This week, our big section was B1 of the director's notebook about the creative interpretations and brainstorming for our play. I struggled a bit at first to get started writing my ideas down, but after about the first paragraph, I had a good idea of how I wanted to finish. For our mock director's notebook, the play I'm writing about is Lysistrata, which plays on the negative influences of war. To reflect this theme, I had to choose an action that was also just as long and tragic as the Peloponnesian War that the play initially takes place. I wanted to think outside the box and research a war that I hadn't researched previously. So I picked the Southern Lebanon War that has overlapping themes with the Peloponnesian War with the length of both and the lack of respect for women. The part of the assignment that I enjoyed the most was talking about how I could reflect on these themes through color. I wasn't sure if this was too specific to be in this section. Still, I enjoyed looking at pictures and standard colors that showed up in them and how they would reflect the play's feelings. For example, in many of the images that I looked at, soldiers would be in dusty towns, so to reflect that, I picked mostly browns to reflect that dusty and dirty feel of the soldiers' situations during the war.
In our study of learning to write a director's notebook and how to use T.E.A.M, we watched what is now one of my favorite live productions, The Woodsman. I think this play is the perfect representation of how to use T.E.A.M in a show because of how well they could create the atmosphere of the play through sound, props, and lighting. The Woodsman is different from most plays because there isn't much dialogue, and the actors have to tell the story without relying on what they say, and they would have to rely on their facial expressions and movements to tell the story. To add to this, the show designer chose to have a simple set and give the actors branches and blocks to move around to create different scenes. Doing this makes more movement to how the scenes play out and keep the show more fluid. I think my favorite part of The Woodsman was lighting to accentuate the tension, emotion, atmosphere, and communication of the piece. The lighting alone had created T.E.A.M by diming when people were upset or scared and brightening when the characters were happy or in love. Also, the actors used flashlights to develop a sense of magic being used. Like the lighting, the music and sound also created T.E.A.M by emphasizing emotional moments and tense moments. The music would change based off of the setting. It would communicate to the audience the characters' personalities and what was going on in specific scenes. Those were just elements of the show that stuck with me personally because of my love for music/sound design. Still, I've also always wanted to learn how to do lighting design, and I appreciate every element in the lighting design for this play. The acting was also incredible, with the actors creating tension through sharp breaths and moving with the scenes. If I wanted to be in chorus for any play I wanted, this would be the one, but I would also like to work on all the design elements.
When watching the stage production of Comedy of Errors on Digital Theater Plus, I thought the show was brilliant and had a great adaptation modern adaptation of Shakespeares' play. When I watched the show, I was curious about how much they had spent on sets, props, and costumes because of how limited and low budget everything was. I also wanted to know if they had a big budget or not. As I later found out, the director and designer of the sets and props chose to have a limited set and costumes to bring more attention to the play. This was a brilliant choice because they accomplished what they were looking to do, and I don't think I spent much time focusing on the set rather than the actors. This is especially important when your target audience is younger kids who don't understand Shakespeare. When you have big elaborate sets and costumes, people tend to get lost in observing the magnificence of what was done with those elements. Also, choosing to have the actors focus more on their physicality is crucial when making a show easy for kids to digest. Kids tend to pay more attention when there is a comedic element in the performance. The musical part ties it together by setting the scene through the language of music rather than sets and dialogue. What made me the most excited about the music was the music director's inspiration from one of my favorite bands, The Specials, and their song Ghost Town. Ghost Town is an unusual song because it sets the scene of a creepy and weird town with the music's power. This was a perfect inspiration, mainly because of their comedic choices in the play, to derive the song's language from the Specials because it helped set the scene in the weird and wacky world that the director and characters created. When I need to write my director's notebook, these are all elements that I will pay close attention to to create my vision.
This week, my classmates and I have been working on creating a short piece based off of Commedia Dell Arte theatre. Our goal is to learn how to use our bodies to express character without relying dialogue to explain your characters thinking. This is an aspect of theatre that I've always wanted to practice because I mostly rely on facial expressions to explain the thinking of my character, but because most characters in Commedia Dell Arte pieces use masks, it forces the actor to use their body instead. I have practiced expressing emotion with my body before when I did Peter Pan. The theatre company that I was performing with had multiple casts and in one of the casts, I played Peter Pan's shadow. Due to the fact that my costume was a black full body suit, no one could see my face so I had to rely on my body language to express emotions and over exaggerate motions to make those emotions more obvious to the audience. Because this character was so unique to what I had done previously, it was probably one of my favorite characters just because I thought there was room for experimentation and performing in a way I haven't done before. Due to this excitement I had in the past, performing using my body again makes me much happier and thrilled to perform my groups piece. I also find this exercise more fun and easier than the work we had to do with the monologue because I usually prefer being a side character that has goofy moments in a show, but performing in the spotlight as well as being the only performer is extremely hard and stressful for me. I much prefer performing with others for that reason, but I also think it makes for a more entertaining presentation.
This week was full of new ideas and topics to learn. I thought learning about the medieval period and their theatre was extremely fascinating. Beforehand, I had no idea how significant that period was to theatre until this class. This is because people usually skip over the medieval period and jump straight to discussing Renaissance theatre and Shakespeare. The significance of Medieval theatre, however, is that there was a period of time between the Roman period and the medieval period were theatre was not allowed to be performed. When the medieval period came about, theatre was reborn into liturgical dramas. I find this process fascinating because I had never known previously that theatre was banned for years and until the medieval period came around, it was only limited to religious performances. I think the medieval period might be my favorite period so far just because of how unique and different it was from the previous periods. Although, there were many changes and rules put in place during the Renaissance period. I think what was the most interesting part of this period was the significant number of rules people had to follow when writing a play. Playwrights had to make the story accurate to real life, they couldn't combine the comedy and tragedy genre, their characters could only represent "types" and be almost 2D, and their plays had to have a 5 act form and the 3 unities (time, place, action). To me, that seems like too much work to make a play, and almost impossible to make an exciting/interesting story. However, I do think Comedia dell Arte is an incredibly interesting type of play that came out of the Renaissance period (or the Greek period, we don't know). I think the idea of representing a character through the body rather than dialogue is an important skill to learn if you want to become a better actor. I think the physical ideas that Comedia dell arte introduces can be used to embody most, if not all characters that you could play at some point. It's both a great exercise and a cool way to perform.
This week, we were assigned to practice some of Stanislavski's theories and exercises through performing a monologue. The monologue that I chose is called "Ferret Envy" and isn't from a specific play, but is in a book by Tara Meddaugh that contains many monologues. For me, this monologue is both a challenge and extremely fun. This monologue is a dark comedic drama, so it is supposed to be recited seriously and not comedically. Trying to act serious while talking about being someones ferret is extremely difficult for me because of how much I enjoy acting and portraying a goofy character, but because of the comedic nature of the content in the monologue, I'm still having fun seeing my peers reaction to the silly story. I'm kind of happy that I was asked to stretch myself to do something serious because not all plays are going to have the types of characters that a enjoy performing as, and if I want to continue acting, doing something serious is a good way to open myself up to new techniques and characters.
This week for IB Theater, we took a look at the theorist, Konstantin Stanislavski, and his methods to be a better and more convincing actor. Stanislavsi's main ideas and exercises to help you become a better actor include embodying a character inwardly and physically. To practice some of his ideas, we were assigned to use two of his exercises and reflect on how it went. Through practicing his exercises, I expanded my ability to connect to a character as well as feel the emotions and environment of another character. I think I will use some of his exercises in the future to expand my knowledge and connection with a character that I play in hope that my presentation and performance can be more realistic and relatable.