To figure out Russell’s true character, including the changes his character undertakes, we placed Russell in different situations he would face on a daily basis. We tried to show his confidence levels altered as the people around him did. Most performances showed consistency when portrayed in a classroom, for example in the interview Russell acted as his normal, arrogant self with low body tension and using a tired, bored voice, meaning he was comfortable with his surroundings.
However, when he visited his elderly Grandmother in hospital, the performances had interesting results. We used high tension, to show clearly his feeling of confusion and rejection. We also used many levels to show how metaphorically big or small he felt, for example while in hospital Russell sat on a chair, head on his hands, folded in on himself. This happened no matter which way the pairs preformed, whether he was generally concerned with his Grandmothers well being, or if he was frightened in her presence.
Use of Space/levels:
In pairs we created three different freeze frames, each showing the reactions Polly and Jake had at the entrances of Natasha, Carol and Russell at the start of the play. The levels in each indicated how the confidence in Jake changed due to how much he feared the characters, and how little Polly differed at every entrance. As Natasha entered, the pair sprung apart, looking guilty by hanging their heads low and avoiding eye contact. Jake was hunched over slightly, not afraid of Natasha, but feeling insignificant, Polly, however, was in a neutral position, most likely because of the friendship that had been mentioned between her and Natasha.
For Carol, the reaction was similar, but not as strong, showing her having a smaller affect on Jakes confidence, as Jake held a much stronger position. Polly had lower body tension, seeming more relaxed, and a little annoyed. In both Natasha and Carols entrances, the space between Jake and Polly had been quite large, however in Russell’s entrance, the space decreased as Jake hid closely behind Polly. Jake was crouched down, and they both had backed away, which gave the portrayal of how much Russell’s presence effected Jake, and how little confidence Jake had around him.
Marking the Moment:
In groups, we created freeze frames, choosing one key moment from the script. My group decided on Shane’s line, ‘story’, a small, seemingly insignificant line that ends up deciding the path for the rest of the play. We involved four characters into the freeze frame, and set it out with Shane on the highest level looking downwards. Jake was being pinned to the ground by Russell, who was bending over, and Buzz, who was kneeling, placing him on a slightly lower level.
Russell and Buzz were both looking at Shane, portraying the status of the characters, displaying the amount of respect they had for Shane and relating to our knowledge of how Shane is the leader of the group throughout the play. Jakes position at this point, however, is a complete contrast to the end of the play. From Jake being at ground level and bullied in this scene, to him appearing with the most confidence out of the characters, proves that looking at a major point in the play doesn’t show how the characters status may shift if an event occurs.
Forum Theatre. Playing a scene and giving feedback and then replaying differently: In pairs we began blocking out the final scene with Polly and Finn, adding individual characterisations by making his movements slow and rigid, and giving him mannerisms like fiddling with pieces of clothing and constantly looking down. Our comments on how we could improve were adding more use of space and to work with levels more effectively. We replayed the scene, adding Finn trying to get himself and Polly away from the group she was trying to introduce, then Polly gently guiding him back towards them.
We also added moments of Finn crouching by Polly. This helped show that Finn did not understand why Polly was with these people, and showed his fear well. Huw Parks portrayed the role of Finn excellently, and he did this by making the character very realistic. This is why I feel he played the part so well, because it is very difficult when acting as Finn to not make the role look silly. However, Huw managed the hurdle with no problems, and enabled the audience to sympathise with Finn, and making it a brilliant character for Huw to play.
Social, Cultural and Historical Context: The whole play is set in the East End of London, the characters are surrounded by concrete tower blocks, and their area is a constant dull grey. The opening scene describes the time of the year as Mid-September, so the weather is interpreted as overcast, and the majority of the scenes are set on a roof of one of the tower blocks. This background information lead me to believe that the characters were all sparks in a world of little colour.
For example, Natasha’s outfit of a pink shirt and stilettos made her strong personality stand out and contrast well with her surroundings. She needed to be played boldly and include how someone who had an upbringing in a city setting would react. I used my voice to show the fast changes between emotions. For example Polly quickly became angry after Jake told her to go away, and Carol gradually grew more frustrated with Russell as she demanded her kiss. I also involved big hand gestures to my dialogue, especially while playing characters like Natasha and Russell, because they both have the most confidence, and the most familiarity in using their body to express their feelings.