To explore the play further and to show our understanding we had to develop a still-image and thoughts aloud, taken from a key moment in the play. I decided to pick a moment which isn’t so much physical-theatre, because then our facial expressions and body language would have to very well thought-out to show the characters to the audience. For the still-image to work effectively we firstly decided to put each character into the frame, separately whilst the rest of the group directed their position and expression. After putting everyone in position, we acted out the small scene before the freeze, so that we could understand what was happening in the frame.
The moment we decided to show was the beginning of the story telling, when Polly, Natasha and Carol are trying to get the boys interested in the story and take their minds off Jake. This part of the play is significant to the play, because it shows the audience the social status and relationships between the characters before there is any major change. Also our frame is just after a part which I felt was important; Shane had just overruled Russell’s idea to dangle Jake over the edge, and instead had asked to hear the story. This shows the audience that although Russell has the strong faï¿½ade, Shane has the final say. It also shows that Shane cares more than Russell and doesn’t want to hurt Jake. I was Russell, so I had to show a still arrogant, but defeatist attitude because I have just been overruled in front of a group of a group of girls I was previously showing off too.
At the time I am dangling Jake with one arm and looking back and trying to persuade Shane to change his mind. I did this by having a disappointed yet surprised facial expression, with wide eyes a slightly open, but down turning mouth. I showed defeat by slightly hunching over and looking to the floor. I was slightly more uncomfortable because I had just been humiliated, so I used my body language and turned my torso from full view of the group, yet at the same time Russell wouldn’t have shown his discomfort to the group and he would have maintained quite high status so we used levels to show the status and Russell was centre stage on a table, dangling Jake over it, which showed that Russell had major influence and status over the other characters.
We thought it best not to rehearse the thought aloud, because that is critical of the major idea, to look further into the character. When I had to improvise my thoughts aloud I decided to just focus on what is happening on stage, why, and how my character would feel. Russell had just been overruled by someone he has respect for and his fun has been spoiled, but because he is so arrogant and full of self-importance he wouldn’t want the group to know that it bothers him. So I said “Whatever, but it’s gonna take more than some crappy story to save his ass?” The thoughts aloud and still-image conveyed the relationship issue within the play, to the audience. The particular part we chose showed the variety in status and the attitude that the characters have towards each other.
All of these strategies were useful in helping us develop our understanding further and come up with material and techniques that we could use in our performance. Some were more effective than others and I personally felt that the hot-seating was the most useful because not only did it make the person in the seat think more and look deeper into the play, it made the questioners think about what they didn’t quite know or understand and ask the question to find a possible solution. It also developed my improvisational skills, because I had to come up with an answer in character, with no real preparation time.
It also tested how much attention we had made to the play, and you could tell we had focused because relevant questions were being answered with appropriate answers. All of the activities tested and improved our understanding in different ways. For the role-play we had to understand the language and themes so that our role-plays were relevant and supported Philip Ridley’s ideas. However for the still-image and thoughts aloud we looked more at the use of expression and movement to show characters, emotion and events. After and during the response phase my ideas and thought of confusion from my first response changed as I began to understand and interpret the ideas and themes that Philip Ridley was expressing to the audience and the once “cheesy” dialogue became more relevant to show the characters personalities and also different words were used by younger people at the time that the play was written.
We used rehearsals to create a piece of theatre, using a scripted extract from the piece of youth theatre, ‘Sparkleshark’ by Philip Ridley. For our performance we decided to pick a scene that was about twelve pages long. We wanted our piece to be substantial enough so that each character had an important part in the scene, however we did not want our piece to be overly long. Our audience was made up of our classmates, who were also doing the same process on an extract from the same play, so we knew that our audience already understood the play and they didn’t need it to include too much background although we did need enough main events to show how we interpreted the piece.
We all picked one part of the play which we though was significant and then worked it around our parts. A very important part of the process was when we each carried out a detailed textual analysis of our own character and then gave feedback to the group. Our extract began when Russell enters the scene and then he notices Jake, this part is important, because it shows the relationships between the characters. The extract then ends near the end of the storytelling, when all the reactions to the story and its tellers have changed.
Using the section we had chosen, we wished to communicate the change in the characters relationships and status due to the storytelling within the piece. The extract was taken from what we felt was the most significant event in the play; the storytelling. The main events in our piece included: the entrance of Russell, Shane, Buzz and Speed, because this is when the audience notices that there is a main theme of social status; the discovery of Jake, because the audience understands the relationship between the characters and because this part is physical theatre and action-fuelled and therefore grasps the audience’s attention. Also this is when the audience starts to feel sorry for Jake and angry at Russell, more so this event stimulates and triggers the story.
I played Polly who is a very influential character within the play. Polly is the peacemaker within the group, she is a strong willed and determined character who looks at everyone with optimism and sees the best in people she likes Jake despite his rudeness and she is very impressed by his stories. She is fairly new to the group and is Natasha’s recent “project”. She isn’t quite comfortable within the group, but she is not scared to stick up for Jake. Polly is the one who starts the story to save Jake and then takes on a role as the main storyteller.
Unintentionally, I took the role of director within the group. I hadn’t planned on doing this because some members of the group had previously built up a dependency to my ideas and direction and I wanted them to try and take charge. However I did have to resort to leading the group because there was a lack of focus and the group was making no obvious progress. I do think I managed the group well, however if I had been met with cooperation the preparation, and most likely the performance itself, would have been improved and, could have ran more smoothly. I personally was disheartened because I felt like all of the pressure and problems were left to me, but next time I will choose my group more wisely. Otherwise our rehearsals ran productively and resulted in an effective, well-thought our performance.
We worked together experimenting with voice, movement, tone and expression until we were happy with the outcome. We firstly tried the use of broad east-end accent however the stamina and ability to keep it up fluctuated so we didn’t use a particular accent. We spent time discussing and experimenting saying the same things, however with a different tone of voice and movement to show our characters’ personalities. This made us stop and think about how to express our characters.
My line, “And what’s that? There look in the lake, dolphins splashing and playing together! Oh yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!” was really annoying me because I couldn’t say it effectively and it sounded either flat or over exaggerated. I tried shouting it but it sounded manic, and then I got the idea to actually go with it and really “camp it up”, after all I was telling a story and at that point my character was playing a character, so I made it sound deliberate and it worked. I also struggled to make, “Look! I’m going to wear it in my hair”, sound effective because it sounded childish and out of context however I said it. So I decided to play around with the words and changed it to “Wow! It looks so good in my hair”, that way it worked well in context to the play, however I felt more confident saying it.
It was important to use rehearsal time efficiently and plan things out, so that we could polish our performance and also develop our initial ideas. To improve our performance and connection to the characters we looked at some of Stanislavski’s points on method acting and used them in a lesson to stay in role and think as we perceived our character would. I understood that reacting is a very important part of acting, so to incorporate reacting into my performance I reacted as if it was the first time that I had heard any of the lines, and to make this convincing, when an immediate reaction was needed I would start my line as the person before me was saying their last word. However this idea wasn’t relevant to every line because sometimes a hesitant reaction was required.
Although Sparkleshark is a contemporary piece, it was still written twelve years ago, so we decided to make it more relevant to today by using modern costume. Basically we decided that Russell and his gang should be dressed in tracksuit bottoms and Rockport shoes, to compare them to “Chavs”. They wore well regognised labels and styles that are associller’s wife, we showed this by dressing her in orange make-up, designer makes etc. In the play Carol tries to be like Natasha, we dressed her in a similar short skirt to Natasha, however made her look less-presentable by making her slightly gothic.
Polly and Jake’s costumes deliberately contrasted those of the other group members. They were dressed in the average uniform; however Jake’s geek-like personality is shown, with heavy rimmed glasses and perfect uniform. I was wearing; a white cotton open-neck blouse; black, polyester school jumper with embossed school logo; tailored black trousers; flat, black, leather sandals and I was carrying a plain, black satchel. My costume showed the audience that I was presentable however I wasn’t rebellious. The costumes helped the audience to identify the characters and also made the play more relevant to now.