Drama 9- Lesson of February 15th 2012
Today in drama class we continued exploring Waiting for Godot and Look Back in Anger. We also played an improvisational game “in the style of”.
First of all, we played the improvisational game. We had to give the actors a situation and they would start an improvisation. Once the storyline had been established the audience had to call out a style that they wished the actors to act in. For example; Western style— players had to act out the continuation of the scene as if they were cowboys. Then, the audience would call out another style, etc. And the cycle would keep going until Mr. Meiklejohn told us the improvisation had to wrap up. The actors would then quickly draw the scene to a close in a normal style. I think this game is very useful because it improves improvisational skills and helps to explore different acting styles and techniques. It is also very entertining to watch. I think themost successful improvisations were when the actors focused more on story and characters rather than stressing about the style. It was better when the actors took risks.
Next, we explored the two pieces we hd been examining over the past few weeks. We split into groups and each group had to try and perform each piece in the opposite style of which it was written in. Then, we each chose one of our variations to present to the class. My group chose to perform the absurd play Waiting for Godot in a realistic fashion. We changed the character of Pozzo into a “nerd” and Vladimir and Estragon were gangsters waiting for a drug dealer to arrive. Throughout our version of the scene the two gangsters bullied Pozzo and mocked him. We made Pozzo have a broken leg so it would be less random that he asks Estragon and Vladimir if they can ask him to have a seat. We also made changes to the stage directions. (see script modifications below):
I think our group delivered the variation well and we managed to make the scene seem much more realistic. However, in doing so, we changed the meaning behind te text. The original has deep meanings and metaphors about life whereas our version was about bullying and gangs. I think we were original with our adaptation but we lost most of the original scene’s powerfulness.
I thought one of the teams (Alec, Mia and Walter) adapted Look Back in Anger really effectively. They managed to modify the original scene and transform it into a powerful non-realistic piece. They did the scene a if were a crazy man’s argument with himself when he looked in the mirror. Mia and Walter mirrored Alec throughout the scene and played Alec’s conscience talking back to him. I think they delivered their piece really well with the right amount of emotion. I was impressed how they played with the element of human relationships and human context and how they used symbolism and tension to adapt this scene into a non-realistic version that kept the same raw power of the original and realistic text. For example, they twisted the characters and their relationships and combined the characters to form a multiple personality character. I think the three characters were perfect to combine together to create one character with personality disorders because they are at opposite sides of the personality spectrum. However, they could ahve used the space more because they were very stationary, however it would have been more interesting to have a bit more movement. I think that group had the most effective variation of the pieces because they managed to keep the symbolism of the original and only change the style of acting.
In conclusion, I think it is very hard to flip a piece and modify it to make it in the opposite style (realism–>non-realism or non-realism–>realism) without losing much of the meaning, power and symbolism of the original. However, it is quite possible to do it with certain texts, if you think carefully which elements you will change and if you consider how to modify the scene without losing the meaning.