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In our drama class, our teacher Mrs. Oteng had asked us to develop on our performance of Oliver Twist. We had previously performed the response phase which was a role play with the main scenes of the novel by Charles Dickens. In the topic of crime in society, in which we were covering, the novel of ‘Oliver Twist’ had allowed the class to have an insight of crime in the olden periods compared to today. By seeing the angle in both perspectives, it allowed the class to realise the consequences today and before and how crime affected lives.
The development phase was all based on developing the performance with the use of light, props, tone, levels and music. The change in the play would allow the audience to see how these strategies changed the emotion in a play and how it bought life to it. The people who I decided to work with were Vishna, Daanish and Moshgan. We worked well together and everyone in the group had imaginative ideas.
With the idea of bringing out a different side to each character we enhanced the performance by taking on the role of just a few of the characters and showing a complete opposite to what they are really like. Bill Sikes was played by Daanish in the first scene. He played the usual murderer who killed without mercy and who never looked back. However, I played a homosexual and sensitive Bill Sikes who was the complete opposite to him. In this case I was his conscience and I was playing the same way he was but in my own version. This allowed the audience to see what a different personality of Bill would have done to the real play of Oliver Twist.
Similarly, Vishna played Nancy as the gentle and kind-hearted woman we knew, while Moshgan played the cold-hearted, stuck-up complete opposite to the real character to Nancy. By doing this we could keep to the same storyline but we allowed the audience to see what it was like if the characters had a little change in their personality.
We also focused on the relationship between Nancy and Bill Sikes. In the novel, they had a loveless and tactless relationship, while in our play we took it from the real angle and in a real, loving relationship. This created a contrast in the play which allowed the audience to see both perspectives. This was the aim of our play and I believe the audience easily understood that.
I believe that our group did extremely well and the audience enjoyed it. It was one of the most complicated plays to put together because of the changes in the scenes and the change of characters as a group. However, the use of props allowed each of the characters to be distinguished easily and the audience understood who each one of us was; more efficiently. I wore a tight shirt, which showed my homosexual character and the way in which I was holding my body was convincing. Daanish wore a puffy jacket which showed his authority and toughness. Moshgan wore a tight pink top which showed of her body which showed that she was a prostitute while Vishna wore neutral clothes which did not need to reveal much. The use of props really helped to enhance our drama.
Towards the end of our drama, Mrs. Oteng played a piece of sad and somber music which really enhanced our drama when Nancy was getting beaten by Bill Sikes which lead to her death. The music made the audience feel more connected to the drama and the music added emotion to the drama and bought sympathy for Vishna’s character.
We did not use light in our performance as we found it was unnecessary. However, we used different tones in our voices’ and we used different levels on stage and even off stage. We used the explorative strategies well enough for top marks. On a whole, our class had many individual thought-tracks which showed how I characters felt which was equally as important. My thought-tracks were very comedic which made the audience laugh after all the violence and upsetting scenes which were to follow. By saying things like, ‘I shave the hairs on my chest’, made the audience laugh. I believe that a little humour would ease the audience a little bit and that is why I was the only comedic character as we had to keep to the topic of crime.
Under the topic of ‘Crime in Society’, I believe that our play showed domestic violence the most and this was our main focus. Domestic violence occurs a lot in today’s society but also in the olden days. The points we were conveying were that it was as bad then, then as today. On a whole, I was pleased with my group’s performance and I enjoyed working with them.
I was now told to observe another groups performance and comment on the way in which they developed their drama. The group that I decided to observe was with Louise, Mohammed, Aiman, Sumhar, Anthony and Maya. This group had six people and I believed that they worked very well together to come up with a performance which included everybody. They changed Sumhar’s role as ‘Oliver Twist’ to Olivia Twist. Each character kept in role and they used the drama equally as well. Each of the character’s thought-tracked and they used levels and tones in their voices to enhance their drama. Their play was based on the scene where Olivia gets kidnapped by Fagin and Bill Sikes for Nancy’s pleasure. Nancy played by Maya had also changed her role from being a nice, kind-hearted woman to a frail, evil woman. This was similar to our group’s idea and this was effective as only one of the characters had changed personality. I loved watching this performance, each character was in role and I understood the storyline very well.
The aspect of Crime in Society in this play was based on kidnappings, people owing money, poverty and how this all leads to deaths in society.
On a whole, I believe that by developing the play of ‘Oliver Twist’, I learnt the consequences of crime in the olden days. I t also taught me how to enhance a play by taking a simple idea from a particular scene and by working on it to show the audience something they might not have realised or understood as much. I enjoyed working on the development phase and I believe that by developing the performance we encounter more. I would like to work on developing a performance in the future and I liked this part of the workshop the most.