Performance studies is about exploring how dance, drama and music interlink through the use of common language, as well as acknowledging that each art form has many elements that are unique to it. The language of performing arts is an essential range of vocabulary employed by writers, performers and directors to effectively convey the various stages and processes, in which all aspects of the theatre must participate, in order to produce a successful presentation. I have always thought that performance is about showing situation/emotions that others can only dream about, when acting you are living/creating the life, if only for a moment of infinite number of possibilities.
The Idea of creating a performance for an audience fires my imagination. “Performance is a variety of visual arts and other disciplines, within these performances you are able to build on existing practice and preoccupations to undertake a creative research project, which explores any aspect of the visual language of performance” (Spolin .V). Being creative and using practical skills of theatre all make a performance work. During a performance we can see how all three types of performing arts can emerge together. The process can be triggered off by a stimulus.
Each piece was given a specific stimulas; for the drama piece, this stimulas was 16th century Dante picture. Within our group we began to write down our initial ideas, by exploring the various meanings and interpretations behind the picture. Therefore we discuss how the picture made us as individuals feel and how it may relate to any past experiences we may have had, that would hopefully add to the performance. We all felt that we wished to experiment with different styles and each devise an individual monologue to include. Which will not only portray the emotions we as a group felt about the picture, but what emotions we would like to invoke in the audience too.
The varity of feelings the picture envoked allowed us to internalise the character, this technique, widley used by constaintin Stanislavsky in his ‘Staislavsky styem’ or ‘method acting’. Characterisation is extremly important across all the performing arts, by allowing an actor to convey their emotions, and dancer creating physical expression through their movements and a musicain to toy with the audieces imaginations.
The second art form was music; the stimulus for this section was ‘Circus’. The aim of the group was to create a piece that represented and expressed different acts entering the circus. As in the drama section, we discussed our immediate ideas on the stimulus in order to begin our initial composing that would contribute to our final composition. So we began to consider the elements of the circus: clowns, elephants, lions, ringmaster etc. We then discussed how each element could be brought to life and developed through various layers of sound.
The key is the performance process, which is a common language that crosses the arts and consists of improvisation, rehearsing and performing as a way of devising performance material. Improvisation is to compose or create something without preparation. Improvisation is spontaneous, a time to discover and play with new ideas. “This is known as a curcial process, where no writer is specifically involved in the work”. (Alison Oddey). Rehearsal enables the refining of ideas and aims and the production of a perfected performance. Performance is where you bring the whole process together.
For our drama piece, a number of motifs were created, such as a mythical/magical thriller or a Blair witch project type performance, which would have enabled us to investigate more ideas; Motifs can add interest to a simple phrase and give alternative meaning so that repetition does not bore the audience. However the group decided upon the idea of a murder, who leads his victims to the woods in the picture to kill them and their spirits are still there unable to flea haunting his mind. The theme we built around the initial stimulus for our drama piece was loss. The loss of the murderer’s mental stability and control over his actions, the victim’s loss of identity and life and the innocent family’s loss of a loved one. 1 member of our group played the victims whose story we follow through the performance, another member the murder and the other 3 member of our group multi-rolled as the girls, mum and father, a newsreader and victims themselves.
Viola Spolin once noted that ‘Improvisation is the openness of contact with the environment and with each other’. We began to separate into smaller groups, we were to experiment and devise with various instruments, objects from the environment and even each others bodies and voices to express the nature of the acts. For example when considering the lions, the group decided to use a pipe and a human voice to illustrate the sound of the lions roar as they enter. Also to rattle chains and use a whip to show they are dangerous as they have to be controlled. To go behind this the group decided that a low pitched, relatively fast tempo melody on the piano should be used to add the idea of fear and chaos.
To portray the act of the tight rope walker, we used bells; the high pitch represents the height at which the tight rope walker had to balance and by pausing every few seconds to engage the audience in the tight rope walkers facial expressions, this created tension and suspense.