We held a six hour drama workshop in which a number of tasks were completed, studied and analysed. We concentrated on 2 drama texts, the first of which being an artefact – namely a shoe. We were asked to hold and look at it, so as to name it. I saw the shoe as old and well worn – with its tattered leather, putrid – from its long life and probably peculiar in the fact that is was by itself – not part of its original set.
The second drama text we used was Grandpa’s Shoes – Deborah Chandra. This was a poem that Mrs. Awbery read to us:
Lying by the back door,
Speak in a husky whisper:
‘Step inside,’ they say.
We’re big and bruised
And scuffed, but
Down past the tough
We’ve worn ourselves soft
We’ve been somewhere.
I saw the poem as relative to the shoe that had been shown to us, as it was very similar to what I saw – big, scuffed and bruised which I interpreted as battered or well-worn.
We were asked to name the shoe’s owner to begin an identity of it. I worked with Sean for this task. Our ideas for the names were –
* Steve – Sean and I met a one-shoed tramp named Steve
* Half-dead Joe – a mutual friend has a similar pair of shoes and it immediately seemed to work, especially as the nickname – half-dead – could be used for both of them
* Albert – again there are a great many old people named Albert, especially Grandfathers – as in Grandpa’s Shoes
The group then read out their ideas, including – Albert
The name agreed on was ‘Jack.’
Though-tracking is an explorative strategy used to find out more about other’s ideas by creating a continuous piece of text whilst in character. We had to complete the sentence, ‘I can remember…’ which was used because it brought out many different ideas in different individuals as they could take that where they wanted. I found this a great way of producing my own ideas without influence from other people’s thoughts and fairly easy as I have an imaginative mind and I believe I write well.
My sentence was:
‘I can remember when we used this shoe to smoke a magical herb through to expand our minds so as to transport ourselves into a different world.’
Narrating / storytelling
The next activity we did was to continue with our story in groups of three, but due to the number of people, Sean and I had to work with no-one else. We were to take on the role of a storyteller with the other saying, “extend/advance,” so as to add more detail, but not too much. Firstly we had a brainstorm about how to tell an effective story.
In the ‘Extend/Advance’ task there were three parts:
Storytelling – One person has to tell their story as well as possible
Extending – One person used this twice so the storyteller could add more information and detail
Advancing – The last person says this only after extend has been used to indicate to the storyteller that he should carry on with the actual events
Marking the Moment
Marking the moment is used as a strategy to create the most important part in a story, using image through physically positioning and sometimes includes making objects representing something in the story or scene. We made an object out of paper that was representative of our personal story that we had created earlier on in the Thought-tracking activity. I made a rolled-up cigarette in which the beneficial herbs were smoked through.
The still image we created was of a violent scene with myself in the act of beheading Ben, for an unknown reason to the audience, whilst Sean and Pritesh were interlocking their swords so as to create a fight scene within the scene already created.
Hotseating is the act of asking questions to a person whilst they are in role of character so as to generate a clearer picture of what the person intends to do in the play – what the character feels and thinks. It is often used so as all actors and actresses in a play can understand other and so work more comfortably together and create a clearer play with no contradictory facial expressions, tones of voice or otherwise. Although I had to leave before the Hotseating activity I caught up on what was asked by others from Sean. My group consisted of an absent me, Sean, Pritesh and Ben. An example of Hotseating comes from the questions asked by Sean to Ben;
– In the first scene, where there is the beheading, what will your facial expression be whilst being executed?
– I will be scared, so I will have very open eyes in a typical scared expression and mouth slightly moving so as to create a feeling of prayer
– How will you make your entrance onto the stage?
– With Murray dragging and shoving me forth I will stumble a lot, head bowed, not catching any eyes in the audience as a statement of my imminent fate
Creating a New Story
I worked with Sean, Ben and Pritesh to create a completely new story. This new story was of an execution taking place in medieval times whilst someone fights to save the convicted criminal of their fate. The medieval idea was put forth by Vineet initially but it seemed as though a number of people had the same idea during the Still Image task. We were given a number of ideas including –
* A scene within a scene of two different stories which met
* A gangland murder by decapitation with a fight ensuing with the two other characters
* A medieval happening with the same idea as the gangland killing but within a different time period
How we created our new story
We were asked to go and sit in our groups for a while to decide on one of the suggested storylines that had been put forwards by other members of the class. We discussed the pros and cons of each story and which would be the most interesting to do for the audience with the available equipment. The scene within a scene was relevant but created the problem of how to go about making this division obvious to the audience without taking the emphasis away from the actual storyline(s). We decided that the medieval beheading with the fight ensuing because of the fate was probably the best of the choices we were given as it could include a number of dramatically techniques and could be done easily without any specialist equipment.
We were talking to each other and gave each other the chance to speak their ideas and we gave positive criticism to some ideas that were either too far-fetched or ideas that did not appeal to many members. We all eventually agreed that the medieval beheading was the best and so we began to give out parts to each other based on who we thought would be the most suited to the role and what people wanted to do. With 5 characters needed I was given the role of 2 characters. We needed a murderer – so as to give a reason for the beheading, a victim – to be murdered, two characters – to fight and an executioner – to behead the criminal. We decide it easiest to give the victim and the executioner to the same person, which was decided as me. This was because, with a simple costume change such as putting on a coat, it would avoid any confusion as to what was going on. Ben was to be the criminal and Sean and Pritesh were chosen to be the ones that fought the main battle during the execution.
Extend / Advance
My title was – ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’
When Sean said, “extend,” I was forced to concentrate on the actual world in which the characters had entered – giving minute detail about colour and the non-existent things they were seeing which was extremely difficult as it had to be done on the stop, without any deliberation before. I also had to concentrate on describing the substance they were smoking which was not hard as it did not have to contain such minute detail as was used before. I added the following details to my story to develop the depth:
* The way the trees were moving – ‘swaying in and out as though they were alive and trying to catch me’
* The sounds of the music that had appeared – ‘deep, dark, low-key music that scared me to the ends of the world, making me feel like the walking dead’
* The colour of the substance – ‘green with dots of white in it, like a polka-dot shirt’
* The feeling of the substance – ‘sticky like a child’s fingers after eating 1p sweets purchased on a sunny day’
My storyboard for the ‘new’ story after the still image task
The Elements of Drama
The Medium of Drama
Our use of the Explorative Strategies
The Sharing of the Final Pieces of Drama
Each group was asked to create the same piece of drama 3 times:
Firstly with music and no words
Secondly with one word per character
Thirdly with a sentence per character
The first performance with the music was done very successfully. The music managed to create a greater tension than that of any other time it was performed as the climaxes of the music seemed to link in with those of the play. It was discussed by the group and everybody agreed that the music created a greater tension and also created a better atmosphere when needed. It also appeared to keep people in time with each other and each play in which people were moving simultaneously – with Richard, Tristan, William and Lyle 3 of them were digging at the same time, throwing away the dirt from their shovels in the same actions and with another group consisting of Amardeep, Tyrone and Satish where they were walking reading a treasure map all together – gave the impression of a well choreographed piece of drama. The music also made people more aware of what was going on which was paradoxical in the fact that at a guess you would have put money on the plays with speech being a lot clearer. Maybe actions really do speak more than words.
The second performance did not have the same impact for me as the previous one did. With very little sound there was no real tension created and it became boring for all of the plays, with no fault of the actors, without this medium. There seemed to be an emptiness which was only filled during the short time that the actors spoke their one word. It also made it a lot less easy to understand what was happening and at points I was completely lost. I found this the least useful of the strategies and it was hard to decide on the word that was to be used as, more often than not, there are multiple points in a play which are just as important as each other and which all justified a word being put in their place to make them important to the characters. I found our play lacking conviction with the single word and so I found myself not performing to the best of my ability.
The final performance was a lot more understandable than the second, but it was still not as convicting as the first time when music was used. The sentence used was difficult to create as it was hard to steer clear of creating more of a conversation with each character having a sentence rather than separate sentences which could have been used to emphasise the importance of 4 different scenes or goings on in the play. It made it very hard as a performer but still enjoyable as it presented a task that was hard to overcome and possibly one of the most difficult and awkward tasks of the workshop.
Successful aspects about the workshop and why
I found that the workshop was a great way of creating different pieces of drama within a basic idea. It managed to bring out ideas that would previously have passed me by and led to a greater understanding of the mediums of drama and the aspects within a play.
I thought that the ways of using drama mediums – Still Image, Extend/Advance, etc. – were extremely effective ways of learning more about others ideas on a constant topic.
The actual performances were useful in the fact that they gave everyone an equal chance to perform their ideas and also gave practise for when the actual examination of performance comes around.
What I have learnt from the Drama Workshop
I learnt that it is essential for a play to listen to others ideas so as to create an invariable view in a group of how each character should look, feel and perform. This means that everyone can perform easily with each other
I also learnt about different aspects of drama, such as hotseating, which was previously unknown to me. It is needed for creating a solid piece of drama.
I learnt about how to create a still image that was not only relevant, but important to the play. I used to choose any point when doing this but I learnt that it was important to choose your moment carefully.
The final thing I learnt was that drama is not an easy thing to do. It takes a lot of energy and commitment and listening to others views patiently before putting your own forth. It can be very tiring and sometimes aggravating when you are waiting to be heard and it seems as though everyone else goes before you.