Our year eleven drama coursework classes have been studying a play written by Willy Russell called Blood brothers. Throughout studying blood brothers in our workshop, I have been able to dig beneath the surface of the issues and relate with the characters thoughts and feelings. I have also been able to interpret the text by acting it out on Nemours occasions thus making it easier for me to understand the text. We have discussed in depth the moral issues and how the text can be communicated through the medium and the elements of drama.
The themes explored were rich vs. poor, and the issue of nature vs. nurture. One area I found difficult was to use the Liverpool accent effectively when this was a key part of the play. The play was essentially a social comedy, but it was partially a tragedy also, both the comedy and tragedy themes kept the audience on the edge of their seats. I thought the show was excellent and it definitely fulfilled the high expectations I had of it. We explored Blood Brothers using many different explorative strategies, this helped me to be aware of all the various themes.
An exercise where we used some of these themes in was when we got into groups and used hot seating to reveal more about the characters. Our group hot seated Mrs. Lyons to find her motive for taking responsibility for someone else’s child. As me and my other classmates acted as physiatrists we tried to get ‘under her skin’ to convey these emotions, and eventually the pressure of being on the spot got inside her head causing Mrs. Lyons to be completely honest. I learnt that my interpretation of Mrs.
Lyons’ character was not as ruthless as I originally thought from the text, and that she just wanted to be a good mother because she couldn’t have a child of her own. We used this method of hot seating on other characters as well as it is such a constructive technique. Another explorative strategy I used was the use of freeze frame, we used this method to highlight the importance of a specific moment in the play. We used this technique when we got into groups and recreated the first scene. I played Linda and entered slowly in pace to the music and froze on stage in the position on my knees crying.
Then each member of the group followed till we were all frozen on stage symbolically. This portrayed the class and status of each character. Mrs. Lyons was frozen in an upright position while Mrs. Johnston was crouched down hinting their class divides. We used other techniques to unveil more on Blood Brothers, one of these techniques was Role play. Role play helped me to relate to the difficulties the actors experience and to realize the similarities and differences between the texts. We used role play firstly to learn more about certain scenes in the play.
One scene we chose was when we got into pairs and acted out the scene where Sammy convinces Mickey to do the robbery. We used a range of tactics to ensure this, I was Sammy and I convinced Mickey to this by using reverse sociology, name calling, violence and force. I learnt from this that Mickey really didn’t want to commit the crime he just needed the money. We had a group discussion to emphasize why Mickey committed the crime and we came up with ideas like he needed the money, Linda would like him better, no one would be injured and he didn’t think he would get caught.
Role play also links in to the work we were doing in the courtroom scene. This is where we were all given a character and we were then questioned by the prosecutor about our attitudes to others. I was Edward and I had a hard role but I think I succeeded to the full of my potential. I was aware of my body language and how it differed much to Mickey’s, I also had a negative attitude towards Mrs. Johnston who I hadn’t forgiven for giving me away. We also did another exercise which reflected the poor vs. rich divide in the play. We created a role play which we were set when Mrs.
Lyons came to visit Mrs. Johnston at her home before Mickey and Edward were born. The women conveyed different attitudes to one another Mrs. Lyons being civil but discomfited at being in Mrs. Johnson’s house and Mrs. Johnston being courteous but slightly embarrassed of her house. Towards the end of the role-play we tried to convey a sense that she instantaneously wanted to get out of the house, and that we should make it clear that Mrs. Johnson was happy because of her rapid depart. In our class we were set the task to act like a 7 yr old boy or girl.
At first it wasn’t easy to do this because it is hard to convey a character of a young age from some one who is much older but when I had come to terms with the use of voice and body language it became easier. I used the space widely and behaved exactly like a child. It was interesting to see what happened because there was a gender split automatically between the girls and boys highlighting child like behavior. For this task we used role play again and improvisation. Still in role of the children we used thought tracking to find out what the childrens thoughts and opinions were. I was asked by my teacher to stay in role of the child.
I was questioned about what I got for Christmas. I fidgeted like a child would do and replied “a bike” in a happy voice, but when I was asked about the color of the bike the tone of my voice changed and I said ” orange, I wanted red” this reflects spoilt childlike behavior. I now realize the challenges facing the professional actors who performed at plays such as Mark Hutchinson and Stephen Palfreman who play Edward and Mickey. In conclusion I think Blood Brothers highlights the entire social context throughout the play. Willy Russell also makes it clear between the issue of rich and poor and status and dominance.
Throughout using the explorative strategies such as freeze frame, marking the moment, hot seating, cross cutting, narration, and role play it has been much easier and has helped me to completely understand the text completely. The strategies also help us to relate to the characters and understand the themes and issues presented. We see from the start of the play how Mickey was destined to be the miserable one, and Edward seemed to have everything given to him because of his mother’s wealth. However both of the twins end up tougher in a tragic ending.