How did the group plan for a range of audience responses? Essay
How did the group plan for a range of audience responses?
Through our performance we wanted to convey a series of responses from the audience based around the many different feelings you can experience if you were trapped. As the topic didn’t really allow for the dynamics you can create with humour, we had to enable the audience to mentally separate their emotional response for each scene, in order for them to feel a new emotional experience. We did this by carefully planning the emotional journey we wanted to take them on, by first easing them into feeling scared – with the kidnapping scene, and eventually taking them to the paranoia featured in the final scene.
We even monitored how the audience responded to the performance by asking them to fill in a questionnaire. In the first set of scenes which revolved around the kidnapping of a little girl, we wanted the audience to be shocked at the fact that this can happen in broad daylight. We therefore set the scene at the end of a school day, with the kidnapper stood in audiences view watching the little girl. This immediately creates suspense within the audience as they know something is going to happen. When the girl slowly follows her and reluctantly holds her hand we wanted the audience to feel shock and helplessness.
The second part of this scene was a news report on the kidnapping. This scene was one that we planned to be short, yet grasp the audience’s attention and make them realise the seriousness of the situation. Though this scene was simple with its lighting and no sound effects, it was evident that the audience felt concerned. One of the scenes where we intended to emotionally shock the audience was mentioned many times through the questionnaires. It was the scene in which the mother interacts with the audience. For this we intended to use a Brechtian technique of breaking the fourth wall, and ‘mingling’ with the audience.
We wanted her tone of voice to be very screechy and powerless to shock the audience into really believing that she has lost her child, and the use of close eye contact makes them feel inadequate to help. The audience said that they felt disturbed by closeness of the interaction between Laura (the mother) and themselves. We wanted to continue the Brechtian theme through the use of placards, as they create visual captions that interrupt and summarize the action. We planned to shout at the audience to make them feel uncomfortable.
Another change is made when we add some loud and fast drum and bass music, and in corporate flashing lights. We thought that by creating something visually stimulating, we could make the audience feel vulnerable. Using physical theatre, we as a group wanted to physically represent being trapped. Charlotte (who played the girl being kidnapped), and then violently shaking and moving whilst Charlotte attempts, yet fails to escape and reach out. We planned to provoke an emotion of vulnerability and powerlessness but in such a way, that it would shock the audience.
The use of physical theatre explicitly allows the audience to actually ‘see’ the scene, and leaves it open to interpretation. Also, the anorexia scene was a mixture of both naturalism – with the character of Sophie – and surrealism, in that Charlotte is physically representing anorexia. This in its own right should make the audience uncomfortable and nervous. Like Antonin Artaud’s theatre of cruelty, we wanted to create a character that’s physical representation would shatter the false reality and disturb the audience. That is how we came up with Anna’s character.
However we firstly wanted the audience to feel sorry for Sophie (the character with anorexia, played by me), so we gave her a monologue in which she gradually became weaker as she was talking. This use of breaking the fourth wall by addressing the audience was intentional, as it would create an intimate connection with the audience. I started off with a confident tone of voice, but gradually got quieter and my body language more timid as I came to the end of my monologue. We thought that the use of monologues would help to engage the audience.
The emotional journey we planned to take Sophie on was to give her a range of emotions, so the scene didn’t become dull and lose audience interest. The contrasts of the shouting at Anna, and then running away crying, were an attempt to take the audience on the same journey I was experiencing. When Sophie collapses at the end, it signifies her physical and mental exhaustion, that again we wanted the audience to feel after watching the performance. The poverty scene was used, in order to show the selfishness within our society, and how we ‘turn a blind eye’ to what is right in front of us.
We wanted to use physical theatre to make the piece quite abstract. In order to do this we again thought a Brectian technique would work well, as we didn’t want the audience to be spoon fed there emotions. This method of distancing ourselves from the audience was a great way of allowing the audience to question what they are seeing. We wanted them to create there own interpretation of the scene and how they really felt about the issue of poverty. As there were no words, we used music which we felt embodied a lot of feeling. At one point in the music, the rhythm changed.
We decided this would be a good point to interact with the audience, so we looked up and stared at them. This was an attempt to single out the audience members, in a way as if to say ‘you can change this’. We also repeated the scene again but with masks. We wanted to represent the facelessness of society, and how people are too self involved to see what is going on around them. However, after reading the questionnaires we had asked the audience to fill in, many of them wrote down that they didn’t understand the scene, especially when with the masks.
We maybe could have thought this scene through a little more, and perhaps not have used the masks as it just seemed to confuse the audience, which we did not want to do. In conclusion, the groups plan for a range of audience responses was really dependant on what type of technique we wished to follow. As we have studied many practitioners and their theories; we felt that using a variety of different acting styles and techniques, we could plan and create our desired audience responses. However, we also had to consider the genre and context of the scene, so that we could create the response that we wished the audience to have.