I think one of the best ideas to come out of the presentations at the start of the process was Scott’s idea to set the piece in a club called ‘Saints and Sinners’. By giving the tutors a clever structure for the show, that really worked, it meant they could just pick ideas and place them in the club. This meant that while the tutors were doing this, we were able to think of a theme for the club and as a result we decided it would be cabaret club; this then gave us the flexibility and freedom to make some of the ideas into acts on a stage while still having a structure. I think one of the most successful things about the rehearsal process was the presentations, and providing the tutors with ideas, it meant that things could develop and mature at an early stage.
Once we had been provided with the full structure and the running order for the show, we had the pieces we would be working on for the next couple months so we could start rehearsing. At first I think I wanted more, I wanted more to work on, even though the tutor’s goal was to create a show that was evenly split so everyone had equal opportunity. Now that I reflect and realise the amount I actually had to work on I feel I was just being greedy. I also find less is more and this is something I have learnt over this process because it gave me the freedom to work in more detail and not only think about the structure and blocking of a piece, but also allowed me to think about the emotion and process of the character, the meaning of the piece, what was the character going through. I was able to work in more detail on less pieces by thinking back to the first project we did and using the techniques I learnt doing Unit 10, and applying the work of Uta Hagen and other practitioners to my characters; as a result it made my characters more believable and helped me develop an understanding for my different characters early in the rehearsal process.
Through wanting more I offered to direct one of my ideas that had been allocated to Sian and Hannah who knew little about the piece, but soon it became apparent that I would overload myself if I had anymore to work on, because I was spending a lot more time with the girls and less time working on my own pieces. Even though I was learning something new as I had never directed before, I learnt from my mistakes and realised I needed to give myself less to do then I had first thought. But through the short amount of time I had spent directing I felt I could take charge and I contributed making the piece more entertaining and strong. This was down to the research I did into drugs and how being on a high from taking pills will result in the user having a comedown, I feel through provided Hannah with the information I had found while directing the piece, helped her feel the journey the character had been on previous to meeting Lulu in the club.
Overall the pieces I was allocated I was thrilled with considering one was a suggestion I had made. Ever since earlier this year when the year two actors worked on a section of ‘Entertaining Mr. Sloane’ in a lesson with Erica, I have always wanted to do something more with the play so being allocated to do a monologue from the play I was thrilled. Although ‘Man of the Moment’ had never been suggested during presentations, Lynn thought of it as a way to introduce more saints into the running order, I was a little concerned about the piece because I didn’t know it. However after realising the reasoning behind the idea and reading the full play me starting to like the piece, especially since Lynn had suggested for it to be filmed. I have been desperate to get involved in a short film or film a scene but couldn’t find the time. After Lynn suggested filming the scene between Douglas and Jill I was at ease. It was my chance to finally film something and show it to an audience and as a bonus I could take as much time as I needed on this considering I was to be marked on it.
I was never originally allocated as a ‘Posh boy’, but it became apparent that Jack wouldn’t be able to play as one of the boys as he would be playing ‘Saint Jimmy’. I was then allocated to play Hugo, all of the boys in posh are vile characters so getting to play such a sinful character was exciting. All of the parts I was allocated were really contrasting and all of them gave me the chance to push myself.
After finding out the pieces that had been chosen in a rough running order and Lynn explained why each piece was where it was, we were able to start researching and working scenes. I started by researching my characters and reading the plays. By reading the plays I was able to get a full understanding of why each character behaves in the way they do, by reading Mr. Sloane’s monologue you get the understanding that he isn’t a very nice man, but reading the whole play I started to realise why he behaves in the way he does. I did this for each of my characters and each of the plays contributed to developing how I played the character. However, I think I took too long doing research as I started to let it overpower the work I was doing with my peers. Although the research I had done did reflect in my final performance, I don’t necessarily think I should have taken so long in doing so. Considering I am a very slow reader, dedicating most of the time I had at college in the first two weeks to reading was ridiculous as this is something I could have done at home. I planned to do most of the ‘Man of the Moment’ and ‘Posh’ rehearsals in the Easter holidays, I was lead to believe that others would also meet in the holidays but these rehearsals never happened as people couldn’t make it which meant we all got put behind. This all comes down to time management, I have learnt to plan my time better over the rehearsal period.
Despite the fact I felt I could have handled my time better at the start of the rehearsal process, prioritising what and who needed my attention. I didn’t think it was all bad, the rehearsal process worked well because we were able to use social media to post everything that was happening; by using social media to keep everyone up to date it meant no one was confused about when rehearsals or meetings had been planned, apart from those who chose to ignore. I never felt like I wasn’t aware of when there was a rehearsal taking place. We also worked well by organising lots of whole year group meetings where we were able to discuss any worries or new ideas, however this was sometimes difficult because it had to be a time when everyone was able to meet. Finding the time was sometimes extremely difficult as people would have other priorities. Relying on college WiFi as a communication tool was another disadvantage because it went down numerous times during the process.
Using social media also help us split tasks evenly and fairly, the more academic amongst us were provided with the task of writing the link scenes to the pieces, so basically the script writers. They were able to keep everyone up to date with new versions of the script by posting them on the Facebook page. Because we had characters and we had taking pieces from different plays we had a show, but we needed to make each of the big numbers and scenes link, we wanted the show to flow and have a story. Beth and
Jack had the task of writing the link scenes. I felt one of the reasons why the opening night was a little held back was because we didn’t fully believe in the link scenes. This was something that was completely new, whereas the monologues and songs we had a reassurance with because most of them are well known piece written by professional writers. It was also something we had probably rehearsed the least because it was new and everyone had to be there to run the link scenes. However on the second night I think after getting feedback we started to believe in it.
I had plenty of help not only from tutors watching rehearsals and giving feedback, but also from the Production Arts (P/A) students. Granting they were also extremely busy with different productions each individual P/A student got allocated a piece to help with. Leah Sanders made the rehearsal process so much easier by doing most of the marketing for the show. She was able to create a trailer, posters and a Facebook group page. I also got a lot of help from Lucy Peaceful who found the costume for Douglas, because of this I was able to learn lines and not have the worry of searching for a costume.
Working collaboratively on a project as big as this one has its positives but it also has its negatives, something I have learnt over the course of two months is you won’t always like the people you have to work with. It’s been a matter of learning to hold my tongue and keep quiet, think about what is really important, proving that you are right in a situation or continue like nothing happened. I also find working in a group of this size, certain people won’t work as hard as others. In this case one student had considerably bad time management, as a result the student was not being able to perform. There was a process in place where that particular student could have accepted the position and taken part. However, a decision had to be made for the show and also the other students effected by this persons actions, so the student wasn’t able to perform. The actions of this individual didn’t effect me directly, but it did have an impact on the group as a whole, due to not having full company around and having to wait on things that individual had said they would do.
Once development occurred and people had started to get a structure for each piece they were involved with, we would have been able to do a stumble run. I felt the 19th May was very late to have our first full run. Regardless of having a work in progress in the middle of the process, I still think we could have done with a full run earlier. It was the week before the show we had a dress run after the run it appeared we still had a lot to do before this could be put on in front of a paying crowd. I think people had done the work but then left it and forgot about it while focusing on Bonnie and Clyde which was also the week before the show.
I had done enough research over the rehearsal process that I was able to portray three strong characters. From gathering audience feedback, I know that everyone I talked to completely believe every character I played, no one got two characters confused and could tell each of them apart. Even though I had worried people might mistake Hugo and Mr. Sloane for the same character, because they both had very similar costumes. I think one of the best things I did that helped distinguish each character and make them different from each other was the accent I had developed for each of them. Because the work I had done with Lynn over the rehearsal process, on accents was so helpful, but it wasn’t something I was always as confident with and as a result needed much more attention to get it right. In the feedback I gathered Gary mentioned how in past shows I have struggled with the RP accent. But through the numerous accent/voice lessons we have had over the past two years the skill has become easier and I have started learning new techniques. In a voice lesson last year we listened to people from all different parts of the world on the listening project. I feel like this was one of the turning points for me by finally taking the time to listen to different people and noting how they talked, what it was that sounded different and they trying to do the same ourselves.
As a result of the voice lessons over the past two years, making it easier to learn and understand the technique of learning a new accent. Also through the time spent with Lynn, thinking about words that would sound different to how I would normally pronounce them and the speed and pitch which I delivered my lines, I was able to portray a strong and distinctive accent for each character. I made each diverse and distinguishable. However this wasn’t always what I had planned to do to distinguish the characters so the audience could tell them apart. At first I had thought about putting a wig on to play Douglas, I had thought it would make me look older and by parting it I would look slightly boring alongside the knitted jumper I wore. I soon realised after slowing the speed I would normally talk at and speaking in quite a nasal tone it made the character much more believable.
Not only was it the work I had done on accent but to develop Mr. Sloane I think it was my research into the way that stand-ups work, I was able to come up with a quip when someone laughed. I also held myself in a completely different way to Hugo, the way I played Hugo was very lazy and relaxed as I had watched the riot club film I got the feeling they allowed people to come to them and would never move unless they needed to, whereas Mr. Sloane came from a working class background and held himself in a completely different manner. The way I moved around the stage was also similar to that of a stand-up comedian. Because of this it reflected in audience feedback, all of the things I wanted to achieve were achieved.
Overall, the structure of the piece and the way the rehearsals were organised enabled us to produce a successful piece of theatre, we also had a commission brief with deadlines that we were able to use as a guideline. However, sometimes the process was too laid back. I think we had way too much freedom and however mature or professional you may think you are you can still get easily distracted working in a group of this size. I think the biggest learn from the rehearsal process would be to focus on the priorities, I don’t feel people did enough of this and as a result left things too late. However, the final performances were successful and the audience feedback was outstanding, especially on the second night which I felt was down to not being fully prepared on the first night and as a result people still seemed unsure of what they were doing on stage. I achieved my main target which was to play three very distinctive characters and make the audience believe each of them even when they only appeared for a short amount of time, and I feel this was down to the amount of research I did in preparation for the show.
(All the links to rehearsals I refer back to in the evaluation)