Today the three groups in the class performed our final performances to count towards their GCSE.
The first group – consisting of MC, RM, TA (acting) and ED (lighting) – went to show their devised piece first. The piece was based on an article they had read about the recent problems in Chile, concerning the need for democracy. It was based on a “concentration camp” in a football stadium, in which people would go missing mysteriously and never be seen again (“wiped from history”).
The acting was extremely good, and the characters were built up well to the point where you understood the feelings and emotions of all of them. The friendships that were built up were easy to pick up, and the closeness of the story was moving.
There were many ‘flashbacks’ to important speeches in the news story – that were quoted almost exactly – and character changes, aided by light signature changes, which were pulled out flawlessly, to the extent that we understood all of the reasonings behind the changes. One piece of lighting that I think was done extremely effectively was when they had a fresnel facing directly down on MC, playing Pinochet, where half of his face was in darkness and the power and evil in the scene was displayed extremely well.
At the end, we were not allowed to be told the grade that the performance was given – as it was for GCSE – however I think that it must have scored highly and, if they can keep up the same standard for their live piece and their written piece, that they should get a high grade.
The second piece we watched was by TM, CV, JA and TS (all acting) and they hired me to do their lighting for the performance, as they could not have everyone acting and still have a person left to control it. Their piece was loosely devised from a scene in the Clockwork Orange and was a scene in which someone’s mind was wiped of memories, resulting in heartbreak for his brother, who tried to replenish the memories, through the use of photographs.
The group’s use of lighting was extremely effective in creating atmosphere, as the monochrome set up created shadows that reflected the mood, which, mixed with the use of costume created an effect which we could all understand and invoked emotion into the heart of every audience member.
One coincidence for the performance was that, directly at a point in the performance when the characters were talking about TM crashing a car, a police car could be heard faintly in the distance, as though it was in one of the flashbacks with a film-like effect, making the scene, humorously, more tense and believable.
The final performance included SA, HC (acting), JR (sound technician) and me (stage management), and so I did not think I could give neither an unbiased view, nor a complete one – as I would have to describe it from afar. Therefore I delegated the task onto TM, to describe it. He said:
“The final performance was somewhat surreal, inviting us to investigate the meaning of the subconscious. Whilst the ubiquitous inception music was shunned in favour of spacey, resonating, celestial notes, the audience could tell that the performance began with the character in a dream. The use of lights here was brilliant, with flashing red and white spots and washes creating contrasts with each other to symbolise the characters confusion. The actors danced about on stage, painting and drawing invisible objects. As HC woke up, he was confused, revealing his own lack of knowledge at his escapades whilst dreaming. He noticed his drawings on the floor. Having sat down, and doing a realistic crossword, SA entered. The ensuing dialogue explained the two characters- HC hadn’t been sleeping properly. Recently, he had left/lost his job, whereas SA was continuing to work hard. The contrasts between the respective characters’ idiosyncrasies created a realistic relationship, but it could have been improved by developing the characters a bit more, allowing the actors talent to invite the audience to share in their story. Following more dialogue, in which SA finds the drawings, HC becomes angry, then quickly ashamed. SA makes him take some sleeping pills, with the result that, following the next trance-like scene, HC claims he “can build it.” He persuades SA to build whatever it is, before sitting in a chair whilst industrial sounding music plays and SA vaguely moves about his head- whilst this meant that the end of the story lacked explanation and focus, all of the audience enjoyed the gothicism, reminiscent of Shelley’s Frankenstein. When SA switched the device on, HC went limp, before the over-enthusiastic techy started his round of applause. Overall, an impressive performance, if somewhat lacking in character development and progression.”
Photographs of the performance will be posted soon.
picture from www.cromwellcc.org.uk