After previously reading the text, Blood Brothers, our task was to participate in two workshops. Both hopefully designed to enhance our knowledge of the text, and widen our range of drama techniques and medium. To help with the response of the play, Adrian Deakes joined us, to help with our understanding and feeling of the play, and to improve and develop our performances through the use of explorative strategies. Subtext was used in one of our exercises that day. In pairs, we devised a short performance about the first time that Mickey and Eddie meet. The audience knew that both boys were twin brothers but the actors themselves had no idea.
Mickey and Eddie sit, eating sweets, oblivious to their background, “Oh, that sounds like super fun”. They are both just enjoying each other’s company. It is also used when Eddie, Linda and Mickey play together for the first time. “Hi-ya, Eddie. Look… we’ve got Sammy’s air gun. ” Self-consciously Eddie is very aware of the dangers, “But Mickey… I mean… suppose we get caught… by a policeman. ” However, Mickey is unaware of the problem, and doesn’t see the law as a big deal. This is subtext, as the audience have a good idea what is to follow and realise that this will set the fate of the brother’s, as they get older, “Aah…
take no notice. We’ve been caught loads of times by a policeman”. By using subtext, in this way, I gained an insight into how the characters may develop later on in the text. I think the writers used subtext in this particular scene to highlight the later problem of guns, and to show the audience a clearer picture of the characters. The tone of voices I this scene, are light-hearted and joyful. They are young children, unaware of the dangers around them, or of the things that are to come. The facial expressions are smiling, and a look of deep concentration as each child in turn, aims at the statue in the park.
The pace of the scene is quite fast, something is always happening, there is always some-one speaking. I think this is done to involve the audience and let them become caught up in the moment of childish play. It is the calm before the storm. There is a sense of anti-climax about this scene, as the audience lay in wait to see if either brothers finds out about their fraternity. During the day, Adrian asked us to take part in many improvisation exercises. We chose three stages from childhood to adulthood to demonstrate how Mickey and Linda’s relationship changed.
With my partner, we chose, aged 11, aged 16, and aged 21. We used physicality to communicate to the audience. When they were both aged 11, we showed how Mickey and Linda did not see each other as a compatible couple. They were not at the age where their feelings towards members of the opposite sex were clear. Mickey tripped up Linda as she was walking down the corridor, and raced her to the top of the hill. I portrayed Linda as a competitive young child, who idolised Mickey, but did not see herself as an inferior being. She felt that it was a competition to see which one of them was the best.
At this stage their relationship was purely platonic. My partner helped me to achieve my role whilst he played Mickey. He showed how Mickey fought with Linda, and saw her as just a girl who he could “muck around with”. He didn’t notice Linda in a girlfriend perspective. Mickey showed this through using his physicality throughout the improvisation. He pushed her as though she was the same as any male, he joked with her, and tripped her up, as he saw no difference between Linda and a boy. However, his attitude changes towards Linda during adolescence and next time we see Mickey his physicality is completely different.
In this scene, I portray Linda as she walks down the school corridor. She is dressed in high heels and short skirt. She is really attracted to Mickey. When she catches sight of Mickey, she hitches her skirt up even higher, undoes her buttons on her school shirt so that some flesh is visible and starts to walk in a really seductive manner towards him. When she reaches the spot where Mickey is, she whispers something in his ear, and then stalks off. I then, as Linda turned round and shouted down the hall, “See you on the bus Mickey. I’ll save you a seat, lover-boy!
” My partner helped me to get into character in this scene with his characterisation of Mickey. He played Mickey as a bashful teenager. Previously, Mickey had treated Linda as another one of the lads. Suddenly when he sees Linda down the corridor, aged 16 he acts differently. As Linda walks towards him, we see him stare at her breasts, and look flustered at doing so. He is embarrassed at Linda’s obvious flirting and doesn’t know how to respond. He quickly looks at the floor when he catches Linda’s eye and is appalled when Linda addresses him so publicly about her feelings. It’s five years later, and Mickey and Linda is a couple.
Their physicality is different to when they just fancied each other. Little things reflect the couple’s feelings for one another. When they think no one else is watching, they are so kind and considerate to each other. They are locked together, as they feel united. Marriage has changed them. As a couple they’ve been through some hard times and it shows in their relationship and their physicality towards each other. They have a child and their responsibilities lie as parents. I played Linda as a caring woman who was supportive and friendly towards her husband through times of need.
Improvisation was used throughout the day to help us build an understanding of the characters and of the play. In pairs, we improvised a scene where Linda asks Eddie for help after seven years of Mickey being inside prison. She goes to his office. At this point in Eddie’s life, he is a well-paid councillor, and is an authority figure in the town. He is highly respected, and wealthy. Despite this, he was willing to help Linda. We showed this in our devised performances. I played Linda, who is at the other end of the status scale. She is poor, and desperate.
She needs a job, home and money to support her family when Mickey gets out of prison. This was a particularly hard part of Linda’s character to play. She is vulnerable and frightened. As Linda, I went to Eddie’s office. With me was my seven-year-old son. Eddie had been pre-warned of my visit by telephone conversation. In our scene we used the drama technique cross cutting to show the mixed reactions of both adults. Eddie was pacing his office, wringing his hands with an apprehensive look on his face. My partner helped by his characterisation of Eddie because I then knew how to play Linda, and how to portray her feelings.
As I was heading up the stairs towards Eddie’s office, I kept checking my hair, and fixing my son’s clothes. I wanted to make a good impression after all these years apart. When I got to the door, I showed my nervousness by fiddling with my hair. I was about to ask Eddie for some major favours, and although I knew he was too nice to turn me down, I felt disappointed that my life had turned into such a mess. When the door opened and I came face to face with Eddie it was awkward, as we didn’t quite know how to greet each other. There was hesitation but eventually we settled for a peck on the cheek.
This showed how distant things had come between us. Soon though, after talking very intimately for a while it becomes clear that the couple are very fond of each other and that Eddie will indeed do anything to help out. We showed that they were close by sitting very close to each other and holding hands. During the day we experimented with many different explorative strategies. We used prepared improvisation and spontaneous improvisation during exercises to help with our perception of the characters, and to give us an insight into the development of their personalities.
This greatly helped in the portrayal of the characters as I could gain an idea about what their reactions may be to some of the stimulus. Cross cutting was used in the office scene when Linda was asking Eddie for help. The reason for this is to communicate to the audience the reactions of both characters, and their feelings and thoughts at what is going on n the scene. Role-play was used when becoming a particular character out of the book, Blood Brothers. Being in role helped me to gain knowledge of the characters personalities and I could then portray a character in a particular way.
At the end of the day it was time to reflect at how these exercises helped me to understand what the play and the characters were trying to communicate to the audience. I felt that the play was trying to show the audience that coincidences happen. Throughout the days work, I felt I gained so much more insight into the play. Now, I can see that instead of the play being based on superstition and fate it ran deeper into the slightly more complexed issues, such as love, betrayal, and hidden identity.