We have been looking at a poem, ‘Charlotte O’Neil’s Song’. It is written in the eyes of a servant girl who has been treated with no respect by her master. She has finally had enough of doing everything for them and is leaving, they can now do things for themselves. The first two verses say everything that she has done for them and what they have said to her. The last two verses of the poem are saying how she is going to leave and they can do their own cleaning as she will not be there anymore. In our improvisation we decided that we would have one person acting as Charlotte doing the work then being treated badly and then walking out. We used the same sequences as in the poem.Order now
We did a lot of preparatory work for this improvisation. We first discussed in our lesson what it would be like to be a domestic servant and what tasks we would really detest. Most people said emptying chamber pots and cleaning toilets. We talked about what sort of jobs the servants would be doing like cleaning the floor and washing clothes. They had to do the same chores everyday so it would be quite boring. They also had to wake up as soon as the master awoke.
We thought about what we would like a servant to do for us and what things are involved in being one. We split into pairs and one of us was a servant and one was the master. Some of us acted as a nice master and treated the servant with respect, others acted out the master to be very rude and horrible. It showed that they worked better if they were treated well and given the respect that they deserved. We saw both sides of their lifestyles, this helped us more to get in the role. We then swapped around, the person who was the servant before now became the master. This time the master would treat the servant very badly and make them do some terrible jobs that would make the servant walk out. This gave us an idea of how Charlotte must have felt that forced her to walk out. We were then put in-groups to do our final improvisation.
There were four people in my group, Michaela, Andrea, Elizabeth and I. There was person who played the master this was Michaela and one person who played Charlotte this was Andrea. The rest of us were servants. We showed three main stages of Charlottes time there first we showed her doing all the household work, then being treated badly and then her walking out. We started the improvisation off by being asleep but then being woken up by the master. She made us do chores immediately and only gave us a small amount of food that we shared between us. Michaela then leaves to go shopping so the servants stop working but she then unexpectedly returns and sees that we are not working so she hits Charlotte. This is the last straw for her so she leaves and takes the other two with her. As we showed this through Charlotte’s point of view we exaggerated how the master would have acted.
We used our space well as we moved around a lot mainly at the end when we were walking away. We showed that Michaela was in charge because she always stood up tall and spoke in a posh voice. The three servants stood tall with their heads towards the floor this would show that they were worthless and not important and we spoke with a very common accent. At the end of our sketch the master was on the floor and the three servants were standing up tall around her this showed that the tables had been turned and she could not tell them what to do anymore.
In our group we explored the ideas and feeling from the text. We showed it from Charlotte’s point of view just like the poem. We showed how she was feeling using freeze frames when only she was talking, so it was her thoughts. Our improvisation helped me to understand the text as we understood how she was feeling and what sorts of things were involved in being a servant. I understood how they walked and talked and how low they felt next to their masters and how powerful it made the masters feel.