At the end of the last school term, we started a new theme for our drama lessons. The theme was based on a book called ‘Junk’ by Melvin Burgess, which has two main characters called Gemma and Tar. We found out that both Gemma and Tar have complex emotions that we were lucky enough to explore in our drama lessons. In this essay I shall evaluate what we did over the course of this section of drama and assess our work that we accomplished in the topic also.
First of all, at the start of the topic, we received a sheet that described the beginning of the story. It explained to us that Tar (an adolescent boy) had an abusive father so he used to go to a beach called Minely with his friends to get away from it all. There he met Gemma, who was later to become his girlfriend. I think the sheet really helped us to understand what Tar was feeling. It gave us a brief view of the story so we could recognise the thoughts of the characters in the story. I think we got this sheet as an introduction to the topic that was set.
Next I found that we were already starting on doing improvisations on Tar and his friends at the beach. We got into small groups and did an improvisation on the beach with Gemma, Tar and their friends. These had to include thought tracks. From this we learnt that Tar didn’t like Gemma prying into his life and asking personal questions. This was to prepare us for what we did next. As a whole class, we also did an improvisation on the beach with Tar’s friends. We chose two people to be Gemma and Tar, and the rest of us made up their own characters. This really helped us get into our own characters and made us think ‘what would my character do in this situation?’ which I am sure will help us in future drama improvisations.
Next as a whole class again we did a circle of thoughts and once more we chose two people to be Gemma and Tar. I was chosen to be Gemma. The rest of the class got into two lines opposite each other and either Tar or Gemma had to walk through. Whether it was Tar of Gemma, the class had to say their thoughts and feelings. Then the character did a monologue on their views. I think we did this so we got ‘in tune’ with the character to know all of their strengths and their vulnerability. It was here that we found that Tar had run away to Bristol.
From this, we did an improvisation in twos on the night after Gemma went out with Tar and stayed out too late. The characters were Gemma and her mum. Gemma’s parents are very overprotective, so we had to show that in the scene. We performed these, and then we got in fours and did them again with more sympathy towards the mother. I think this was hard because it was difficult to make the audience have more sympathy for the mum but still make her appear strict and possibly harsh. This helped us get the fine outline of the character that makes him/her distinguished. We also added subtexts, which was a new term in drama for me so we had to get the hidden meaning behind the character’s spoken words, to know their emotions on that particular subject.
Later, Gemma decides to run away to Bristol to meet Tar. She meets up with him and they find out that they have no money. We did improvisations showing this, and how they could resolve the money problem, also using the Devil and Angel technique (this was relatively new for me). Their problem was ‘resolved’ by stealing. We did a single scene with the Devil and Angel of Tar and Gemma stealing food – and, most importantly, the Devil winning out. Then we lengthened the scene, showing what results from the characters choosing the bad decision.
We also made the Devil and Angel more defined, using their bodies to show how good or evil they are; i.e. the Angel would take small steps and talk in a high voice. This helped us to know how the characters must be feeling in a situation like that, and made us understand the emotions that characters (and people) have in those predicaments and how easily influenced people can be.
In this topic/theme, I have learnt a lot of things not only about drama but also about real people and it showed me how to portray certain feelings of a character. It had also helped me understand the realism of some situations, and just because I am fortunate enough not to be confronted with some bad situations, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen to anyone else. I have also learnt, established and improved Drama techniques such as subtexts, Devil and Angel and monologues. I have also learnt a lot more on why we do certain things in Drama, now I know that we don’t do some things just for the sake of them. I have really enjoyed this topic and I hope to do more like it.