We were asked to create an improvisation inspired by “The Woman in Black”. The text we used was an extract from Susan Hill’s novel where Spider ran away across the marshes when he heard the mysterious whistle. We came up with many ideas when discussing possible plotlines. We liked several of these, but we decided to drop them. For example: we had an idea where they were lost in a sea of people, and different voices and sounds (such as whistles) could be heard if you listened close enough, but if you listened to hard the ghosts of your past would trap you in their realm. However, we decided that although we liked this idea that it would require more of us to act it and the plot would be difficult to convey.
The final plot is a man walking a dog in a misty park, when the lead snaps he loses his dog in the dense mist. He calls for Spider, getting more and more agitated, then an eerie whistle taunts him and he runs around in desperate search where he bumps into figures representing his friends, they don’t recognise him, but they make him recollect (by cross cutting) the last time he had seen them before. These happy memories contrast with the bad news the whistler brings. The whistler is a dead plane driver that informs him he had just killed his fiancï¿½e, best friend and boss in a plane crash. Then he finally realises that he has just seen ghosts all around him.
Ben played the man with his dog. He was middle aged and was in a healthy relationship with his fiancï¿½. He dresses normally, and moves steadily more agitatedly and jumpily throughout the play. He was a happy man who had just experienced life changing events that had made him extremely happy. The characteristic that marks him out is that he cares for three people more than anything in the world, and when he loses Spider in the misty park it symbolises him losing himself.
Ash played his fiancï¿½e. She was very loud and bubbly, and her permanent grin and large gestures showed this very well. She had no peculiar characteristics, but she moved in a way which showed that she really loved her fiancï¿½. As they were in a fancy restaurant she would have been wearing a simple, but pretty dress. Josh played a football star that had made it in America and who had just featured on a TV programme over there. He wore a designer tracksuit as he was sporty and doing well. He also interestingly had a spring in his step and when he got excited he bounced on the heels of his feet. This showed us that he was an active and excitable person.
I played the aeroplane pilot whose plane crash had caused the death of many people including mine. She was a woman of little words, who had trouble with connecting to people. However, she was strong in her purpose, and she could not rest until she had told the man she was sorry to have caused the death of his loved ones. I played this ghostly and somewhat fearsome character by moving slowly but intently, making it look like I had a firm purpose in mind to convey the characters urgency, yet at the same time not to warp the characters’ avoidance of people. To emphasise this avoidance I also made the character not speak a lot, and when I did speak I made sure the words sounded raw and rusty, as if the person wasn’t used to speaking. This also made the character seem less human and more ghostly, as the characters body language was at first weird and intimidating.
The explorative strategies we were required to use as part of the workshop were cross-cutting and still image. We also chose to use thought tracking. We used thought tracking to explain and narrate the man’s complex feelings in the park so the audience would understand and relate to the pain the man was going through. My making him voice his panic and reveal his inner fears made the piece achieve its purpose and scare and worry the audience, whereas if he was in silence it wouldn’t have been as clear, scary or as interesting.
Cross cutting helped us convey to the audience that the last instances he saw his loved ones were warm times that suggested a long bond of friendship, and helped us do this quickly, concisely and effectively. It helped the scene dramatically by giving the man a back story so the audience would me more concerned in his plight. We used still image at the beginning and end of each cross cut to make the cross cuts more precise and so it seemed like a snippet of a memory where it was frozen, and how there would have been more to come, but the mysterious park had confused and jumbled them all into one. It helped the scene dramatically by allowing the audience the audience see the relationships between the characters.