Working Note Book for Drama Exam
In preparation for then our exam we had to learn and test some new skills, which we could use later at appropriate times for our final piece. We disgust different miming scenarios, which we could use for this. We came up with the good old-fashioned ” Gentleman and the tramp”. We believed that this scenario would be very effective due to the way it tests our skills from one extreme to the other. It also concentrates the audience on our acting when we performed this as sometimes talking takes the audience’s interest towards what the actors say.
This scenario would begin with upper-class man sitting rigidly down on a park bench eating quietly while enjoying reading through the local newspaper during his lunch hour. A rather frightening monstrosity collapsing beside him would then rudely disturb him. The tramp would then go through a series of bad manors and rude noises and mutters, which leads slowly to deterring the upper-class gentleman away from the bench. During this exercise my partner whom I worked with changed roll with me so we both could experience how to play two completely different characters.
This would help with all our drama in the near future. When I acted as the upper-class gentleman I tried to play a very stereotypical type of man. This involves playing a very straight and proper way of walking and sitting (i. e. swinging arms in rhythm, and sitting knees together with hands by sides). The movements of the man would be subtle, yet fairly rigid insuring that my character was not imposing any slack behaviour that someone might have seen him do. I felt his facial expressions as the tramp nears towards him should become dismal as he realises is that the tramp is heading his way.
I thought that his eyes should be trying to look at the tramp but without anyone seeing him acknowledge the tramp. This means he would be taking quick glimpses as he scans through the newspaper held in his hands. His mouth would frown and I thought that also his nose would turn up in disgust. His hands would be twitchy, as he would be uncomfortable with presence of such a formidable character. I also thought that I should exaggerate the foot and leg movement because if I did not the character would be very still throughout the scene. Crossing legs then switching them over and over again would do this in a sufficient way.
As I did not have any costume I decided to smarten my self up so it would be obvious from the beginning which character I was. When I acted as the tramp I acted over the top and very stereotypical so I could show how annoying some one could be. This was good practise as our final drama production was very over the top. I began the scene with a large stumble to the floor. Following this came a chain reaction of over acted movements. I tried to make the character very slack and quite loose in the he moved and in the expressions he made. I also tried to show that my character smelled quite badly.
The only way we could do this is to have the two actors interacting. This meant that when I made a movement my partner would have to react to this. I also decided to lounge around once I had sat down on the bench. In effect I tried to impede on the gentleman space, so during our scene you could see the way the gentleman became more and more agitated. I also tried to make my character quite innocent because it should then all my character wanted to do was to get a good afternoon nap. This of course makes the gentleman a very posh and quite snobbish as he turned his nose up in disgust.
As well as all this I gave my character stereotypical objects in his hands. I held my hand as if I was carrying a bottle of whiskey or vodka, and then began to lift my hand up to my mouth to show the action of drinking. Other actions I used in the scene were to drewel over the gentleman sandwiches in hope he would maybe leave apiece in pity of my hunger and I. To add to this I decided to scrounge around him for the crumbs he may of dropped accidentally. Also because this was a mime rude habits like passing wind would have to be sequenced between the actors.
We did this by the first action provided by me with a second action in reply, from my partner. Even though I had no costume for this piece of drama I decided to improvise with things I had. I did this by taking off my tie, un-tucking my shirt and generally making my appearance look a complete mess. Rehearsals For the rehearsals we first of all had to plan what we were going to do, what title our idea would be placed under, how many scenes, what type of production (comedy thriller etc). Also we would need to know how long it would take to perform the whole production, costume, props, effects of lighting, and characters, extras.
For our final production my four friends and I wanted the show to be quite comical, however we still wanted a serious side. We ended up deciding on something completely out of this world, literally. This idea involved Heaven, Hell and Purgatory. The idea we produced was to take four characters from the past, either legend, historical or fiction. Then place them in a scene together where they would be judged. This scene is off course in Purgatory and these four characters would have to prove them selves worthy of heaven, with the Almighty as their judge.
With this story line as our basis for the rest of our production we could see that we have to have a personal scene for each character, so they could explain them selves to God. So from this we knew that we at least have four scenes to conjure up. Then we decided that we needed something not only to link the scenes but also to introduce the show and to finish it. This involved seven scenes with us missing a few links between the major four scenes. The order we followed was introduction, first characters scene, second characters scene, and third characters scene, link scene in Purgatory, fourth characters scene and final scene.
We didn’t always have link scene because other wise it would have taken to long and repetitive. To still link scenes one to two and two to three we gave little introductions at the begging of each major scene. From the tittles, which we were given by our teacher, we choose “Appearance and Reality”. This was because in our first scene one character did not know if he was in reality even though it gave an image of it. The time we were given at the very beginning was twenty five to thirty minutes even though later we were given an extension for up to about fifty minutes.
These things were really the basis of how we started our final show. Now we had these out of the way decided to take each scene as it comes in the order and work through them. The characters we used took eventually became Julius Cesar, David (as in David and Goliath), Robin Hood and Baby Face (a gangster in the Mafia of the nineteen thirty’s). The introduction we decided on involved three characters sat in the waiting room of Purgatory. These characters were Cesar, David and Baby Face. Then all off a sudden Robin appeared from nowhere falling around acting as if he was hurt.
He begins to start moaning and choking. Then Cesar asked him what was he doing. The man groaned and said he was dying. From this Cesar and the other two then explain that he is dead. This takes quite a while for Robin to realises where he is. From this come a few comical jokes about each other until a voice shouts out from no were David’s name. We did this by my friend who was playing Cesar pretending he was going to the toilet and then shouting from backstage. For each of the main scenes for each character, the other three actors would play minor roles to help the audience see what “God” was seeing.
Before I talk about the actual rehearsals we did struggle about deciding the fourth character, Baby Face. We started of with him being Theseus, an old Greek legend who was very competitive with Cesar through the whole production. When we came to doing the scene for Theseus, we found it quite difficult with only four people. So then we decided to change the character to Colin. This character was going to have a very low opinion of himself, who only did one thing good in his life. Then with all the other characters being heroes, Colin would go to heaven and the others go to hell.
We then believed this to be far too cheesy for our performance, even though the play ended up being very slapstick and traditionally like a pantomime. We decided eventually on a gangster for nineteen thirty’s. This would then bring a different type of scene into the performance. The scene would be slightly more serious than the others with a not so comical end. The actual rehearsals I personally thought were not too good. We did not really write much down at all apart from basic outlines of what was going on in what we had done so far. As we were all lads we did not always concentrate on what we were doing.
And when we were acting in rehearsals we mainly improvised and worked of each other to get the scene done. Then if we did the scene again you could almost guaranty that one of us add something else in to make it better. Then we would discuss what they said, and then we would start again. This came very time consuming and we only really did the four main scenes of each character done properly. The other problem was that we rarely got to use the drama studio, which made it so much harder for us to know were to stand on the final performance.
Also because of how long it took us to do a scene, it came to the day and we still had not done the last scene. Our teacher put all the groups into order with us fortunately last. This gave us an extra hour to sort out how we were going to end it. For the lighting in the performance, we decide we could use it by turning them all off to separate the scenes. In some scenes this became very affective as in Baby Face’s scene, because one of the characters said, “Gentlemen, lets all kill each other! ” then the lights would go out.
The props we used were fairly simple because we basically need something for each character to be associated with. For example Robin had his famous hat, David had his sling shot, Baby Face had sunglasses and a gun, and finally Cesar had his robe. This were all added on top of us all wearing suits. Then on stage all we had was four chairs for us to sit down when we were in purgatory. This meant that the scenes did not have to be based on any thing (a table), and also gave us a wide variety of options for us to make each scene how we wanted it. Techniques which we decided to use involved flash-backs.
This was due to the fact that every single actor had a flash-back through out our perfomannce. Final Performance On the final performance as far as acting went, the play went quite smoothly and very well. Fortunately no one forgot any lines or did anything drastically wrong. The worse acting mistakes we did was only to say a line in a different way to how we rehearsed it. This hardly caused any problem at all as it was very easy to recover from. The only thing I thought went drastically wrong was the lighting this was because the people who were doing the lights did not use the guidelines we prepared for them.
This meant that after we said the last in a scene, the lights did not go off, which forced to improvise and walk off stage as if we had rehearsed it. My opinion of this mistake, made the performance loose its slightly more professional look, which I certainly would off liked. I also believe the lighting was like a finishing touch to a fairly good performance. I believed that if we had also rehearsed much more, then maybe we would have lost silly mistakes like occasionally not looking at the audience, or a slight chuckle when someone did something wrong, any timing off arriving and departing from the stage.
All together I would come to the conclusion that the acting was at a good standard and with more rehearsals and better lighting staff, we could have made it a very good comical show. On my performance individually, I believe it went fairly well. From my point of view, the character I played, did not rally have a big enough role for the high grade I am looking at. This would then be one of my downfalls.