The House Drama Festival Final should have taken place this week and we are sad that this hasn't been possible. Ms Lawlor has put together a video of some of the House Drama photos from last year which we hope you enjoy watching. The music to accompany the images is an original piece by Tommy Bentley (11Wilson).
Click on the image to play the video:
In these clips you will be able to watch extracts from GCSE and A Level Drama performance work. These pieces are Devised which means they are plays created by the groups - they didn't use a script. They were given a stimulus to work from and then had the freedom to create a piece of theatre to respond to the stimulus.
The GCSE students were given the stimulus of ‘Be Careful What You Wish For’ This is a saying often used in everyday life and it’s origins lie in parables and cautionary tales. The topic explores the way humans wish for power or status and end up paying the price for their greed.
The A Level students were given the stimulus of ‘Man’s inhumanity to Man’. It actually comes from a poem by Robert Burns, ‘Man was Made to Mourn’. The idea is that suffering is an inevitable human condition and explores the inhumane actions of people toward each other.
Breakdown of the video:
Group 1: (00:02-02:20) Anders Brevik
Students: Christopher Lowes, Jack Keane, James Hughes, Grace Watkins, Amenie Groves,
The main themes of our piece are “Good and Evil” and “Consequences of actions”. We thought these would be appropriate because they are so relevant in our modern world, despite ideas of “Good and Evil” being about fairy-tales and stories. To support our piece’s modern relevance, we have chosen to base it on the life of Anders Breivik, a Norwegian man who committed a terrible act of terrorism in 2011, when he murdered 77 young people in a political ranmage. We went to the IT suite and researched his life as a group. He started off as an average man, but then suddenly dealt with severe mental problems that led to his arrest. We did research into his
backstory, focussing especially on what events led up to him deciding to become a terrorist. This is because we decided that for our piece to have modern relevance, it needed to be something people could relate to, for example mental health or temptation…...For our piece, we wanted to focus on the idea of someone taking the ‘devil’ figure’s offer, and therefore going down the wrong path, leading to consequences. This gave us the idea to take the Seven Deadly Sins from Dr Faustus and use some of them instead. This would allow us to focus on certain milestones in Breivik’s life, the events that led to his arrest. The main question at the end of his trail was not whether he committed the crime, but whether he was actually in control of his actions. He was found sane and guilty, however, specialists diagnosed him with possible paranoid schizophrenia, leading to a lot of unanswered questions for us to explore throughout our piece.
By Amenie Groves
Group 2: (02:21 - 04:42) The Stonewall Riots
Lucy Abbott, Richard Chapman, Sam Herbert, Polly Gailer, Joe Clines, Alex Russell
Initially, we brainstormed ideas about well-known attacks on the gay community. I researched the Soho nail bombing at the Admiral Duncan pub, the last of a series of bomb explosions in London in 1999. We wanted to choose one that could be presented using a range of dramatic techniques, so we decided to portray the Stonewall Riots in New York as it effectively showed the theme ‘Be Careful What You Wish For’. The Stonewall riots were a series of violent demonstrations by members of the gay community against a police raid in a New York gay pub. There were many who wished for the death of all homosexual people without realising the potential consequences and effects this would create. ….Although we have been focussing on one specific situation: the Stonewall Riots, we decided that the one attack in time not only limits our acting but the emotions that we want the audience to feel. We decided to use all of our researched attacks, which are at different moments in time, from the 1940s to modern-day. ..The drama will start with a modern-day monologue, then show previous LGBT attacks through time, finally returning to the modern-day. In this modern-day monologue, we will portray the suicidal thoughts and death of an anonymous member of the LGBT community. We hope this inflicts shock to the audience and brings about the question of whether LGBT abuse has really evolved throughout time, or just changed form….This story is an effective portrayal of ‘Be Careful What You Wish For’ because … ultimately the effect of targeting the gay community would be the opposite of what he had hoped for, in that it actually served not to destroy, but caused such revulsion that he marginalised himself rather than the community. We think that the combination of the stimuli, and the influence of Brecht in our piece will make it effective and thought-provoking.
By Lucy Abbott
Group 3:(04:42- 06:34) Ted Bundy
Ned Bennett, Wesley Hardingham, Mahli Relf, Benji Payne
The themes of our piece are (straight into it): Arrogance, public personas, and fear. We are planning on approaching the themes of the text from behind because they can’t see us that way. Behind a mask, I should say, because Ted will be a different person in almost every setting, becoming a calm, intimidating character to an equally intimidating raging monster, to
a charming, comical personality, winning over the side of the jury with no true arguments for himself. We will further show the public persona theme by using a different actor for Ted in different scenes….We know that he confessed to the killing of thirty women (he was likely to have killed more) and he lied and deceived almost constantly. He escaped prison twice, once on June 7th 1977 and another on December 30th, acted as his own lawyer in court (which made for very interesting trials) and he impregnated a woman while spending time in jail. A lot of these facts will be
mentioned in the court scenes, and Ted will narrate a visualisation of his escape from prison in an interview...The use of different actors for Bundy throughout the performance will create a shift that will jar the audience enough for them to consider the metaphor behind it, something that will likely spur them on to look for a hidden message in further things in the piece. An idea that we settled on is having an immovable chair on which Ted Bundy sits in every scene. This symbolises Ted’s refusal to move from his position despite all that he’s done; it could also show a belief that Ted has that the whole world revolves around him and that he is the most important person in any room as the whole set changes around that particular spot...The piece is set in the 1970s in America when Ted is well known as a person under great suspicion...These ideas link to the stimulus because if Ted had simply moved the chair, then perhaps it wouldn’t have been the one that he died in, but the themes of arrogance and deception show how he was unwilling to pull down his mask until it was too late and refused (perhaps he was unable, but it’s simpler to treat it as a choice) to accept any remorse for the murders of all those women, therefore he was killed in the electric chair. These were all things that he chose/wished for, and look where it got him.
By Ned Bennett
Group 4: (06.36- 09.02)
Joseph Stevens, Millie Frymann, Pippa Morton
Our group decided to look for true stories we could interpret into our piece of theatre. We found a story of a girl, Janet Commins, who was abducted by a young adult in her hometown of Flint, Wales in 1976. The police took it lightly as they said most girls go missing on their own. The adult was vaguely known to the family as he was in the same school as Janet when he was younger. A few days later after she went missing “her body was found under a thicket near a school playing field, four days later. She had been suffocated during a sexual assault”. His crime of murder wasnt confirmed until over 40 years later after the incident and was only convicted with manslaughter. For our piece we want to show many issues; the police not being fast enough, society not giving people the right sentence and finally society being too naive and not realising that some people may seem far more evil than they show to be. Finally, relating to our stimulus “be careful what you wish for” our character will have a reason for leaving alone just like in the stories we researched to show a wish gone wrong like in the stories of Dr faustus and The Picture of Dorian Gray; because we will show the victims actions affecting her; putting her in the situation. It will show that hatred and deceitfulness will take over our characters and they can lose touch with themselves and those who surround and support them. In the uk child abduction is much less common than other countries across the world, however basing our piece on a story that happened in the uk can show that even in the most benign environments child abduction can still happen.
By Millie Frymann
A Level Drama and Theatre Studies
Group 1 (09.03- 11.03) Grenfell Tower
Molly Berry, Amy Kirkman, Emily Wells, Riordy Kelly, George Blake, Ellie Dickens
During our second week of devising we collated accounts of interviews of residents and onlookers of Grenfell tower. We discovered the intimate community of Grenfell tower, and decided to show this through a cyclical scene (repeated thrice) where residents interact with one another cheerfully. I, for example, pass a bottle to my neighbour and say “congratulations!”. This showed Brecht’s focus on social relationships of characters, rather than inner emotion. This worked well in performance as our audience said it effectively showed the family feel of the tower.
Our stimulus was Man’s Inhumanity to Man, which I discovered was a quote from a poem by Robert Burns entitled “Man Was Made to Mourn”. We took inspiration from the line of the poem “Man’s inhumanity to man Makes countless thousands mourn!”, and explored in our third week how one inhumane action leads to a lattice of guilt and blame. We illustrated this in the piece, using pictures representing different groups of people (Government, Flat 16 occupants etc.) and pinning string to each picture every time a link between groups of people was discovered. This was a 2D version of the connecting of the chairs mentioned above. After further researching Judicial Process we decided to use the poem at the start of the scene at the end of the piece to tie together how all of the decisions made contributed to the Grenfell Disaster, and that it made it almost impossible for justice to be done as “the whole people is under arrest”. This reflected Brechtian techniques as Brecht delighted in leaving his audience a moral dilemma. It also increased tension, and although this was less Brechtian, the audience agreed that this was effective in showing the links between groups of people, and so was beneficial to the flow of the play.
Originally, our structure was linear, progressing from fire to investigation and then the response. However, upon further research, we discovered the Episodic nature of Fear and Misery and decided to use this idea instead to inspire our structure. Within the fourth week we implemented Police scenes in the ‘present’ between scenes in the ‘past’ to distinguish between episodes, but all the scenes were still linked to discovering the story behind the fire. We used these scenes to introduce new characters and discussions, such as when the Police question the use of the Stay Put Policy, leading into the Firefighter scene.
We then discussed structuring our second half imitating a ‘reverse explosion’. This meant the characters (e.g Architect/Government) would react to the fire, and we would then show the decisions made causing it. We intended to demonstrate Brecht’s techniques of blocking an emotional response in the audience, as the dramatic conclusion was restricted by the immediate progression into the analysis of the events leading up to the fire, giving the audience no time to respond sentimentally. This was, however, a difficult concept to actualise and an awkward structure to fit into the climax that we needed for the ending String scene. We rectified this by implementing the press conference scene and watching the Architect and Government try to defend their budget (£9.2 million) and budget cuts (of £293,000) and before jumping back in time and watching them being made, thus still reflecting a series of ‘episodes’, which the audience agreed made the climax impactful.
By Molly Berry
Group 2: (11.04-13.35) Mental Health
Josh Collins, Hannah Lipton, Rowan Butler, Tom Lunn, Tilly Gates, Abi Turner
As a group, we agreed to base our performance around the negative stigma of mental health, particularly what the media perceive it to be. We decided to comply with this topic because it is politically relevant in modern society, nearly 450 million people live with a mental disorder currently…. Each story presents a different outlook on the types of stigmatism of mental health. The episodic structure is an example of a Brechtian technique: especially used in ‘Fear and Misery of the Third Reich’’, each scene provides a different story with a new set of characters. ...This will aid the episodic structure because it segregates each scene from the next.This idea was inspired by a performance of ‘The Unreturning’ by Frantic Assembly - where they used only a large crate that revolved on a turntable. It was effective because actors could appear and disappear quickly at ease. We began by establishing a web of content for our soundscapes, which we use at the beginning of the performance. I researched statistics surrounding the issue of mental health, using the website ‘Mind.org.uk’. The statistics that I collected were: ‘approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year’, ‘1 in 6 report an experience of mental health each week’ and ‘20.6 out of 100 people said they experienced suicidal thoughts in 2016’. These statistics provide factual and current data on the topic, allowing for a political message to be achieved.
Furthermore, the use of the soundscape creates confusion for the audience; so much is being said at once and it is sometimes difficult to hear individual voices inside the blend of audio. This breaks the fourth wall because the audience are allowed to experience the confusion that the characters feel within their head. Additionally, the audience start by having a perception of the characters thoughts, and a reality is opened for them about what it is like for someone who has a mental health condition. ….We used rails to propose the idea of compact housing estates, by pushing them closely together in a box shape whilst performing my scene. This envisions the tightness of the poorer housing because I could barely move around whilst performing. It also provides a cultural context to my character, infusing the reality of conditions; there are people who actually live like that ona day to day basis.
By Josh Collins