On Monday the 16th our group shared our Theatre in Education piece so far to Erica and all the other Year 2 students. While the other groups simply read their updated scripts so they could be reviewed by Erica, as our group were slightly further ahead in terms of reworking and editing versions of the script, as I had been taking notes on board and editing and perfecting the writing as I went along. Unfortunately Daytona was not here so Erica had to read in for her which slowed the pace down a lot but we managed to get through the script from start to finish which was a triumph in itself! Due to people attending auditions, people being ill and other inconveniences we hadn’t had the group together for a run in a very long time and I personally was feeling quite worried as I hadn’t tested the updated script in full yet and so was anxious as to how it would go and what the response would be like, especially as some of the last comments we got from our peers were slightly negative.
As mentioned above Erica had to step in for Daytona as the Stupid Sidekick Morgan for this sharing, which I think is a really positive thing and could be really beneficial to Daytona if she watched it back and picked out the comedic moments that worked for Erica and the character and try and take them on board for her own performance. I think Erica really captured the comedy in the sidekick’s stupidity and simple nature with her lower pitched voice and by creating a sense of being clueless by keeping her facial expression quite vacant and slow to react. She also managed to take opportunity to address the audience and ad lib sections when asking for help reminding what the various shapes look like by finding motivation from the character and not just doing it for the sake of it. For example when she asks someone to quickly remind her what the triangle looks like as she has forgotten again. This made us actually empathise with the character and find her lovable rather than view her as evil too as we can see how much the character wants to impress the ESC. Obviously there are sections where it didn’t quite flow as well as we had hoped due to losing our place in the script or because Erica was unsure of where we were or what happened in certain sections. For example, the section where Morgan is fanning ESC and gets carried away didn’t work as well as it normally would, however I’m not worried about this as Daytona usually does this very well and has a good sense of how to create the comedy in the moment.
In this run I really felt the relationship and energy between myself and Harry as Isabella and Sherlock was coming alive and was very charming and believable. I think Harry has taken on board the feedback regarding his characterisation as a dog however I feel he could perhaps go further in the sections where Granny is around and he has to be ‘more dog like’. Maybe this is something to play around with as it could be another opportunity to create a reoccurring comedic moment.
Although Leah said she had been working on her different voices for Granny, Mrs Dollysmith and the News Broadcaster, both myself and the audience were finding it extremely difficult to understand what she was saying. I seems this is still and area that needs attention as lots of her words were slurring into one and there was little change in tone and delivery when changing characters which made it quite confusing to follow. Although I appreciate that this is a hard thing to do if you’re not confident in voice work or accents, however we have given a lot of attention to helping her, for example by recording Erica doing Mrs Dollysmith’s voice to listen to and copy, as well a giving pointers to the areas she needs to focus on such as speed, clarity, diction and tune of voice. Although don’t like being negative I am getting slightly worries that this might not be something we will be able to fix by the time of our TIE performances, especially as Leah is not reacting well to the feedback she is getting given and often choosing to ignore or dismiss it.
I think the structure of the script is fairly strong, however I noticed that there is one scene between the ESC and Morgan where they are looking through the bag and discussing their finds that felt particularly long. This is because this was originally two separate scenes with a scene diverting to Sherlock and Isabella taking place in between, however Erica suggested that we cut this as it wasn’t needed in the plot. I agree with this, however I worry that this has now left the scene between SK and ESC too long and I don’t want to risk the children losing their attention span. One way of avoiding this happening could be to make sure we have a section in the middle of this scene were Josh and Daytona address the audience directly and talk to them in a personal way to give some relief from the intensity of the scene, before focusing back on the plot and re-entering the scene (similar to in a pantomime when the Dame and another character break from a scene to do the song with the children or to pick on an audience member). Although our actors wouldn’t indulge in this as much as in pantomime, I feel it might give the audience some slight relief from the climax of the plot and help them refocus on the learning side of it without the risk of drifting off.
I felt that Josh had taken his past notes on characterisation well and had started to find a balance between capturing the dominating nature of the character but refraining from appearing to angry and aggressive and scaring the children. We had also spoken about Josh adding more variety into his phrase ‘Morgan!’, as it was starting to sound quite monotone as it was following the same pitch pattern every time, and this was starting to show in this run through. I think Josh has started falling into habits with his delivery and doesn’t necessarily understand what is going on in each scene and so isn’t giving the best performance he is capable of. I think that once he feels more confident with the script and knows his lines off by heart he might be more convincing when talking about the shapes and their properties. I know this is an area Josh might not personally be too confident with, however hopefully if we dedicate a lesson to going over the learning side of it and make sure we all actually know what we are talking about it it may support our delivery in performance.
I also hope that once we have the props and 3D shapes to demonstrate with it will make it all so much easier for both us and the audience to follow. From watching this back it has highlighted how important the visual materials really are in supporting out performance and learning objectives, it is essential we start sourcing these and using them in rehearsal.
Obviously Erica will not be playing Morgan the SK in our final performance, however there are several areas of her portrayal of the character that I would like to take note of and work on with Daytona. I really like the she way she repeated her line after ESC says ‘you can say that again’ as it was a perfect comic opportunity and an example of a typical pantomime type joke – so I’m hoping to inform Daytona and include it in the original script. As I mentioned earlier, I thought Erica’s interaction with the audience was really strong and works perfectly for the character as I feel like he is almost on the same level as the children.
As a group we really need to finalise and work on the routine/actions for the shape demonstrations as at the moment they are very disorganised and confusing as everyone is doing them slightly differently which is distracting to watch. Understandably I wasn’t there when it was choreographed and so couldn’t offer my thoughts at the time, however there were certain actions that were again too messy and not precise enough. I hope to suggest that time is dedicated to working on this in several of the next rehearsals so we can get it in sync as a group, and finalise the specific movements so we are all doing it the same.
As I had only written an outline for the last scene (epilogue) a few days before this progress sharing we hadn’t had a chance to run it as a group as of yet and so it was very rusty and ended up falling apart – although i’m not worried about this at the moment. The end scene is meant to be quite brief and just give a resolution and touch of comedy at the end of the story. When writing the script I only did an outline and kept it very brief as personally that is all I think it needs to be. This is something we need to work on over the next week to make sure we have a definite strong ending where the audience know for sure that is has finished.
On a personal note, I feel I am doing an okay job at portraying Isabella at the moment, however I am finding it difficult at times and often question my ability, as I find my character is rather bland and I tend to fall into the background in the mass of the comedic characters such as ESC, SK and Sherlock. I often worry that this isn’t just the case and that it’s because i’m not investing enough into my characterisation or pushing the boundaries enough. However, I also know that often in children’s TV shows or stories the central character will often be the level headed one who drives the narrative of the story, and therefore it may not be down to my lack of ability but down to the style and position of the character in the story. I think because I have been writing the characters, the script and the many of the ideas I haven’t had much of a chance to focus on my own characterisation – beyond the high pitch girly voice – and therefore need to focus on my own character development once the script editing is out of the way!