At the beginning of one of our lessons we listened to ‘The Sound Of Silence’ by Simon & Garfunkel, we then were asked to brainstorm ideas about this piece of music and how it related to states of mind. The song seeks to convey a message of how ignorance poisons the minds of so many people. ‘Silence’ refers to submission; it is revealed how people so foolishly follow the lead of others without knowing the ruler’s true intentions.
The line ‘people hearing without listening’ suggests people’s willingness to take on the commands spoken by a leader without fully comprehending the consequences of their actions. It can also be assumed as trying to portray a form of madness, when Simon & Garfunkel speak about darkness being their friend it may suggest that darkness is used as something to escape into when one is not ready to face the world. We were asked to create a piece of drama on this music, which interpreted our understanding of the lyrics, Omar, Ali, Katie and I decided to base ours on guidance and separation. We selected twelve lines from the song which we thought most forcefully portrayed these two central ideas and used them, and only them, to perform an abstract piece of drama. Omar narrated the piece; I find narration to be an important aspect of drama.
I believe it allows the audience to become more involved with the characters. Ultimately, the narrator is designed specifically for the audience’s needs and as the narrator speaks only to the audience, and rarely the characters, it can be said the narrator is almost a ‘friend’ to the audience, aiding and developing their understanding of the play. Katie and I were the two who were going to be separated, and Ali was our conscience, questioning everything we said. I thought this idea ran parallel to those explored in the lyrics of ‘The Sound Of Silence’, separation can in fact lead to depression which then leads to madness, although madness is not a focal theme made evident within the song it is most certainly an underlying one.
This is particularly represented by the line ‘in restless dreams I walked alone’, by saying ‘walked alone’ suggests isolation and segregation and ‘restless dreams’ almost suggests a liminal state, this links with madness and therefore Simon & Garfunkel’s song ‘The Sound Of Silence’ can be interpreted as speaking about madness or themes which mirror a ‘mad’ state of mind. Mentioned earlier was depression, this is a state of mind involved in madness and can be said to be an underlying theme explored in ‘The Sound Of Silence’, at the beginning of one of the workshops we were each given a hand-out listing what depression is and what depression is not. The main point was that depression is an illness, and not just a state of mind.
In a second practical on ‘The Sound of Silence’ we used four single lines from the play to portray the theme of ‘freedom’, and indeed the lack of it. We thought the lyrics implied someone being trapped within their own mind, and decided to portray these through narration and a series of still images; the still images, we thought, portrayed an encapsulated figure. Our first still image used four chairs in a circle, back to back, we each sat on one and recited ‘people talking without speaking, people hearing without listening’. The chairs in a circle implied we were all connected, yet the fact they were back to back undermined this, showing none of us were interested in another’s problem but our own.
The second still image was formed with the lines ‘hear my words that I might teach you; take my arms that I might reach you’. These were said by Omar and Ali who had their left hand on mine and Katie’s right shoulder as we walked away. Our third and final image consisted of Katie and I curled up in a ball with Omar and Ali standing with their back to us, Katie and I screamed ‘no one dare disturb the sound of silence’. This showed people who may suffer from and unusual state of mind, such as madness, are in denial and do not seek help. Ali and Omar, once again, played the roles of our conscience- trying to help our us but being rejected and pushed to not caring.
In another workshop we identified how social forces can influence individual psychological and physiological states. Each pupil were handed a folded piece of paper, all were blank except one which had a black spot on it. We had to decide who had the black spot by watching each other’s different body language and reactions, ask each other questions and evaluate who was being particularly evasive or behaving differently. I thought this resulted in improved group awareness and concentration, with one individual taking responsibility for keeping the activity going by using effective physical performance skills.
We set up an improvisation; Agnes, Wesley and Irfan played the parts of a parent, a granddad and a son. They were having breakfast and could only talk about what they were eating. We discussed the scene and responded to the action, contributing suggestions for ways to move the drama forward, also known as Forum Theatre. We were then each handed role cards, put into groups of three and continued the scene but by only referring to what was on the card. I worked with Safiya and Lotfi, where I was the parent, Lotfi was the child and Safiya was the grandparent, this activity improved our improvisation skills. We thought showered the word ‘society’ and discussed how society can drive someone mad, we questioned whether or not there was a link between madness and power. From this we gained a shared understanding of what a society is and could be.