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  1. News-Knowledge, Language and Perception

    October 19, 2013 by 15robidouxk

    I recently read an article on BBC news entitled “India’s abandoned women struggle to survive“, which talks about a growing population of widows in India with no access to adequate pension programs nor familial care. The article begins by outlining the situation in Vrindavan, Northern India, where thousands of widows seek help from charities after having been abandoned by their family members and unable to support themselves through meagre government pensions. The author then goes on to describe the dire situation of the widows, forced to take part in religious chants or begging to gain end’s meet. The women often live on a single meal a day, and have little access to services, proper housing and sanitation. Finally, the article is concluded by highlighting the issues presented by India’s growing aged population and the costs required if social security systems were to be implemented.

    The first knowledge claim made by the author in the article appears when Kannan claims that ‘ageing women are more vulnerable than men’.  Next, another knowledge claim is presented: ” the lack of a nationwide national social security system poses serious risks to the economy”. Finally Kannan makes yet another knowledge claim at the end of the article stating “[N]either the government nor the private sector have any simple solutions to offer. And for some, it may already be too late.”

    After reading the article, I considered the central knowledge question raised by this piece of news. One possible knowledge question that arises is “To what extent should governments be responsible for improving elderly care and pension programs?”. Based on the central knowledge question, I also came up with 4 other associated knowledge questions:

    Associated Knowledge Question 1- How effective are government programs in providing care and financial stability for those unable to work?
    Associated Knowledge Question 2- 
    To what extent are family members responsible for elderly care and obliged to fulfil that responsibility?
    Associated Knowledge Question 3-
    In what situations can governmental elderly care programs/policies be seen to increase/decrease public health and family cohesiveness?
    Associated Knowledge Question 4- 
    To what extent does integration of females in the workplace reduce the amount of elderly struggling to survive?

    BBC new is a known to be a very reputable news source. In my personal experience, I have had most teachers recommend BBC as a reliable and trust worthy news source when required to research current events or read news articles. However, there recently ahs been a lot of controversy in regards to the news source’s reliability, with many claiming that BBC has a left-wing preference and presents news with a left-wing point of view. Here is a link to an article which describes BBC’s reputation and recent debate over its sources of bias. The particular news article about Indian widows slightly reflects the left-wing bias through the language and tone used in the article and video. For example in the article, the quotation “But the number of old people is rising steadily. The UN warns it could triple, reaching 300 million within the next 40 years.[…]With families struggling to care for their elders at home, the plight of these women is likely to become increasingly common.”, shows the BBC’s slant. The news source concludes without evidence that a growth in elderly population could result in further problems, however fails to consider the possibility that an increase in elderly population may encourage or force the government to implement care programs.  In addition, the video demonstrates the aid being provided by Maitri, a local NGO in a very positive light. However, is the work by Maitri sufficient if the widows are only receiving a single meal a day? Another example of BBC’s left-wing stance in the video is the mention of how widows “come to Vrindavan to recive charity while they wait to die”. This claim is quite gruesome and is not supported by any statistics indicating the widows want to die. The sentence is also attached to negative emotional connotations, which may manipulate audiences to adopt a left-wing stance; implying that such social inequalities be abolished immediately by the Indian government.

    On the other hand, I feel as though the article is also quite informative and somewhat objective, as it presents relevant statistics and is succinct and factual, meaning there is little room for opinion in the piece. Furthermore, in the article, there is a small section of comments by a KPMG official:

    “One step could be, can you establish a subsidy mechanism for screening or providing some medication for these people? That could have a certain cost,” says Amit Mookim, head of healthcare at KPMG.”Then, is there a mechanism to take care of certain procedures, operations or surgeries which is then contracted to private players? That is another cost.”Then there is the end-of-life care for which the infrastructure doesn’t exist – so how much infrastructure can you build?”

    The inclusion of these comments, as well as quotes from people who demand improved social security demonstrates BBC’s objectiveness. They first show the side of the story which claims governmental and familial efforts are insufficient,then subsequently show the opinion that instilling elderly care policies is not currently feasible in India.

    Based on these examples, I believe the article reflects the BBC’s bias in a minor way. However, since the bias is so subtle in this particular article, I believe it does not hinder the comprehensive communication of the story.

    In determining the extent to which governments should be responsible for elderly care, the associated knowledge question of whether or not family members are responsible for elderly care would have to be considered. In order to arrive at a conclusion about the central knowledge question, various case studies from different countries would have to taken into account. The effectiveness of various governmental policies currently implemented in different parts  of the world would have to be examined. Also, the ethical implications of forcing taxation and/or familial care upon a population would have to be considered. Finally, all other associated knowledge questions as well as their implications would have to be considered before attaining a conclusion to the central question.

    In conclusion, based on my current knowledge, I believe that governments should be responsible for providing adequate healthcare, financial aid and pension programs for the elderly population as despite no longer being able to contribute productively to the workforce, the elderly still have the basic human right to access to healthcare, sanitation and nutrition, in other words the right to live. However, depending on the nation and circumstances, policies may differ in different places based on the specific issues and needs of that a particular population. In order to determine an effective program for a specific region, the current situation, culture and infrastructure as well as budget limitations would have to be considered.

    The knowledge claims and questions that arose from reading BBC’s article made me think about a similar article I had recently read. This article talked about a 94 year old woman in China who sued her children for emotionally and physically neglecting her and refusing to take care of her in her old age, after a new rule was instated obliging children to care for and frequently visit their parents. The article draws many parallels to the situation in India and further considers whether the elderly are a responsibility of the government of of family members, and can be read here. The article about the situation in China offers an example of a country where governments require  children by law to take care of their elderly parents. This led me to consider the ethical implications of such laws and of the absence of such laws and the human rights and freedom of choice issues it raises.


  2. Drama Journal- Blocking and memorization check

    May 25, 2012 by 15robidouxk

    Drama 9- Lessons of May 23rd and 24th  2012

    On Wednesday, in drama class, our group practiced our half of the play in front of the class to make sure we knew our placements and lines. Generally, it was not very good as we were unorganized and lacked some focus. Also, we had just finished blocking our part so we didn’t know it by heart yet and struggled to get the placements without our scripts.

    I think it was really hard to preform when we were as unorganized because it was hard to know one’s cues when some of the lines weren’t memorized so they were being improvised. This  made the scene really jerky and discontinuous. Also, it was very challenging to incorporate physicality when we were still trying to figure out our positions and some lines. I think the parts that went the smoothest in the scene were when we all knew our lines and positions and were focussing on our characters instead of the next lines. In addition, we were still acting a lot like ourselves throughout the run through and did not have much character physicality or character voice. Also, our stage business and character interactions were very weak.

    On Tuesday, the other group performed the first half of the Metamorphosis. Their performance was also very rocky and needed some work, like ours. I think the strong points of their practice performance were their voice projection, and tone variation. I also thought the group members’ voices suited the characters who they were playing well. However, they could improve on their stage use, as a lot of the action took place at upstage right. They could also, like our group, improve on physicality and dramatic poses at key points in the plot. Next, they could also improve on stage business, facial expression and gesture and get into their characters more so that the audience is more endorsed in the drama. If the actors are not focussed and don’t display vivid characters, the audience will not believe in the play or the characters and will not be entertained and will shit their focus elsewhere.

    To improve before the show, I think we will have to rehearse our lines and know them so well that they come naturally and we can simply focus on our characters and their physicality. Also, to add more of a carnivalesque feeling to the play and to make it more entertaining, we should incorporate frozen poses in the style of Victorian/Edwardian photographs at every time important events happen in the play and and at key points in the plot. We could mix in a bit of melodrama, non-realism and realism into our performance to make it more interesting and to include all of the elements and topics and concepts that we studied this year. To improve our characterization, Mr. Meiklejohn suggested that we choose an animal that represents our character and use this animal to inspire our physicalization. For example, Stietl, a character in the first act is very nosy, like a raccoon maybe, and therefore to accentuate this he could move leading by his nose to signify his personality. For my character Grete, I think in the second half, her personality can be represented by a swan. This is because she is seen as very beautiful on the outside and appears sweet and kind. However, when bothered she easily snaps and can become quite vicious and mean. Just like a swan when they are bothered by people. Since her character can be represented by this animal, Grete should have good posture and use her neck in her physicality to display her feelings.

    After the performances, we discussed the play a bit. We discussed which animals represent each character and discussed a bit about the play’s genre and character evolution. Firstly, we talked about how the play mixes in comedy and noir- as in tragic sad and dark and creepy- aspects together to create a very unique style. Next, we talked about the metamorphosis of Gregor in comparison to Grete’s metamorphosis. We discussed which character’s change is the most significant to the plot. Gregor’s is more obvious where as Grete’s is more subtle but is very symbolic still. In the in the beginning, Grete is very kind, gentle and caring and is very concerned for Grgeor. She takes care of him and looks after him. However, as the play progresses, the pressure put on Grete by her parents and by the stress of her job cause her to gradually change. She bottles up her emotions and as the pressure augments and augments, she gets closer to her breaking point. Then, she snaps and can no longer handle the responsibility of taking Gregor’s care on her shoulders. She becomes vicious and uncaring and focuses more on impressing her parents and love interests and loses concern for her brother. By the end of the play, she is just willing to get rd of Gregor and does not seem particularly distressed that he passes away. The significance of Grete’s metamorphosis is made evident at the end of the play when the stage directions say “And with all the expectation of youth, Grete stretches her fine young body to the sun”. This is what indicates to the audience that maybe Grete’s metamorphosis as a a person is more significant and symbolic than Gregor’s metamorphosis into an insect.

    In the coming weeks leading up to the performance, we will keep working on the play. We will have to improve our physicality, characterization, line memorization, blocking technicalities, facial expression, etc. We will also have to start practicing with props, lighting, sound, etc. to get used to the flow of the play. We will also have to practice going through the play non-stop and keeping the scenes flowing one after another after another after another. We will have to practice in class and out of class to make sure to really improve our performance.


  3. Drama Journal- Exam Preparation Questions

    May 23, 2012 by 15robidouxk

    Drama 9-Lesson of May 16th 2012

    This week in drama, we continued preparing for Metamorphosis. In class on Wednesday, we blocked our scenes and continued to practice our lines.

    For homework, we had a few practice exam questions to complete;

    As an actor, how would you approach playing the character of Gregor both physically and vocally in scene 1 compared to scene 6? As an actor playing Gregor, I would approach the character very differently in scene 1 and scene 6 because throughout the play, Gregor changes. In the first scene, I would crawl with my spine twisted and my fingers tensely separated and curled. I would tilt my head to one side. When I moved, I would move hesitantly and timidly because Gregor is not used to the fact that he is a bug at first and is still trying to figure out his new body. At the very beginning, when Gregor is lying in bed, I would lie on my back in a curled position with my legs and arms at 90 degrees above my body. I would have my feet and hands flexed and when I moved my limbs, I would move them back and forth very fast like when a bug scurries. For my vocals, I would speak normally because in the beginning of the play, the story evolves from Gregor’s perspective. In the 6th scene, I would drastically change his physicality and vocals and make it even more absurd because as the play progresses, Gregor is becoming more and more bug-like. Also, the father throws an apple at Gregor in scene 4 and it lodges itself into Gregor’s back. This changes his physicality for the rest of the play because he is now injured and t is difficult for him to move around. Next, by the time we reach scene 6, Gregor is starving and has barely eaten in the recent days. This causes him to be weak and his physicality to change. In the 6th scene, I would sort of drag myself on the floor with my arms and have my spine twisted and hunched over and my fingers outstretched. I would have one of my sides close to the floor, almost dragging my whole body with one side of my body to make it seem like an apple is lodged in the lower back and has handicapped Gregor.  For vocals in the sixth scene, I would make bug-like sounds and would roll my ‘r’s more and prolong my ‘s’s to create an insect-like sound. I would also speak in a more quiet, raspy voice because Gregor is very weak and because he is suffering, I would deliver my lines with more difficulty and make my sentences more disconnected.

    As a director, how would you approach directing the confrontation between Stietl, the family and Gregor in Scene 1? Support your answer with reference to the elements of drama. First of all, I would use the element of focus to help the audience focus on only the confrontation. I would have the characters that aren’t involved in the confrontation eg; Grete) freeze in their various poses. The frozen images and the contrast between them and the main confrontation also use the element of movement. I would have the confrontation take place at downstage center, one of the most powerful positions onstage to shift the audience focus there. I would also have the frozen characters at stage left because that is one of the least powerful position on stage. I would use the element of tension to make the confrontation more exciting for the audience. I would accent the tension of the relationship between the family and Stietl by  using levels to highlight the characters’ statuses in relation to each other. For example, I would have Gregor on the floor and Stietl standing up because his status is superior to Gregor’s. For the actual confrontation, I would have Gregor jump out at Stietl and grab his feet. Then, I would have Stietl trying to shake Gregor off of his legs and have the two struggling. I would then let Stietl fall to the floor. Then, I would have him stand back up and fling Gregor towards the audience, using the element of tension (of surprise) to stimulate the audience after a little while of struggling. To intensify the mood of the sequence, I would use dramatic and intense music and I would tap in to the viewers’ five senses. Since right before the fight, the mother knocks over some coffee, I would have the auditorium smell like coffee to make the scene feel more real for them. I would also have the entire auditorium decorated like a house so that the audience feel like they are in the story.

    As a set designer, how would you design a stage that would assist the actor playing Gregor physically as an insect and create a mood of change? As a set designer, assuming there were no budget, space or equipment limits, I would use lighting, furniture, scaffolding and levels to create the desired feeling. To assist the actor playing Gregor physically, I would have scaffolding at the back of the stage and at the place where backdrops normally are placed. This would help the actor crawl, climb, hang, etc. and make it seem very bug-like. I would also tilt Gregor’s room (the second floor on a slight angle towards the audience to make his room feel strange and look different. Also, having the room on an angle can help the actor playing Gregor crawl, and it would be especially be useful at the part in the play when Gregor comes out of his room and then has a fight with FAther and returns to his room struggling. The tilted second floor would aid the actor with his/her physicality at this part because it really would be a struggle for the actor to return to the bed (located a the top of the room’s “slope”. On the main level, I would lay out the chairs in awkward positions to create a mood of change and uneasiness. For example, I would place three chairs in a perfectly straight line, about 40cm apart from each other, facing straight towards the audience. On the other side of the stage, I would place a couch facing towards the exit of the stage. I would have the home’s decorations placed at strange angles to create a mood of change. I would also have the stairs to Gregor’s room look like they are floating to convey the desired mood. To create a mood of change I would start out with bright lighting and then when the play begins, I would dim the lights a bit. Also, I would use a white backdrop behind the set so I could create shadows with Gregor’s physicality to make it more absurd and insect-like and so that the audience always feels as if Gregor is watching them or they feel his presence in the back of their mind even when he is not actively involved in certain parts of the play.

    As a costumer, how would you show the distinct difference in personality between Grete and Lucy, the mother? As a costume designer, I would dress Grete and Lucy in contrasting outfits and have them wear very different makeup to show the distinct difference between the two characters’ personalities. First of all, I would have Grete wear more colorful clothing than Lucy to symbolize Lucy’s aging and to accentuate Grete’s youth. I would have Lucy wear a dress that reaches her ankles and Grete wear a shorter dress, maybe one that cuts just below the knees, to show a distinct difference in age between the characters while still remaining within the historical context.  With Grete’s costume, I would have it be tighter at the waist whereas I would leave Lucy’s dress to be a little bit looser. This shows the difference in age and symbolizes how Grete’s personality is more pulled together and she is very organized and structured whereas Lucy is often frazzled and stressed. Grete’s costume would be more formal, as she is more concerned about her appearance than Lucy and works in a shop all day, while Lucy works mostly around the house and does not get out much. However, neither dress would be quite fancy, as the Samsa family are not very well-off. For shoes, I would Lucy wear a pair of old fuzzy slippers. In contrast, I would have Grete wear a sophisticated pair of pumps. I would have Lucy wear a long sleeved dress and knitted grey shawl over it because she is frail and is often cold. For hairstyles, I would style Lucy’s hair in a bun, with lots of loose strands coming out. this accentuates the part of her personality that always worries and is always stressed, etc. She also often sleeps and this hairstyles makes her look like she has recently just gotten out of bed. On the other hand, I would style Grete’s hair in a very neat curly bob, to fit with the historical context and Grete’s personality. For makeup, I would show the two characters’ distinctly different personalities by applying a very pale skin colour to Lucy’s skin and a darker one (yet still pale) to Grete’s. This shows how Lucy is frail and aging while Grete is still youthful. I would create an illusion of wrinkles of Lucy’s skin, as she is aging. I would apply lots of makeup (lipstick, blush, mascara, etc.) to Grete’s face because she is very concerned about her appearance, tries to impress people and is youthful.

    I think that keeping the costumes realistic adds absurdity to the play because everything seems so normal-yet it is not. Also, the realism of the costumes don’t distract attention from the storyline,morals, dialogue or set.

    Costume example for Grete Source:  modern-vintage-clothing.blogspot.com
    
    

    Costume example for Lucy Source: sensibility.com

     

    Costume idea for Grete 2 Source: etsy.com

    Costume idea for Lucy 2 Source: susanscloches.blogspot.com

     


  4. Drama Journal-Prepping for Metamorphosis

    May 12, 2012 by 15robidouxk

    Drama 9- Lessons of Wednesday May 10th and Thursday May 11th

    This week we continued to prepare for the performance of Metamorphosis. On Wednesday, we focussed especially on Victorian photographs and physicality.

    First of all, we all got handed a picture taken from an old play. The picture was a bit Victorian style. The picture depicted a woman who was smoking, and a man holding his suit jacket. The woman’s lower body was facing the man and her upper body was turned away. Her chin was up and her facial expression suggested that she thought very highly of herself. The man, standing pretty much right next to the woman was leaning towards her and looked somewhat upset and was gripping his jacket.  Then, we had to recreate the photo as accurately as possible in pairs. We then had to hold the pose for a few seconds and then say what we thought the character would say at that moment. After that, we had to make a short scene with the image. We had to add what came before that moment and after that moment. The middle would be what we interpreted to be going on in the photo itself. Me and Alec decided that before, the man was getting angry with the woman who was his wife, and decided to take a cigarette to calm down. Then, the woman came and took the cigarette from him and started smoking it. Then, the man got angry again and ordered his wife to make him dinner. then, she replied back that he should try making dinner tonight and blew smoke in his face. The other groups came up with various story lines such as a daughter smoking and a father catching her or a woman on break and a man who wanted to talk to her, but she refused to be social.

    For the rest of the lesson, we browsed the web for Victorian and Edwardian style photographs that we thought represents our character in metamorphosis and could show what we think our character might look like. We had to make a collage of photos that we found. These photos are useful to take inspiration from when figuring out the physicality of our characters.

    Collage for Grete-Current age

    Collage for Grete-Childhood
    We also looked at a few videos of Metamorphosis on Youtube to examine how different companies interpreted physicality differently.
    In this version, Gregor (played by dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov) is always in a a compact shape- as in he is never stretched out.  ALso, when he crawls, he keeps his legs still and moves really fats with his arms. His movements make him look as though he is very light and bug-like. I think this kind of physicality would be interesting to include in our interpretation, although we are not professional dancers like Baryshnikov, so I don’t know if we have the flexibility to go into poses like at 3:47 or the strength to crawl without moving the legs.

    In this version, by the Black Moon theatre company, it is more like contemporary dancing, as not many lines are recited and some are projected eerily on the screen at the back of the stage. However, this version is very good to take inspiration for physicality from. Here, Gregor goes into all sorts of contorted positions and is shaky and stiff. The fingers are extended and bent halfway. His movements are very slow and jerky but he sometimes executes random fast movements (0:33). The other characters also have bug-like physicality which is kind of interesting.

    We also took a look through Tokyo International Players’ album form their production of the play. We liked the carnivalesque style of their costumes and thought we could use that style for inspiration and maybe incorporate a bit of a carnivalesque feel through our costumes, staging and physicality.

    Metamorphosis- TIP production Source:http://snurl.com/23g1e2f

    In this picture, you can see the different levels that TIP used and how they took up dynamic and emotive poses. It would be interesting if we would freeze in poses like this every time a big event happens in the play. It would also be interesting to use dark lighting like TIP to make it seem more dark and eerie and use carnivalesque costumes to make it seem very absurd and interesting for the audience.

    On Thursday, we looked at staging options for Metamorphosis. We examined and discussed the model sets that the other Grade 9 class made for the play. Each one had good ideas and things that could be problematic.

    In the first one, Wessel and Hero’s, they had the good idea of incorporating a trap door for Gregor to go through in the 6th scene when he rips through the floor boards and appears in the dining room. I also liked how they had a hallway outside of Gregor’s room because there are several parts in the play when people are knocking at Gregor’s door and speaking to him from the other side of the wall. Also, There are lots of parts when Grete slams the door and locks it, etc. However, by having a wall in the set, it could cause a problem with the sight-lines of the audience. People who are sitting at the left side of the audience maybe would not be able to see what was going on in Gregor’s room and would miss out on a lot. Maybe to fix this, we could use glass walls/doors or not have a wall at all and instead simply have  door or a door frame. I also think if we just had the door and it’s frame, and we pushed it back to the back of the hallway, the audience would be able to see everything. Also, without the wall, to distinguish between the hall and the room, we could have very contrasting decor. In this set, I also liked how it was small and simple enough that we could fit it into our limited space at the auditorium. I think it is a good idea to have placed Gregor’s bed downstage, because that is an important piece of furniture and the audience will be able to see Gregor clearly when he is lying on the bed.

    It could be interesting if we put a door to Fischer’s room on the wall at the end of the corridor. Then, we could have Fischer go through there with Grete in the 6th scene and have him go down the stairs behind the stage and then come back out. This could also be useful for the part when Grete and the Mother are Moving furniture form Gregor’s room. Instead of carrying the furniture downstairs and offstage etc, they could simply go through the door to “Fischer’s room” and bring the furniture down the stairs behind the set to the backstage area.

    The second set, Carolina and Joanna’s, was also very good. I like how they had a mirror in Gregor’s room so he could see himself, however, this could cause a problem because the audience would be reflected. I also like how there were no walls in Gregor’s room and there was a simple door. However, like the first set, the door could cause problems with sight-lines. I also liked in this set how Fischer did not have a room onstage because it makes it mysterious and also makes it easier for transitions (characters can just leave the stage when going to Fischer’s room and when he is getting pushed by Grete and the father, he doesn’t have to get pushed up a flight of stairs, etc. etc. In the main living room, they included a kitchen, which I think was unnecessary because the Mother can simply go offstage when she needs to cook as most of the action takes place in the living/dining/family room type area. I also think that the main level of the home was a little bit too extensive as we don’t have that much space. I liked how this group also included a trap-door type system to allow Gregor to fall through.

    The third set, Dayna and Isabella’s, also had many good ideas. I think their decor design really fit with the time period during which the play is set. The colour scheme of blues and beiges and turquoises didn’t stand out too much that it would distract the audience but it still fit with the style of the early 20th century. I really liked how they had Fischer’s room as an illusion room, so you could only see the door and a wall because this made it a bit mysterious which fits with Fischer’s character. I think there might have been a little bit too many details such as flower pots, etc. on the set, which could be a hassle as we have limited time to set up so we should keep things minimalistic. Also little details could distract the audience. The first floor of the house was really well laid out as it gave space for action to take place and it was not overcrowded with furniture.  I like how there is a front door to the house and a trap door mechanism for Gregor to fall through. I think this set is really elaborate and detailed which is great, but we have limited time to set up/build and limited space to set up in so it could be a problem.

    It could be interesting if we used ladders instead of stairs in the set because Gregor could crawl down the ledges and use them a little bit like monkey bars. Also, it could add physicality options in the sixth scene. For instance, when Grete and Father try to drive Fischer back to his room, they could push him up backwards up the ladder and then he could jump off at them and knock them to the ground. To add a carnivalesque feeling to our set, we could have red and white striped curtains for Gregor’s room and could have the bottom floor shaped in a circular fashion and decorated in an old style-like a circus tent.

    After staging, we practiced our lines and certain scenes we thought we needed to work on for the rest of the lesson.


  5. Drama Journal-Preparation

    May 4, 2012 by 15robidouxk

    Drama 9- Lessons of May 2nd and April 31st 2012

    This week in drama class, we continued exploring Metamorphosis as well as physical theatre.

    During Monday’s lesson, we worked in the auditorium. When our group was working outside, in the hallway, while the other group rehearsed in the auditorium, we went over lines and the proper way to deliver them. When we went into the auditorium itself, we worked really hard on blocking, stage directions and physicality. We focused especially on the sixth scene (the end of the piece), where there is a lot of physicality and intensity that is brought on by Gregor’s appearance and Fischer’s spurt of anger. The part of the scene where Fischer argues with the father and fights with Grete and the father is very difficult to stage because it has so much physicality and different characters all acting and sometimes speaking at the same time that it can get confusing for the audience. Also, we have limited stage space and it is really important to space ourselves out so that we don’t become all clumped and linear. We also have to constantly consider level, movement, balance, symmetry vs. asymmetry and formation as well as areas of the stage that the audience focuses more on, etc. We also have to consider the lines and whether to move before/during or after we deliver them, etc.

    During Wednesday’s class, we worked more on physical theatre and character development. We did various activities. First of all, we got into groups of 2 or three and had to select a short passage in the piece where our characters communicate. Then, we had to stage it and physicalize it. After we had said our short lines, we froze in our positions and one by one, we had to step out of the scene and, in character, state what we were feeling at the moment. We could include anything, just as long as we went on a thought-tracking “rant” to let the audience know our character’s feelings. This exercise is useful to develop character and directors often use this exercise when actors are having trouble getting into character or to push actors to develop their understanding of their character even further. Next, we had to split into two large groups and make a physical image of our idea of the “ideal family”. Then, discussed our poses and those of the other group. Then, we repeated this with a “soap opera family” and with a “commercial family”. In the ideal family still-image, everyone stuck close together and looked happy. In the soap opera family, much more separation could be noticed and we could see some stereotypes (moody teenager, cheating husband and wife, etc.) coming through and the family didn’t seem close, etc. For the commercial family, everyone seemed to be superficially happy and close together. Their positions also seemed very posy and “scripted”.

    After that, we moved onto another activity with family. We had to first of all make  a family frozen image and the family had to have a five year old child in it. Then, we had to make a series of freeze frames showcasing each family member’s perspective on the family. We had to end with the five year old’s perspective. The first one we did was the mother’s perspective, where the father was being lazy, the teenager was being rude and her boyfriend taking drugs and the five year old crying, forcing her to pick her up. Then, we moved onto the dad’s perspective; where the mother was mad at him, the boyfriend was being polite and saying hello to the mum, the teenaged girl was playing with the five year old girl. Then, we did the boyfriend’s perspective, where the mum was angry with the teenager and her boyfriend while the dad was playing with the five year old. Then from teenaged daughter’s perspective, everyone except her boyfriend were getting angry at her and she was rolling her eyes. Then, we ended with the five year old’s perspective, where everyone was happy and handing her something, giving her all the attention.  This exercise helps us think about our character’s and how they see the family from different perspectives in metamorphosis.

    Next, we had to make a short scene showcasing the family from the child’s perspective. Our team decided to do a scene where the five year old girl was playing with her dolls in her room and then her father came and told her it was time to go to school. Then the dolls started calling out and following her as she left the room and begging her not to abandon them. Then, the father slammed the door and all the dolls froze back into their “plastic” positions. All the dolls and to be very physical and had to have the mechanical movements and the fake smiles. We could have upped the physicality even more and we could have improved the spacing of our scene, as it was a bit chaotic at times. The other group did the story of the family coming to fetch the kid from the audience and going off to play. Since the five year old was in the audience and all the other characters leaned down to talk to the child, it made the audience feel like they were seeing things through the eyes of the five year old. This activity was useful because it got us brainstorming how to showcase a certain scene from one character’s perspective and make it known to the audience that they were viewing the story form that perspective. This could help us with metamorphosis, as at the beginning the play is from Gregor’s perspective and at the end when the audience can no longer understand him either, it is from the family’s perspective. This got us thinking about how to demonstrate that to the audience.

    The final activity we did was within our groups, we had to come up with a short scene that would make the audience feel inferior to the actors and make the status clear. Both teams did similar things. We both sat down some of our group members into the audience and had one general or some kind of army official calling out orders and yelling at the audience. Then we both took one o the actors from the audience and either went backstage to “beat them up” or did so on stage. Then, both team selected the second victim from the audience members. The generals/officials yelled very loudly and were very angry, mean and brutal and if we did not know each other, the audience would feel a little tense. To make them feel even more superior, we could have used some knowledge from past lessons and could have used the five senses (smell, taste, vision, touch, etc.) to make the audience feel even more like they were inferior and afraid.

    In conclusion, this week was really useful for working on the playa and developing understandings of our characters.


  6. Drama Journal- Physical Theatre

    April 29, 2012 by 15robidouxk

    Drama 9-Lesson of Monday 23rd, Wednesday 25th and Thursday 26th of April 2012

    This week in drama class, we continued to work on the play Metamorphosis. On Monday, we went to the auditorium and did a bit of practicing and stage blocking. We worked on stage directions and placements. We also tried to incorporate different levels and use of space. We worked a bit on improving our lines and finding the proper emotions to deliver them with as well as practicing maintaining our focus.

    On Wednesday, we went in the park and discussed physical theatre and tried to incorporate some of Berkoff’s techniques into some of the play. Berkoff used a lot of tableaux and stills with a victorian feeling in his version of metamorphosis. We learnt about Victorian photographs and how in these the subjects took up strange poses and facial expressions. We physicalized certain parts of the piece trying to recreate a Victorian photograph feeling and incorporating lots of level, gesture, expression, etc. Then, we returned to class and each had to present one of our character’s lines using physicality. Most of the time, we were advised to take our physicality one step further and deliver the line slower. I think we have to get out of our comfort zone-acting realistically- and fully explore non-realistic, absurdist, physical theatre.  I think that is something we’ll have to keep working on; developing our physicalization based on our character’s personality and mannerisms. We will have to take physicality one step further.

    Photo from an adaptation of Berkoff's version of Metamorphosis (source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/guy_evans/5089764463/)

    Victorian picture (Source: photo.net)

    On Thursday we had a lesson about physical theatre. We learnt about directors Boal and Brecht and about their different techniques. Augusto Boal is a Brazilian director, famous for developing “Theatre of the Oppressed”, the theatre style where social issues are discussed and ways to improve issues are discussed. In this particular theatre style, audience members became “spect-actors” and get involved in the acting. Boal got actors to create a still image of a stereotype. Then, the audience were encouraged to discuss and agree on the real version of the stereotype. Then, they had to develop an image of the ideal. He then encouraged the audience members to come and act out the frozen poses. This is Boal’s process: 1 frozen pose of the Stereotype –> 2 frozen images between the stereotype and the reality –> 1 pose for Reality –> 2 poses between reality and ideal –> 1 Ideal image. Theatre of the oppressed was a way in which communities could explore their issues and promote change. It was also a way for those who were suffering form injustice, etc. to speak out and express what they were going through.

     

    Source: theforumproject.org


    We tried out Boal’s technique in class. We each got a card that had an occupation or a type of person written on it (eg; criminal, judge, factory worker, factory foreman, student, director, teacher, mother, doctor, etc.). Then, we had to come up with a pose and a line that is stereotypical to what was written on our paper. We each presented our poses/lines to the class and we saw whether or not they could guess who we were. Then, we all paired up with the character that went with ours (for example; factory worker paired up with the foreman and so on). We first had to work together to create a frozen image representing the stereotype for both the characters (for example, the boss is beating the worker who is tired and scared). Then, the other classmates discussed what the reality would be and we had to change into a realistic frozen pose (the boss looking over at what the worker is doing, the worker standing and working). Then, the classmates discussed the ideal and we had to change into a pose representing that (boss helping the worker). Then in our pairs, we had to create a set of 5 images going from stereotype and evolving to ideal.

    Next we talked about German director and playwright Bertolt Brecht. The director is famous for his contribution to the development of “Epic Theatre”.

    Epic Theatre (Source: escenastur.com)

    He also had great influence on documentary drama. In this particular theatre style, Brecht wanted the audience to constantly be aware and reminded that they were watching a play. He often got actors to speak to the audience, hold up signs pointing out what was going on, simple and unrealistic sets (scaffolding a lot), interruptions, songs, exposing backstage and lighting, etc. to stop spectators from being absorbed by the play and lose track of other things. Brecht tried to make the audience focus on the fact that they were watching a play and that this play had a message to deliver. Brecht was often on about “gestus”, when an actor took up a pose where their facial expression and posture are VERY strong and convey extreme emotion…

    After discussing Brecht, we tried to create still images in groups of 4-5. One group had to make tableaux with “football” and the other “war”. Each group had to make 2 tableaux. The football group had to make one where the crowd was cheering for a scored goal and one where the crowd is upset over a lost game. The war group had to made one with the title “maker of heroes” and one with the title “maker of lives”. The war group had more freedom depending on their interpretation of the titles. We had to create tableaux with level and space and shape while showing emotion and having strong gestus.

    We can use the techniques discussed in class this week when we we are blocking the play and experimenting with physicality. We can also use it to help us develop our characters. In addition, we can use Boal and Brecht’s techniques to try out different options for staging of the play. We have to consider using tableaux during key bits of action or at the end/starts of scenes, etc. Next week,we will continue working with the play and develop physicality for our characters even further. We will also continue to learn our lines and practice these.


  7. Drama Journal-Sociograms

    April 22, 2012 by 15robidouxk

    Drama Journal 9- Wednesday April 18th 2012

    This week in drama class, we continued our preparation for the performance of Metamorphosis. During Wednesday’s class, we learnt about sociograms.

    Sociograms are diagrams which show the relationships between all the characters and you can usually find a brief description of each character included in the diagram. SOme more detailed diagrams include reasons why the characters feel certain ways about each other, for example, it says why Voldemort hates Harry Potter (because Harry is more powerful than him and he never succeeds in killing him).

    In class, we had to make practice sociograms with the characters of Harry Potter. We used different colours and legends for the characters’ interrelationships. For instance, green flowers represented friendship, a brown <-> meant work partners, a dotted line (——-) represented fear, hearts stood for love, etc, etc.

    Source:http://www.ciil-miles.net/ETerms_SSamp3.asp

    Above, is a poor example of a sociogram because it gives no hint as to the characters’ relationships nor their personalities.

    Source: http://www.rate.org.ro/filemanager/newsletter.html

    This is a better example of a sociogram because it shows how the characters are related. However, it gives no description of the characters or an image that represents them.

    Source: http://marriottsmartboard.weebly.com/a-midsummer-nights-dream.html

    This sociogram is better because it is very detailed and neat and offers an image of the characters however it still lacks a description of the characters.

    Source: http://marriottsmartboard.weebly.com/a-midsummer-nights-dream.html

    This sociogram is excellent because it shows the relationships between the characters, with a brief description of each character’s personalities and a picture of what the characters resemble. The intricacies of the relationships could have been documented in more detailed however.

    Sociograms are an important part of drama because they help dramatists understand the characters in the play and how they relate to one other. This can help actors understand their roles on a deeper level and make them deliver the part more accurately. This also helps actors find out whether they know their part well enough, or whether they have to study the piece a bit further.

    For metamorphosis, we will be drawing our own sociograms that will be as detailed as possible, since the amount of characters in the play is limited to 6.

     


  8. Tourism Trends

    April 18, 2012 by 15robidouxk

    Source: UNWTO 2011 Tourism Highlights

    What is the current trend in world toursim depicted on the graph? The current trend in world tourism depicted on the graph is that he number of tourists internationally is on the rise. The number of tourists internationally has skyrocketed since 1950 and has nearly doubled since 1995. Currently, Europe receives the most amount of tourists and Africa receives the least amount of tourists annually.
    What predictions is the UNWTO making about the near future of tourism? The UNWTO predicts that the number of tourists will jump from 940 million to 1.6 billion in the next ten years. They predict that the number of tourists in 1995 will have tripled by 2020. The most visited regions and the least visited regions have been predicted to remain the same.

  9. Drama Journal- Metamorphosis Preparation

    April 15, 2012 by 15robidouxk

    Drama 9- Lessons of Monday April 9th, Wednesday April 11th and Thursday April 12th 2012

    This week in drama class, we explored the play we will be performing to submit as one of our pieces for the IGCSE diploma; Metamorphosis.

    Metamorphosis is a play adapted from a novella by author Franz Kafka. It tells the story of a boy, Gregor Samsa, who has mysteriously transformed into a bug-like creature. His family is faced with a tough situation, as Gregor was the one that worked and provided for them. Gregor is faced with deeper, more troubling problems. He struggles to deal with his loss of communication with people, his father’s abuse and anger, his mother’s fragility and fear of him as well as the thought that his sister, Grete must do all the chores and take it upon herself to care for Gregor and the rest of the family. At first, Grete seems like the only one able to sympathize with Gregor and takes the time to make his life as comfortable as possible, by bringing him food and tidying his room. However, when a lodger and potential love interest for Grete comes to rent a room at the Samsa’s, we see a shift in her character. Grete no longer pays attention to Gregor and even even suggest getting rid of him when Gregor bursts through the ceiling during dinner with the lodger. *****SPOILER ALERT******* The play ends in tragedy when Gregor dies of starvation. The Samsa family moves out of their apartment and begin a new life. The play has many underlying themes that are very well-explained on this website.

    Before the spring break, we had read two versions of the piece; one by David Farr and the other by Steven Berkoff. We chose to use Farr’s script, as it isn’t as challenging, since we have a limited timeline to prepare our piece.. It is also a little bit less absurd than Berkoff’s making it easier for a student audience to follow the play.

    We also had to look at various videos and read articles about the play.

    This is one of the many film versions of the story. This version used the Berkoff adaptation. The staging is very simplistic but the lighting is complex. Different levels are always used in this clip and the actors are never standing in a linear way and are never all at the same level. The actors have good eye contact with the camera, which adds to the creepiness of the clip.
    The Aurora Theatre company’s version of Metamorphosis is also very interesting. The theatre company uses interesting staging; They host Gregor’s room up on an angle which facilitates things for the audience (so that the don’t have to strain themselves to see what is going on up there) as well as helping to create visually interesting tableaux and different levels. It is also important to note how the group chose to keep Gregor dressed like a human, which made the metaphors of the play more apparent and called for a mastery of physicality from the actors.

    During Monday’s class, we discussed levels and frozen pictures. We had to practice representing different pictures without being linear and by using all three levels. This exercise got us thinking about the different ways we can use space when we perform the play and made me realize that space and levels are something you have to constantly consider when putting on a performance, especially one as physical as metamorphosis.

    On Wednesday, we got time to work in groups of 3 and prepare an audition monologue that we would perform in front of the class on Thursday. We had to choose a character from the piece that we wanted to play and prepare a monologue for them. In our groups, we gave each other constructive criticism and advice to improve our monologues. We also practiced answering audition questions, as we were going to formally audition for parts on Thursday. As well as monologues and audition questions, we also practiced a bit of hot-seating, one of the activities that was introduced to us during the workshop with Nose2Nose. Hot-seating is when an actor must sit in character and answer any questions that the audience directs towards them. The actor cannot block questions and cannot answer with “I don’t know”. Hot-seating is a great way to get to know the character you are auditioning for better and it is a great way to tell whether or not the person who is performing the hot-seat has researched about the character at all.

    On Thursday, we had to do the actual auditions for the parts. Each person had to perform their monologue as well as get hot-seated and answer personal questions about their acting career. We also each had to do a cold-reading in-character. While one person presented, the other classmates marked them on eye-contact, movement, expression, vocals, improv skills, ability to listen to instructions, physical look to suit the character, etc. up to a total of 28 points. After everyone had passed their auditions, we made tentative cast lists for the first and second half of the play. Then, we discussed as a group and came to a consensus on who will play who and who will perform in the first half and who will appear in the second half, etc. In the first half, Ellen will play Gregor, Grace will play Grete, William will play the Father, Mia will play the Mother and Nora will probably play the clerk. In the second half, Walterri will play Gregor, Alec will play the Father, I will play Grete, Bree will play the Mother and Nora will play Fischer.

    Before the audition, I was a bit nervous because we didn’t have much time to prepare for it. All in all though I think it went pretty well for everyone in the class and I think everyone got a part that suits them well. I also think that the auditions were a god practice for when it comes time to do a real audition.

    Next week, we’ll start learning our lines and working in our groups.


  10. Drama Journal- Nose2Nose Workshop

    March 17, 2012 by 15robidouxk

    Lesson of March 14th and 15th 2012-Physical Theatre/Improv workshop with Nose2Nose&Performance of March 16th 2012

    This week, the group Nose2Nose came and gave us a theatre workshop. It was a great experience and I learnt a lot of new things and developed several new skills over the past couple of days. We worked a lot on improvisation, characterization and physical theatre in class and also performed in front of the grade 8s to showcase what we had learnt so far.

    Over the last three days, we did a variety of exercises that helped us develop characters and to teach us how to play an audience. The exercises were really challenging because you had to come up with a character, scenario,develop something, etc. in a split -second so we really had to think fast and use our imagination a lot. First of all, we did a few voice exercises to help us get in control of our breathing and to practice projecting our voices and using different accents/intonations/sounds, etc.. We also did various exercises that helped with physicalization. For instance, we did one where we would have to walk/move a certain way and every time Neil clapped, we had to change the movement completely. We also did many exercises where we had to develop characters. Another one we did was we were placed in a circle and someone started with a very simple movement. Then, we had to go around in the circle and the next person had to bring it up a notch each time and make it more and more extravagant and physical.

    One of the exercises we did was someone had to come up with a random line, phrase or sentence. Then, we had to try and deliver that line in the most ways possible, using different levels, movements, intonation, etc. each time. It was really hard because each time had to be different and it was very challenging to come up with ideas on how to deliver the line on the spot and in a split second. However, it helped me realize that there are so many ways of delivering one sentence and that you have to really be physical and use proper timing of the line to really get the mood you want to achieve.

    Another exercise we had to do was when we split the stage in half and someone had to go up on each side of the stage.  Then, both people would try to entertain the audience by acting out a character. After about 15-30 seconds, the audience would vote on which character they were watching the most.  At first I thought you had to be loud, crazy, etc. to capture the audience’s attention, but you really just have to focus on them and play them for them to watch you. It also helps to have a it of mystery so the audience wants to know more about your character. Sometimes subtlety is much more effective than extravagant stuff.

    A third exercise we did was using props. We had to select a random object and in groups of two had to pass the object between each other. Each time, we had to come up with something the object could be used for. It didn’t matter how crazy the idea was and I found that it was better when it was unique. For this exercise, it is really important to play the audience and not your partner and it is also very important to keep the pace fast and always help each other out so that the audience doesn’t get bored and lose interest.

    After that, we did another exercise with props and characters. we had to chose one of the characters we had come up with in previous exercises and be that character for the whole exercise. A prop was placed in the centre and we had to gather around it in a semi-circle. We had to each take turns and be our character with the object. Then, the next person would come in, interact with the character for a second and then the object would be passed over and the first character would return to the semi-circle and resume neutral pose. The cycle continued and a story kind of developed. Teamwork and timing are crucial in this exercise as well as maintaining focus and character.

    On Friday, we performed some of the activities and exercises we did in class. I think the performance was alright, however, I think we performed much better within the classroom setting. I think I did better in class because I was much more relaxed and felt less pressure. I found it really hard to improvise in front of a large audience because I was very very nervous and I was afraid to mess up since we didn’t have anything in particular planned… I was also  a bit uncomfortable performing in front of grade 8 students because I see them around school a lot so I recognize them. I find it harder to perform in front of people I kind of know than for total strangers. The performance was really challenging but I learnt a lot from it.

    Through the workshop, I have learnt that teamwork is crucial in improvisation and that it is essential to maintain focus. However, I also learnt the importance of physicalization to further develop a character and the importance of connecting with the audience when doing improvisation. Furthermore, I learnt that a performance might not go as well as the rehearsals but you can still learn a lot from the experiences.  I have also gained many new skills of characterization as well as physical theatre skills.

    The skills I have acquired from Nose2Nose’s workshop can be applied to the piece we are currently working on in class; Metamorphosis. For instance, we can use the exercises of characterization to develop our characters and gain an understanding of their emotions and mannerisms, etc. so we can deliver a more convincing performance. We can also take away what we learnt from the physical theatre activities and use the techniques we learnt to develop the physicality of the piece, since the characters all have to be very physical. These techniques that we have learnt over the past few days will really help us develop our characters and construct a successful performance of the piece.

    Nose2Nose Source:http://www.nose2nose.org/n2n/