In this week’s class, we looked on two very famous theatre practitioners: Augusto Boal (1931-2009) and Bertolt Brecht (1898-1959).
The works of the German playwright and director, Bertolt Brecht, influenced contemporary documentary drama.
Documentary drama uses historical records of real events as its foundation. Projecting images or texts, breaking the narrative up with songs and character monologues, using historical events to highlight some contemporary injustice, employing staging that is non-realistic, with the setting being suggestive or symbolic and utilizing props and costumes to signal characterization or time and place rather than accurately reflecting them, are frequently used rules for a documentary drama. Brecht also allowed the audience to see the lighting and the backstage area to make sure that they understood that they were watching a play and that it wasn’t real.
Boal founded the Theatre of the Oppressed.
Boal’s techniques were used to show social and political change. In the Theatre of the Oppressed the audience becomes active in the performance, and explores, shows, analyzes and transforms the performance by the actors into the reality in which they are living. The audience can tell the actors what to do as well as joining the actors on stage.
My group of Metamorphosis has some new ideas for how we are supposed to perform the play. In the beginning of the performance, William, Grace and Bree could sit on the bench facing the audience, being very physical in their character, and hold that position for a while. The poses should be similar to Victorian photographs and maybe a bit carnival-like. Poses such as these should emerge throughout the performance. They should also be smiling like the ideal family. While they pose, I should be covered by a sheet, in a very bug like form. This initial image will clearly tell the audience about the state the family is in: how happy the family is trying to be while covering up a dark secret. The smiles should also be ironic as they aren’t even helping their son/brother. This image should also have mystery and relationship tension. The relationship tension being the family’s position and the mystery tension is brought on because the audience doesn’t know what is under the sheet. During this scene, I should be moving around under the sheet, symbolizing a looming presence on the family, not only keeping up the mystery tension. When I fall off the bed, there will be unexpected surprise tension because it is so sudden and because the audience finally realizes that I am a bug. I should still be moving in position slowly and bug-like, like the video we saw in class. The three bodies at the bottom and my body at the top will create a triangle which will make the audience keep focusing on the scene/image. The sheet will symbolize how hidden Gregor is becoming. We feel that we should move back and forth from the perspectives of the family to that of Gregor’s. We can do this for when the scene is in the perspective of the family, Gregor freezes and visa versa. The poses for when the characters freeze should look like the Victorian photographs. For example, when Gregor talks in the beginning, not quite understanding why people are scared of him, the father, mother and Stietl all freeze: the mother in the melodramatic pose of overwhelmed, the father on the ground weeping, and Stietl moving away feeling sick. I walk around them saying my lines and looking at them not realizing they are acting strange, and once I finish, Stietl says “Get away from me.” This breaks the poses, and Bree falls to the ground as she faints. Everything is normal, and there are no poses until everyone sees Gregor. In the scene where the mother calls Grete a “hussy,” I am on the platform listening intently to the conversation going on downstairs. I feel that this scene would look very nice if the lights were dark on my platform so the audience could only see my silhouette of the bug, right on top of the two bodies having a normal conversation showing that they try to get the incident out of their minds but they always feel him there on the back of their minds. The lights should go on in Gregor’s room when he falls showing that the noise makes his condition even more prominent. The prop in this scene will be a key on a string so Grace can wear it always around her neck. In this scene, the mother wants to see her son but Grete says no and tries to lock the door but right then the mother grabs the key and they start to have a game of tug-a-war with it. Right when the mother says “hussy,” out of her strong emotions and shock of Grete takes the key but then drops it realizing what she said to her child. As the mother said an inappropriate word to her daughter this creates relationship tension and unexpected surprise tension. As the key drops while the actors are in total silence, the noise of it dropping will contribute to the tension even more in this scene. They should wait a few seconds, frozen, before facing the audience posing in the Victorian style: an over the top physical pose to match the scene. E.g. both of them could cover their mouth with their hands with wide eyes and a gasp. Before Gregor falls, the mother should try to get up the stairs while Grete blocks her. I found a position for myself to be in when I am not moving.
I think I’ll scuttle around, with very small yet fast movements, on my hands and knees, when I am moving.
The Victorian and Edwardian photographs have greater expression and feeling as the camera was a new invention at the time so people were amazed by how it could capture a part of time.