Our improvisation topic is on “War.” We decided that this was a good topic as most people in the world were affected by the war in someway, whether it’s directly like being in battle themselves, or having family in battles or just having their life changed or even having to watch the devastating effects on the news. This means that it gives a very wide range of ideas that we can look at. The ideas we looked at in a brief way were direct battles, life for soldiers, and home life during the war, prisoners of war and going into hiding during the war. We looked at many resources to see where we could get the most useful information. We looked at recent newspapers on the war in Iraq, sheets of factual information about many wars, and poetry discussing the feelings of people during the war. We looked at many ideas, concentrated mainly on the two ideas of being affected by the atomic bomb in Hiroshima and prisoners of war.
One poem we looked at, called ‘fifteen million plastic bags’ by Adrian Mitchell, was a good storyline to look at about nuclear warfare. We decided overall to do a story of how Jews were treated in the war, and decided to be a typical Jewish family living in Germany, and show their struggle to live a normal life, and they go into hiding. We felt this was a very emotional subject, and could be acted out the best that we could, and would all come from inside. We felt that by displaying the pains, stress and hurting of a family, it would display a message to the audience of how war affected the people that lied inside the borders of Germany.
The most famous person we could think of that had been a Jew during the war was Anne Frank. I’d read her diary so I had some good ideas of what life was like for her during the annex that she hid in, we also did research on the Internet and on Encarta. We decided to base our storyline on a small part of Anne Frank’s life, and adapted some of the names from her diary. We decided to base it on her life, because it is non-fictional, and would really display to the audience some of the agonies that families suffered, particularly the ones under Hitler’s ruling. We wanted our piece to display the love that goes on in families, and the staying together despite some of the evil, cruel things some people do in the world today. This is what we wanted to show the audience.
So far we haven’t come across too many problems during our rehearsing. We did have problems getting a good plot together that would last the amount of time that it needed, but in the end we managed it. We then had trouble getting it to last the right amount of time, as there was too much in it, so we had to cut a lot of it out. The whole group had difficulties in getting the right balance with scripted information and improvised acting.
We wrote basic scripts for us to follow in the beginning, and now we have managed to improvise it without trying to remember lines. We had difficulties as we started relying too much on scripts, and trying to remember lines, but we started to remove scripts and tried our best to improvise it and let the whole thing flow right, and anything not mentioned could be picked up by the other characters. Overall, I feel I have worked very well with Lucy and Steven, the members of my group, we’ve been working hard to do extra rehearsals and co-operate well as a team. We are all contributing to ideas and fitting it all together so we all get an equal amount of time on stage. We have all been contributing to doing research to give more background to our storyline and been working out what kind of set, costumes and props we will need for our improvisation. Our group are getting on very well; we are all working as a team together and cooperating very well.
We have all worked well to sort out the set, costumes and props. Due to our improvisation not being set hundreds of years ago, it hasn’t been too difficult getting props together. We’ve all pulled our resources together, and used the schools’ too. Our set for scene one is our house, with tables, and props such as a wireless, (we used the schools’ speakers) and a telephone, as well as everyday house objects such as flowers.
Our costumes are not too smart, but not too casual. I wear a dress, which women of that time would wear, and Lucy and Steven will wear smart trousers and a shirt, and for Lucy, also trousers and a shirt or a skirt. She will wear pyjamas in the first scene. In our second scene, the layout of the set is similar, but more basic as we then live in the annexe. Our final scene is the same as the second, as Steven comes back to the annexe after Lucy and myself have died in the concentration camp. We also use the story of Passover taken from a book we found in our library. We also include a poem called ‘Faith Is A Candle’ taken from ‘Somebody Loves You’ by Helen Steiner Rice.