Well Done Everybody!

Last night’s performance of  ‘HomeSpun’ went brillantly. A full house and a great atmosphere as the opening notes of ‘Our House’ filled the room I knew we were in for a great 50 minutes.

Although still very much a work in progress, with so much unrealised potential in theme and script the piece worked beautifully and the layering of character’s and narratives worked like a dream, allowing me to see even more opportuntity heightening the bizarre and the naturalistic if we choose to continue working on it.

I was so pleased with every member of the company for working professionally and supporting each other on stage in rehearsal and performance. Although we had some hiccups with lighting (don’t we always!) earlier in the day it was a joy to stick my head out of the studio door to see the company simply running a rehearsal for themselves on the grass in the university’s quad.

Scripted! – director’s notes!

Well draft 1 was finally completed on Friday – very late in the evening I might add!
Post it notes on the table with all the sections written on helped us to structure, identify and categorise which in turn meant we could compose the elements.

I’d some throughts about linear narratives taking place over the course of family lives that would intertwine with personal reflections and movement pieces layered on top and through. In the end we kept the most prominant narrative as linear and broke up the remaining scenes to mirror, echo, juxtapose the through line made by this family. In a sense this is the house’s story, we see the journey of a lifetime and the ghosts of lifetime’s passed and maybe to come.
On the fringes we have two men who live alone, the passage of a day is also marked in this way…. so in a way we have mashed together elements of post-dramatic theatre and the greek unities….. hey we do say ‘we challenge the boundaries’….. fingers crossed we haven’t challenged them too much!

Mark and I were also a little worried by the 40 page total until we realised some of copy and pasting from other bits and pieces had created some quadruple spacing! we whittled it down to 26 pages which still had me worried about the length so it was good to have it run through.

Because of the layering/fragmentation of narrative and the traverse staging a lot of the pieces take place at once or in strategic succession so I think that accounted for a lot of the fear about whether the show would be 45 minutes(as planned) or an hour and half (not planned!).

Relief then when the second run through lasted 55 minutes, we should shave off at least 10 of those minutes as we get to grips with the script.

Some alterations were clear and definately realised how some characters needed tweaking in terms of dialogue as they become developed by the company which is really exciting!

All the cast did a great job and I think everyone was pleased with the parts they’d been assigned and the recognition of their contribution to the melting pot that has been our process ….. hopefully we’ll be as close to scripts down on Thursday as we can be with the re-writes and ready to get going for performance 25th May!


Developing Scripts To Performance

In the second week of devising for this performance some of us took up the task of scripting a short scene that reflected a small domestic aspect of home. While a few of these were developed and shown in small groups a week or so later many were not. So this week was an interesting opportunity to see some new work that had been developed by individuals on their own rather than devised in a group.

Gemma and Jane chose particular scripts which showed potential to fit within the whole performance and selected members of the group to perform different parts.

Finally getting to see, and occasionally perform in, the scripts that other people had written was exciting. It was interesting to finally see how others had approached this task.

As always the development of work from page to performance presents various obstacles.  Having written three scripts myself, the practical differences presented themselves more clearly. For instance, text I wrote as stage direction was highlighted as more appropriate to be descriptive dialogue for a character, and for the audience’s understanding. Also lines can be interpreted differently by different actors (I’m sure that line was funnier in my head), or dialogue that seemed to make sense when written becomes an elaborate tongue-twister when acted. Equally a quickly written descriptive sentence has to be blocked and realised in the performance space.

Fortunately most of us are open to the process of this development, and if that means adapting, adding or rejecting certain elements to the script in order to make it work then we are open to acknowledging the difference between what we write and what has to be communicated through performance.

(Mind you, I say this now, I’ve not had all my favourite lines edited out yet – so my next blog entry might be about the creative importance of writer over director and actor! I’ll be swearing like David Mamet!)

Anyway, an enjoyable evening with alot of amusing and heartfelt writing. It makes me aware that there is still quite a bit of work to do to get to grips with the scripts.


Family Portraits

Here are some Family portraits from last session. The first line shows a more formal interpretation, the second line shows a family scene not usually captured, and the third line was left up to each group to decide.

interesting article

Mark signposted this article on how we use rooms and houses.

I particularly like this quote:

“The living room only developed in its own right when people have the cash to splash, the leisure time to invest in a space for sitting around,” says Worsley. “It’s like a stage where you perform your life for the benefit of your visitors.”

Maps and reflections

Site Specific….

So, as 3rd year theatre students at York St John we have been working alongside Out of Character since January.

For this evening we had the pleasure of creating and running the workshop around site specific work, focusing on the kitchen and dining room. This meant exploring what the kitchen meant to us as individuals, along with focusing on the art of everyday rituals and reactions.We got to see the difference between a performance in an actual kitchen and in the studio.

Studying the everyday happenings within a kitchen etc, something that really stood out were the simple moments of individual actions, for example, rolling a cigarette or drinking a glass of water. Similarly studying the range of expression and body language in different scenarios such as, eating mouldy fruit. Such moments really showed how everyday living can be a performance in its self. By reflecting on everything we did, we saw material that could be used in our final performance that is going to be based around home.

Another highlight of the evening was the warm up session facilitated by Ellen, a director, actress and playwright from America. Thankyou! This helped us explore how our bodies and voices are a vital tool in acting and set up a great atmosphere for the rest of the session.

Tonight, as students we fully appreciated how much support thr group has for each other and us as individuals. We very much look forward to working with Out of Character for the rest of the year!!

Thanks Again

Lauren, Lucy and Gabi 🙂

Reviewing each other

Last session the group worked to complete the small scenes which had begun life as objects.

In watching back each group was tasked with documenting and reviewing another group by taking photos and writing about what they saw, what they felt, things they liked and suggestions for ammendments.

This is what we thought….

Group 1, reviewed by group 2

What did you see?

House of students watching telly. They have no food. However 1 of the girl students has a private stash of food and money. This causes conflict at the end.

What did you feel?

It was ambiguous at the beginning as to who and where they were. Timing of dialogue was quite good as they managed to fit quite a lot of talking in.

What were the good bits?

I enjoyed the split scene. Another enjoyed working out the setting and then enjoyed watching Ben’s response at the end.

what advice would you give to make it better?

Slow down dialogue a bit. A few silences would be good.

Group 2, reviewed by group 1

What did you see?

Family in living room – mother then son and his mate and girlfriend. Mother = stereotypical; clingy and cleaning. change of atmosphere when Brian turned up – guys vs girls

What did you feel?

comical – typical modern day situation – easy to relate to. Superior = audience member – makes you reflect on own life.
Sympathy for girlfriend at the end.

What were the good bits?

Brian entered – increased temp of piece. 2 women alone – saw how they changed.

What advice would you give to make it better?

how the two guys left the stage – more ‘definate’ leaving.
Speaking over each other due to impro – benefit from scripting?

Group 3, reviewed by group 4

What did you see?

4 blokes on a train, each lost in their own world. Initially, no communication until one of the group arrived who brought his own coffee. he broke the silence/awkwardness.

What did you feel?

He made us feel very human.

What were the good bits?

The pauses were very good. The timing was very strong. There were a lot of little touches of comedy.

What advice would you give to make it better?

Maybe the pauses could have lasted a bit longer.

Group 4, reviewed by group 3


What did you see?

A boy in the bath and parents trying to get him out. Uncertain relationship at start – ‘our son’ seemed to bequestionned – but then their relationship proved to be genuine.

What did it make you feel?

I felt they were about to have a blazing row. Like being a real parent and child relationship, watching it was like being back at ‘home’.

What were the really good bits?

Atmosphere created by Chris in the bath.
relationship between ‘mum’ & ‘dad’ – memory created by the watch.
initial difference between Dad’s attitude to Mum’s attitude
It didn’t all end in a massive melodramatisation. defused.

What advice would you give to make it better?

Sudden change of pace/
Chris holding back on swearing

sharon and roberts’ blog

This week we looked at artifact’s, items that we each brought in from “Home”. We placed the objects into a space, then walked around the room and discussed each object. Talking about each object was really useful, because it gave us lot’s of ideas for stories.

Robert: I brought my late father’s watch in and was surprised by the stories that others told about it. Many accurately saw that the watch was precious, had previous owners and was now in some way sort of lost. Emerging through the conversation was a theme of time not just in the sense of it being a watch but as a marker of the passage of time. I remarked that the watch kept very poor time and this resonated with the idea that in some way we can lose time both in terms of our day-to-day lives and also in terms of our history. These themes evolved into the initial thoughts around a performance where the watch was used to mark the passage of an externally imposed ‘time’.

Sharon: I brought in a wooden pear from home which belonged to my late mother-in-law. The pear is part of several wooden fruits, which sit in a bowl as ornaments. I love tree’s and wood, the colours, textures and the timeless history of where that pear originated. There were various stories that came out of this, one of them being that the pear was a “Tactile” object, wich is very true, as i do tend to pick it up and play with it in my hand. My mum-in-law is no longer alive, so there is an emotional connection with the pear. It is as if time has stood still and enveloped itself within the pear, where was the tree that it was made from.

We split into groups of three, and with our objects we created a story about all of the objects, and worked towards creating a scene in wich all three objects connected together.

We like the idea of a triptych where we have three scenes linked by a common theme of time but being enacted in their own time. So, we had the pear, the watch and the personal DAB radio. The DAB radio scene was played by Chris ‘in the bath’ and represented external time being excluded and Chris existing in his own envelope of time. The pear having been lost and then found is cherished and the watch is perpetually observed creating three different perceptions of time that while separate often overlay and interact with each other. Personal time, embodied time and worldly time.

Early days…

group blog

reflections on the session –

I didn’t feel so self-conscious doing the warming up exercises this week, I enjoyed them – Brian

Reality isn’t always a good thing, doing the realistic style of acting gave birth to a tragedy – Tom

The ad-libbing was particularly professional – Giles

I like the idea of the Monologue of a character looking out of a window of house – Nick

I enjoyed improvising from Tom’s story, trying to create it  – Sharon

I like the idea of a wall as a character – Kayleigh

I enjoyed trying to incorporate the research with the method acting into the scene, – Ben

It was great to see how one small change can make such  a big difference within acting – Lucy

It was very well put together in the end, watching the second scene Chris’s role was very creative  – Simon