1. How is the initial material being researched and developed at significant stages during the process of creating drama?

Our initial stimulus was the events of 9/11 and New York. Each of us focused on aspects of this stimulus to produce individual workshops that helped us explore ideas that originate from the initial material. Some of the workshops were very helpful in giving us ideas for our piece of drama:
I enjoyed Pia’s workshop because it played with the idea of trust and secrets, and what you expect and what you don’t expect. The hitchhiker exercise, (where we made a scene in which we let a hitchhiker into our car and improvised the events that might unfold from the chance meeting), helped to explore the idea that you never really know what to expect when first meeting someone. Our improvisation, (a scene which included an angry couple with a young child, and a hitchhiker who had two faces and 'befriended' the child and acted in a very creepy way, before throwing the child out of the car), showed that if you let a hitchhiker into your car, you have to anticipate some level of risk. But then a lot of decisions we make involve at least some risk and we do it anyway.
Pia’s workshop brought to my attention that everyone is a stranger and I liked the idea of 'secrets' that surfaced from the improvisation activity; a hitchhiker that could be anyone will have a lot of secrets that aren't necessarily bad, but the person who picks them up in their car has no idea who they are so they don't know anything about them. The hitchhiker exercise involved a lot of mystery surrounding the character of the hitchhiker.
Also, there was a strong theme of 'trust' in all of Pia's activities; there are a lot of different ideas that can be developed from the word 'trust', for example: betrayal of trust, trusting someone with a secret, trusting people with your life, implicit trust of strangers, (such as the 9/11 situation where the plane passengers didn’t know the pilots or the other people on the plane but allowed them to take control of their future, of what would happen to them), being trusted and not being able to live up to their expectations.
The workshop Elizabeth and I created focused on the ideas of a cover up and secrets, and again building on Pia's idea of trust.
Elizabeth was intrigued by a name at the Ground Zero memorial; a woman's name and then: 'and her unborn child'. This was a good focus for ideas of things that are hidden or unknown, or things that were 'stolen' by the events of 9/11.
I focused on the idea of cover ups, after doing some research into 9/11 and thinking about what different people thought about why it had happened and what it meant, (there are many circulating theories about a US government conspiracy). This links to the idea of trust, because a lot of people didn't have trust in the government to bring the right people to justice or to tell the truth about what happened in the events of 9/11.
Our warm-up activities included a game called minefields, where someone is blindfolded and led through the room around obstacles (chairs, tables, people) by vocal commands from someone else which links to the theme of trust. We also did an improvising game with props, where a prop is passed around and each pair has to briefly improvise a scene where the prop is 'something', e.g. a black wig became a rat, a plate became a hat, a wooden pole became a light sabre.
In the first activity, we got everyone to sit in paired-up chairs so the arrangement looked like seats on a plane, and everyone wrote down a character name and a secret that that character had. The papers were mixed up and everyone on the 'plane' conversed with the person they were sat next to in questions only trying to find out each others' secret. This made each character very vulnerable and linked to the theme of secrets and covering up their secret, (coming from the idea that the US government was hiding important information).
Next, everyone got into pairs and created a small scene based on a cover up; hiding a dead body, an affair, toilet 'accident'. We all watched their scenes and then they performed it again as a mime, which was good because they found it better to do the scene normally first and then it was easier to transfer to a mime, and exaggerate the movements.
Originally, our ideas for our performance led us to create a story where four quite different people are planning a robbery and an inspector is after them, and tries to infiltrate their scheming by pretending to be the husband of one of the characters.
The characters in this story were the gran, Betty, who was very flirty and tries to act as if she is younger than she actually is, and her granddaughter, Kalie(?), a pregnant teenager with a lot of attitude and very vain, Jean, the leader of the group who was quite fierce and controlling, hates men, quite angry, and Georgie, looks younger than she actually is and acts very young with a bubbly, dumb, but shy character. I had a lot of trouble playing my character effectively. We had an opening scene where I was supposed to roll out from underneath the counter and fake holding and shooting a gun and saying movie lines, but it was difficult to make my character funny because the lines needed to be scripted and we had trouble thinking of what we would say. I was also not very comfortable playing Georgie, because I felt it wasn't funny and I was just playing her quite childish and not saying much.
Some other people felt unhappy with their characters, Pia said she couldn't play her character consistently and she kept accidentally changing what Betty was like. As a group we were unsure how to develop the story so that it had a really good ending. Also, we felt that the story should be leading up to a really funny, surprising ending, but because we weren't sure what the ending was yet, the whole play seemed not very funny, and a bit dull. We felt the story wasn't going anywhere, didn't have much potential, and the theme of secrets, (developed from our stimulus), was not strong enough in the storyline, so we stopped developing the robbery story.
Our new idea for our drama piece is a montage of scenes with the theme of secrets. We came up with this idea because we enjoy playing the improvisation game where two people are moulded into a position and then have to start a scene, and anyone from the audience can say stop at any point and take over one of the positions of the people on stage. As a group, we find it easy to create interesting characters through these improvisations. Also, i find it a lot easier to exaggerate my character when I am being very physical and have to be loud and say random things that can be made funny. For example, when Taylor and I started a scene where one of us was pointing our finger, and then we got into a small argument about who was better at pointing fingers, then our friend (Elizabeth) came in to judge who was better. But then Taylor went into labour and an ambulance arrived. This scene was very weird and although we didn't want to develop it at all, it was a good starting point for a lesson because being put into a position as in the moulding improvisation game, puts you on the spot so you have to think fast and you can get some really good ideas from making lots of stuff up really quickly.
We decided to create a comedy because as a group, we all feel we are better suited to light-hearted performances. Also, when we first started thinking of ideas that stemmed from 9/11 stimulus, we felt that we didn't want to do anything serious that was obviously linked to 9/11, such as a piece on crime, because although it might educational for the audience, we preferred to do something that people would laugh at and enjoy watching. We didn't want to do a serious piece that we thought was interesting and broaching a serious issue but the audience were either bored or offended or upset by the content. We also had to consider our target audience. Most of us would like friends and family to come to see the piece, so we took into account what sort of performance they would be interested in seeing. Through improvisation games, we realised that we were better at performing when our characters are overly exaggerated and that made the scenes funnier too.
Through watching Carry On Camping, we all decided that we wanted to play stereotypical characters that audiences would recognise and laugh at because they are very exaggerated and over the top.
We started doing improvisations with a theme of secrets and came up with ideas such as an infection or medical problem, (in this scene, Raye used a South African accent which I think we could use in one of our scenes), being caught stealing (a dog), an affair between Frederic and his 'sexcretary', and Marjory/Sarah coming into the room and finding them in a compromising position, (here, Pia and Raye's characters seemed to be older posh people which are good characters to use in a scene), trying to get rid of something/hide something, e.g. a body in a river, call a gangster friend to help move the body, trafficking a European bought wife, perverts (cockney voices) looking through keyhole at naked woman, two men fighting for better position, some kind of treatment (cosmetic?), e.g. whale sperm, gives one person soft skin but other person gets a rash, (Australian accents). We wanted to try some other secrets such as a secret job, a secret addiction and a secret transvestite.
From these improvisations, we decided to focus on the affair scene between Raye, Pia and Elizabeth, where Margo walks in on Jeffrey and his 'sexcretary' who is trying to get him to take a pair of her knickers. Margo is very outraged and they all argue a lot. We structured this scene a lot more and developed several ideas along the way, such as Karen (secretary) asking for her possessions back (handcuffs, kinky outfits, whip...) from Jeffrey. We decided to try out a scene where Karen is very kinky and whips Jeffrey, (an old man with a bad back), to sexy music in his office. Margo walks in on them and he tries to apologise and in the process reveals he has a wife as well. The two women get into a bit of a fight and he encourages them: 'fall on top of her!', 'take her shirt off!'. Jeffrey suggests a threesome but in the end the two women leave him handcuffed to his desk. We also had some ideas about Jeffrey working at a pencil company, so there are lots of pencil innuendos and Karen can get the wrong idea when he tries to break it off with her.
In the end, we decided not to use whipping in the scene, and instead, we spent a lesson thinking of lots of innuendos and perfecting the script. We still had lots of physicality in the scene, as when Jeffrey falls on the floor on top of Karen which is when Margo walks in, and also Margo brings a spotted dick which she drops on the floor when she sees Jeffrey and Karen together.
Another scene we decided to work with was the idea for a scene including a transvestite which I thought would be funny set as a date scene in a romantic restaurant, because the revelation of the secret (being a transvestite) would be really shocking for the character. There would also be a lot of dramatic irony if the audience could easily tell the person was a transvestite and the other characters had no idea.

1 comment:

  1. the first part on the workshops needs to be more concise as you have a lot of other things to discuss.shorten the section on Pia's workshop-be precise about what you actually learnt for the piece of drama. The issue of secrets is important to emphasise.
    you need to discuss the original play that was forming - what was the robbery about? why was this changed? describe the montage of scenes. how has each scene been developed? the spontaneous improvisation exercises need to be described. what were they? what did you learn from doing this?
    why did the group decide to create a comedy as opposed to something serious?