How did group skills contribute to the development of the drama Essay
How did group skills contribute to the development of the drama
We approached our initial research by deciding on the path we were taking for our piece and examining what would be the best to topics to research i. e. the Wall Street Crash, the credit crunch, primitive civilisations, survival techniques etc. and then distributing these sections to members of the group to individually research. Every member of the group did their own research on everyone of these subjects so we all knew and understood every topic and to get an overview of what we were taking, which would help with our portrayal of the themes within our material.
We executed this by discussing what we had found in our research and comparing it with the other members of the group. We then picked the most relevant points from our discussions and integrated them into our material. We all researched different aspects of the stimulus during our brain storming sessions, drawing from what we knew about the image and then exploring it independently.
Ideas were developed collectively, individuals would put forward their ideas for the piece (which were often the same as other members of the group) which were then discussed and collectively performed and then modified, depending on their relevance and cohesiveness with the rest of the piece. However input seemed to keep coming from the same people all the time, so we had to extend and force particular members of the group to share their individual thoughts about our ideas.
The majority of the devising work was worked on as a collective, although some individuals could have been more involved with the process, but we all wanted to make sure that everyone agreed on the direction we were taking the piece and aspects of the scene. Our piece was a mixture between ensemble and individual based. For the wise man scene there was a section in which we all had to act out the story of the crash moving into images of everyday occurrences surrounding work, partying and resting.
To make sure that we were all together for these transitions we practised them over and over again often having to compromise our actions to make them run smoothly into one another. Throughout we all decided that if we were ever stationary or had to focus on a particular spot we would all stare at the same horizontal bar above the audience in our theatre. For our scene in the company we all had to hold boards and walk in an oval always facing the audience, this took place behind the protagonist to give the illusion that he was running down a corridor.
For this we to work we had to be organised and efficient, first of all we had to make sure that there were three boards at the front at all time meaning we all had to walk at the same pace, we also had to carry the boards at roughly the same height, this was quite difficult to achieve so we did as best we could by holding them at arms height. We didn’t focus on the bar for this scene until we had become stationary; this was so we could focus on the movement of the circle and its relationship to the speed that the protagonist was walking at.
To achieve this shared physical look we practised over and over again, extracting one of the members of the group to see if it looked good enough. Through trial and error we managed to obtain the same physical relationship between one another. Characters were, most of the time, created individually however when needed we helped people who were struggling with their character profile or decided that a character should be different to how they were being portrayed.
Most of us put forward suggestions towards certain members’ character development anyway as a suggestion if we felt that they weren’t doing enough to explore and exploit their potential. This happened a lot in the War scene as we had to create contrasting and analogous characters within the separate groups and, as it was one of our best scenes, we wanted everyone to be heard and seen. I contributed a lot to the development of a movement piece, I took a piece of music called ‘Clubbed to Death’ from the Matrix and listened to it, noted where the distinguishing sections were and began to create a piece of movement to go with it.
This was when we were using one of our original plot lines so it wasn’t used in the final performance but one or two of the ideas were used in certain areas of the play. It was originally showing the downfall of the company and the death of the protagonist, I wanted to use the boards a lot, making members of the chorus use them as shields, slamming them down and pushing them along the floor with two gargoyles on the tower of Babel (a piece of staging we were using at the time) the company’s opponents are throwing spears then slowly through the piece the gargoyles break themselves away from the tower to kill their attackers.
They achieve this by touching their attackers heads, this all happens in the middle section of the music which is quieter and more sinister. After the gargoyles make contact with the attackers heads I made them writhe as if they were being electrocuted, all the while the protagonist reaches the top of the tower and flings paper out into the audience, however a spear hits him and he dies as do the gargoyles as soon as the papers are thrown into air they begin to crumple and then collapse. I really enjoyed choreographing this piece of movement but, unfortunately by this point, we had already changed our plot, which rendered it useless.
I also provided a lot of the sounds like the track during the rape scene (“The Piano Duet” from Corpse Bride) and in the final scene (“My Dearest Friend” by Devendra Banhart) All the, concepts and situations were created amongst the group. Our group is extremely diverse both in personalities and in ability, overall we have some very good actors and we all get on wonderfully and made a good team, however there are members of the group that are weaker than others, one in particular who barely gave any ideas or thoughts to the process.
Their silence happened so often that we had to question her constantly about her views on everything just to know what her reaction was to the content we were producing or the direction we were heading in. This proved very tedious also because she took no initiative into developing her character and when given suggestions by the other members of the group she listened to them but didn’t seem to put any of these ideas into practise. We coached her as much as we could and managed to get a decent performance out of her for the final performance.
On a completely different note there was tension between two girls in our group but they moved passed these differences and worked with each other as best they could, the tension lessened over the weeks with a few hiccoughs but the managed to work together as a team planning props in the few weeks before the performance. Moment were the group worked well together Why it was important During the development of the War Scene after the group had been separated into two to create material, we worked together to find a ways to cut between the separate scenes to make a seamless and amusing scene.
It strengthened our group dynamic, the girls being on one side bar one and the boys on the other, this allowed us to relax with each other and improvise things that we found amusing. Most of the members of the girls group were fans of Monty Python, French and Saunders and Black Adder, which we all seemed to agree, had the right kind of comedy that we wanted to integrate in our section. It helped us understand each other’s sense of humour and our acting dynamic. After this scene it was clear that we were on the same page regarding material that we’d produced prior to this exercise.
Sitting opposite the group of boys was good too as they are very funny people, it helped us to improve our scene, in comparison with theirs, but still carry on the path of humour we’d been following. Rehearsing the Company scene where every member of the chorus has a board and we created a movement piece using them together. This was important for the group as it allowed us to work as a collective rather than individuals, we were all concerned about this piece and wanted to create a slick, focussed piece of physical theatre.
Through rigorous rehearsal we managed to pin point exactly what was needed and achieved a focus that, with the music, made a punchy start to the beginning of the company scene. We had to bang our boards down at exactly the same time cueing the music, to do this we all agreed to focus on the person who was most visible to everyone, which happened to be me, and we managed to do this perfectly every time in the last few weeks of rehearsal right through the performance.
Moment were the group didn’t work well Why? What did we learn from this At the beginning of the Wise man scene the chorus plays ‘freaks’ who follow the wise man, there wasn’t enough group development on these characters during rehearsals. Everyone was concerned about the content of the scene, which provided some brilliant freaks, but we didn’t think how it would perceived by an audience and as a whole, we left this to the last minute, which meant they could’ve been even greater.
That we need to face everything head on, leaving things to the last minute on one of the biggest scenes of play, especially the start of it, even though we did a lot of discussing in eagerness to push on we sometimes miss little things that could be rectified and turn a piece of action that hasn’t been through into something clear and concise that stands by itself. A character that, if taken out of the scene, could stand by themselves and have a background giving more depth to the madness.
At the beginning of the process when we seemed to keep brainstorming and discussing things rather than being spurred into action and, if we did create something that was bad suggestion in the first place, we didn’t question we went along with it. We were more concerned about not getting into an argument that we didn’t tell one another if we thought an idea wasn’t good, instead we suggested more ideas.
That sometimes you have to tell people if an idea won’t work and don’t get worried if someone’s annoyed at you, it is better to create a good piece of drama that can lead you in a great direction after having a falling out than coming up with a rubbish idea that doesn’t hold together as a piece of theatre. We all did our bit to collaborate on design ideas this was so we could perform with the set, lighting and music that we all wanted so that we could perform in an ideal space that the group collectively designed.
There was a big difference between group skills in rehearsal to performance, in rehearsal we were a lot more calm about everything and kept a very relaxed group dynamic but, only as it came to the dress and tech rehearsals did we start buckling down and making sure everyone’s focus was impeccable and that we were all doing this for each other, to stand as a collective rather than individuals as this was the only way our marks would be better.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 6 July 2017
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