Savannah's Theatre Blog

The Producers… BATS Style

Posted in Uncategorized by Savannah on July 26, 2010

I cannot honestly say that I particularly enjoyed this performance of the producers but I can give several stylistic choices that I think would have made it better.

1. The long, long set changes! They were SO long I am sure they added an extra hour to the show, this made such moments fairly dull. I think it would have been better to make these shorter, even if the furniture/set was re-used.

2.  The lead was in jail in front of the proscenium. This was to make it more intimate and personal which I generally like although the acting and singing could have been more thoroughly executed (although we accept that it could not be as the man was not a professional performer and it is amateur theatre).

3. We were able to see the musicians. I’m not quite sure if this was breaking down the fourth wall as it was not the character’s themselves interacting in any way with the audience. I liked this stylistic choice because they – the musicians – were clearly recognised as being important.

The acting…

I like Ms Allen in this production and actually enjoyed watching her scenes. She was clear in her intentions, had an exaggerated yet consistent accent, high energy and good focus.

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Study of a Man – looking at actions/characteristics/habits that will help with characterisation

Posted in Uncategorized by Savannah on July 13, 2010

Purpose: To discover why someone may change their physicality in order to assist me with discovering how to reason in a logical manner.

Setting: A cafe

Extra: Am I allowed to put this up here? But for legal purposes, I was not and am not stalking this people nor do I know any personal information about them!

Two men are sitting in a cafe, waiting for their order to come (which turns out to be just coffee). They are talking to one another; the man on the left is sitting comfortably (legs spread across the chair seat, resting his elbow against the back); the man on the right is sitting quite primly and business-like (legs crossed with a concentrated expression on his face – but is he actually concentrating or just pretending to? He certainly isn’t speaking/contributing much at this point. The man on the right is fairly old with brown hair that looks as though it should be grey – he has probably dyed it. In actual fact, he looks like Kevin Rudd with light brown hair. Despite right man looking older, I would say that both men are around the same age.

Suddenly, it all changes as a woman (quite pretty and around their age) enters and sits at the table. They all know each other (it seems that they had arranged to meet up) and begin talking (although I cannot hear what they are saying). The man on the left leans forward and devotes all his attention to her, instantly looking more serious; trying to impress (is she perhaps his boss? They  all look very professional). His legs are still wide open (that ‘comfortable position) but he seems somehow more refined. The man on the right has similar changes, devoting most of his attention to her (although some stays on the other man). He looks more serious but also more relaxed (I don’t know how this works for it seems, now, that this is an important meeting – perhaps it is because he doesn’t have to chatter away aimlessly and he can now focus on something solid – work?). He looks truthfully focussed at this stage (suggesting further that this is a meeting but it could equally mean that he loves her and is desperate to impress her. IF so, he is doing so in an intelligent way, actually showing himself to be smart and work hard – is this what happens when boys grow up? Not to be generalising or anything…

They begin to talk about something quite seriously now. The man on the right seems to be more into the conversation than the man on the left. At one point he begins to talk a bit faster, clenching and stretching his hands in excitement. There was no shaking of heads or anything of the sort when he gave his exciting information so I assume that his contribution has been well met. However, it also seems that this was his main point: although he continues to contribute to the conversation, it is with less enthusiasm( no more clenching and unclenching of his hands!). The man on the left seems very nervous. As their conversation progresses he becomes less relaxed (and he was very relaxed before she arrived) and more rigid/stiff – is the conversation going badly? Or is it just growing tension (what will she think?). She, herself, is still and poised; crossing and recrossing her legs a few times but looking very in control of the whole situation. She doesn’t say as much as either man, mainly listening and asking a few questions.

The man on the left is now pulling out a booklet of paper which appears to be filled with statistics and graphs: career discovered! (Sort of). They look at and discuss this for a while making confused and thoughtful expressions. However the left man’s face remains fairly blank from what I can see (nerves perhaps?) – is he even paying attention? Right man certainly is, he appears to be catching every word that either one says whereas the left man’s heart doesn’t really seem in it. The woman soon pulls out a similar booklet but with much more ease/grace than the man (is she just more confident? Or is it an act? Does she feel superior over them both and this is what comes naturally? Her status is clearly higher over the two men, whether she is their boss or just a better co-worker I cannot be sure.) and they all compare/discuss.

Their conversation dwindles away – are they getting bored, going around in circles or just reaching the end of what can be discussed? The woman looses her powerful position slightly and leans back against the chair, resting her elbow on it as left man did right at the beginning. The two men look a little drained and take genuinely relaxed (or perhaps tired?) positions. Right man takes left man’s original position (splayed legs, etc.) – he has finally lost his intense concentration.

They leave soon afterwards. Left man walks primly but with some heaviness, his arms not moving much. Right man walks like a stiff bear; quite squarely, lifting up his briefcase slowly and sluggishly. The woman takes control /power again (though a little less than at the beginning of what I am now assuming was a meeting), stepping gracefully away and picking up a lovely black jacket and her briefcase. She takes strong and direct steps whilst the two mean seem to take weaker and indirect steps.

Dead Man’s Cell Phone – Sarah Ruhl

Posted in Uncategorized by Savannah on July 12, 2010

What I Noticed…

  • It was confrontation for some (i.e. nudity)
  • A sweet ending emphasised by a brief break down of the 4th wall
  • The purpose for the setting (the laundromat) was not discovered until the end however it was linked with the very beginning of the play which – at the time – seemed irrelevant
  • A cast member entered the audience but did not interact
  • Scene/set changes were done by the cast members wearing black; precise and with music but slow
  • Jean/Lisa McCune gave a beautiful performance; not overly dramatic; perfectly understated; truthful

 

Dead Man’s Cell Phone is centered around the supposed romance with Jean and Gordon. It came about after her sudden impulse to answer Gordon’s ‘cell’ phone when he was died in the cafe where she was eating. However, as she becomes more involved in Gordon’s life and family she falls for Dwight – a sweet and dorky guy. The plays follows Jean’s confrontations with illegal trade and love.

No Clear Beginning:

The beginning of this play – Dead Man’s Cell Phone – was not stated. The audience was seated and our lights were still on when the play began. There was no announcement of the play’s commencement and no music to indicate that it was beginning. The audience lights were not even turned off, instead,  a naked man walked on to the stage, walked over to one of the washing machines (or dryer – we cannot be sure), took out his clothes and then began to get dressed – all at a steady and comfortable pace. I admired and respected him for this – it would be quite confronting and scary to walk out on a stage causally and naked! 

I was actually reading  through the program when he first walked out and I did not realise what was happening until people in the audience started laughing. However, I liked how there was no clear beginning because it felt instantly more natural and organic; as though it were part of nature’s course.

The meaning and purpose of this (his walking out naked) was not discovered until later in the play. An after life existed in a huge laundromat and the inhabitants only had one set of clothes (the set they died in) meaning that you have to was and dry your clothes naked.

This introduction can be defined as foreshadowing. The “dead man” (Gordon) and Jean end up at this laundromat but Jean only stays there for a short period of time before returning to earth.

It was an effective start, essentially “breaking the ice” as well as an effective technique; it gave us a clue we – the audience – could not fully understand meaning we focussed more (well, I did anyway) to discover what it was all about.

Scene/Set Changes:

The set: Dead Man’s Cell Phone revolved around a laundromat and its’ implements (i.e. washers and driers) which were used for storing props. It was “transformed” into a cafe and a church as well as a stationary shop and various characters’ houses. The changes of props were simple and the setting was indicated by the actors.

The changes: The changes of props,etc. was done by cast members wearing black. The changes were very precise and done with music but if it were not for those two factors,  I would have become very frustrated because they were very slow. I found I did actually enjoy watching the set changes because they were so precise and simple.

By doing this, they broke down the 4th wall, reminding us that they were putting on a play. Never-the-less, I was still absolutely captivated by the play.

Jean/Lisa McCune:

I think that Lisa McCune’s exemplary acting abilities greatly contributed to my ‘(absolute captivation)’ with the play. She was so truthful! Not once did I feel she was acting for show or attention (as I often feel people do); she was telling Jean’s story which enabled us to come up with appropriate interpretations. Furthermore, nothing was over done and, as I said in ‘what I noticed’, perfectly understated. What I mean by this is that she wasn’t so reserved with her portrayal of Jean that she disappeared into the cast but not so outspoken that she took focus away from the rest of the cast. Essentially, she worked as part of a team and not as though she were doing a one-man(woman)-show.

Cast Member Enters Audience:

There was a seat just one row behind me reserved for Jean (Lisa McCune). Her only interaction with the audience was asking those in her row to please move so she could just get to her seat. However this was at such times as the funeral for Gordon (the dead man) where the audience was included as part of the funeral. I’m not sure if this counts as breaking down the fourth wall… Ms Flood?

It was clear though, that doing this created more interest within the audience (as it did in Heracles) and made it that bit more personal.

 

I absolutely loved this play – the ending was so incredibly sweet that I felt instantly uplifted. Just like that feeling after watching Up. It just made me feel so warm and fuzzy!

Heracles

Posted in Uncategorized by Savannah on July 5, 2010

Heracles

SETTING

 The first information that the audience was given was that we were on a plane. There was also supplementary information regarding this throughout the play. There were a few clues to this:

 1 – The entrance or ‘hangar’

 2 – The emergency procedure sheet placed on our seats

3 – The crashing of the plane at the end However, this actually confused me a bit because we (the audience) were part of a live show and to be on a plane for that made no sense at all to me. Unless – because the show was called “Green and Gold”, i.e. Australia’s colours – it was symbolic of Australia being a central part of the world but I again – it was not particularly clear to me. However, it was effective in making me think

 SOUND

What I found most captivating about this play was the use of sound and more specifically, the band. I found it great in breaking up the dialogue so it was not a giant slab thus creating more interest, often provided extra comedy but also showing the height of the characters feelings or state of mind.

I didn’t enjoy the sound effects as much but I have never really liked the use of sound effects much because often they make the play seem like a joke and I am instantly less engaged. I felt this in moments such as that when Heracles was “working” to gain a reward – the cow sounds, for me, made it seem a bit too silly. Also, I felt they were overdone. But – as I said before – I loved the band!

THE WATER

 I loved the used of real water for the rivers because it was really exciting and interesting. I also loved how the actors were so willing to throw themselves into it. For me, that was a bit of a metaphor; that performers need to throw themselves entirely into a performance. For instance, if the “cow” had merely climbed very slowly into the water, trying not to get wet, it would not have been exciting at all and would have made the whole thing seem like a joke. It is exactly the same with performing; you must throw yourself entirely into that water and immerse yourself completely in order for it to be an effective performance. This is something I want to achieve – complete immersion. However, the way to do this for me is to not think about it so much because I know that I get too caught up in my thoughts to portray a character, emotion or story as effectively as I would like.

HERACLES!

I loved all the characterisation! Such things as ripping the head of the stuffed animal kangaroo was so great because it for one seemed so organic, but also well justified because it just made sense for the character. Just this small thing made me feel that Jack Walters had really thought about his character (BEFOREHAND that is – during you just become the character and let your instincts and character take over). In fact, I think it was because he let the character take over (or so it seemed) was why that movement appeared to be organic. I think he carried his character really well throughout and the emotional journey – progressing to really quite horrible – was played well.