Throughout the second Drama course, we have been studying a play called ‘East is east’. We used a variety of different medium and elements of drama as well as explorative strategies in order to gain an understanding of the play in full depth. In addition, we used these strategies in order to appreciate the play. During the course we improvised and prepared performances using some of the themes: Arranged marriages, Religion, Sexuality, Honor, Respect and Patriarchy Muslim culture. Furthermore such themes as Inter-racial relationships and Circumcision were used to perform abstract pieces for the audience to visualize the surroundings of our play and to create their own image of the occurrences from each person’s perspectives.
When preparing the arranged marriage performance, we studied arranged marriages through the text ‘east is east’ as a mixed family of both English and Indian members residing in England have a clash of culture. The father’s side of the family believes in Muslim culture as the mothers English side is more modern and don’t believe in any sort of traditional culture. The arranged marriage is a part of the historical Muslim tradition which has run down through generations. My group and I used four individual scenes to represent the stages of the marriage. At the end of each scene we would use the exploitive strategy, still image, then a transition into the next scene.
This helped create an image in the minds of the audience that allowed the play to be simpler and more creative. Each audience member could visualize their own interpretation of what was to occur next and why. Mediums and elements used such as levels, created the effect of authority and minorities in the play. Moreover, the characters could be seen as ‘respected’ who were higher up and minorities who would be lower to the ground. This helps the audience picture which characters had the most authority, respect and power in the play as opposed to those who could be younger and less important towards the plot.
Body language is used to show characters feelings through the use of their body. I personally used low levels and crawled, to show that I was of less importance to the play as I was a young boy. The use of looking insignificant can show the audience that I was not yet respected as an adult. Furthermore, it shows my loss of intimacy towards others in the play as I was separate from other characters. The use of proxemics, meaning the spacing was used well as characters who were lovers would be closer together. In addition, the spacing of the stage was effectively used as the scenes were spaced out with each character being at least 2 meters away. Any tools used such as stage elevations for levels, would be separated.
The Image below shows the different characters sitting at an intertwining family discussion over the arranged marriages of two of George’s sons and two of Mr. Shah’s daughters. The minor characters are at lower levels sitting on different colors depending on their moods and attitudes towards the whole marriage plan. The proxemics used on stage ensures that the audience can see every character clearly. The levels used are to show the audience the position of power, however in this case it is to show who is talking. In this case it is Abdul sharing his opinions. Minor characters are dressed less formally while characters such as George and Mr. Shah wear elegant clothes or a suit to represent maturity and authority.
‘Thought tracking’, another explorative strategy was used to ensure that each character could speak their mind and feelings with emotions and facial gestures. This would aid the audience tremendously as they could get a deep understanding of the characters beliefs, which could effectively make them appreciate the play more or feel sentimental. The monologues used ranged from a few words to on-going sentences explaining the loss or joy in arranged marriages. The building up of intensity was used during scenes to provide suspense to the audience. This would inevitably capture their attention.
The monologues aid in the creation of suspense while the still images and transitions from each scene leading to a finale would inspire the audience to either want to watch on or to deeply think about the problems issued with arranged marriages. Such problems involve the son or daughter of the father to be deeply dissatisfied with the irreversible choices of their parents. Symbolism was used to create an abstract set. This aided the performance to appear more interesting as random items of clothing could be used to represent different feelings of emotion. Colours were used to show different aspects of emotion. Red would be known as love or hate; however black could be used as death or confusion. These different colours used on set could help the audience gain an understanding of each characters feeling towards any certain themes.
During the next preparation of a different performance, different groups were assigned for a task with a theme to do with, Circumcision. During the preparation, my group and I developed and idea of using a complete abstract set with minimal yet effective dialogue for the monologues to ensure that the audience is well informed but also interested and appreciative. Physical theater was used in this performance which required a lot of indiv
idual movement and many mediums and elements of drama. The plot of the play was to have doctors remove the foreskin of a young patient however; the abstract set had the performance remain inexplicit and very enjoyable towards the audience. The symbolism was the most important element used in the play as it was to be abstract. We used golden brown cloth to wrap up Ben in, to represent the foreskin. As for the other four characters we were to be dressed in white cloaks to represent doctors. The usage of levels was very well executed as each character would rise one by one and slowly pull of the cloth from Ben. Proxemics was not an issue in this performance as we were all to be enclosed in a small space around the golden clothing. However extreme special relationships were a minor theme used to show the audience the intimacy between the doctors and the young boy.
The doctors would usually be close when they were to have the boy calm and happy however a contrast would be used later when we would slowly separate to show that the boy was possibly maturing and becoming a young teenager. This would help the audience understand the hard position the young boy is in and the cultural process he endures in order to become a grown man according to his father. Monologues used by each character were just words to represent the different feelings of emotion such as dirty, mature, and pure and cleanse. These words effectively portrayed the issue with having a foreskin in the perspective of Muslims. However not all people would come to think of having a foreskin as a bad thing.
Each characters beliefs and understandings were clearly depicted through the performances of our drama group. Each group had a different manor or demonstrating the effect of having a fore skin and the dangers involved with arranged marriages. Each character was a hard role to undertake however each individual in our group rose to the challenge and managed to use facial gestures, body language, monologues and strategies in order to construct a mater piece that clearly represents the occurrences from ‘East is east’.
Not only did it help use appreciate the text more, but the experience of acting with one another helped us to develop a greater understanding of the text. I believe that the greatest actors such as Sebastian and Jack truly portrayed their feeling using both verbal and physical ideas. They were able to adjust to the characters personalities, respect level and feelings towards the individual themes. Furthermore, the plays were executed perfectly as the mixture of different abilities in our class helped one another develop an adjustment to each characters basic personality.