For my GCSE coursework piece, my task was to do a respect project on Domestic violence. The Dramatic aim of my play was to inform people and make them aware of domestic violence. We decided that our target audience would be at the age of 15 and up to around adult age. This was mainly chosen because it was the right audience to be known what domestic violence should be about and, in some plays, the amount of violence and emotional side of the subject. This project was sponsored by a local group known as SERRIC who also supplied us with some facts and figures to use in our play.
In the first week of our workshop course we discussed mainly what we would be doing for the next few weeks. We then started to talk about power and status and what we think these were about. There were many different reasons to explain what domestic violence is about. I believe that status is mainly to do with the amount of control you have over somebody. I thought of this because when I think of status I believe that it is someone who has a higher amount of power over you. This could be at home or in the work place i.e. the relationship between an employer and employee.
We then talked about relationships between different people whether it was between a boyfriend and girlfriend or a friendship. We then asked to perform a small piece of drama on power and status to see what we thought of it through our drama. For my small piece it was decided, between two other people, to show two elements in the workplace. A woman and her boss who is younger than the woman. And then another very young woman who makes the first woman feel guilty of her age. We wanted to show this because I wanted to be able to show the relationship in society when it comes to age. Even though the woman was older than her boss, she is of a lower status. I found this very fun to enact. As it was nice to play around with the idea and something that not many people would have come up with.
In another workshop, we got into groups and were given different scenarios. We were able to show the outcomes in anyway that we could. The two that caught my eye the most was ‘A woman asks for directions in a car, she finds it hard to follow your directions and asks you to get in the car and show her the way’ The person walking along the pavement did so but backwards. This gave the effect that the car was actually pulling up towards the person. Then, after the girl refused to get in the car, two people jumped out, held her and then hit her over the head with a heavy weapon. This was very unexpected and would not be the first thing that I would of thought for this scenario. Even though it is not unheard of. I think that this workshop was used in contrast with safety and again power and status as many of the scenarios were about someone of higher power. There was also some peer pressure in the group.
In the next workshop, we were going to find out just how much we knew about domestic violence, peer pressure and others facts and figures for our initial ideas. We were asked to stand in the middle of the room and, when a fact was read out, go to the left if we thought it was true, to the right if it was false or stay in the middle if we were not sure. ” 83% of women were raped by someone they had already known” and ” Only 27% of men suffer as a result of domestic violence”. I think that this workshop was very good as it was able to see what we think we know about these facts and I feel that I learnt more than them just being read out loud to us. We were also able to hear everyone’s opinion of why they chose how true or false a fact/ figure was and what they think of the subject matter.
From these workshops I think I have become more aware of domestic violence and discrimination and, from the facts supplied, learning the outcomes of this violence. I believe that I have learnt a lot from these past few weeks and even know a little bit more about the world around me. I also had a clearer idea of what we were actually doing for our final project and even gain some ideas from the workshops and translate them into our final drama piece.
On the first day, I joined a group of about six people, me, Lindsay Rae, Michelle Foroughi, Kylie Bannister, Natalie Williams and Samantha Nichols. For our first rehearsals we sat down in a circle and wrote down ideas that everyone had so that everyone was apart of the play. Each person spoke clearly why he or she wanted to include this in the piece. We sat down with a piece of paper in hand and wrote down all the different ideas that we had and then thought what was the most important pieces we could use in our drama. We used all different kinds of things in media in our play. Recently, there was a court case surrounding domestic violence and we wanted the woman to go on trial for murdering her husband as a last resort to her years of suffering. We also wanted to narrate the story in some way. We decided to use the work of ‘Baz luhrmann’s Romeo & Juliet’ where in the beginning of the piece a newsreader is seen telling a part of the story and so used this to incorporate into our ideas. We then used some of our own ideas, building them into our own new and original piece.
Our character decision was simple. We needed a woman who, at first, is quite brave and like any other person but then begin to get very weak and small. The man, we decided, would not be angry and violent straightaway but would start with small unflattering remarks and progress slowly to becoming more violent. We also decided that the reason for why he hit her was that she was not able to have children. We also decided that we wanted to show children in the play and their views. We thought that the girl would be the father’s child from a previous marriage and thought that this would have more impact to see that the child would see her father beating this woman that she hardly knew.
We then decided on the minor characters. The doctor was to give the reason why he was beating her. The prosecution would ask questions about the marriage and their lifestyle. There was also a friend that was there so she could have someone close to her to talk to. Another character was that of a conscience played by the same person as the friend as we thought that this would shine through a bit more that she was cared about.
To get into all of our characters we decided to think of different scenes using the different character. One of the pictures was of the man, the woman and the doctor. This would be the scene where the couple find out for the first time that they are unable to have children. The people that were not in the scene then spoke out their thoughts about this scene. This helped us to develop our characters because we were able to use our facial expressions to see if people were getting the right point of view. This was done for several different pictures as well.
We also used the skill of thought tracking for each of the six characters. This is where People apart from the character would link hands to make an arch. The character would then go through the arch and say different things about the character going through the tunnel. This was very helpful as we were able to see what other people expected from the characters but it also helped us to get a bigger understanding of our roles. To also get into our characters, the minor ones e.g. the doctor, the prosecutor was asked to do small role – plays to get into our roles again. We then did the idea of hot seating for each of the characters. This is where the character is put on the spot and asked random questions from everyone. We did this to again get a clearer idea of all of our characters and to help us forward our play.
Once we had all got into the roles of our characters, we began working on our scenes. At first our ideas were to come from a different background i.e. a Jewish faith and religion. We decided that this would be a bit difficult for our audience to relate to and so they would become bored with it and lose touch with our play.
We decided there would be three different cross cutting scenes. The first would be the main stage where the past would happen, to the left would be the newsreaders space, and to the right would be all of the action of the courtroom this was done because it gave a big feel of the courtroom and the fact that this was a different scene to the rest of the action and also a different time – frame.
In the play I was to play two characters the daughter and the doctor. My initial impression of the daughter was that she was six years old and would be nasty towards her stepmother because she does not want her to replace her mother. So with this in mind I had to put on a very child-like voice and use child-like movements such as skipping, jumping and even fidgeting when sitting or standing still. My facial expressions were when I would talk to the woman; I would turn my back on her or look grumpy. When i would turn my back I would also cross my arms to give the impression that I was shutting her out of my life and that I also resented her. I wanted the character in the beginning to be a bit nasty towards others but then suddenly change into a nervous and frightened character who looks quite sad, to look as though I knew what was going on.
Over several weeks of rehearsals it was decided that six years old was very young for the daughter to be and so it was decided she was now twelve years old and would not be involved in many scenes. We had many different endings for our play and it was hard to decide which would be best suited. At first the characters in the climax scene were the Woman, The man and the daughter. We initially thought that the daughter was to be in the final scene where the daughter was to kill the man, this would more or less be the first time that the daughter had been present while being beaten. But in the end this was thought too complicated. I found out that this would be hard for me, as I would have to change the way I would act towards other characters and the way my voice was expressed. I then thought that I could add a little bit of how my sister spoke and acted towards others and incorporate that into my character this made it helpful for me to get into the role which was just changed In the end we kept it very simple and, because it was a court case, we showed two different events of the story by using a mime that flowed well with the piece.
The movement in the play, at the beginning was supposed to be very minimal as this would show that it has not been rushed and is not too much quick pacing. It is quite a calm setting. As the story progressed and got more violent it would become faster. We would also make sure that the scenes would flow nicely together.
I was mainly in the scenes of the past or the re-telling of the story to the courtroom. I used three different staging areas, the use of the floor, the use of the first level and the use of the second level. The floor level was used to show how small I was and how uncomfortable I had felt. This level was mainly used in my soliloquy. I would use the first floor when I would speak to a character when coming out of my soliloquy, when acting with other characters I would use the second level.
Throughout the play we needed a powerful way to get the characters out of a scene. If this were an amateur theatre, the use of lighting to signify a change of scene i.e. the use of blackout would be used. Unfortunately we did not have this amount of lighting and so had to use different techniques. We decided to use the drama technique of facing out. This was done for anyone who was not in a scene at the time. This was good as it showed a clean-cut scene flow from one to the next.
Before the night of actual performance we had to consider the use of costume, we all decided to wear Jeans as this was very comfy but it was also casual and so would look real. Then each character would wear a different coloured top to signify what they were. The main character wore White to show purity, as did the friend to show the same and also a friendship. The character of the man was a black top to show impurity and evil and then the prosecutor for the same thing. The daughter wore a lilac coloured top to represent her purity and the fact that it was supposed to be a young child. The newsreader also wore beige to signify the seriousness of the play.
During the development of the play the use of voice also had to be applied. For my character it was the changing of the characters age in later development. In the play I was to play two characters the daughter and the doctor. My initial impression of the daughter was that she was six years old and would be nasty towards her stepmother because she does not want her to replace her mother. So with this in mind I had to put on a very child-like voice and use child-like movements such as skipping, jumping and even fidgeting when sitting or standing still. My facial expressions were when I would talk to the woman; I would turn my back on her or look grumpy. When I would turn my back I would also cross my arms to give the impression that I was shutting her out of my life and that I also resented her. I wanted the character in the beginning to be a bit nasty towards others but then suddenly change into a nervous and frightened character who looks quite sad, to look as though I knew what was going on.
The night of our performance was to be
It was decided that our group were to go first. This was a bit nerve racking, as everyone’s play would be judged against our play. My main worry throughout the play was that we did not use enough drama techniques throughout the play and that we could of incorporated more into it. But when I thought through the play there were a lot of techniques, which worked really I was also worried that the audience would not understand my transition from the Daughter to the Doctor. I believe that this was run very smoothly though and I think it worked well and everyone established I was a different character. I mainly think this was due to my change in my voice, expression and movement. Another part of the play was I had forgotten a large chunk of my soliloquy and would stammer while I was saying this. This was a good ally for me as it showed I was deep in thought and it was hard for me to speak my words. Thankfully the audience did not realise I had forgotten my lines and ploughed through as normal. With the help of all of my other peers in the group, I really enjoyed the performance and thought every bit of it was a success. There were times when I thought this just wouldn’t work but it was all worthwhile and I am glad we did not cut some of our original ideas that eventually went into the play.
The audience was very large and actually ended up as quite a larger crowd than was expected. This felt a little bit nerve racking as we had to show all of these people our view on domestic violence and not many would agree on our views of the play.
For our play, we were asked to produce a display board to show people what our play was about and what we had collected as a result of this performance. On our display board, we put on tickets that we had made for the performance. We also put up a small poster that we had created. There were also various articles and a list of types of abuse because not many people would recognise these types of Domestic violence and we wanted to show exactly what it was. Pictures of Rehearsals were also put up on the display board to show behind the scenes aspects of the play.
Photographs of the performance were also taken. Many photos were taken, but not many of these showed off our real skills in the play as the camera carried a delay button and so some of the pictures were not very good.
As feed back from our play, many people were impressed with drama techniques and how they were used. They also said that they could feel that the drama piece could of actually been apart of real life. People also commented on how brave our group were that we went first. Many congratulations were also given. I believe that it was a successful night and thinking back, I would not say no about doing the performance in front of other people.
There were two other groups that performed during the night. The first one was titled ” Boys and Girls”. There were about 6 people in this group and I thought that this play was great because it didn’t show domestic Violence as I thought all groups would do. This play was also told as a story and the concept I found was very disturbing. I liked the way that the group slipped into two different characters, the boys and the girls and then doing a mixture of both in one scene. I think I mainly learnt from this play that those who were raped were done so by someone close to them.
The other group that performed on the night was titled ” Behind closed doors”. I loved how the play had started. It was a portrait of the family and another person who was the conscious describing what was happening in poetic form. It was also represented in symbolic form using a teddy bear for the daughter, a knife and fork for the wife and a vodka bottle for the husband. The same scene was played over three times but given an opinion from each member of the family. I really liked this play because of this reason. I think I learnt from the play that although a picture tells a thousand words, it is hard to really know what happens unless you are apart of it or are told about it.
The aim of our project was to raise awareness of respect to one another and the subject of Domestic violence. This is because Thurrock is one of the communities with the highest rates of domestic violence within the home and what roles men and women play. Many people don’t even realise that something is a form of domestic violence and wanted to raise the awareness that it was and for people to open their eyes and believe that it is a problem which people can escape and get help from.
From this whole experience I believe that I am more aware of domestic violence and the people around me. When I saw the many types of abuse there were out there it was very shocking as things that I didn’t even believe were problems in society from my life actually were. I have also learned to respect others, my peer group and even those who are of a younger or older age than myself. I believe that it has opened my eyes to the world around me, and what you believe you are seeing is actually a very different situation indeed.