of others that I have seen at other performances. The scene had only two entrances and exits through which the actors walked through they were placed at the back of the centre stage and on the stage left. Although there was a great shortage of space all of the actors did use the stage appropriately and to their advantage i.e. during a scene where they are all assessing each others art work the way that the chairs are positioned and the strict border lines that the actors stuck to when moving clearly suggested the length and width of the room.

Lighting

I feel that the lighting used in the performance was excellent because it did not just have the house lights on to show where the actors were, they also had spotlights of many colours which were used in certain scenes which helped set a range of different atmospheres on stage and in the audience. For instance during the scene where all of the miners go to see an exhibition on traditional Chinese art a white spotlight immediately shone on the faces of the whole group, and then they all froze and listened to Oliver’s monologue which described the piece of art in a very intense way this also empowered the audience to feel the same passion for the piece as the character did on stage. An overhead projector was also used throughout the play to show the audience the name of the each scene before it started. It was mostly used though to show the pieces of art that the pitmen had drawn, this was very smart because due to the size of the paintings the audience were unable to see the art, but this small setback was obviously countered by the stage crew with the use of a projector.

Costuming

Throughout the play most of the characters show a very clear line of division that suggest the difference of wealth between them all for instance the Leader of the mine George brown always attendee the art appreciation group in a nice suit and decent polished shoes with his hair slicked back, this tells me that although he works down in the mines he either is very wealthy or is a man with great pride who likes to look good. Professor Robert Lyon who comes down to run the art group in Ashington wears a variety of suits throughout the performance suggesting that he is wealthy and has a golden pocket watch on display at all times. Now although these two characters dress very well you can clearly notice the difference between them due to the way that they speak and how their body language is.

Sound/Voice

The performance did not have a lot of sound effects due to the fat that they purely didn’t need them and that due to the constant conversation that happened throughout the play it wasn’t appreciated, but neither was it missed. The characters voices included many different ranges of pitch and expression such as Helen Sutherland who is a rich middle aged art collector who is very wealthy; she speaks with a very sharp, squeaky but strong english accent which suggests that she was taught at a school and wealthy enough to afford an education. Oliver Kilbourn who is another pitman from the Ashington art group speaks with a heavy northern English accent and also spits his words and mumbles them a lot of the time, this infers to me that he may not be from a good background where the pronunciation of English is paramount in life and education. Just from the way that all of the characters speak I am able to build my own personality file on every one of them and develop my own ideas on what their characters are like.

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