In this essay I will be comparing my devised performance of the gender unit, preformed on 16th February 2007, with my scripted performance of “Been So Long” written by Che Walker, which was preformed on the 30th March 2007. I will be comparing character, style, mood, design, music, and lighting.
For style I will be deciding which theatrical method is used, Stanislavski’s or Brecht’s Method. Brecht believed in breaking the fourth wall and trying to make the play as unrealistic as possible by using flash backs, monologues, freeze frames, placards ect.
But on the other hand Stanislavski thought differently he believed in making the play as realistic as possible to make the audience believe that they were not watching a play but actually watching real life events he achieved this by having every thing in chronological order and making it as naturalistic as possible making by making the actors think like their character would, by making the actors consider the “Magic If” – if this was REAL how would I react?, also Stanislavski believed in the 4th wall, the fourth wall was used to make the play seem more realistic by acting as if the audience was not there. We use this technique a lot to make plays more realistic.
We based the gender performance on the fact that one of the characters would be changing gender.
We decided to have a character change gender because she was outraged by the stereotype that women are more vulnerable than men. She changes into a man to escape the continuous comments since her friends rape “be careful, you are more vulnerable now”. I played a disturbed character, who was overprotective of his cousin and helps her change gender; however, he has a dark side with a violent history, during the play he captures and attacks the other characters in the play with intent to kill them until he is apprehended by the police.
The Piece was preformed in the Brechtian Style, and repetitively broke the 4th wall using numerous monologues and flashbacks to make the story clear to the audience ensuring they know exactly what has happened in the past, and what the characters feel about the events. Monologues were also used to allow the audience to get inside the characters head to understand what they are thinking and feeling and at the same time they remind the audience that it is not real.
The lighting that was used was important to the success of the play, we used quite simple lighting for the whole play, but when it was time for a monologue, the lights were dimmed apart from a single spotlight in the centre of the stage, this would ensure that all of the audience attention was on the character giving the monologue, enhancing the audiences understanding on what was being said. In the flashbacks the lighting was also important, we used quite dim lighting with strong hints of red, to guarantee the audience were aware that the time and place had changed.
For Music, we used songs that were related to out theme, in the gender changing scene we used the song “Dude looks like a Lady” and various other related songs. These songs offer additional support to the audiences understanding of the plot, they help set the scene. The music and a phone ringing were the only non-diegetic sounds in the play, we did not use any diegetic sound.
The language used by the characters in dialogues and monologues was informal as it was mostly between friends.
We had two main sets, we had a bar/common area and also a bedroom and these were the only places used in the eight scenes of the play.
The overall mood of the piece was quite tense and serious, we maintained this mood through the use of tense scenes and serious and creepy characters. We used Brecht’s theatrical method in our play, as we made the play as unrealistic as possible, rather that making it realistic in the style of Stanislavski. To ensure that play was unrealistic we used Brecht’s idea of “Vefremdungseffekt” and broke the 4th wall constantly through the use of flashbacks and monologues, also the play was made unrealistic by the fact that the audience knew one of the characters was a woman dressed as a man.
Most of the characters were unaware that the male character was in-fact a female; this was however revealed to the characters in the play in the final violent scene. If I were to improve this performance, I would have used a split scene to reduce the duration of the set changes, this would make the play fast paced and easier for the audience to watch and follow. Also it would have been a much more enjoyable play to act as we would not have had to have long scene changes in the dark.
I believe that this play is completely different to “Been So Long”.
In the performance of “Been So Long” I played a middle aged man called Barney. He is a barman, in a bar in Camden. He is a confident, kind, caring and independent man, who has experienced a lot over his time as a barman and has toughened up to working in rough areas.
This character is completely different to the over-protective violent and disturbed character I played in the improvisation.
The style of “Been So Long” was also completely different form the gender unit improvisation. We preformed the play in the style of Stanislavski, ensuring that the performance was as realistic as possible, and we ensured that all the actors involved in this production were considering the “Magic If”- If this was REAL, how would I react? We did not use monologues and flashbacks. The storyline however was made clear by the characters talking about the past; this is another reason that flashbacks were not required. The audience was able to understand what the characters thought and felt with out the use of monologues; instead they understand this by what the characters say to each other, while still maintaining the realism.
We used sound in a similar way to the improvised piece; the songs we used were related to the theme of the play we chose rock songs from the 90s, which were most likely to be played in an unpopular bar. The music had an immediate effect on the audience; they enabled the audience to understand the theme and setting of the play. However the music was non-diegetic because although the audience hear it the characters had no response to the music.
The way the lighting was used was also similar to the improvises piece, as we hardly changed the lighting throughout the whole play, the lighting was hardly of no importance as it was not at all interesting, though it did have a great effect on the mood in the bar. The light was dim showing that the bar was unpopular almost although it were deserted, this calm light would help show contrast during the louder more active scenes.
The language used in “Been So Long” was informal all the way through and a lot of slang was used. The overall mood in the play is quite comical yet serious, however the audience would not find the funny moments funny enough to laugh but throughout the play the audience would be able to sympathise with all the characters at one stage during the play, it was also at times quite tense to watch with high levels of action with some explosive scene. The set was a simple bar scene with a bar and a single table with two chairs, no set changes were necessary as the whole play was set in the same place and time.
The set has very few similarities with the set used in the gender unit.
I believe that this piece was much more successful, than the gender unit and I am unable to find any improvements that could be made, possibly a different choice of music or lighting.
The biggest difference between the two pieces was the practitioner’s styles that were used. The pieces both use the styles of ether Stanislavski or Brecht.
Overall the two pieces have been well preformed with limited changes that can be made.