How the stimulus material was developed through the drama process
To begin our performances, and even before the groups had been finalised the class received two pieces from the teacher. The first was the general notion of ‘Time passing’ and the second was part of a poem:
‘Gather ye rosebuds while ye may
Old time is still a-flying;
And the same flower that smiles today
Tomorrow will be dying.’
– Robert Herrick
We began a short scene based on the stimuli of the poem. We set up ‘mirror image’ scenes. On each side of the scene there was a female, a male (who began off stage) along with an additional character that would try and approach the woman. In one scene the man decided to meet the woman and they went off happily…however the man on the other side waited too long and the additional character went on with the female. He did not take the opportunity and lost the woman.
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The second half of the lesson was spent discussing ideas for a Devised Drama piece. We, as a smaller group, were given the stimulus of an article entitled ‘How to build a time machine’. This evoked serious discussion and developed onto ideas similar to films such as ‘The Butterfly Effect’ and ‘Groundhog Day’ along with films such as ‘Final Destination’ – from which we could take similar ideas. However, in later sessions we soured on ideas taken from this, but did decided to include reliving situations or death.
A group member provided the next piece of stimulus. It was a song by The Streets called “The Irony of it All”, in which there are two ‘characters’ a young alcohol drinker and a cannabis smoker. The song portrays the alcohol drinker as ‘yobbish’ and destructive – slurring his words and not being able to come up with a competent argument besides repeating himself several times. The cannabis smoker was shown as being calm, level headed and smarter than the alcohol drinker. This brought up the argument ‘Are drugs better than alcohol?’ It must be realised that there are good and bad points to everything and the group was eager that we show both sides of the argument with possibly a middle ground of ‘Either being good in moderation.’
The first scene created was based on this song. It was the after-effects of the night before. Set on a communal living space on a University campus, there was a couch, two chairs with a table and space to work on the floor. A drunken character, played by Jack, was ‘crashed out’ on the couch and two other characters, played by Saimon and Luke, were at the table smoking cannabis. Two other characters entered together from one side of the stage and began teasing ‘Jack’ for what had happened the night before. Another character, a class A drug addict, played by Kate entered and sat at the floor beginning to work. She complained to the others about the noise…however they ignored her and she stormed out.
The scene ended when ‘Alice’ and ‘I’ headed out to the lectures leaving the others to recuperate from their actions. The purpose of the scene was to compare the effects of each drug, and began the idea of separate ‘groups’ for each drug. The second part of the scene was layered over the action of ‘Jack’, ‘Saimon’ and ‘Luke’. In this scene ‘Katie’ began an internal monologue. In which she detailed the shortcomings of each person and the shortcomings of herself.
As the play developed these scenes, these scenes were cut. However they were not cut completely, only transformed into similar scenes. The first scene was changed to the ‘Saturday Night’ scene, with the comparison of Cannabis and Alcohol – showing two groups of people separately doing stereotypical ‘Saturday Night’ things, and confronting each other. The scene was intended to show the positives of marijuana as opposed to the negatives of alcohol. The second part of the scene formed the basis of what is now the ‘Green Acres’ scene, revealing the short falls of each character, as they stand to their feet and admit to the ‘group’ (i.e. The audience) what they have done, why, and what they are going to do about it.
The final piece of stimulus was the photo of Rachel Whitear, a heroin addict who was found kneeling in her room, clutching the needle in one hand. A photograph was taken of her in this position, and her parents decided to teach children about the effects of drugs by offering to show this picture and videos about Rachel to school children throughout the country. The image is very haunting and powerful, and we decided that we would display the picture in our heroin overdose scene. Originally the plan was for the character, played by Kate, to emulate the ‘pose’ on the stage, whilst the picture of Rachel was projected on the white wall of the drama studio. However we felt that the use of a projector would seem out of place in a play that purposefully lacks props, set design and only uses a small amount of lighting. We also decided that this would require us to use the projector throughout the performance and we would run the risk of the technology failing.