Savannah's Theatre Blog

Ophelia – Reflection

Posted in Uncategorized by Savannah on August 31, 2010

I was quite happy with my final performance. I had a few issues (technical and my own) aswell as aspects I was happy with.

The Technical issues:

– The video: I then made the playback slower so it took about 2 minutes and 11 seconds. This seemed to work pretty well but it ended up looking a bit disjointed and I realised I couldn’t use it. However, I felt that the video was one of the most vital parts of the piece (for lighting anyway) and I couldn’t just throw it away altogether. So I went back to what I originally had which was the video in 30 second (approx.) blocks. At the end of each ‘block’ there was a pause in which the screen/projection went blank/black before it recommenced with the waves. I was really nervous about incorporating this in because – due to time constraints – I was unable to physically rehearse it before hand although I had an approximate idea of where the pauses would fall so I could at least mentally prepare myself. When it came to the actual performance I was really  happy with it; I was able to incorporate the pauses successfully and I think it was effective in portraying Ophelia’s state of mind i.e. I thought it added to the performance. I find it rather difficult when things aren’t perfectly ordered or go to plan so it was difficult to overcome but I did and I’m actually glad the problem came about because I think the performance was heightened because of it.

Noise of overhead projector = This was definitely not a big issue but it was a bit surprising so I though I would mention it. I hadn’t actually realised how much noise the overhead projector made. I had used it before but I just didn’t realise. When Cathy turned it on right at the start of my monologue, I got a tiny bit distracted but quickly got back on track and realised that I would need to increase my volume just that little bit.

Using Cathy  instead of Daniel for lighting = Due to Daniel famining, he was a bit distracted and forgot to come to rehearse the lighting plan with me. This meant I needed to use Cathy. This wasn’t really a problem for me although I think Daniel may have been a bit disappointed because he let someone else down and I am always fearful of that (although there was an easy solution). At this point, I was very grateful that my choices were simple and easy otherwise it would have been very difficult for Cathy to learn.

Other Issues =

Focus/the switch from drama student to Ophelia: I remember a couple of weeks ago we were working on our monologues in class. We physically as well as mentally explored them. I was incredibly happy with the quality of work I produced that day and I think it was because I had greater focus. I had that greater focus due to immediate work we had just done on our characters (although I was feeling mad for a while afterwards, I had trouble disconnecting). I think this is where the switch from drama student to Ophelia comes in. I found it really difficult because I couldn’t get totally involved in Ophelia’s world, thus my focus wasn’t what I wanted to be. This is not to say that I had no focus, I just felt I could have thrown myself in that bit more. Perhaps in future it would be a good idea for me at home the night before to do those same exercises we did in class so I can feel more involved and tap back into that for the performance.

– Scratchiness of voice I felt – especially during the singing segment – that my voice was a little bit scratchy. I would say it was because of sickness but I know that it is possible to work around a scratchy voice. I honestly hadn’t thought to take considerations and do a bit of extra vocal work at home in preparation: this is something that I will definitely do next time if the issue of sickness arises again and perhaps even work it in to my general preparation.

Improvements:

I have stated  some of these above in relation to performance preparation however there are still a few more points of improvement.

– Seating of the audience: I hadn’t really thought this through; how the position of the audience members would impact their perception of my performance. Melissa, for example, had the audience standing at different points to make them feel as isolated as her character (Lady Macbeth) did. It was to illustrate that ‘they couldn’t quite connect with her, they were just (onlookers), they couldn’t comprehend what was going (through) her head, (just) as she couldn’t’ (Melissa speaking here). I thought this was really insightful and I think it would have made the performance more effective and powerful.

– Picking the plants (rue, etc): I don’t think this was something I did very well. I would have liked the motion of picking the plants to be clearer. I think I should have practiced with props to begin with. I didn’t want to use them for the actual performance because they are, of course, a figment of her imagination; a method she has employed to deliver warnings.

– More written preparation in regard to what has happened before hand. I think if I had actually written down the events prior to my scene with a great depth rather than with a narrow depth from simply reading and not analysing. I think this would have helped with my focus and it is something I will definitely do in preparation for other performances.

– My hair was in the way. It was very annoying but I didn’t like the idea of it being pinned back because it didn’t fit with Ophelia’s disarray (which I was trying to emphasise with the costume). I think I will just need to do more experimenting next time to work out a solution. In this particular performance I could have perhaps had my hair out with braids at the front (for my fringe to get it out of the way); I would still be getting the chaotic effect but without the infuriating obstruction I had on the day of the performance.

Other’s work:

– I really liked Mel’s sudden floodlight at the beginning on the word ‘yet’. I think it just zapped the audience right into her monologue, it was like ‘watch. this is happening now. There is nothing you can do. Just watch.’

– I liked the shadows that Daniel created with the trees and the gels he’d used to create that really pretty glow of colours. I think it was subtle but effective because it helped to create the mood.

– I really really liked the shadows that Taleah had filmed and then projected! I thought it was such a creative thing to do! I think because it was silhouettes, it created that classic vibe she was going for (judging by her costume and performance choices).

 

 

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Ophelia – Analysis

Posted in Uncategorized by Savannah on August 30, 2010

I found a lot of interesting points to this monologue, mainly coming from the meaning of all the plant Ophelia talks about. This website helped me a lot: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/12/23/HOGVNN39851.DTL . After learning the different meanings, I then had to figure out what they meant to Ophelia. They are outlined in the monologue below in blue.

After I had done all the analysing, etc. I needed to figure out my lighting. Originally I wanted to have a par can or flood lights coming in from the wings to give myself a more ‘3D shape’ as we were told would happen after seeing Superheroes. I then wanted lights coming in from the front (I hadn’t even worked out which ones at the time – I was still a little confused). My final touch was to be water – foreshadowing Ophelia’s death. I experimented by using a floodlight upstage with a container of water and trying to get a rippling affect happening. I was not very successful with this… If I sloshed the water around a lot and held the floodlight above, I could get some form of a reflection however I obviously couldn’t have someone standing upstage behind me sloshing water and holding a floodlight above it. The audience probably wouldn’t have even been able to see the rippling effect the water was creating because of the person in the way.

Basically, I ended up scrapping this idea all together. Not the water, but everything surrounding it. I’d been thinking about how if you have a light coming from one side of a person, the other will be shaded. I thought this would be very symbolic of Ophelia’s emotional state; she has some sanity and is trying to give out warnings (you will understand with the annotations) yet has been driven utterly mad by everything that has been happening around her. I tried that with a model of Daniel and then Ms Flood and I was really happy with the result and I just had to figure out what to do about the water and whether to use any other lights. For a little while (about a minute) I even considered using the disco ball and I thought it would be good to incorporate yet then I decided it was too “flashy” for the style I was going for.

I then decided to try projecting water from a video. So I searched on youtube for a suitable video and found this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b61aQghSwnk 

I will also attempt to put the video in a post somewhere…

 When I was experimenting on Friday afternoon the projection was too bright so I then pulled the black curtains and it was still to bright. So I then put the lens cap on the projector and it was perfect! It was very subtle and precisely what I was looking for.

It was really short so I put it onto a loop so it was repeating. I then had a problem in that after 34 seconds it would stop for a few seconds with a black screen and then start again. I then made it slower so it took about 2 minutes and 11 seconds. This seemed to work pretty well but I am yet to test the slower version out! And it is looking a bit disjointed..

 However, before this experimentation, I had a rather serious issue in that the par can suddenly turned blue and died (I will surely murder Geoffrey as he was using it for his Group 4 project I was told – LIGHTS AND ACID DO NOT MIX). Ms Flood suggested using two flood lights as a substitute. I was a little bit worried that this would create too much light but I knew I needed to try anyway so I went to the science department and they weren’t there.. I hunted for a bit and came up with nothing. So then someone – Cathy maybe? – suggested the overhead projector as it had a light on it and then Taleah and I went on a stalking mission which took about  MILLION YEARS but we got the overhead projector and after a bit of fiddling it worked! Really well! I’m really happy with it and I think I actually like the way it lights more (for this purpose) because it has a more natural feel.

The monologue:

There’s rosemary (in Shakespeare’s time, rosemary was used in funeral wreaths), that’s for remembrance; pray,

love, remember: and there is pansies (also relieves hysteria in children – supposedly. It can be seen as a way in which Ophelia is trying to calm herself down to get through what she needs to say). That’s for thoughts.

There’s fennel (false flattery) for you, and columbines (the ‘thankless flower’, symbolic of ingratitude): there’s rue (symbolic for sorrow and repentance. Protects against poisons – it is at this point that we ask ourselves if Ophelia is trying to warn the Queen)

for you; and here’s some for me: we may call it

herb-grace o’ Sundays: O you must wear your rue with

a difference. There’s a daisy (innocence and purity; it possesses only good qualities. Here, it seems, Ophelia is talking of herself and trying to gain trust): I would give you

some violets (sweet and non-lasting, associated with early death), but they withered all when my father

died: they say he made a good end, –

Sings:

For bonny sweet Robin is all my joy.

And will he not come again?

And will he not come again?

No, no, he is dead:

Go to thy death-bed:

He never will come again.

His beard was as white as snow,

All flaxen was his poll:

He is gone, he is gone,

And we cast away moan:

God ha’ mercy on his soul!

And of all Christian souls, I pray God. God be wi’ ye.

So... In my opinion, it seems that Ophelia had somehow learnt of the murder that had taken place – of Claudius murdering the original king via poison poured into his ear – and that it why she is warning those around her and, of course, insulting and accusing them too but very snide (‘There’s fennel for y.ou, and columbines’ – it seems that she is accusing Claudius of murder)

 There was dialogue throughout this which I obviously cut out for the purpose of this monologue. For Ophelia’s, this is not necessarily problematic because – in my opinion – she cannot take much of the outside world in at this stage.

Lighting

Posted in Uncategorized by Savannah on August 18, 2010

Lanterns:

– Comes in two main types: spotlights and floodlights. Spotlights use a lens whereas floodlights do not.

– They are generally designed to be mounted on a pipe (overhead bar), vertical bars or floor stands.

– they are fitted with a mounting yoke and usually a pipe hook clamp to allow for the fixture.

– Most lanterns are fitted with colour frame clips to hold a square metal frame. This is for holding coloured gels.

– There are also other possible fittings: barn doors, top hats, doughnuts and colour wheels.

– they are available for either 120V or 240V operation.

– Most use an incandescent lamp.

– It is possible to change the intensity of the light by changing the amount of electricity.

– There are all kinds of spotlights, differentiated by the type of lens they use. There is the Plano Convex (PC), Fresnels (which they used in Superheroes) and PAR (Parabolic aluminised Reflectors) lanterns.

*All lights are connected through a dimmer which transmits back to the lighting panel.

Superheroes – REVIEW

Posted in Uncategorized by Savannah on August 18, 2010

Superheroes
Superheroes follows the lives of 6 people associated with a ‘rest home’. For no character seems completely sane. It was performed at the North Melbourne Town hall, directed by Joe Stone and presented by Stone/Castro and Arts House. We see the stories of the six unfold throughout the play and they become more complex. This is mirrored by the more complex acting/directing choices. It goes so far that we begin to question whether the nurse is really a nurse, or whether they are part of a fantasy in an insane asylum (or a less extreme version of).
ALIENATION VS INVOLVMENT
I really liked the relationship between the woman and the nephew. I thought the writing choices that had been made were very interesting. There was the nurse saying “Now don’t you go having sex with her. I saw the way she was looking at you” juxtaposed with her constantly referring to him as her son. It was a bit disturbing because the difference in perception was strange. I was therefore pushed away from the performance and alienated. However, it was also incredibly interesting which meant I was enticed into the story and almost made to believe that I was in the ‘rest home’ myself. I was interested and involved enough in the play to pay attention but alienated enough to thoroughly analyse the meaning of certain things and, indeed, was able to retain my own sanity.

THE MIST
I thought the mist was a really good effect for the dancing because, as Nathan said, it really fills up the space meaning you can get involved in it and feel what it all means. I also liked how the mist came into the audience (asides from all the coughs) because it made it a more sensual experience.
I found it interesting that the smoke machine was hand-held (off stage). It was good to see that even a MUCH better theatre than ours still had to do some things without advanced technology/machines, etc. It made me feel a little better after seeing many flash bits of technology. 
COSTUMING AND ITS’ SIGNIFICANCE
I ABSOLUTELY LOVED the superhero costumes and not just because they made it a little humorous. The little guy was the only one openly trying to be Superman/Spiderman but the ultra-religious man and the ex-soldier were also trying to be superheroes in their own respects. The religious man was trying to save everyone by attempting to have them show their faith in God; they would be saved. In the scenes that involved the projector, where it was as though he was back in the war, the ex-soldier tried to save everyone he could. His superhero alter ego only kicked in when in a high stress situation because he couldn’t hide his emotions and love with anger.
However, what I found interesting whilst the little man was the one to order the costumes, he was the one trying to save himself. He was trying to regain his memory.

DIRECTION OF THE EX-SOLDIER TAKING TABLETS (TRYING TO OVERDOSE)
At first I didn’t like the acting/the direction of the ex-soldier’s overdose section. This was because it seemed very simplistic and not thought through. However, I did notice that as the play progressed the intricacy of the acting/direction choices did as well which made me think they had thought about it and they had really wanted to mirror the unravelling stories.

LIGHTING
Those that the audience could not see:
During our talk with Nathan what I really found interesting was the lights where the audience could not see them. I thought it was a good technique to use because it creates a more “3-dimensional” figure; a fuller person and set. I hope to use something of a similar effect for my monologue.
The flashing green lights:
There were three green lights that flashed when there was the fire and evacuation was in order. I liked it because it added to the urgency and panic.
The fluorescents:
There were normal (everyday) fluorescent lights that were used for the set. They had a fake switch and the real power was controlled by the lighting desk/operator. It was connected via a wire. I liked the use of these lights because it gave it a grungier look which added to how it would be so easy to go insane in a place like that with those people.
The dimmers:
I was incredibly impressed with the huge dimmers that we saw backstage even if they looked a tad confusing. I was so shocked though to find out how much power they used! It was something that had never occurred to me before.

Kabuki Costuming

Posted in Uncategorized by Savannah on August 8, 2010

A Brief Overview

The influence of Kabuki costuming was originally taken from the contemporary styles of the time. Later, there was a reversal of influence when many ‘contemporary styles’ were based upon Kabuki costuming, epitomising the costumes not just as a focal point of the  performances but of society as well. In fact, the costumes became so extravagant that during the mid-eighteenth century a high ranked government official, Matsuda Sadanobu denied anyone, asides from royalty, the right do dress in an extravagant way. This restriction was still imposed in the mid 19th century meaning that theatres were obliged to submit their designs for approval for each new production.

A similarly significant change that occurred was that the actors were once required to purchase their own costumes, despite the cost. When they became even more elaborate, the actors began to demand that the company purchased them.

The Costumes

Kabuki costuming is ‘extremely elaborate’ making the emotions/meaning more pronounced.

The costumes signify the class, traits and age of a character by colour, contour and textile.  Generally, however, not all three are strongly depicted at once.

They are ‘full of subtlety, illusion and hidden meaning’ and ‘emphasise a character’s role’. The short happi coat can infer that the character/actor is wearing a samurai’s armour. It is the main outer garment and may be printed with the symbol or logo of the acting company.

There are several layers to each costume. Each layer may change in colour and design but the patter remains the same, asides for a slight change of consistency or placement. This, the never-changing pattern, is to remind the audience that the actor is the same the entire way through thus disallowing us, as the audience, to become completely intoxicated by the performance. We can then look analytically at the meaning.

There are stereotypical characters such as the ‘red princess’, also known as Akahime. It is worn by princesses and daughters of shoguns (historical title for a military dictator of Japan; a ‘military rand of the highest degree’) or a Daimyo (the powerful territorial lord).

How It All Works

The performer changes from layer to layer on stage. There are several different ways of changing these ‘extremely elaborate’ costumes.

1) The upper and lower parts, in two separate pieces, are obscured by a large sash. When the sash is removed, a new costume emerges.

2) Quick change: (or hikinuku) a kouken (stage assistant) removes a series of threads to allow an outer layer of the costume to be removed quickly whilst the performance continues.

3) Hedge: (or transformation) When a character’s visual representation is totally altered by a new costume and wig.

The short happi coat can infer that the character/actor is wearing a samurai’s armour. It is the main outer garment and may be printed with the symbol or logo of the acting company.