“Listen”

In the script and performance you will find below, I used the knowledge of theorist Ann Bogart, and an in-class exploration and analysis of script Buckets, as a further and personal academic exploration.

Below you will find a short script that I have written named “Listen”. It can be performed by any number and composition of actors. A new paragraph indicates a change of speaker. A line that is just an ellipsis (…) is a moment where a speaker: wants to communicate but can’t, communicates without words, refuses to communicate, or is otherwise occupied.

 

Listen

No

Listen!

No!

Why not

Because I don’t want to

But I have so many important things to say

So does everyone else

Does that make what I have to say less important?

I think it’s unfair

Well that’s life

So you’re just gonna let it be cuz “that’s life”?

Yes

Why?

How can you be okay with that?

I’m not

Then why aren’t you doing anything about it?

There’s nothing to do

Of course there is. You can speak about it for example.

No one would listen

I would

No you wouldn’t

Yes I would.

Fine

Fine what?

Fine you’ll listen

what?

I’m listening

To?

To you

Why?

You have stuff to say

Well I…

yes?

I didn’t mean now

You didn’t mean now.

No

Then when?

Some day

When’s that?

When I find the perfect way to say it

 

This script was initially written to convey the feelings of frustration of not being heard even when having important things to say. I have often felt that especially children, whilst having opinions on matters of importance, are ignored and their opinions disregarded simply because they are young and “do not have enough experience”. While in some cases this may be true, in others, often kids are more imaginative and have unrestricted thoughts. Furthermore in the piece I directed, the meaning shifted to convey the idea that with the evolution of technology, we are now able to say whatever we would want to online with very little difficulty. This lead to the thought of people constantly updating their Twitter accounts with their days, and mediocre thoughts that no one truly cares about, or listens to. Within all the unnecessary babble online, it is impossible to reach any wide audience when having important thoughts even with this device that can reach potentially 9 billion people in the world.

 

I used the script, Buckets by Adam Bernard as inspiration for this script. About Buckets, an extract from an academic research paper written prior by myself:

Buckets is a compilation of short scenes, in which some are interconnected while some are completely independent although the whole script is thematically tied together exploring time and mortality. Buckets is written by Adam Barnard and was published in 2015. Adam Barnard started off as a newspaper journalist and a director, directing a few theatrical pieces as well as a couple short films. He then went on to writing short plays for nearby theaters before writing the script for Buckets. Although this is Adam Barnard’s first full show, he has previously directed and filmed 4 short films, each advocating for feminism, anti-racial discrimination, and anti-ableism. His work to eradicate discrimination amongst the human race seeps into his script Buckets through the fact that characters and genders have not been specified which allows a freedom of the exploration of identities within the script and the possibility to break expectations and stereotypes.
The script explores a human’s struggles with coping with their own mortality, with loved one’s mortalities, with the limitations of time restricted within the societal constructs. The significance that Buckets had on me is from the themes it explores but also from the structure of the script. The script has a lot of freedom in structure, the scenes being non-linear and compilations, each have a different feeling and address a different aspect of life and a new perspective or interaction. These personally relevant dilemmas such as how to cope with one’s mortality or lack of time is best explored through theatre.  As a student who is rushed through life from institution to institution, living from one deadline to the next, time becomes confusing and lost and wasted and within the current society, thoughts of what one does with their time and what is worth one’s times is a recurring thought. A script such as this, that explores mortality and time with little restriction is perfect for applying personal meanings and perspectives, and helps directors to create their own unique impact on the audience members. The challenges I have had directing this play came from one of the reasons I had been interested in it in the first place. Although the play is non-linear and simply a compilation of small scripts gave a range of interesting ideas for me to work with, as each script was so different from the others, to create artistic choices that encompassed the whole play was very difficult. I had many ideas for each of the individual plays, but that would often only apply to one or a few scenes and not the whole script. I didn’t want to decide on one atmosphere or mood to convey to the audiences and that became a wall I struggled to overcome. In our current society, although mortality rates have fallen since the evolution of medical science, so much of the time we have been given, has been turned to wasting it on creating our lives on social media and lamenting over others who seem to be so much happier in their ‘perfect’ lives. Our addiction to our technologies have distanced us from physical communities and our grasp on reality, as we feel more constrained to the eternities of the internet over what time we have left with those we place around us. Buckets convey to audiences the importance of human connection in this ever evolving world, where experiences that are not available to the public are glorified through social media posts, where we live vicariously with desperation caused by the underlying fear of mortality and not being able to truly experience these things for ourselves.
The themes explored in the script are universal and timeless, and therefore will be always relevant to people. Adam Barnard started writing for “Leverhulme Arts Scholarship and it was a new scheme being run with Bath Theatre Royal to create experimental and new work for young audiences”(Hart, theatreroyal.com). Buckets started off as a linear story called “Bucket List” which explored the life of a young girl with a terminal disease and her mind slowly blurring the lines between reality and fantasy being presented in front of audiences. Looking back Barnard felt there had been a lack of connection and enthusiasm to create his original piece and he went back to the origin point of what “Bucket List” had been and found out that, “I was interested in this topic because there wasn’t a personal connection, and I realized I was more interested in time and running out of time and how you decide what you do with it”(Hart, theatreroyal.com). He began to write short scenes which he strung together to create his published play Buckets. Furthermore, In 2015 his wife’s sister, a photojournalist on a trip to document “displaced people and oppressed minorities”(Barnard, Justpaste.it), passed away suddenly due to a severe allergic reaction to nuts at the age of 30. Although rushed to the hospital from the refugee camp where she was documenting, due to the distance from the city of over 200km, an easily treatable condition left too long took the life of a “charming, funny, fun, spontaneous, talented, empathetic, loyal and delightful [woman who] felt like a sister and made [Barnard] feel like a brother” (Barnard, Justpaste.it). It is easy to assume this event was further motivation for the creation of the script, with the realization of the unpredictability of life and sudden proximity to death Barnard and his wife were thrust into.
I enjoy the range of emotions and situations that can be placed within the script and the how the many different interpretations that can come from it. Many can be interpreted either seriously or humorously, and are relatable to people of all cultures and ages. The freedom of interpretation and directorial choices is also seen in the director’s notes written by Adam Barnard at the beginning of the script which states that,
“Buckets can be performed by any number and composition of actors. Gender, where referenced in dialogue , can generally be switched- ‘he’ for ‘she’, ‘mother’ for ‘father’, etc. Some singular voices could be made plural- ‘we’ for ‘I’, etc…
Everything’s an option.” (Barnard, 4)
Buckets is definitely a unconventional play, and uses a similar form to Mamet, a type of script writing where the dialogue is written as close to a real-life conversation as possible, with subjects not explicitly stated, or words on the page being a string of jumbled thoughts, interruptions and points of silence and emotion. This is effective in this piece through the fact that the realism feels to audiences as if they are simply watching a piece of someone’s life, the actions are not exaggerated and strips the piece of fantasy and an excuse for audiences to say that the topics in the theme are not real simply because they are in a play. The script itself is unconventional without any proper characters or structure and without a collective mood through out the show. Some of the scenes are humorous as others are tragic, romantic, simple.
The play was originally performed in the Orange Tree Theatre in London directed by Rania Jumaily and has been described by Sam Marlowe, in The Times to be “a puckish meditation on a fundamental theme: how we give purpose and shape to lives overshadowed by the knowledge of our own mortality… underscored by a fidgety sense of time running out, of once-in-a-lifetime opportunities slipping away, of bucket lists of unfulfilled wishes”. Another commented that “Adam Barnard’s first full-length play… consists of 27 short scenes, has no defined characters or plot and offers a series of observations on life, longings, lists, lusts and mortality…Barnard writes with a wounding intelligence about death. He has something to say… I’m interested to see where he goes next.”(Michael Billington, Guardian)

 

Using Buckets as a basis for my script, I created a piece that had no specified gender, no specified relationship, and used voice in order to convey meaning and character to audiences. I followed the formatting of Buckets where each paragraph indicates a new speaker instead of placing a character in front of the speech.

In order to convey the message of this piece, I used “Topography”, a convention of Ann Bogart’s theatrical theory, “Viewpoints”. In class, we learned to used gridlines within the physical “Viewpoints” in which we explored “Topography” and “Gesture”. Using what we learned in class, we initially created a piece within the class where we explored each of our individual cultures that lead to our international cultures using topography and gesture. Using what I had learned in my IBDP theatre class, I took the convention of “Topography” and applied it to my own piece, where 8 actors, in pairs, walked around a grid in a symmetrical pattern to each other, all the while staring at their phones. This was meant to convey the lack of human connection that is created through our addiction to technology. Ann Bogart’s Topography creates tension in my piece through creating a robotic feeling to the characters on stage as well as providing an experience in which audience would have to think about the extreme effects of technology on our human connections. This is intended to lead to fear of becoming robotic and losing in contact with our human side, all the while feeling isolated through the dialogue which conveys the idea that while everyone is talking no one is listening.

1. Topography (Bogart)

The landscape, th floor pattern, the design we create in movement through space. In defining a landscape, for instance, we might decide that the downstage area has great density, is difficult to move through, while the upstage area has less density and therefore involves more fluidity and faster tempos. To understand floor pattern, imagine that the bottoms of your feet are painted red; as you move through the space, the picture that evolves on the floor is the floor pattern that emerges over time. In addition, staging or designing for performance always involves choices about the size and shape of the space we work in. For example, we might choose to work in a narrow three-foot strip all the way downstage or in a giant triangular shape that covers the whole floor, etc.

2. Gesture (Bogart)

A movement involving a part or parts of the body; Gesture is Shape with a beginning, middle and end. Gestures can be made with the hands, the arms, the legs, the head, the mouth, the eyes, the feet, the stomach, or any other part or combination of parts that can be isolated. Gesture is broken down into:
1. BEHAVIORAL- GESTURE. Belongs to the concrete, physical world of human behavior as we observe it in our everyday reality. It is the kind of gesture you see in the supermarket or on the subway: scratching, pointing, waving, sniffing, bowing, saluting. A Behavioral Gesture can give information about character, time period, physical health, circumstance, weather, clothes, etc. It is usually defined by a person’s character or the time and place in which they live. It can also have a thought or intention behind it. A Behavioral Gesture can be further broken down and worked on in terms of Private Gesture and Public Gesture, distinguishing between actions performed in solitude and those performed with awareness of or proximity to others.
2. EXPRESSIVE GESTURE. Expresses an inner state, an emotion, a desire, an idea or a value. It is abstract and symbolic rather than representational. It is universal and timeless and is not . something you would normally see someone do in the supermarket or subway. For instance, an Expressive Gesture might be expressive of, or stand for, such emotions as “joy’ “grief” or “anger.” Or it might express the inner essence of Hamlet as a given actor feels him. Or, in a production of Chekhov, you might create and work with Expressive Gestures of or for “time,” “memory” or “Moscow.”

Final Directorial Notes:

During my directing of the piece, I decided to have the two voices in the piece not be seen in order to anonymize and create a more universal and relatable experience for the audience members. I used blue lighting in order to create a cold atmosphere, contrasting to the universality of the piece and separating the characters to look unnatural and slightly robotic and more like their technology than themselves. Finally, I illuminated their faces using the light from their iPhones, as they looked down at their phones whilst the voices were being heard.

Barnard, Adam. Buckets. Nick Hern Books, 2015. Accessed 3 Sept. 2018.
Bogart, Anne, and Tina Landau. The Viewpoints Book: A Practical Guide to Viewpoints and Composition. 1st ed, Theatre Communications Group ; Distributed by Consortium Book Sales and Distribution, 2005.

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