When we did our performance to the year one’s today I realised how much work we have got to do. So far we have only learnt the song and dance to ‘A comedy tonight’ and about half of the dialogue along with one of the dance’s. We have to learn more then three other songs along with the dances and work out the movement to the dialogue. When we did the performance I remember feeling confident at the beginning but then as we approached the end of the song I felt it falling apart. By the time we got to the lyric ‘nothing of fate’ we all became unsure of what our note was, I think this is because its the first time we had done in in front of the audience and we panicked about it. We have not yet completed the dance so for the end of the song we were standing in two lines which was a clean ending for the song so far, this also helped us with not forgetting the song entirely. However we do need work a lot harder on the harmonies as we are performing to an unpaid audience so we have to grab their attention as soon as the performance starts. We also need to work on perfecting and finishing the dance, saying this we need to move on so we will have to hold more rehearsals like we have been to make sure we get it all done and we polish it to get it to the high standard we want it to be. To keep everything fresh in our minds we have to work on it at least three times a week including our rehearsals with our tutors. On the other hand there are some things I enjoyed about the performance. I think that when we did have energy it was more watchable so we definitely need to keep our energy levels up constantly, this is very importance because as pointed out by the audience we are going to have an audience change constantly or most of the time so we cant let the energy drop within the transitions of the songs to scene and vicar-verser. Again pointed out with the audience we have to be confident with everything we do, the audience don’t know what we are going to and if something doesn’t quite go our way then we should just continue because the audience wont know unless we tell them its gone a but wrong. Personally my goal is to work on my character because at the moment I don’t feel like I am someone else and I think that if I can figure out my own character all the embarrassment will just fade away because I wont be myself which at the moment on stage I am and I feel that holding me back. I want to work on what my ‘saucy maid’ would be called to everyone else apart form ‘slave’ by her employers. Along with that I also want to work out little quirks she would do and what she actually wants out of being a maid. If I do this I will know my character and what she is doing in the scene so then I can do it successfully without feeling a bit silly at times. This way I will be able to block out the specific people in the audience so they don’t put my off.
In this research I plan to analyse ‘A funny thing on the way to the forum’ I will do this so I understand the story better myself. If I can understand the story then the audience will hopefully understand what is going on a bit better, I know this because I will be able to portray my character a lot better which means that the story will be clearer.
Synopsis: This is a side splitting musical which will have you rolling on the floor laughing. It is taken form the very roots of comedy which entwines the the ancient comedy of Plautus with a ‘vaudevillian’ ( comical theatre piece which combines elements of pantomime, dialogue, dancing, and song ). Pseudolus helps Hero, son of Sanex and Domina to marry a maid Phelia who has been promised to a Soldier. Upon succeeding Hero’s quest to marry Phelia Pseuslous is promised freedom of servitude.
- Pseudolus: Roman slave owned by Domina and Sanex who seeks freedom form Hero for helping him to be with Phelia.
- Hysterium: Another slave who is usually with Pseudolus and known as the less intelligent out of the pair. the gender in the show is usually mistaken or just ruled out as being unimportant as it can be changed through out for humour reasons or can be played by a man or a woman but the gender is not highlighted of this character frequently enough to be noticed.
- Hero: Son of Domina and Sanex, handsome, heart-throb of the show and is deeply in love with Phelia.
- Phelia: Maid of Sanex and Domina. Known as the ‘dumb blonde’ type character in the sense that all she knows is how to stand there and look pretty while she does her duties. She falls in love with Hero but is already betrothed to a soldier.
- Miles: Boastful soldier who is captain of the Roman army and has been promised marriage to Pheila.
These are the named characters we are using in our shortened versions. the rest of our cast including me are playing the ‘comedy soldiers’ and the ‘saucy maids’. The reason why we have not included all of the stories is because we are doing a very brief 20 minuet version of the show at the ‘Christmas fayre’ in November. We do not have the time to do the entire show so we are cutting it down as much as possible and including the most important parts of the story. This happens to be the story of Hero winning the hand of Phelia.
The songs we are including are…
- “Comedy Tonight” – Pseudolus and Company
- “Lovely” – Philia and Hero
- “Everybody Ought to Have a Maid” – Senex, Pseudolus, Hysterium and Lycus.
“Greek comedy was a popular and influential form of theatre performed across ancient Greece from the 6th century BCE. The most famous playwrights of the genre were Aristophanes and Menander and their works, and those of their contemporaries, poked fun at politicians, philosophers, and fellow artists. In addition to maintaining their comic touch, the plays also give an indirect but invaluable insight into Greek society in general and provide details on the workings of political institutions, legal systems, religious practices, education, and warfare in the Hellenic world. Uniquely, the plays also reveal to us something of the identity of the audience and show just what tickled the Greeks’ sense of humour. Finally, Greek comedy and its immediate predecessor Greek tragedy would together form the foundation upon which all modern theatre is based”
“Old Comedy, initial phase of ancient Greek comedy (c. 5th century bc), known through the works of Aristophanes. Old Comedy plays are characterized by an exuberant and high-spirited satire of public persons and affairs. Composed of song, dance, personal invective, and buffoonery, the plays also include outspoken political criticism and comment on literary and philosophical topics. The plays, consisting of loosely related episodes, were first performed in Athens for the religious festival of Dionysus. They gradually took on a six-part structure: an introduction, in which the basic fantasy is explained and developed; the parodos, entry of the chorus; the contest, or agon, a ritualized debate between opposing principals, usually stock characters; the parabasis, in which the chorus addresses the audience on the topics of the day and hurls scurrilous criticism at prominent citizens; a series of farcical scenes; and a final banquet or wedding. The chorus often were dressed as animals, while the characters wore street dress and masks with grotesque features.”
Through reading these two articles I have come to the conclusions that these are both about the very foundations of comedy and are very early time periods. Some of the elements of both articles do take part in ‘A funny thing happened on the way to the Forum’, such as satire. Satire is used as a tool of exaggeration in our peiece as it is very over the top ans has a pantomime appeal to it. In ‘A funny thing happened on the way to the forum’ we have to be really over the top and make fun of our characters as we have to grab the attention of our audience as soon as we start as we are performing to an unpaid audience. We also use the entrance of the characters as a comedy tool as well for example that maids entre aprearing slightly weary of Sanex but make fun and laugh at him and Domina in front of them, then they are very suggestive to Hero as they all like the look of him. This includes a lot of shimmying and ‘accidental’ dropping of objects to make Hero help them. we have used these ideas of the maids being purposefully clumsy so the audience can relate to a time when they have done that to get their crush to help them but when they look back its slightly embarrassing which makes them have a little giggle to them selves out of embarrassment.
I do however think that these articles are a little early in the sense that they are talking about such old comedy and I personally don’t think that this piece is that far back with the comedy. I think that with certain characters this is closer to “new comedy”.
“Menander was the most successful of the three comedians. His comedies not only provided their audience with a brief respite from reality, they also gave them an accurate but not too detailed picture of life. This led an ancient critic to ask if life influenced Menander in the writing of his plays or if it was vice versa. Unlike his predecessors like Aristophanes, Menander’s comedies tended to be more about the fears and foibles of the ordinary man, his personal relationships, family life and social mishaps rather than politics and public life. They were supremely civilized and sophisticated plays which were less farcical and satirical than the plays before them. This sophistication was what made him more successful than the other Greek comedians who wrote in the same genre.”
I think this is closer to “new” comedy because it does focus in on personal relationships, (Hero and Pheila), family life,(Domina, the overbearing wife) and social mishaps (Pheila being promised to Miles). The story line has more of a relateable comedy value to it which is why I believe that is has a newer comedy with a sprinkling of the older material.
Today we went down to the Theatre Royal in Bury S.t Edmunds which luckily for us is only across town, we are very luck to have the luxury of having the only surviving regency theatre on our door step. When we were at the theatre we were taken on a tour and then we met some of the team who work at the theatre. When we were on the tour I learnt some very interesting information about the Theatre Royal.
“The Georgian theatre was one of the vital periods of our artistic history; and these buildings, with their intimacy and their sense of human proportion are masterpieces. Bury’s Theatre Royal is perhaps even more precious than we think.”
The Theatre Royal has been around for over 100 years, it was built in 1819 by William Wilkins who had also designed it. It is the only surviving playhouse from the Georgian regency time period but, only by a year as the regency ended in 1820. Their are many of the theatres original features still intact and in its original condition, for example the ceiling pained like clouds is still as beautiful as the day it was painted, at first however it was a massive issue trying to get it right as the ceiling would weaken easily and would crack which meant constant repairs until it was finally finished.
The designer/builder of the theatre was an architect who was responsible for many buildings including the National Gallery in London and the Downing College in Cambridge.
Who is currently working there?
- David Whitney, youth theatre.
David has three theatre groups for different age ranges, 8-12, 12-16,16-22. He also works closely with the YMCA, this is good because he is reaching out and educating as many people about theatre as he can, he is aware that the YMCA is only down the road from the theatre and most of them have “never been inside a theatre”. His goal is to open up the theatre to as many people as possible.
- Heidi, Costume supervisor.
Heidi runs everything related to costuming. She will meet the director and designer to gather an understanding of what they want their show to look like form a wardrobe point of view. She will also talk to lighting if their are certain colours that are needed/wanted in the production, this is because there are some colours that look different on stage. A common example of this is the colour black, the lights can make it look navy, maroon or even dark green. Fluorescents need to be taken into consideration as well. Heidi also hires costumes to the public privately this also helps funding towards the costume department.
- Nicki Dixon, press and communicators officer.
Nicki does not receive any money for her department. Nick was a journalist before she worked for Theatre Royal, this has many advantages as she has many contacts with the press through her previous job. This means it is slightly easier to make the theatre in Bury to be more communicative with its audience members, Theatre Royal has a section in the local news paper the bury free press. This is very helpful as it keeps the events at the theatre updated and keeps the interest in the theatre flowing though local towns and villages as well as inside Bury S.t Edmunds it self.
- Emma Martin, Marketing Manager.
Emma’s role is very important as she is in charge of promotion and making sure tickets get sold. This can be done in many ways, such as flyers, putting up posters, sending out hundreds of e-mails and newsletters. They oversee their content, design and production and arrange distribution of all printed material.
- Simon Spence. VOLUNTEER duty manager.
The Theatre Royal also has many volunteers that are apart of their team. Simon Spence has a very big responsibility on his hands. He only volunteers a few nights per season which gives the permanent duty manager a few nights off. It involves sorting out the floats for sweets,coffee,ice cream and all the other little treats you can buy at the theatre, assigning the volunteer stewards to their respective duties and opening up the building for when the audience arrives. He is responsible for the whole front of house area of the theatre and has to deal with any customer issues that arise or any problems with in the building itself. After the interval he cash’s up the bar and the float tins, reconcile all of the monies onto a sheet and put the takings into the safe ready for checking by the finance department and then that goes to banking. Usually Simon is on Duty from 5:30pm to until 10:30pm for an evening show but it can be longer. There are usually 4-5 volunteers and two bar staff who are paid.
I aslo asked Simon some questions1) How much pressure is the job for you, the fact that you aren’t paid to do the job would you say the stress is a bit lighter or is it more stressful?
-The degree of pressure depends on the show and how many are in the audience. It does feel a responsibility as I am a volunteer rather than being paid but equally it means you can choose which shows you do as duty manager so I tend to pick easier ones2) How long have you been volunteering?
-“I’ve volunteered for the theatre in various capacities for 15 years. I was on the board from 2000-2007 and have been a volunteer duty manager for the last 5 years I think.”
3) Have you ever wanted/had a permanent position working with the theatre?
-“I’ve never wanted a permanent job in the theatre: I enjoy being a barrister too much!”
4) What do you like about volunteering and what do you dislike about it?
-“I like the contact with the audience and getting feedback from them. I also enjoy working with the theatre volunteers and bar staff, as they are all lovely people and good fun to work with. What I dislike is when some audience members are rude to you. Also, depending on the show, there can be some late nights or some quite long periods when there is nothing to do, which can be rather dull!”
How much it costs to put on a show, There are many things you have to think about before putting on a show. Here is a list of the primary things you would have to think about before you even begin to cast a show!
Travel and accommodation
Stage management +living cost
Box office split
Rights for the script and score
Front of house assistant
These are the the elements you have to think about when you are taking a show on the road, if it was a performance at one theatre. For example when I have been in shows with The Irving Stage Company, we usually do six performances at the Theatre Royal in Bury S.t Edmunds. Then you can eliminate some additions that are needed for a regional tour. Such as travel and accommodation.
There are a few ways to achieve proper funding for a performance, you can apply for funding from the arts council and keep your fingers crossed that you will be eligible to receive what you have asked for. However you may not always be so lucky! Sometimes you will some to find funding your self though various different ways. The Theatre Royal in Bury have recently been cut from funding by the arts council, Theatre Royal, Bury were lucky that they receive only a small portion of funding so this was not a complete deviation for them. This is because they are a charity and most of their funding come portions and events. Their pantomime is one of their biggest fund raisers as it is guaranteed to be their biggest ticket selling show. They also make the most money though their ice-cream sales during the interval, this along with the bar, merchandise and food perchaces all add up to giving the theatre the money they need to keep it open and full of life.
Commercial and Subsidised.
At the heart of any commercial theatre company will be a producer or team of producers. They will have established a knack for finding ‘hit’ shows and they will have a loyal group of financial backers or investors, known in the industry as ‘angels’. These angels will invest money in a production for a percentage of the show’s profits, once it has paid for its costs. The commercial sector is unlikely to stage the work of a new or unknown playwright, or cast unknown actors in lead parts. Instead, lead roles will be played by well-known actors, often from film or television.
Commercial theatre companies rarely own their own venues – they lease a theatre from one of the commercial theatre landlords for a fixed term, usually between six weeks and three months initially, with an option to extend the term if the show is a success. Some of the West End’s most successful productions have been running for decades – the longest-running production being Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, which opened at the New Ambassadors Theatre and is still running today, at the St Martin’s Theatre.
A subsidised theatre is one that makes no profit, and operates using funds donated by a patron. In the UK, subsidised theatre involves a whole section of companies and their chief patron is the British government. The treasury, via the Arts Council, distributes a series of grants that fund arts organisations, including theatre companies, in one of two ways.
A key list of theatres receive annual capital grants to fund their day-to-day operations as well as the productions that they stage. In addition, the Arts Council also issue project grants ranging from a few hundred pounds to multiple thousands of pounds to theatre companies in order that they stage a particular production or project.
Subsidised theatre companies must spend government money properly and report regularly on how they do so. They cannot make a profit and must keep ticket costs at a level that make them accessible to all. In addition to this, the conditions of the grant given include being a resource for their local community as well as carrying out education and participation programmes
I have also recently done a day of work experience where we got the tiniest taste of the financial side of the theatre. I looked at a contract and we had ago at filling one out so we can see what its like form a production company who wants to perform and a theatre like the Theatre Royal in Bury S.t Edmund which is “a hall for hire” in the sense that they don’t usually produce productions other then the pantomime.
I have learnt that the marketing for a production can be very costly and certainly adds up to how much it can cost to put a production on for it to be successful. For example to have an advert broadcast on a radio station it can cost £350! However I have found that it would be cheaper to produce posters and flyers and put them all over town, create a Facebook and Twitter accounts then post on the social media sites because, everyone is glued to thier phones and most people will have friends who are in a production of some kind and will have friends from other companies who are putting on shows and the word will spread like wildfire.
There are many types of ways to organise your audience, this is also effect your performance and the performers.
The most classical types of staging is:
This is also known as the fourth wall which is an imaginary curtain between the performers and the stage, this can be broken but it provides the opportunity to alienate the audience as well. It gives a good view for the audience as it gives them a direction of focus.
This provides a much more personal relationship for the audience as well as the performers, as they have the audience all around them so they have the chance to perform in the whole space around them in a more free and intimate way. The performers must be aware of the set and the props that have the potential to restrict the audience’s viewing, this may have some issues for the performers as well as the audience is all around them there can be an issue with connecting to all of the audience all of the time as a posed to proscenium theatre.
This is the plan of the o2 arena in London, as you can see this has completely uproots the fourth wall and can be extremely difficult to be seen all of the time by the whole audience so, this space forces you to make your actions bigger like in Greek theatre so you can be seen by all of the audience. This staging also requires the performers to use the entire stage as much as possible like all other staging but it is more demanding as there is little/no room for intimate scenes.
Naturalism is a movement in European drama and theatre that developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It refers to theatre that attempts to create an illusion of reality through a range of dramatic andtheatrical strategies
This type of theatre is to create the “perfect illusion” of ‘reality’ on stage and will have detailed and three dimensional settings to keep this illusion prominent. The key features of this style are, realistic, settings, characters and the story lines are not overly dramatic. Darwin’s theory of evolution was what first sparked the idea for naturalism as it develops and grows and is ever changing to reflect real life situations. Stanislavski is the most famous drama practitioner of this style of theatre. Stanislavski’s System was created to train the actors in a different way in which to give a more raw/believable performance and to have a stronger connection with the audience.
“playwrights were influenced by naturalist manifestos written by French novelist and playwright Emile Zola in the preface to Therese Raquin (1867 novel, 1873 play) and Swedish playwright August Strindberg in the preface to Miss Julie (1888).
naturalism explores the concept of scientific determinism (spawning from Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution) – characters in the play are shaped by their circumstances and controlled by external forces such as hereditary or their social and economic environment often characters in naturalistic plays are considered victims of their own circumstance and this is why they behave in certain ways (they are seen as helpless products of their environment) characters are often working class/lower class (as opposed to the mostly middle class characters of realistic dramas) naturalistic plays regularly explore sordid subject matter previously considered taboo on the stage in any serious manner (eg suicide, poverty, prostitution)”
“19th-century realism is closely connected to the development of modern drama, which, as Martin Harrison explains, “is usually said to have begun in the early 1870s” with the “middle-period” work of the Norwegian dramatist Henrik Ibsen. Ibsen’s realistic drama in prose has been “enormously influential.”
Realism is very similar to natualism but there are also key differences,
Similarities between realism and naturalism
- Realistic and naturalistic plays depict events that could happen in real life, maybe even to members of the audience.
- Both genres focus on individuals and families in everyday situations.
- During the late 1800s and early 1900s, playwrights found ample subject matter for both genres as the sciences advanced and people struggled and fought against oppressive governing systems.
Differences between realism and naturalism
- Naturalism approached art in a more scientific, almost clinical, manner than realism
- Realistic plays often had characters to whom the audience could relate and sympathise
- Naturalistic plays, which were difficult to create and rarely popular, approached every element with the detachment of a scientist
- Realistic plays could show characters breaking free from difficult situations and allow the audience to empathise with their plight.
- Naturalistic works, on the other hand, sought only to study the situation, characters and other factors without interpretation.
realistic theatre offers the chance to depic characters and mould them to a more relatable and to give the audience a more truthful reality on stage. The key playwrights of this style includes Leo Toltosy and Henrik Ibsen.
Epic theatre (German: episches Theater) was primarily proposed by Bertolt Brecht who suggested that a play should not cause the spectator to identify emotionally with the characters or action before him or her, but should instead provoke rational self-reflection and a critical view of the action on the stage.
Brecht is the drama practitioner that is in direct corolation with epic theatre, his aim was to highlight the injustice with social issues along side with other issues that are going on around us. Epic theatre much like naturalism the plays are usually a reflection on reality. Epic theatre was introduced into the theatrical world in the mid 20th century. Even though epic theatre is a reflection on realistic situations it often has the use of alienation in which there is a clear divide between the audience and the play. This means that the audience understand the characters but do not form an emotional connection to them.
Postmodern theatre is a recent phenomenon in world theatre, coming as it does out of the postmodern philosophy that originated in Europe in the middle of the twentieth century. Postmodern theatre emerged as a reaction against modernist theatre.
This type of theatre was developed during the 20th century in Europe and developed because of the social views that were changing at the time of modernist theatre, this type of theatre does not usually answer questions of the audiance but makes them think more and gives them questions to think about.