For this section of the exam we have been studying and exploring the play “Blood Brothers” by Willy Russel. We have used many explorative strategies to help us interrupt the text and show us the themes and issues of the play. I enjoyed most of the exercises we did, but found many of them challenging. At the start of the workshop, I found it extremely hard to use a Liverpool accent effectively, and I tried to get around this problem by not using one at all. However, I found that this did not solve the problem as the accent was an important property of the characters and emphasised the rich/poor divide.
We used many explorative strategies to explore the themes, issues and characters brought up in the play. One exercise, which help me explore all of these, was hot sitting. We asked Edward and Mickey questions and interviewed them as an adult and as children. It was interesting to see that their opinions of the world were very similar when they were children, but very different as adults. This shows us, that no matter how similar two people are, if they are born into two different classes, they’re paths will lead away from each other.
It was also interesting to see how Edwards opinion as an adult was much more childish and ignorant then Mickey’s. This is probably because Edward had never had a financial difficulty in his life, so he couldn’t understand what real life is like. However Mickey is the complete opposite. It also helped me to understand the challenges facing the professional actors who performed to play. I found it hard to convey a character of a young age and then convey the same character at a much older age. I change the pitch of my voice, but tried to carry my body in a similar, yet more mature way as an adult.
We also did a role-play which was very similar to hot sitting were Mrs Lyons went to see a therapist. This was similar to hot sitting because towards the end of the role-play Mrs Lyons began to be totally honest with the therapist and let the audience get inside her head. I learnt that my interpretation of Mrs Lyons’ character was not as cold hearted as I originally thought from the text. She did care for her Edward and felt a great deal of guilt at his death. However, she did place most of the guilt on Mickey and Mrs Johnston and had an attitude that they weren’t as good as her because of their class.
This attitude is still present in today’s society and is similar to the attitude involved in racism. An exercise we did at the very beginning of the workshop, which started to show the contrast of Mickey and Edward was a freeze frame of the last/opening scene. Mickey and Edward were both lying on the floor and the different characters, which belonged in the two different worlds, were standing on their own side. For instance, Linda was standing on Mickey’s side, and Mrs Lyons was on Edwards’s side.
We decided to put Mrs Johnston in the middle of the two, as she felt she belonged in both of their worlds. I played Mickey, which I didn’t find too challenging because all I had to do was lie there lifelessly. However it did give me a real sense of the atmosphere that I would expect to find in a situation like that. This was important as it helped me understand just how great the tragedy was, and how important it was to the plot. This exercise also showed me how Mrs Johnston invokes sympathy from the audience, were as Mrs Lyons is given hardly any.
One of the important moments in the play, as far as Mrs Johnston is concerned is her “Marilyn Monroe” song were she earns her sympathy by telling the audience how unfortunate she’s been. We explored this scene, and therefore her characters past by creating a sequence of still images which revolved around the lyrics to her song. We also marked the moment by doing a role-play in time to the music. We decided that the most important part of her past was when her husband walked out on her, because it was then that she would start to financially struggle, and that struggle would continue for the rest of her life.
I played the husband, and I feel I did this successfully. I tried to be over exaggerated with my body language and facial expressions, and represent the stereotypical bad husband/father. These financial troubles were passed on to Mickey, which is how the play ended up as it did. Mickey would of never gone to jail and therefore, never been addicted to anti-depressants, if it wasn’t for his financial troubles. Throughout the workshop we got to know Mickey’s character, and I find it hard to believe that Mickey would of committed the robbery if he wasn’t in desperate need for the money.
That’s why we explored Mickey’s options by using thought tracking. We improvised a role-play in pairs were Sammy, had to try and persuade Mickey to do the robbery. Then when Mickey was forced to make his mind up by Sammy, he spoke directly towards the audience and went through his options and his reasons for agreeing. This was useful because it helped everyone see how desperate Mickey was and showed why, even after he committed the crime, the audience still liked Mickey.