Discuss, in detail, how you would play either Willie or John in the selected scene. You will need to refer to voice, movement, gesture and facial expression, as well as to show how your chosen character responds to others on stage. In scene 6 of ‘Blue remembered hills’ by Dennis Potter, Samuel French LTD edition, from the start of scene 6 to ‘They all laugh’, the role of Willie is a key one. The start of this scene shows all the boys attacking, and then brutally killing a squirrel, you can witness the feeling of guilt and horror at their actions, which generously surrounds the young boys, the violence they have caused wasn’t initially registered in their young minds until it’s too late.
This feeling and behaviour can be achieved by the use of shifty expressions and glancing at other characters in the scene, this would create the effect of an anxious group of children, who are waiting for someone to break the awkwardness with a sentence, or an action. Stiff bodies would create nervousness within the characters. Eye contact would also be shifty and I can see the boys looking at their feet in shame whist this scene is taking place.
As the realisation of what they have just done takes over, I feel they would relax slightly as they know the situation and future occurrences are out of their hands now, and nothing they can do or say will make it better. This can be achieved for Willie, is he takes a deep breath and loosens up his limbs and perhaps lifts his head high, however, I also think that because he is quite the tense and nervy character that it would take longer for him, than the others to fully relax, and even then, any small oddity would cause him to relapse back into his edgy and nervous self, creating a nervous tension between him and his friends. I feel that Willie should try to put on a brave act to seem tougher than he is, as if in an attempt to be higher in the children’s social hierarchy, in which John and Angela are highest. When Willie says ‘Let’s have a look, Ray. Come on.’ It shows he is trying to show an interest in Raymond, which is a friendly gesture, which I think he does to try and gain a close friend.
Subsequent to this, Willie again shows his susceptible side and says ‘No -I wish we hadn’t -you know…’ in which the stage directions say he is upset. I would accentuate this feeling by having my character be shaky and snivelling. These shows the way a young boy would get upset, the juvenile upset could be even more emphasized by actually crying, or causing tears to fall. Silence at this point would not be a dramatic option as children have not mastered this act yet. At their age, if you are upset you cry, the full works are portrayed with tears, sobs and sniffs.
A terribly important part of this scene is where all the characters stop thinking about the squirrel and start to talk about Donald, and how they believe he is a ‘cry baby’ and a ‘little weed’. They attention has gone from one traumatic event to a feeling of comedic value and laughter. It shows how the attention span of a young child can be taken and how another activity can over shadow the previous and capture a child’s mind.
The actor could possibly show excitement which would come as surprise to the audience, this would cause a stir causing the audience to be glued to the play, wondering, what will happen next? What will the character do next? The way I picture it, is a group of overexcited boys. Willie, as the nervous character, would be pleased to be able to change the subject, however, he would not know this was happening as his attention would be taken, much like other young children. All in all, a nervous reaction to events would portray Willie as the character he is written as. He was never meant to be overly confident or secure, which would be shown in his rigid movements and nervously outlandish behaviourisms.
I would like the scrutiny of the characters childhood behaviour totally absorbing. When my character is playing Willie I want the foreshortened views, the rapid swings from laughter to fear and tears and back again, and the constant lapses into play to be well captured, I want the audience, never, even for a second, to doubt they are watching ‘young children’, even though they would possibly be played by adults.