We were assigned the task of creating a Drama improvisation based on the Blood Brothers production we had already seen on the 18th June 2004. As it had been six months since we viewed the performance at the Churchill Theatre we sat as a group and recalled the events of the play. While we recalled what we had witnessed, we also discussed certain scenes that had great significance in the play i. e. when Mickey was robbing the house with his brother Sam and the scene in which Eddie and Linda show their affections towards each other.
We then discussed the drama techniques used in these scenes and the effect it had on the audience. Once we analysed this into detail we then discussed the main themes apparent in the Blood Brothers play. We all agreed that the central theme of the play is injustice of the British class system and the prejudices it creates. The main idea that Willy Russell (the writer) is trying to portray to the audience is that the system leads to those of working class and underclass backgrounds have significantly reduced life chances and opportunities compared to those of middle and upper class descent.
Russell proved and emphasised his point by demonstrating his point of view using identical twins. By Russell using identical twins with a therefore near genetic make up he proves that by them being brought up in two different environments, one becomes an extremely successful public figure and the other is forced into crime. However though the British class system is the core issue explored in the production, many more themes are used and explored to influence the characters. In my personal opinion I feel that the most significant theme (excluding the British class system) is the use of superstition throughout the play.
I thought this was extremely effective as it was unique and extremely creative, allowing for scenes to have a more exciting twist, for example the shoes on the table. The tension also created dramatic tension, predictions and irony. Another important themes explored is the issue of how friendships develop and change over a period of time and how family relationships can prove to be destructive. This was shown in the deterioration of Mickey after being lured into crime by his brother. However the most significant way this was shown was in how a mothers’ love proved to be destructive to both Mickey and Eddie.
Other themes that are explored apparent in Blood Brothers include; Drugs Guilt A love story ending in tragedy Once we had reacquainted ourselves with Blood Brothers, our drama teacher explained into detail exactly what we had to do with our improvisation. We had to create a prepared and organised improvisation based on the Blood Brothers production. We were told that it did not have to be based around the same storyline but instead our own performance should rather be based on one or more of the same themes evident in Blood Brothers.
My drama teacher then put us all into groups ranging from 5-7 people. I was extremely lucky to be placed in a group with all the members being friends and strong actors, I also felt extremely lucky as the group of people I was with are all strong minded and usually contribute many opinions and ideas. My own group originally consisted of five people which were; Emma, Stephanie, Megan, Adrian and myself however a sixth member was later added to our group; Marian. Once we had finished our class discussion we were able to leave and start our group planning.
My group and I discussed all of our ideas together and we all agreed that our improvisation would have a central theme of superstition backed up with other main themes of a tragic love story, changing friendships, guilt and fate. We also decided that our play would have more peripheral themes involved in it like drugs and deceit. We decided that the storyline to include these scenes would be a story about high school teenagers whose lives are all connected into adulthood. This storyline is similar to the relationship between Mickey, Eddie and Linda in Blood Brothers.
With this storyline we decided that there would be two distinct friendship groups; myself and Emma being friends, Stephanie and Megan being friends and with Adrian being Emma’s boyfriend. We decided that we would show how Emma and Adrian’s relationship fell apart after she caught him heading towards a bedroom with Stephanie. Our storyline then later developed from there with the improvisation then fast forward into adulthood, beginning with the audience being shown what career each character ended up in. From this outline we intended for the audience to see how each character and friendship has changed and fallen apart.
Adrian adopted the role as Emma’s Boyfriend during their teenage years, however through fate, Adrian ends up marring Stephanie. Stephanie adopts the role of a teenage girl who is in love with Adrian and is determined to sabotage his relationship with Megan’s help, however when all the characters become adults she ends up marrying Adrian. Megan adopts the role as Stephanie’s best friend; she is also in love with Adrian and supports Stephanie in her plan to destroy Adrian and Emma’s relationship. Emma plays the role of Adrian’s teenage girlfriend and is also Stephanie’s arch rival.
Marian plays the role of a D-J during her teenage years and also adopts the two roles of a police officer and a councillor during her adulthood. I personally adopted the role of Emma’s best friend and sidekick during my character’s teenage years but then later become a drug dealer. With each character our aim was to show how they all turned due to the way they were influenced while they were younger. Before we performed our improvisation we were assigned the task of choosing three tableaux that we felt were the most influential and significant scenes in our improvisation to show to the class.
Once we showed each tableau to the audience we had to ‘thought track’ each person. The first tableaux we chose was the party scene in which myself, Megan and Emma are in a dancing line and looking on at Stephanie and Adrian heading to the bedroom. We used this scene as our first tableaux as it was the final scene in which we are teenagers and in a sense also makes the audience think about what effect Stephanie and Adrian’s actions will have on everyone in the future. Our second tableaux showed the audience what each person had achieved through their job status.
In this tableaux Adrian was a counsellor, Megan was a secretary, Stephanie became a barmaid, Marian was a police officer (chasing Emma) and I was a drug dealer. To emphasise the effect we were trying to create we included the use of levels to show the differences in status between each character. I felt that this added to our tableau giving it a great edge as well as great stage craft and spacing. Our final tableau was from the scene between Stephanie and Megan at Stephanie’s house. The tableaux we took from this scene was when Megan smashed Stephanie’s mirror.
This tableau is the most important as the smashing of the mirror marks the change of events in the lives of everyone. This tableau can be compared to the ‘shoes on the table’ scene between Mrs Johnston and Mrs Lyons as superstition becomes the most prominent theme in both. After we had all shown our three tableaux to the class, we sat as a group and discussed each groups tableaux’s and what we all found effective. In our improvisation we decided that our opening scene would also be the same as our final scene; this scene also acts as comparison to the Blood Brothers production as both performances have identical first and final scenes.