Evaluation of final performance- devised piece

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The purpose of our piece was to inform the audience of what actually went on in the German labour camps, and to inform the audience of what it was like to be a child in year 1960’s in the time when there were so many problems with Northern Ireland (and still today and before that). We intended to inform you of the sly and inhuman ways in which the Germans tricked Jews into their own death, how families were split apart, and the vicious ways in which they were killed. In the improvisation we wanted to show how difficult it was in Northern Ireland, going to holy cross primary school / high school where there were shootings.

We really wanted the audience to feel how so many people died just for the area which they lived in and the religion which they followed. How the teenagers felt, knowing that they could get killed even though they had done nothing wrong. We wanted to show you the amount of power and punishment that goes on in the world that we can barely even think we understand. We decided to organise our work in this way: * Improvisation * Poem * Arbeit Macht Frei scripted piece.

We organised our material in such a way that we hoped we would get the effect that the improvisation was fairly modern 1970’s (proven by references to modern material e. . the exorcist film) we wanted to perform the poem in the middle of the improvisation and Arbeit Macht Frei so that it is easy to take in the information we were giving be cause there wasn’t so much direct performing of it such as moving a lot or running. Our set design for the whole three sections was extremely basic, and I think not very effective as something more detailed would have been. On set for the improvisation we had a plain black piece of cloth in the middle of the floor which represented the wall between the catholic and the protestant communities.

I think the cloth was effective though because without it a lot of the acting would have made sense e. g. when the doll is thrown over the wall in the childhood scene, the children’s reactions would have been ambiguous to the audience because it should not be so bad to throw a doll over to some other children, but because of the symbolism of the cloth it looked as though there was a wall. The cloth was the main prop on stage throughout the improvisation but was taken away when we were performing the fantasy sections (what life would be like without the wall and the problems of the religions battling out against each other).

During the teenage fantasy section of the improvisation we had three chairs on stage which were symbolising a bench. This was also helpful to convey our age to the audience as a common park bench is a popular place for teenagers to gather. IN Arbeit Macht Frei we didn’t have man y props except for a wicker basket which symbolised the suitcase in the scene where the Jews are all moving into one room. I don’t think this particular prop helped to make the play any better but still it helped bring it to life rather than improvising all the time.

The costumes in the entire devised piece were very simple, all black. We chose this because they were versatile and symbolic. Black is a very depressing colour and conveyed our emotions throughout the play. As children early on I wore a hat to break the severity of black so that I would look less worried and tense, and more playful like a 7 yr old. When Rachael was acting as a ghost during the scene where I am on my own she wore all black, this portrayed the idea of heaven and being in peace, and also the purity and the fact of trying to prove she’s innocent.

The doll at the beginning which was thrown over the fence was the most effective prop in my eyes. It drew attention to the fact that we could not see over the wall, by the fact that we had to look directly at the doll as if a bomb had come over the wall. The doll was not just a toy, but a symbol of the confusion that went on in the little girl’s minds. I think that some of the most successful moments in the play were: at the start of Arbeit when we were all laid on the floor in a pile of dead bodies, just slung over each other.

And equally when we all went back to lie down after our last line of it. This was effective because it was as though we were all telling our story coming back from the dead to do so. I also think that in the improvisation when Dominique, Isabelle and Kathryn were all coral speaking form behind the curtains when I was laid on the chairs (representing the bed). This was particularly effective because it appeared ad though I was having night mares, and they were in them but you could still actual here what they were saying loud and clear on set.

I think the most effective part of the whole devised piece however was when we were pretending to be in the cattle truck, all of our facial expressions were realistic at looking scared, our eyes were flickering around our bodies were hunching up to make ourselves appear to be squashed. The curtains were closed and all the lights were turned off. When we were let out of the truck the curtains were opened and we all ran out. We began to breathe heavily showing that there had been a lack of oxygen supply in the truck.

This scene was particularly effective because I think we were all a lot more in character than anywhere else in the rest of the play. When I first came on stage I wanted to appear younger than I was straight away. WE came on form the audience to create a different feel and approach to entering the stage. I think it was also was quite intimidating for the actors to just run out of the audience. I ran on making my pretend gun as fake looking as possible (rather than improvising holding a gun I made my hands into a gun which is very childish).

I came on singing and wanted my voice to sound very high and immature. I was a little bit disappointed with this however because my voice seemed a lot lower than I had imagined it would sound. If I were to do that child voice again I would enunciate my words a lot more to create a very young, trying to be grown up, type attitude. My facial expressions here were quite pleasing however. As I pretended to shoot Dominique I tried to make my face as “into” the game as possible, I raised my eyebrows exagerateldly here to create the young eccentric child look.

When I was getting told off for swearing by Dominique, Kathryn and Isabelle, I tried really hard to look as though I was terrified of the things they were telling me. I stuck my bottom lip out and bent my head down but made my eyes focus higher than my head. Little children think that this technique of looking “cute” will get them out of trouble. When they started to be really mean I tried to fake crying really badly. Most children don’t actually shed a tear when they cry because they aren’t upset but they think they will gain attention by crying hysterically, however young children are terrible actors.

To do this I closed my eyes and screwed them up tightly and cried on a high pitch voice with sound but no sniffs or sobs. When Rachael and I were being young protestant children, and I was explaining to her about the Catholics holy communion , I sat down with my legs crossed and played with the soles on my shoes. I think my voice was better here as it sounded a it higher and I think I was more aware of my role as a young child. I think I could have used the stage better here and used more space to create the openness young children have about themselves.

When we had to freeze when the other half of the group were talking I stared and kept forceful eye contact on a member of the audience to make them feel intimidated. AS a teenager I walked on from the right hand side of the curtain, I walked on dancing around in a casual way. However Dominique and Kathryn also did this which we did not plan in the rest of the rehearsals and therefore it didn’t look casual, more forced like we were trying to say “we were children a minute ago, now we’ve changed to teenagers which means we’ve got to act over confident”.

I intended to look confident when I was sat down, to show the contrast later on to my upset character, however, even though I felt confident on the stage I appeared to look uneasy because I sat with my legs crossed and my arms folded around my stomach, showing my insecurity about it. Because the age was too similar to my own I forgot to enunciate my words as much as I should have done, because it was live theatre not television.

I was really disappointed about my body language as it should have been far more open to match with the way in which I spoke- open and free in a laughing way- exaggerating phrases like “oh my god you’ll never guess what”. I moved my hand around a lot when I spoke which was deliberately done so I could try and reflect the age I was. However, my arm around my stomach really did take the edge and concentration about the confidence of the rest of my body language, and therefore I was out of character for this period of time.

When I had my scene where I was shouting at Rachael , Dominique and Isabelle I first of all started of with confuses facial expressions and frowned lot to try and show this. As the tension built up my volume increased, when I got seriously annoyed with them I started screaming because I was distraught with what they had done. I really got into character and felt that they had killed my sister and the anger I felt I stamped out on the floor and I flung my arms around mimicking hitting the wall, clearly wishing I was hitting them but getting more upset because I could not see them.

My body became more hunched over as I screamed at them, almost accepting defeat. When I was laid on the bed talking to my self I was pleased about the way I moved when I was having flash backs of what the girls had said to me. I was fidgeting and moving my arms around me conveying the anger I was feeling for them. I spoke quite slowly here which showed that I had become weak and I also held my head further down to show I had lost confidence. In Arbeit Macht Frei my emotions were much less open and flaunted. Throughout my speeches when I was talking to the audience I kept a strict eye focus towards the front of the stage.

When I was reading things such as “by order” I tried to have no expression on my face so the audience would listen to the powerful words which would follow. When I walked over to Isabelle I looked at my feet as I walked and walked slow, I felt upset because I had to sell my grandmothers wedding ring, I locked the ring close to my heart and trailed my feet along the floor trying to make each step last longer. However when I watched the video I saw that I walked balleticly and looked as if I was walking up to someone to kill them or something.

I think I exaggerated the worried look on my face too for what I was actually doing. I think generally I worked well, however, from watching the video there are many things I wil intend on improving; body language- I need to realise I don’t need to be confident about simone when I am acting, just about the character I am playing (I mean it doesn’t matter if I am not confident about my self just play the part of the character I am playing- if the character loves her self act like I love myself)

I also need to use the stage better and perhaps walk to the front more to gain respect from the audience by making them empathise with me by feeling they have to feel my tension because I am so close. It’s easier for them to just watch when you are further away from them however when you are close up to them they have no choice than to empathise with you (if the plays/improv’ written well and you are a good enough actor or actress! )

I think I showed a fairly supportive commitment to my group as I was the only one to have full attendance and come to all the after school rehearsals (but it’s just fortunate for me that I can attend them all) I tried hard for us all to get a deserved grade. Isabelle’s strengths are undoubtedly her speech. She has a clear enunciated voice which travels and has a prestigious quality too it, this is very effective when she is narrating as it makes her sound very mature. Moreover when she is a teenager she uses her versatile voice skills, talking quicker, to make her role more believable.

However I think that her weakness is acting as a child, her voice is slightly too exaggerated and more humorous than a realistic child, because it is more higher and squeaky. Isabelle put a lot of hard work into making this a success e. g. buying the gladiator soundtrack which created the music for our performance. She definitely made up for any time missed due to injury. Dominique has many strong points in her acting but I think her best bit in the devised piece was in Arbeit Macht Frei when she gave me grandmothers wedding ring.

She touched my arm which looked like very caring body language which made my acting a lot easier, to create a shy role because she mothered me. Her weakness was very clear to me and was only small but very noticeable, she couldn’t keep her hands still when talking, she has a great voice projection however this was occasionally spoilt by the fact that she was fidgeting with her hands- probably obliviously-and therefore the audience’s attention was drawn to her hands. Kathryn’s strongest points were in Arbeit Macht Frei when she was being a begging child, she made her eyes look pleading and her body hunched over.

This was so effective and yet she quickly got into this character making the piece very concise. Her weakness’ were as a teenager I think. In my opinion she tried to act too old and like herself in the teenage reality section (our weakest section I think) which made her look too much like her self rather than the character she was supposed to play. Rachael’s voice was very quiet throughout the play which was her main weakness I think, if she had projected her voice more it would have been a lot more powerful.

Also her costume was quite a lot different to everyone else’s, she wore dark purple, everyone else black, which looked slightly out of place. although Rachael was very good in the child hood fantasy part, (when she swore after I did) I was the one which was talking and she showed that she was younger than me superbly by literally looking up at me and saying yes after everything I said, as a shy child would do when cowering behind and older brother or sister. If I did the entire devised piece again I would change many things.

I would certainly make my group stick to ideas more therefore leaving us with more rehearsal time to scrub up on things such as fidgets! I would learn my lines as quick as possible too which would also help us have a more polished final piece. I would make the lighting a lot more brighter and symbolic e. g. more red and blue lighting to represent the Catholics and the protestants. I would suggest having a real barrier (card board) to make it more effective and understandable for the audience.

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