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Musical research: Sunset Boulevard (1991)

In this piece of research I plan to research the musical, ‘Sunset Boulevard’ to stretch my musical theatre knowledge.

The show revolves around a beautiful but now declined star of the silent screen, Norma Desmond. She is trapped in the past as well as being set in her ways much like her decaying mansion. Once she has accidentally met a handsome yet struggling young screenwriter named Joe Gillis, Norma wants to attempt to accomplish a comeback to the big screen. She spoils  Joe with gifts and soon falls in love with him. However, she is devastated when Joe leaves her for young Betty Schaefer. In a fit of shock and rage, Norma shoots Joe as he attempts to leave her home on Sunset Boulevard.

The music was composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber,
The book and the lyrics were written by Don Black.
It was first produced in 1991 and it is set in 1940’s America more specifically, Hollywood.

Characters:

Norma Desmond: A faded, eccentric, former silent screen star.
Joe Gillis: a struggling young screenwriter.
Max von Mayerling: Norma’s first husband and butler.
Betty Schaefer: A budding writer and Joe’s love interest.
Cecil B. DeMille – the famous director.
Artie Green – Betty’s fiancé .
Sheldrake – a movie producer on the lot.
Manfred – an expensive tailor.
Productions:
1991, 1992 Sydmonton Festival
1993 West End
1993 Los Angeles
1994 Broadway
1996, 1998 US tour
2001 UK tour
2008 West End revival
2015 Czech Republic – Ostrava
2016 Denver
(not completed)

 

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Jem and The Holograms Task 4

When I was little I watched repeat episodes of ‘Jem and the Holograms’ but I have recently re-discovered it. ‘Jem and The Holograms’ was aired in 1985 and finished in 1988, and is now a feature film that came out in October 2015. Personally I think that ‘Jem and the Holograms’ embodied a lot of what the 1980’s were all about, in every episode there were outrageous outfits and by outrageous I of course mean amazing! Every lavish aspect of the 1980’s fashion were displayed on the popular T.V show and were just as psychedelic as they were in reality, I mean they were ‘truly truly truly outragous’. For example in the song ‘Like a dream’ we can see the style of the 1980’s, the music video for it is mysterious with ‘moody’ montages , this song even includes Jem standing on a waterfall with her band mates along with a magic carpet ride and even unicorns that gallop down a rainbow bridge.

 

“Jerrica Benton is the owner of Starlight Music and the Starlight Foundation, which is a foster home for young girls. But by using her earrings to project a holographic image over herself, she is transformed into her alter ego Jem, the lead singer for the successful music group, Jem and the Holograms. Other members of the group are Jerrica’s sensitive little sister Kimber, the strong-willed Aja, and the creative Shana. The group’s rivals are The Misfits, made up of the cold-hearted Pizzazz, the tough-acting Roxy, and the humble Stormer. Jem and her friends are always involved in glamorous and exciting adventures around the world, while touching people’s hearts with their hit songs.”

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0090461/

Dolls:

On the 8th of September 2011 Hasbro issued a press release that had announced that they will be showing their now products at the New York Comic con that included their new ‘Jem and Holograms’. On the 27th of June 2012, Integrity Toys, Inc had aired their plans to release a brand-new series of collectible fashion dolls that had been based on the admired TV series. The special edition Hollywood Jem doll was made available at the Hasbro Toy Shop booth during Comic-Con International in San Diego at an estimated retail price of $135. It only took a few days for the doll to sell out! On October 5, 2012, the four future dolls to be in the new Integrity Toys limited edition collectible line were presented with pictures: Classic Jem, Jerrica Benton, Synergy and Rio Pacheco. 

Comic book:

The Jem comic book was released by IDW in March 2015: written by Kelly Thompson, art by Sophie Campbell and colors by M. Victoria Robado. The comic book offers a much more re-imagining of the series with new character designs. As lovely the re-imaging art work it I still find it hard to stomach as it looks much more futuristic where as Jem and the Holograms were 80’s based trough and through and the comic also has the characters caught up in different situations. For example as the Holograms and the Misfits being unsigned bands at the start with Eric Raymond being hired as the Misfits’ manager during the second story arc. They still have the Misfits causing all kinds of trouble for the Holograms and Jem and as they are arch enemies you have the basic structure of good and evil with Jem and the Holograms as the clear winner no matter the situation no matter how dire the predicament thy are in.

Sophie Claire, Bethany Kirkwood and myself are playing three fairies and I have taken inspiration form the style of Jem and the Holograms and their personalities for the fairy characters we will be playing in our rendition of ‘A Midsummer’s Night Dream’. I love the camaraderie of the band and how close-nit the girls are and I would quite like to see that from the three fairies if the script allows it. As we are also apart of Titania’s group of fairies I think that this style is very girlie and more party/rave then rock with the bright colours and eye catching costumes. This would be a strong contrast to Oberon and his gang of followers. I think that our characters will be trying to help out a lot with the confusing mess that occurs within the play which reminded me a lot of ‘Synergy’ helping out Jem much like her own version of a fairy godmother.

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream audition evaluation 

I feel like my audition for hermia went well, I was pleased with my performance and I felt confident most of the way through. There was a point at the line “painted maypole” when I had a short blank but I think I covered it up will, I also think it was a little rushed but I think it went well over all. When I watched Harry’s performance I saw how much confidence he had and he wasn’t afraid at all and I really took that on board and just went for it. I really liked Rachel’s accent that she did, I think next time I will try to do an accent to give the monologue something completely different. 
Helena felt that most people had the concept of what was being said in the speech and as it can be hard to view Shakespeare it’s important that we know the meaning of what we are saying. 

Lynn agreed but she was very disappointed that not everyone had learnt their lines. However I feel confident in saying that dispite my slight pause I knew the monologue  well and was please with the delivery. 

If I was casting this I would be looking for confidence, character, someone who knew their lines and of asked could do it another way. 

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Juke Box Musicals.

In this research I plan to find out what a Jukebox musical is and examples of some of the shows that are in the style of a jukebox musical.

By definition a Jukebox musical is “is a stage or film musical that uses previously released popular songs as its musical score. Usually the songs have in common a connection with a particular popular musician or group — because they were either written by, or for, the artists in question, or at least covered by them.”  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jukebox_musical

Our performance of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ is in this style of a musical as it is not originally a musical it is infact a stright play written by William Shakespeare in  1595 or 1596 when Shakespeare was 31-32 years of age.

Examples of Jukebox musicals are, Mamma Mia, Let it be, Rock of Ages, Viva Forever, Green Days American Idiot and the boy form Oz. These are just a few out of many.

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William Shakespeare

In this research piece of research I plan to delve into the life of Shakespeare and the play we are performing, a midsummers night dream.

William Shakespeare was born in Warwickshire, Stratford -upon-Avon on the 26th of April 1564. He was John and Mary Shakespeare’s oldest Child. Their first two children, both girls, did not live beyond infancy, however John and Mary did have three other children all whom were boys. Gilbert, Richard and Edmund, and two younger younger sisters; Anne and Joan. Anne sadly died when she reached the age of seven. Their father John was a thriving business man in the line of soft white leather that was used for gloves and other items of similar making. He then married Mary, after which he began to rise in the local offices and became an alderman ( A co-opted member of an English county or borough council, next in status to the Mayor.) then an bailiff. Although when William was five years old he made the choice to step away form this position. As William was apart of a leading Stratford family he attended Stratford’s Grammar School. In 1582 William married a woman called Anne Hathaway, William was 18 at this point and Anne was 26, they were wedded on November the 28th and had a child called Susanna six months after the ceremony. Two years later the couple also had twins called Judith and Hamnet, unfortunately Hamnet died when he was eleven during one of the frequent outbreaks of the bubonic plague.

A midsummer night’s dream.

 

PLOT

“Theseus, duke of Athens, is preparing for his marriage to Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons, with a four-day festival of pomp and entertainment. He commissions his Master of the Revels, Philostrate, to find suitable amusements for the occasion. Egeus, an Athenian nobleman, marches into Theseus’s court with his daughter, Hermia, and two young men, Demetrius and Lysander. Egeus wishes Hermia to marry Demetrius (who loves Hermia), but Hermia is in love with Lysander and refuses to comply. Egeus asks for the full penalty of law to fall on Hermia’s head if she flouts her father’s will. Theseus gives Hermia until his wedding to consider her options, warning her that disobeying her father’s wishes could result in her being sent to a convent or even executed. Nonetheless, Hermia and Lysander plan to escape Athens the following night and marry in the house of Lysander’s aunt, some seven leagues distant from the city. They make their intentions known to Hermia’s friend Helena, who was once engaged to Demetrius and still loves him even though he jilted her after meeting Hermia. Hoping to regain his love, Helena tells Demetrius of the elopement that Hermia and Lysander have planned. At the appointed time, Demetrius stalks into the woods after his intended bride and her lover; Helena follows behind him.” http://www.sparknotes.com/shakespeare/msnd/summary.html

Characters:

The lovers:

  •  Lysander: Lysander is a young handsome man who falls in love with Hermia but they cannot openly wed as her father Egeus wishes her to wed Demetrious, Lysander and Hermias relationship stimulates the theme of the difficulty of love.
  • Demetrious: Demetrious initially in love with Hermia but ultimately falls in love with Helena. It is his pursuit of Hermia that throws love out of balance within the group.
  • Hermia: Egeus daughter who is in love with Lysader and is childhood friend with Helena but as a result of the fairies’ mischief with Oberon’s love potion, both Lysander and Demetrius suddenly fall in love with Helena.
  • Helena: in love with Demetrius. Demetrius and Helena were once betrothed, but when Demetrius met Helena’s friend Hermia, he fell in love with her and abandoned Helena.

Fairies:

  • Puck: can also known as Robin Goodfellow, ( we are splitting this role in our performance of the show so we will have Robin and Puck). Puck is Oberon’s jester, a mischievous fairy who takes joy in playing marvellous pranks on mortals such as the lovers. His enchanting, mischievous spirit disrupts the atmosphere, and his antics are responsible for many of the complications that launch the other main plot for example he mistakes the young men and instead of applying the love potion to Demetrius he applies it to Lysander. consequently causing chaos within the group of young lovers; he also transforms Bottom’s head into that of an ass.
  • Oberon: The king of the fairies, Oberon is initially his wits end with his wife, Titania. This is because she refuses to abdicate control of the young Indian prince whom he wants for a knight.
  • Titania: She is the beautiful queen of the fairies, Titania combats the constant attempts of her husband, Oberon, to make a knight of the young Indian prince that she has been given. This makes Oberon very angry and tells puck to use the love potion on her. Titania’s brief, potion-induced love for Nick Bottom, whose head Puck has transformed into that of an ass.
  • Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Mote, and Mustardseed: The fairies ordered by Titania to attend to Bottom after she falls in love with him.

The Mechanicals:

  • Nick Bottom: The cocky weaver chosen to play Pyramus in the craftsmen’s play for Theseus’s marriage celebration. Bottom is full of advice and self-confidence but frequently makes silly mistakes and misuses language. Later on in the play his head gets changed into an ass
  • Peter Quince: A carpenter and the A carpenter and the official leader of the craftsmen’s attempt to put on a play for Theseus’s marriage celebration. Although Quince is often shoved aside by the abundantly confident Bottom who enjoys the lime light.
  • Francis Flute: The bellows-mender chosen to play Thisbe in the play for Theseus’s marriage celebration. Forced to play a young girl in love, the bearded craftsman determines to speak his lines in a high, squeaky voice. This role has lots of room for comical value and I think would be a good idea to put him in a bad form of drag when he is playing the woman. Much like in a pantomime but on a very low budget.
  • Robert starveling: The tailor chosen to play Thisbe’s mother in the craftsmen’s play for Theseus’s marriage celebration. He ends up playing the part of Moonshine. Again another panto drag for the mother would be a very funny comedy duet.
  • Tom Snout: The tinker chosen to play Pyramus’s father in the craftsmen’s play for the celebration. He ends up playing the part of Wall, dividing the two lovers.
  • Snug: The joiner chosen to play the lion in the play for the celebration. Snug has a rather large worry that the roar will be too loud and frighten the ladies in the audience so it ends up begin small like a cat sound.
  • Philostrate:  Theseus’s Master of the Revels, responsible for organizing the entertainment for the duke’s marriage celebration.

 

 

 

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Task one: 1980’s biggest events 

in this research I plan to uncover the bigger events that happened in the 1980’s era.

1980: John Lennons assassination. The founding member of The Beatles was shot four times on the 8th of December by a fan that had gone wild. Shortly after arriving to the Roseavelt hospital it was clear that no one could have survived such injuries for more then a few minuets. His killer Mark David Chapmen was improsioned and it is still unclear to this day why possessed him to kill John Lennon.

Mount S.T Helens erupts: Mount S.t Helens erupted in the 18th of May 1980 located in South Washington. This has been recorded as the worst volcanic eruptions of U.S history! 7000 large animals were killed along with 57 people plus many injured with damaged homes and land.

PAC-MAN was released in Japan on the 22nd of May and became popular all over the world and still remains today.

1982: Argentina had invaded the Falkland Islands. When this news hit Britain with in days Thatcher sent a huge military task force to the southern Atlantic. In the fighting that followed, 655 Argentine and 255 British servicemen lost their lives, as did three Falkland Islanders. Argentina surrenders in what is seen as a resounding victory for Margaret Thatcher, confirming her “Iron Lady” nickname.

1983: On the 9th of June 1983, Margaret Thatcher won her second general election with a majority of 144 seats in the aftermath of Falklands war that greatly increased her popularity with the general public.

Sally Ride became the first American woman in space when she launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on June 18, 1983. she charted a new course for Americans to follow, not only into the country’s space program, but by inspiring young people, especially girls, to careers in science, math, and engineering. This was very important as the gender quality had a massive gap in the eye of jobs and money hense the power suit. However this made quite an impact as it would have show men that women can do anything a man can. Young girls would have taken great inspiration from this success and motivated them.

1984: the twelve month strike took place for miners in protest of Margaret Thatcher closing down the mines that were no longer useful (being profitable). More than half the country’s 187,000 mineworkers took part in this strike, the minors in Kent and Yorkshire were the first to lay down their tools then later on that night Scotland and South Wales followed suit.
“The miners’ strike lasted a year and was one of the longest and possibly most damaging industrial disputes ever seen in Britain.” http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/march/12/newsid_2540000/2540175.stm. it is believed that Ian MacGregor was a big part to play in this event as six days before and he had made the announcement that 0 uneconomic pits would have to close, putting 20,000 miners out of work.

1985: on Christmas day comic relief was launched, live on BBC One from the Safawa refugee camp in Sudan. BT is provide the telephony, call centres, network management and the numerous amounts of volunteers that aid the cause allowing them to raise as much money as they can for the charity.

1986: US bombs Libya in protest at Libyan sponsorship of terrorist organizations involved in the bomb exploded in the crowded La Belle disco in Berlin, Germany. “At least 100 people have died after USA planes bombed targets in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, and the Benghazi region.” http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/april/15/newsid_3975000/3975455.stm. Around 66 American jets some of which were from British bases launched the attack at 1:00 am. The extremist group “Arab Revolutionary Cells” said it murdered two British and one American hostage in Lebanon on 17 April 1986, in retaliation for the US attack, the american president made a tellivised appearance to the american public two hours after the attack had taken place. In this he said

“When our citizens are attacked or abused anywhere in the world on the direct orders of hostile regimes, we will respond so long as I’m in this office.”

He argued that America was exercising its right to self defence as defined by Article 51 of the UN charter.

The presidential spokesman, Larry Speakes, said, “US forces have executed a series of carefully planned air strikes against terrorist targets in Libya.”

http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/april/15/newsid_3975000/3975455.stm

1987: BLACK MONDAY. On the 18th of October 1987 the stock market crashed and the valued shares in London were said to have “fell” by £50bn. “In the wake of the 1987 crash, which also became known as Black Monday, markets around the world were put on restricted trading mainly because at the time computers were dealing with so many orders that they were unable to keep up.” The crash was not as desistavting as people assumed it would have been as there was no “depression” as there was in America in the 30’s. The crash was activated by the fall that occurred in Wall street and a rather dramtic fall in Tokyo.

1888: The 1988 Winter Olympics, which were held in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The 1988 Summer Olympics, which were held in Seoul, South Korea.

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Spring term Commission: task one, 1980’s fashion

The first thing people think of when it comes to the 80’s period is usually leg warmers, bright colours, shoulder pads and big hair!  The fashion of the 1980’s is iconic as well as the music that came from the time period. In this research I plan to look not only and the music and fashion but also news events, shows and the politics of the 1980’s most importantly the infamous Margaret Thatcher.

The fashion of the 1980’s could be commended for the outburst of creativity, shapes and colour choices that designers thought of when we are looking at the style of the 80’s. Designers of the 80’s period had a varied look about the clothes that wanted to make, some took ideas from the past such as a slight throwback to the 1950’s while some left the past in the past and others wanted to mould the future.

  as you can see here this is an 80’s style dress but you can see the 50’s flair to it. The hem line is above the knee but back in the 50’s it would have been more mid-shin level.

This is a dress form the 1950’s period. As you can see there are very strong similarities in both dresses, the neck line the colour the patten. However the hem line is longer, the dress has a petticoat underneath to give it volume as well as the neck line being thicker. This gives a lovely silhouette commonly known as the “hourglass” figure everyone dreams of. The first dress pays tribute to this with a thinner neck line and a less volumetric skirt but still giving the 50’s feel with a 80’s take to it.

 in the early 1980’s people still loves the rock and roll of the late 70’s and so the style stayed for the early 1980’s, as you can see here the colours are dark but still have yellow, pinks and blues to give it a lift. The early 1980’s were very different form the rest of the decade. There were minimal effort form the designers as a lot of the fashion form the 70’s crossed over the accessories has less emphasis and the colours became quite basic. There were a lot of browns, tans and oranges.

In this picture we can see the iconic look of the 80’s that we would use for a fancy dress or Halloween parties. We have the leg warmers, the bright colours and of course the fluffy haircuts. This is the mid 80’s and pop starts like Cyndi Lauper were ushering in this new style that people associate with the fashion of the 1980’s today. As you can see the bright colours, accessories, bangles and hooped earrings along with teased hair, loud make up and neon were very important to achieve this style. This style appears to be aimed at younger people however throughtout the 80’s the demographic in society is changing and for the first time there were more older people in society then there were young. Combining this with the economic boom, fashion was also being marketed at the middle-aged, in particular middle-aged, middle class professionals. Hence, we see the birth of the power suit.

“In the 1980s, fashion was influenced by the western economic boom. Youth culture stopped hogging the scene as the teenage market lost impetus. The dominant market was getting older and was also financially secure…People were living longer and seemed to act younger at the same time. Old industries died, while new technologies developed and boomed.”
http://www.fashion-era.com/h1980s_lifestyle_and_fashion.htm#The Economy Boom

 

Here we see the Princess Diana dresses in a power suit, we can see the shoulder pads give her a broader set of shoulders like the men in the 80’s Hugo Boss collection of male power suits. These became very popular in the world of business especially for women as they were becoming more involved with business and becoming more equal.

”   Fashion history reveals that the 80s fashion look was a tailored look. It was hard to go anywhere without at least a jacket, but preferably a complete suit. This was influenced by several movements including media influence on 1980s fashion through the popularity of TV dramas like ‘Dynasty’ and ‘Dallas’. Costume dramas brought fashion into real everyday eighties life.”

“Corporate business suit dressing, Margaret Thatcher in tailored evening suits, Yuppies and the copying of styles worn by Diana Princess of Wales, all contributed to stamping the era ”

http://www.fashion-era.com/power_dressing.htm

    Margaret Thatcher never aspired to be a style icon, her quote “never flashy, just appropriate” made it clear that she didn’t wear clothes for the aesthetic  of having lovely beautiful clothes nor for the joy of wearing them. She wore the outfits she did because they were bold and neat, Thatcher never thought of herself as a fashion icon such as Princess Diana. However her fashion choices were vastly effective as they helped to convey the power she had. More and more woman started to wear power suit because they saw more woman like Theatre and Princess Diana, they saw that it made them look broader in the shoulders and more masculine but with the softness of being feminine at the same time this look was perfect for a woman in this era who were in the line of business because it made them look strong and independent which they needed if they wanted to be taken seriously in a line of work that was more dominated by men.

 

 

 

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