In Erica’s lesson we looked over a script one of our class mates Leah had written, as she is hoping to pursue creative writing and script writing at university, and was hoping to receive constructive feedback. I thought the concept of her script was very surreal and captivating and I could imagine it being performed well quite vividly. The piece was about two close friends, Ally and Jessie: Ally is trying to come to terms with and accept the fact that the her best friend Jessie is dead, while a character named ‘The stranger’ – who is actually a personification of death itself being used as an extended metaphor throughout the piece – helps her come to terms with this. I genuinely think the initial concept, although a little cliché, was strong and had scope to become a really abstract and creatively philosophical and moving piece of text, however as Leah is obviously still developing as a young writer there are areas she could adjust to perfect the script. One area in particular being the pace at which the plot unravels, because as it stands at the moment the audience aren’t left to revel in the mystery of the piece and who the character ‘The Stranger’ is and the fact that one of the girls is in fact dead already, and instead are given this information almost immediately which is slightly anticlimactic. We discussed this point as a class and put forward suggestions of how to keep the sense of intrigue and mystery in the plot. Erica talked about the fact that it isn’t right that the central character just accept that this random person is following her, talks to her and then explains the situation and then simply accepts it as truth – it just isn’t a realistic concept and doesn’t make much sense. So we discussed places the Stranger may be when following her in which one wouldn’t question him being there or a place where he would simply blend into the background, such as a park, train station, bus stop, cafe etc. The reason being because the character would the begin to accept the fact that this person is there and wouldn’t think they were following you or that it would be strange for them to start talking to you in the first place. As a group we hoped this scenario would give the plot more of a build up and establish what was happening rather than simply jumping straight into the climax of the story. I thought Leah captured the essence of the characters through her writing style really well, particularly the Stranger, which she used her choice and style of language very cleverly to create an almost charming, seductive yet riddle like tone to the speech, and a sense of power and authority in the composition and length of the phrases he spoke. I thought, and most of the class agreed, that the way she did this really helped conjure a clear mental image of the character just through the writing of dialogue. Despite this, there were some other suggestions and comments made regarding the variety in sentence lengths throughout the entire script as the majority of it was the same throughout which created a monotone, verse like rhythm to it that became monotonous and not exciting; while the longer phrases worked for the character of the Stranger, I felt that the girls should have a more diverse range of sentence structures and lengths that replicate those of a regular teenager in real life as it will make the characters feel more real and believable and so the impact of the Stranger would be even greater! Overall I was impressed with Leah’s concept and writing style and look forward to reading it again once she has reworked it.
We then moved on to a short informal workshop focusing on how to react to redirection of our monologues. This was good practice for me to go over my monologue in an environment where I wasn’t expecting to perform it as I had to work spontaneously and without preparation or the situation – which is obviously an essential skill when it comes to auditions as every experience will be different and no amount of preparation can change that. The exercise was in following layout, we introduced and performed our first monologue and then were asked questions about the character and following this we were given a stock character or personality type to perform the same speech as. Some of the redirection examples included: A three year old child, a High School girl, an Evil Goblin, Elmo from The Sesame Street, a Children’s TV Presenter and a Plumber – mine being the plumber! It was surprisingly difficult to enter this frame of mind so quickly and keep the speech in your head and although I think I made a good stab at the Plumber character, it wasn’t long until I lost my place in the text as I had become so engrossed in honing in on certain qualities of my new character type. When becoming the Plumber I lowered my voice and applied a thick Yorkshire accent and a broad and lazy stance to show the ‘blokey-ness’ and class of the character. I think I did this well and that lots of the class were surprised by the change in dynamic I presented, as the majority of my peers view me as a reserved and gentle girly girl and may have been shocked by the vast transformation and my ability to switch this new character on without fear of embarrassment of holding back. On the other hand, some members of the group seemed a lot less comfortable with the task and when told to perform the speech as the character they were stumped and couldn’t do it without falling in the trap of the rehearsed way of portraying it or in the case of one person simply refused to do it! From my experience this exercise clearly highlights how well the person knows the speech they have learnt and why they are saying certain things and what they are trying to achieve by saying it, as well as demonstrating how willing the actor is to try new things and not hold back. In reality I’m sure the panel are not looking for how well you can impersonate Yoda or transform into an Evil Goblin, they simple want to see how enthusiastic and willing someone is to become another character and step out of their comfort zone without fearing embarrassment or failure!