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Rock Street, San Francisco

How influences and ideas of other playwrights and/or directors, designers and performers have been used. The most obvious influence of another playwright within our production is the good and bad conscience scene. This scene took the idea from Christopher Marlowe’s “Doctor Faustus” with the conscience of the main character, Joseph, being displayed as two ‘living’ entities on the stage, each portraying a different side of the character’s mind. One represents the ‘bad’ side of the character, and the other the ‘good’.

In our production the main character, Joseph, is offered some marijuana, the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ angel walk onto the stage. The ‘good’ angel takes the anti-drug stance, and the ‘bad’ angel tells Joseph that it’s not that bad. The Streets and their song ‘The Irony of it all’ influenced us. At first we just used the song for an idea for a scene that compared the effects of alcohol and weed. We later used the lyrics from the song as the actual lines for our characters.

The structure of our play was taken from a production that some members of the group performed last year, “The After-Dinner Joke” by Caryl Churchill. In this play there is several short scenes, with a main running theme of ‘the politics of charity’, the scenes changed quickly, and were often only parts of a conversation. This structure was used due to the fact that ours is not one large story, with scenes that follow on from one to the other, but more a gathering of different opinions.

We also wanted to cover as much as possible, and this is an acceptable and simple way to do this, without rushing scenes. This is also more suitable for rehearsal arrangements during lesson and out of school, as it is possible to split up into several groups and do many scenes at the same time. By allowing for a small time to show the rest of the group, they can see what has been produced and their suggestions can be put forward. Other cast members can be integrated into the scene if they are required.

Our play is very similar to this structure, with a fast-paced montage of scenes. We decided to use several different ‘stories’ that is shown in some of Brecht’s plays as opposed to plays such as ‘Fear and Misery of the Third Reich’ in which most scenes are ‘new’ and contain different characters. We too did not allow the audience to get overly involved with any of the characters in order to feel a bias towards them and allows them at the end to ‘pass judgement’ in their own minds as to whether they forgive any of the addicts.

We also employed a necessary amount of comedy, so that the play does not create the impression of ‘dour greyness of political debate presented on the stage. ‘ Robin Soans’ play “Talking to Terrorists” was the main inspiration for the use of verbatim theatre within our production. “Talking to Terrorists” was a fully verbatim piece, in which every single word spoken was taken from interviews with “Terrorists”, or people involved with “Terrorists”. Despite the fact that we did not have access to such resources in order to create what we wished we made a conscious decision to include key points and quotes.

These add an extra depth to the characters, and give more of a meaning to the words that they speak. It also bases our production more on fact than just “guesswork” from us. Although some of the quotes may be opinions, they are opinions of people that may be a certain “authority” on the subject of drugs, for example: a researcher, someone who has taken drugs, or someone who has experienced the effects of drugs first-hand. Our set design and the interaction between set and characters was also quite similar to “Talking to Terrorists”.

The sets themselves did not change, “Talking to Terrorists” had entrances to the sides, through doors, and along the back wall a series of “concrete blocks” this provided an entrance towards the back. On stage there were a couple of chairs, and a few tables that were moved and used in different ways to convey different scenes. Ours is similar, but simpler. The curtain of our drama studio provides our entrances and exits and several chairs are used to create the different scenes. For example to create a pub, the stools were sat on as if they were bar stool… slouching and sitting on the sides of the stools.

In contrast to create the office scene, we sat upright and with our legs forward, this gave the impression that we were on proper chairs, with backs and possibly arm rests. This also set our characters for the scenes. In the last scene, the five stools are lined up along the stage. This becomes the rehabilitation centre, with one stool for each person on drugs. “The After-Dinner Joke” is also very similar to our production in terms of the set design also had a small amount of chairs, and nothing else and they were used in a similar way with a different ways of sitting on the chairs helping to convey the scenes.

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