Brechtian Performance- Combining Themes Essay Sample
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Brechtian Performance- Combining Themes Essay Sample
For our ‘Epic Theatre’ piece we decided to combine the Christian biblical story of ‘Adam and Eve’ with the social issue of safe sex. Our plan was to use the Roman Catholics’ views of safe sex (their view being that condoms are a ‘sin’ as every sperm is sacred and should not be ‘wasted’) but instead of encouraging anti-safe sex we attempted to ‘poke fun’ at this view (because in today’s modern society, safe sex is already accepted as a means of preventing STDs and teen pregnancy). We tried to turn the Roman Catholics’ views on safe sex into a comedy of sorts, bringing out how ridiculous we personally think it is to not have safe sex in order to influence our audience into believing safe sex is a good thing to be practicing (the act of being safe, not actually sex itself).
I played the narrator, my ‘job’ was to address the audience and explain the story by giving an introduction of what our piece was about. But instead of introducing our group’s piece in a conventional way, I spoke and referred to myself in third person while giving stage directions. This was to meet the criteria as well as to tailor our theatre piece into the style of Brecht. To go further with this idea we had ‘God, played by Jasmin, directly confront our ‘stage crew’ about her ‘theme song’ and the audience by directly telling them who she was (her lines were simply, “I am God”). This implied that the characters in the play had a semi-awareness that they were in fact in a play (all while staying in role). Also, during the same scene we tried to use a sort of juxtaposition in the scene by playing the well-known song ‘We Will Rock You’ by Queen. We consider this juxtaposition because general imagery of God is depicted as being serene and calm, whereas the song ‘We Will Rock You’ has more attitude, angst and overall grit (which is practically the opposite of what God ‘is’).
Another technique from the list of criteria we used was the placards. Placards were incorporated into the scene where God is spouting what we tried to make sound like nonsense (but clear enough so that the audience could understand it was about Adam and Eve). While the God was blabbering on “go forth and multiply”, the narrator held up the a placard that had ‘make babies’ written on it to not only clarify what God was saying but to also add in some comic relief. Now referring back to the scene when Jasmin made her entrance playing God (the scene with her and her ‘theme song’), when she walked in at the beginning of the scene, we decided to place a single spotlight on her to symbolize that she came down from heaven (being God and all). We also tried to make it symbolize knowledge, which we would later try to parody this concept with the idea of God being a ‘dim’ character.
We also tried to incorporate dramatic gestures in our piece. For example when Jasmin first came out and introduced herself as God, she used wide hand gestures to show how ‘high and mighty’ she is in the story. Adam and Eve’s (played by Ryan and Stephanie, respectively) characters were based upon the very clich, ‘high school, jock cheerleader sweethearts’. We also tried to incorporate modern slang and language with words such as ‘legit’ and ‘totally’ (stereotypical ‘teenage’ language that an increasing amount of teenagers find annoying and hardly ever use, which is where the comedy stems from). More of the comedy comes from how Adam hints that he isn’t really committed into the relationship, whereas Eve is head-over-heels. The freeze frame technique was also used in our theatre piece when Adam and Eve both freeze during the entrance of Snake/Satan. For a more comedic impact, during Adam and Eve’s sex scene they hid behind a curtain while flinging a large amount of clothing (suggesting getting naked) and random objects (for a comedic effect).
I think that our group used these techniques quite successfully as the reaction we got from our audience was positive (lots of laughter at things we planed and even didn’t plan for). As well as being entertaining, I think our audience understood the concept and the message wwe wanted to portray. Also, we used popular (if not clich) songs in our preformace and worried at first if anyone would find it funny. While unsure how to make a sex scene funny, we decided that instead of telling the audience ourselves we would let a song and actions do it for us, therefore we played ‘I believe in miracles’ while Adam and Eve were behind the curtains. Our audience got the idea. We also inserted a little play on verbal communication (using modern speech while in the era of Earth’s creation where it wouldn’t be possible). I believe that our Epic Theatre piece was successful in breaking the forth wall, not by a lot but successful none the less, and had engaged the audience well (by using techniques such as the placards and addressing the audience).
I played the ‘unconventional’ Narrator who referred to things in third person and stage directions. All my character was really doing was clarifying things to the audience (like with the placards over God’s head), introducing the play as well as ending it. I spoke about myself in terms such as, “the narrator enters, stage left” and “narrator proceeds to tell audience about…” At the end of the piece we realized might have convinced our audience a little too well that we promoting the issue of anti-safe sex, so just to make sure no one got the wrong idea the narrator summed everything up (using third person and stage direction statements, of course) how condoms should be used during sex.
Overall, I think our Epic theater piece was satisfactory.
In retrospect, however, I feel that our group could have used more appropriate techniques and involved the audience more in an attempt to break down ‘the fourth wall’ further than we did. I also feel that we could’ve tried to incorporate all of the techniques on the list, especially the ‘sing a song’ (we had altered the song ‘Every Sperm is Sacred’, but were all too nervous to sing it live so we cut it out at the last minute during the performance and that was one of the bad points as we had actually paused the show to talk to each other about it and the audience noticed).