After we had looked at how to use different explorative strategies and learned new skills, we were told that we had to develop those ideas and put them to the test by using them to perform a 10 minute extract from the script. We were put into groups of four. I was in a group with Annabelle Miles, Alex O’Connor and Luke Griffiths. We were told that we could use as much of and whatever parts of the script that we wanted to use. The project was a long process and took a lot of thought and we had to make sure that our ideas combined worked effectively.
In our groups we had to decide what parts of the script we were going to select for our extracts. In my group we talked about cross cutting, but then thought that it would take away the structure that we felt was necessary in the play (Scaramouche as a child to an adult) so we decided to keep the chronological order. We then thought about whether to do each of the Seven White Masks of Scaramouche Jones. I felt that it was possible to do each of the seven masks within the given time quite easily and effectively, so long as we kept them brief and only used the key parts of the script. I thought this would be best because I thought it was vital to show each of the critical stages through Scaramouche’s life and all of the changes and events he has to deal with. I felt that to remove one of these would take key moments away from the piece. The rest of the group agreed that using parts of the script from each of the white masks would be efficient.
The next step was deciding what roles we were to take and who would say what lines. We decided that Luke would be the best candidate to play Scaramouche, as he works well with paragraphs of speech rather than short lines, and can interpret a long set of lines much better. I took the part of Scaramouche’s mother, Alex took the part of Yazu the Snake Charmer and we all made up for other small parts.
We then began to discuss how we would develop the script and what ideas we would use. We needed to decide what elements of drama and drama mediums we would use in our piece. The three main elements of drama we decided to focus on were contrast, characterisation, and dramatic form (physical theatre.) The main drama mediums we focused on were costume, make-up, lighting, movement and gesture, and voice.
The difficult aspect of this was deciding how we could interpret different sections of the script. We all had different ideas about what would work and be effective. For instance I felt in some cases we were leaving out critical lines from the script, whereas the others in my group thought that leaving a gap in the text left the audience with something to think about, and that we shouldn’t necessarily give it all away by feeding the audience with too much of the script. I understood their views and agreed too that this would be a better skill.
The good thing about our group was that once we started the ideas just kept flowing, we were constantly coming up with new fresh things to add and we were able to piece everything together quite easily.
Main Elements of Drama that we used.
In our piece we focused on this element quite a lot. My first character, (Scaramouche’s mother) was a gypsy whore. So I decided to concentrate mainly on the body language of this woman. She is a character who is a prostitute, is vulgar, and doesn’t care at all about her son. So I took these facts about the character and put them into my body language. My walks were sassy and slow, and I swung my hips with my shoulders high. This demonstrated the fact that she was vulgar and had to be sexy to attract ‘customers’. With regards to Scaramouche, I never looked at him and was violent with my ‘affection’. For instance when Scaramouche delivered the line “to the ravishing nuptial embrace of that…” on the word embrace I stroked his hair, but in such a violent way that his head was forced backward. This demonstrated her lack of consideration for Scaramouche effectively.
We used this a number of times throughout our performance. Contrast in a piece gives a sense of bringing the production to life. With no changes a production does not usually hold the audience’s interest. Our main use of contrast was during the comic execution scene. We decided to take the lines “He would wink at them, pull faces, and laugh hugely” and deliver them as if I Annabelle and Alex were one of the children watching him in this act. Therefore these lines we delivered with a child like innocence, animated facial expressions with an excited tone, each word over exaggerated and presented loudly. Whilst delivering these lines we made sure our body language also reflected that we were excited children. We then went into a very sudden contrast by delivering the lines “acting out a silent pantomime of the execution that was about to take place” with no expression what so ever, a completely blank face, and made sure that we spoke them as quietly as possible, pausing at the very end of the line. This created a dramatic impact on the audience, because the sudden contrast left them with the final contrasted lines to think about.
Through the work that we had previously done with human scenery, our group realised that we should not take the idea of physical theatre so literally and maybe try to incorporate it in a creative and abstract way. We decided to do this in a number of different points in the play. There was one moment in the play where Scaramouche is talking about the young girl’s feet. He says “to a worms eye view of feet: … the bare dusky feet of a young girl” On the first ‘feet’ Alex, Annabelle and I thrusted our feet out from behind the curtains, and when the words “of a young girl” are delivered by Luke, the three of us fidgeted our feet, spreading the toes and playing with our feet just as a little girl would do. This emphasised the fact that Scaramouche was about to marry not a woman but a child.
Main Drama Mediums that we used
Voice is one of the key things an actor must focus on. They must always concentrate on different tonality and expression within their voice; these should be different depending on the situation within the script. Naturally we focused on this medium quite a lot. “My name is Yerko and my sister’s daughter is a disappear! I say non e Vero!” These are the lines that my character Yerko, the young gypsy’s uncle delivers in a state of protest. He is extremely upset at this point and on breaking point. I made sure I demonstrated this with my expression and my voice, making my voice loud, fast and furious, almost shouting on the lines when he was protesting about the things my niece has been called, but I made my voice softer and slower as if I was heart broken when the character started to talk about how much he is worried about her and how upset he was. Using this technique makes the piece much more interesting and has a greater impact on the audience.
Movement and Gesture
This was a very important aspect to our piece. We used movements and gestures a number of times throughout the drama instead of just speaking the lines directly, we would communicate these lines through our bodies only, while another voice spoke the lines off stage. This added variety in our piece and gave a change.
How We Used The Space
We decided to have the audience either side of the drama studio so that a runway was created. We used this runway so that the audience had a rounder view of the performance. By creating this runway there was more of the audience for us to interact with on both sides instead of them just being in front of us. On certain occasions a few of us sat ourselves in the audience and performed our piece so that the audience members became automatically more involved. A Floor map of the space is shown below.
By using the explorative strategies we learned early in the project, we were able to do develop them into our 10 minute extracts successfully and effectively. I feel that our performance went smoothly and we carried out the task that was set in the right way. We gained positive feedback from our audience members; the one piece of constructive criticism was to make sure that we shared the lines a bit more equally next time as Luke had a lot to say. That is definitely something to work on in future performances. I enjoyed my time working through the play of Scaramouche Jones, it helped me to gain new skills and I learnt a lot of new techniques that I will continue to use in the future.