Dramatic Aim – Entrapment
Our dramatic aim was to produce a twenty-minute piece of theatre involving thought provoking themes, that say something about the human condition, and that involves a variety of effective drama techniques, in order to convey to an audience the social and pysclological impact of guilt and dysfunctional love, just like Solyony and Tusenback Our main theme of “Entrapment” should come across predominantly though the secondary themes, such as jealousy, manipulation, revenge, guilt, betrayal, rivalry, and love, should also be put across effectively.
We aim to show strongly, that the activities that occur on stage are not in fact reality, but actually are manifestations in “Jen’s” mind. She is almost on the verge of insanity, due to guilt as a consequence of the satirical events she both witnessed, and allowed to occur. We also understand that we must approach this area sensitively due to moral implications, however it must be “hard hitting” enough to have a strong impact on the audience.
We have studied the techniques of Konstantin Stanislavski in class, and shall look at aspects of his system, although we should consider that his system is designed for naturalist and realist pieces of drama, and not for abstract and contemporary performances. Elements of Stanislavski’s system were selected as a starting point in order to develop character in a truthful and artistic manner. “Bring yourself to the part of taking hold of a role, as if it were your own life. Speak for your character in your own person.
When you sense this real kinship to your part, your newly created being will become soul of your soul, flesh of your flesh. ” – Stanislavski Inspiration, Practitioner, and Research “The Stanislavski method is a system of acting developed by the celebrated Russian actor and director Konstantin Stanislavski, intended to produce dramatic characterizations of great realism, naturalism, and psychological truth.
The method requires the actor to concentrate deeply in order to attain complete identification, (intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. with the character he or she is embodying. He discovered that actors who recalled their own feelings and experiences and substituted them for those of the characters were able to achieve a special link with the audience. This difficult mental technique allowed performers to repeat their scenic work without having to rely on repeated inspiration. The superficial reality or truthfulness of the script became immaterial to the emotional reality of the actor. ”
This is quite relevant to what we want to achieve, though our piece shall involve realistic characters, with real emotions, motives and vengeances that should achieve a link to the audience, however these characters should express these in a contemporary, and non-realistic fashion. Turn of the century realist drama broke radically from tradition in its staging of productions, in the themes it examined. Realist playwrights were less obsessed with costumes and props and other stagecraft.
They believed that the actors themselves and their message were more important than the clothes they wore, and the material objects around them. This is also relevant because we intend to base our piece more around the themes rather than the story itself. From this we developed a basic story line. “Jen (2)” and her friends went to a party in an old abandoned house for a party. Jen (2) tried to ‘come on’ to “Ben”, who is in love with Alex, (Though Craig loves Alex too… just like the rivalry between Tusenbach and Solyony) and he backed off.
When their friends walk in, she then turned and claimed that he tried to rape her. Ben tries to explain but it only sparks off a huge fight. Jen (2) retreats to the bathroom to think through what she’s done, she lights up a cigarette, but forgets about it when “Becky” and “Amanda” come to find her. A fire then breaks out, and “Craig” dies, Amanda goes into a coma, and is on the verge of death, and Becky, is critically ill in hospital. Jen (1) is driven to the verge of insanity by the guilt that is slowly taking over her life and trapping her.
In the end she decides that she can’t take any more and kills herself only to discover that Ben was the one who started the fire as an act of vengeance, and to rid his world from the barriers that stand between himself and Alex. Because our major theme was entrapment, we looked at the tragic occurrences in New York on September 11th, and of course the Hillsborough tragedy. We searched for relevant news paper articles that could link to not only the themes but to the story. We found a newspaper article that includes an account of someone who survived the world trade centre.
It describes an orange ball of fire moving towards them and the fear they felt. We thought this could be extremely useful at some point in the story as some dialogue. Also there’s the possibility of projecting the images on the gauze behind us. We also looked at the dictionary definitions of Entrapment, Claustrophobia, Guilt, and Jealousy. These also could prove useful as either dialogue in itself or as inspiration for some dissertation, or conversation. Once again we thought of the idea of projecting definitions on the gauze behind us during some scenes.
Finally we looked at “Kabuki theatre” using coloured fabrics as a form of Chinese theatre. “Kabuki theatre is noted for its brightly colored sets, stylized gestures, and lively music and dance. Kabuki is the most popular form of traditional Japanese theatre. The proscenium stage is long, often 27 meters (90 feet), and has a low opening, or arch. Musicians sit onstage and accompany the stage action. Kabuki plays once required a full day to perform, but today they last about five hours.
Their subjects involve feuds, revenge, adventure, and romance, and their staging features elaborate scenic effects. ” We like the idea of using simple dialogue with unique motifs involving long strips of brightly colored material, perhaps repeating this motif throughout. Also the idea of symbolism and the sea… and a “sea of guilt” can be used as we create waves with the material so perhaps a poem linked to this could be useful. Preparation, Shaping of ideas & my contribution to the dramatic process overall.
At first we decided that we wanted to show two predominant areas on stage. The first area, is upstage, representing “Jen’s” mind, and the disturbing memories and voices that taunt her, and turmoil within it. The second are is downstage, representing the sardonic turmoil of reality she must face. This uncovered a problematic question. “How do we show this? ” At first we talked about using colours to symbolise the change, for example, using coloured/gelled lights during scenes in the present, and white/un-gelled lights during the scenes in the past.
We thought this idea would be effective, however it would involve too many complex light changes, and would require a lot of rigging. Another idea was to wear all black, except for the actress playing “Jen” in the present who would wear, average, yet colourful clothes. Then we considered having “Jen’s” chair set off to the side, at the front, though we realised during rehearsal that the scenes would be more stylised and more effective if we used the entire stage as Jen’s mind but created the images in a smaller space. I felt that doing this allows for a more metaphoric use of the stage in order to show and develop our aims.
We wanted to use a “shock” opening to set the right atmosphere and expose the themes of the play (The Coup de Thi?? i?? tre) . We started by trying different styles of Chinese theatre, as well as written text from newspaper articles based on September 11th. We “waft” long pieces of red, yellow and blue coloured chiffon fabric to create the image of waves, and in turn lower them so “the actress playing Jen” can step across them. She recites phrases like ” A great ball of orange flame blinded us” before each movement. These strips of material also represent the threads of memory she’s recalling.
Finally we hold the material taut in different levels whilst Jen says “On September 11th people were trapped in the towers. Now Craig is dead and I’m trapped by the guilt”. This creates barriers around her and creates a mental link with the audience because they will vividly remember the horror the world felt on September 11th, and can imagine the horror of being trapped. It also not only raises the major theme of Entrapment right from the start, but it makes a person think, “What goes through a person’s mind when they are trapped and they know that they are going to die? From this we thought about what turmoil in Jen’s mind could be trapping her, and lead her to a dramatic suicide at the end.
The first idea we thought of was that Jen was hearing the voices of her friends, who were blaming Jen for what happened, and ‘haunting’ her in such a way that she’s breaking down slowly. We then considered “How can we show this effectively? ” After much deliberation, we decided to enclose Jen by surrounding her physically, and emotionally by moving towards her slowly and each saying a phrase.
My phrase is “You betray me, you let me down. ” Then when Jen covers her ears, we stop abruptly. Next we choreographed a series of stomps and steps to move around her menacingly whilst she describes what happened and the guilt she feels. Then we halt and raise our arms in order to completely ensnare Jen, and when she looks at us, one at a time we lean down, to construct a vortex around her, which is symbolic as she just revealed that she was in the bathroom when the fire started, and it supposedly originated from the bathroom.
Finally she shout’s “stop” and we fall to the ground, only to crawl up and freeze leaving Jen to address the audience with a monologue, whilst we are in darkness and move to starting positions for next scene. All the characters, except for Jen, move and synchronise as an ensemble. We all wear masks too, to both signify this and to show that we are the “demons” in her mind. The next scene shows the struggle of being trapped in the fire itself, and of the panic that ensued. We kneel, compacted into a very small rectangle of darkness, with our hands reaching and clasping in a beam of a red light set on strobe, so that it flashes.
This light forms a rectangle of red light representing being outside of the fire. This part of the scene ends when “Becky” says “Craig’s still in there! ” leaving Craig reaching out from the fire. To make the transition easily to the next part of the scene, we build up an ensemble rhythm of clicking as we move steadily to our new positions.
Then we each deliver a phrase or two that summarises how our character feels about what’s happening, or what’s actually happening. I say “Help me I can’t breath. And “Why won’t you help me? ” My character was quite a difficult one to define as it isn’t a stereotypical character and is actually similar to myself, as most of us found when developing the characters. Because of this, we took a Stanislavskian approach and put ourselves in the positions of our characters to try to establish a link that could help us understand them in their entirety. To do this we carried out exercises such as hot seating, and we each completed a sort of C. V. for the character.