Designers and performers Essay
Designers and performers
After deciding that we was going to focus on the musical genre in the 1920s America period, we wrote down a list of films, musicals and music that could linked to our oncoming performance. For example, Chicago, Bugsy Malone and Christina Aguilera’s new album. We chose the films/musicals Chicago and Bugsy Malone because they were set at the same time period as our performance and we chose Christina Aguilera’s new album as she has sung all her songs in the style of the 1920-30s jazz era and thought it easily fitted into the style we were trying to create.
I have seen the musical ‘Chicago’ on stage and on film, and even though they are both based on the same storyline, contain the same characters, music etc, they are both different with the fact one is performed on stage and the other was filmed on a set. They have both influenced us, especially the stage version where limited space is used compared to the film as they use different locations, whereas a stage is very limited where the same space has to be used to create different locations. This helped us how to use the space effectively and use to our full advantage and still make the performance effective.
The music within the musical ‘Chicago’ gave us ideas of what sort of music and themes to focus on and research, as we didn’t want to use the exact same music as Chicago because the music is fairly popular and we didn’t want the audience to compare our performance to Chicago, which is why we included a major twist within our story, so people wouldn’t compare both performances. We decided to use Chicago as a source to gather information within that time period, which meant costumes, characters, setting, lighting, colours for setting and lighting and music used within the performance.
Even though we weren’t going to use their music we needed to get an idea of what style of music to look for and include. We were able to watch what the time period back in the 1920s was really like, rather than researching on the internet and reading about it in books, even though we did get help from these sources we found by watching the film more reliable and enjoyable. We could actually see what colours were popular for costumes and lighting used. For costumes we used a lot of bright colours, a part from the male characters who just wore a black and white suit, as this went with the time period.
For the woman, black and red costumes were worn as this is worn a lot in Chicago and it looked and worked with the lighting colours we wanted to include as well. We found that black and red was really popular so we decided to use this for our lighting, as well as blackouts, spot light effects and using red lighting to show what scenes are serious or for the performance scene which is quite flirtatious. These colours worked well within our performance and worked well with every scene that we included this in. We took these ideas from Chicago and linked them into our own performance.
The film ‘Bugsy Malone’ also gave us ideas towards our performance. The character of Bugsy helped me develop my character as Jack Murray in our performance. Bugsy Malone is set in the same time period we were setting our piece and when thinking about how to play and portray my character as Jack Murray I automatically thought of Bugsy. He influenced me by the way he acted as the character of Bugsy seemed to always be up to something behind your back and you never quite knew if he was coming or going type of character.
He influenced my character in that way as Jack Murray was up to something but the audience didn’t quite know what. The character of Busy also seemed to be a bit of the ‘jack the lad’ sort of person and I feel that this defiantly influenced me for my character and is shown well when playing Jack Murray. The characters of Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey were influenced by the two real lives of Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey. We researched information about them both and found out that Ma Rainey use to be violent and bossy towards Bessie Smith and we created the characters from there.
We found Christina Aguilera’s new album very relevant for our performance. Her music was inspired by the 1920-1930s style of music. We felt by using some of her music for our performance we are still including music relevant to the time period and at the same time people will recognise her music and still making our performance relevant to today. Instead of only focusing the music within our performance on Christina’s music we also researched actual artists from the 1920s.
We found music from famous artists such as Billy Holiday, Bessie Smith and Louis Armstrong and we actually included one of his songs for one of our performance pieces but actually sung by one of the actors instead of it being a voice over like we had done so far for our singing performances. We thought this looked better in our piece as only one verse was being sung without any music, compared to the previous performance scene where most of the song we performed we thought it looked better if the two actors didn’t actually sing the song. Music can influence a scene massively and an example of this is the detective scene.
As the detective is trying to find out who really murdered Bessie Smith, we included flash backs about ‘who could of murdered’ her. For the first flash back we decided to include ‘Charleston’ themed music as people are really familiar with this tune and by using this music it became quite comical and thought this was brilliant as the next flash back would be the complete opposite. We found it very different difficult to find music for the next flash back because even though this didn’t actually happen, at this point during the story the audience are meant to think Starlet did murder Ma Rainey and the music heavily influences that.
When listening to music from ‘Chicago’ we found the beginning of one song that fitted into the mood we was trying to create. We only wanted to use the beginning so we repeated this tune over and over again for this certain flash back and it gave the impression that Starlet really did murder Ma Rainey because compared to the previous flash back this one was much more serious and this is what we wanted to create. A lot of multi-rolling was used in our performance and we was influenced by John Godber’s work.
I was influenced by his playwrights, ‘Teechers’, ‘Bouncers’ and ‘Shaker’s where multi-rolling is used throughout these pieces. They was so effective and cleverly done and performed, for the use of multi-rolling within our play we looked at these plays and looked at how he made it look effective. Costume is one of the main concerns when multi-rolling, if you didn’t change your costume the audience would think you were still playing the character you were playing when they last saw you on stage.
We made sure an obvious change was made when changing characters, if it was as simple as a coat, walking stick or a wig. An obvious change had to be done and made noticeable to the audience. Godber also made sure there was a change in voice as this would also help show the audience that the actor is now playing a different character. Multi-rolling is shown effectively throughout our piece as we used this through most of our play.
Example, when I change into my character as Jack Murray I deepen my voice slightly to show I am playing a man, and the ‘read all about it scene’ where everybody is involved, we change into different characters buying a newspaper in a busy street, we put on a simple piece of costume each such as a hat, coat, scarf as well as changing our voices to show we are playing different characters. All the films/ musicians/ singers/ practitioners influenced our piece in many ways that I have already discussed.
The musicians and singers helped us decide what style of music to include that would make our piece a success and would link in well with our story. The films influenced the development of some of our characters such as Jack Murray, and they also influenced our costumes, in what styles to go for and colours as well. The practitioner, John Godber helped us make multi-rolling really work within our performance by reading and looking at his other work and how to make multi-rolling a success within your performance, which I think made our piece really successful.
We tried to make our performance very different to one’s people would had seen before so we tried not to get too heavily influenced by other playwrights, directors, films and musicals. Especially with the storyline as this is what seemed too happened at first when deciding on a storyline. Instead we were only really looking for ideas to help us on the design side of the performance, and when researching characters and music for our performance.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 9 July 2017