The beginning of this commission we had six members, Harry, Jack, Tom, Lou, Vicky and I. However this group was short lived and six turned to five in a rapid amount of time. This was because of the first presentation of the ideas, we had no idea that Harry was going to have an outburst and take centre stage and shadow all the work that we had done as a group. This set up back quite a bit because we had no indication from him that he wished to go and do his own piece just by himself as he had never discussed this with us in our numerous amounts of meetings. We felt very unprepared and shocked in the first presentation after his outburst, we would not have had an issue about him leaving the group and going on to do his own piece if he wished to do so. This issue occurred because of the lack of communication that he had with us at the beginning, however it soon took a rather unnecessary turn and it became a heated discussion within the group which resulted Harry telling us “Its my way or the highway”. With this ugly end to our original group we were down to five. We became a very close knit group and worked well together, we all had many ideas, most of which we had to dispose of as they didn’t fit with the piece we wanted. On the other had we had picked a group where we are all very close and get along very easily which is never a bad thing, although I did feel as though we found it difficult as I feel like we were having more social time then working time which was dangerous. I found it rather tedious at time went on because when the majority of us wanted to focus and get the work done, one or two of us where still messing around more than they should have been.
Another difficulty that we faced other commitments that we had within the college season shows. The range of talent stretches over all of the pathways in our group. Tom is a musical theatre student. Jack, Lou and I are Drama students and Vicky is a dance student. Tom and Jack were in Spring Awakening, Lou was in music-hall, Vicky and I were in the Dance company show. This made it difficult for us to balance our time wisely as we all wanted to make everything out top priority, however it was apparent that despite our best efforts that this is always impossible to do. There was also three/four solid days where it was straight season show rehearsals, which meant that commission rehearsals went out of the window because we were all on different timetables and even when we did have a break it was short lived because we had all been working to our limit on each of our individual shows.
The timing of the GCSE maths and english were also not in our favour for timing because on those days it was not mandatory for other students to come in which meant that I did not have all of my group there even though I had come into to work usually it was only Lou and Jack that come in on those days. Myself and Vicky were also in some of the media final major project films which meant that we were often unavailable. and it added up that combined we were unavailable for around an entire weeks worth of rehearsals. However on days when certain members were not available other members of the group would band together and work as best as we could without other members. For example on a day when Vicky was filming for media, Jack, Lou and I sat down and scripted the monologue for my character Rosa. We did this so then we had an idea of what context we wanted to approach the piece with and then I was able to start to get to know my characters head space better as I had something to work with and an idea of how she spoke, the way she sounded, her attitude, her outlook on her current situation and then I was able to learn it quickly. This allowed me to play around with it and move with it, have more fluidity with it so it was more natural and raw like how I had wanted it to be.
The main difficulty for me was time management and getting everything in a timetable due to the amount of commitments that I have. While doing this commission I have also been in rehearsals for two other extra curricular performances, plus filming for media which meant that it took up most of my time outside of college and left me little time to catch up effectively with out some guidance from other members of the team to inform me on what I had missed. I felt like I could have used my time more wisely if I was to do this commission again and I could have unscrambled by myself before letting everything get on top of me before it was too late. I also feel like I could have detached my person problems from the commission as that took a knock on my productivity level which pushed me further down.
I think that as a group of people with high ambitions and perfectionists we had taken more time worrying about how we were going to devise rather than having the script in our hands and improvising it to see how if felt when we were up in a performing space and seeing what worked and what didn’t. I feel that we were so worried that it wasn’t going to be like how we wanted we were to guarded with it and were not free enough to just let it happen then change what needed to be changed.
I feel that the fact that it was devised by scratch and it had to have historical context in the performance constrained us, to a point where we were always questioning ourselves as to weather it was a good move to change to the monk idea and not stay with the workhouse, which personally I felt had more potential. I feel that the workhouse would have worked better because there is more record and more information on the history and the stories that lurk around the workhouses.
I felt that it was a stronger idea and we could have done more with it if the majority had voted in favour of it. I believe that with the workhouse idea we could have connected with the audience on a personal level as everyone has family that would have worked in a workhouse when they were open. I regret that I did not fight hard enough to keep that idea alive, on the other hand I knew that if the rest of the group were not willing then I had to leave the idea behind and move on with the monks. On performance day I was surprised and a little disheartened that others had thought recently that the workhouse idea was perhaps stronger then our finished product. I was disheartened because I agreed with them and I think that we had bitten off more than we could chew without realising at the time. I think that with the workhouse idea it had more room or characters and a more in depth storyline, we could have looked into the everyday life for the inmates and what life was really like for them. This also would have been a stronger idea from a music side of things, we could have composed an original song that had more structure and less simplicity to it. Vicky’s character would have been a mute that can only communicate through the medium of dance ,which I feel would have been better for her as she would have more to choreograph and she would have been dancing through the entire piece when she was on the stage. From an actors point of view, the workhouse would have been interesting. This is because we could look at real people and their stories form the workhouse and what type of life they had before they turned to the workhouses.
The final performances I felt went very well and ran very smoothly. The crosscutting at the beginning with Jack and I, I felt were clean and it was obvious that we were meant to have dialogue that cut across one another. However if I could I would have changed it to a much more enclosed area because, we were in the open air which means that we had to nearly shout for the audience to hear what we were saying. This meant that moments that I felt should have been more intimate and meaningful were suddenly to big and lost some of its meaning.
Watching the video footage I was pleased that we were loud enough and that Lou dealt with the heckling from the crowed very well and stayed in character. I felt that this piece needed an indoor space, I have discovered that form the footage alone because I felt that personally my performance was not as strong as I would have liked to to have been because of how much I had to project my voice, I felt that I was not emotionally connected completely with the character and it hindered my performance. If we were in an indoors performance space, I feel like the audience would have a more intimate connection with the nun, Rosa as I would have been able to have been softer and slightly quieter to convey how frightened and alone she felt. How she was being abused by a man and how even if she spoke out who was going to give her any sympathy, or help, or who would even believe her because he is a man of God and she is an ex-prostitute. No one would believe her and she would be out of the streets again. I felt like I was unable to give the character the justification that she deserved because we were limited on performance time and were unfortunate with our performance space. Even though it is historically accurate as we used the south entrance that King Henry the VI used when he visited Bury S.t Edmunds.
Individual strengths and weaknesses:
I feel that one of my strengths was my performance, I feel as though I was able to know the character very well and her background early on as I helped Lou and Jack when writing my monologue. I wanted to be apart of that process because then I would be forced into thinking how the character thinks and I would have been apart of creating this character from the beginning. Leaving me time to learn the script and emotionally connect as best as I was able to. I did this by using Stanislivskian techniques. I used the ‘magic if’ and I used emotion memory to try and recreate the emotions that would have been applicable for the context of the piece.
One of my weaknesses was time management, this was in fact my biggest weakness and I feel that I have not used the time as wisely as I should have done. I found focusing very difficult with this commission due to not being able to detach myself form my own problems outside of college that I usually leave outside of college. I am dissatisfied with myself because of this, I could have organised myself more effectively and created a person plan and set myself goals that I needed to accomplish at the end of each day. This if one of the things that I would have done if it was possible to do this project again. By doing this I would have been able to work more efficiently and be more useful to my group.
Another one of my strengths in this project was costume problem solving. When we had final cast with no changed to be made, we had a slight panic due to the lack of costumes we had for the piece with only a week before the performance. I used my connections with the Theatre Royal to help sort out the costume problem as quickly and as smoothly as possible. I got into contact with Simon Spence that is the deputy manager at the theatre and I was given the name of the woman in charge of the costume department and her contact details. I then e-mailed her in hope of being able to hire the costumes that we needed, however because we had left it so late, the only meeting we could have with her was two days before the show. This was to late for us as we wanted to have some rehearsal time in the costume before hand. Therefore I ended up finding some costumes online and purchasing them. They arrived on time apart form the nun costume for myself as it ended up getting lost and swapped with someone else’s costume order. Instead of getting a nun costume I received was a red indian costume that strongly resembled the outfit that Pocahontas in the Disney movie. This was not the desired outcome I had hoped for. However when this happened I contacted Lou about the issue as she was helping with costumes, Lou was able to source the nun costume we needed and the costume for the Abbot that we needed. Once the costumes for Lou and Vicky had arrived, I brought them in and we were able to do a dress run with the costumes to see how we moved in them.
One of my weaknesses lies within my acting logs as I often left them two or three days later to do them then on the same day which meant that even though I had notes sometimes they were not detailed enough and I had to seek advice within the group to make sure I had enough written or if i needed to add more to them if i had forgotten anything specific.
A strength that I had within the group was that I did research early on so i already had ideas that I could bring to the group when we were first discussing the potential pieces that we wanted to do. I had created a pinterest bored online that is easy to access and as I have the app on my phone I was able to ‘Pin’ any information I found that was relevant to the commission.
I think the strengths that each of us have in the group gave us a lot of potential form the beginning because we are all dedicated and committed and we all had so many ideas that we found it difficult to take the ideas apart and formulate an idea that incorporated ideas form other people effectively. However I feel like our piece had a good balance of comedy and seriousness because it made the audience think about what goes on when people abuse their power over others, how fear can cripple someones spirit so much that they brake. But also it had comedy from the king and the Prior to lift the mood as it is a family show.
In conclusion if I were to do this piece again I would, make a daily plan and set myself person targets that i had to reach, take notes through out the day then upload the notes in more detail on wordpress. I would find a way to disengage myself form personal life and leave it out of college so I am able to concentrate fully on what I am meant to be doing. I would make less commitments that interfered with my commission and I would have prioritised and not try to make everything top of my list. However I feel that I have become more experienced with promenade theatre and I am more comfortable with performing in an outside space. I have learned that I am not fond of promenade theatre nor performing in an outside space. This is because I feel like promenade theatre is rather disjointed and if it does not flow well then there is a risk that the audience will not enjoy it and will not be a favourable audience. This may also occur in the theatre however I feel that in the theatre itself the performance will automatically have a smooth flow form one scene to another. Performing outside for my is difficult because I feel that it can become very pantomime rather swiftly and that may not always be the type of performance that you intend to give. For example in our piece I feel that if we were in a building we would have been able to give a more personal and meaningful performance but I feel that when it needed to be intimate it wasn’t, simply because we had to project out voices so far over all the surrounding noise that I feel it did not make the desired impact.