Friday 7th October- Restoration Comedy

In this session we focused on Restoration Comedy, in particularly the conventions and clues the playwright gives us to the character types and personalities simply by the names chosen for each character. Although I was absent last week, I was informed that we looked at Lady Wishfort’s monologue from ‘The Way of The World’; in the same way as the week before the aim of this session was to look at a larger section of the play and take one of the speeches from the character Witwoud. The section we were given starts off with Fainall and Mirabell talking negatively about Witoud before his entrance shortly after. We talked about the character’s names and how they would represent their character’s personalities, for example, Witwoud would be a fop and this is shown in this section. He is talked about being “bashfullness and obstinacy” (shy and stubborn) while “his memory fails him”, stealing ideas and taking them for his own. He is a vain characters, shown straight from his entrance when he enters with drama, asking for pity and expecting them to ask him what the matter was. Before reading this, Lynn reminded us of something very important when portraying Restoration characters, just because they are over the top, they still need to be portrayed with truth.

Apparently in last weeks session each of the girls were paired up with a boy who directed them in performing the Lady Wishfort monologue. Subsequently, this week the girls had the opportunity to direct the boys in portraying Witwoud. Myself and Hannah were paired with James and had to work together in directing him and helping him decipher and interpret the text and then mould this into a performance. We supported James in reading it through, both of us giving feedback on how he can improve the speech vocally, and luckily our ideas and directorial choices were very similar as we wanted Witwoud to be comedic and not realise what he has said until after he has said something. One example of this was him asking Fainall how his lady was, even though he was in love with someone else. James was able to use his voice well when performing to joke around and go slightly over the top. However, it became evident to me that he struggled with physicalising the character and despite us giving him tips on how and when to move he didn’t feel comfortable doing this. I felt that in the moments he did take direction on board (like the way he lounged on the chairs for example) he could have gone further with these movements in order to capture the real style and exaggeration needed for Restoration Comedies.

I really enjoyed having the opportunity to take on the role of directing in this session and this is something I would definitely like to explore again in the future. I worried that I maybe took over a bit when working alongside Hannah, however most of our ideas and interpretations we agreed on and decided together so this wasn’t a problem. I feel that I made a really good effort in directing James, and took in to consideration his needs as a person and an actor which meant I could help him as an individual and adapt my directing style to suit him and get the most out of him as an actor.

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