This portfolio analyses and contextualize the creation and performance of our piece of theater: “Brainwashed highways”, which is named like this because our dramatic intention is how social media has “brainwashed” many people and since we are performing two scenarios of two cases being, cyberbullying and bulimia we thought as them as being “highways” as being a long and never ending.
Being a drama student has allowed me to develop many skills which have helped me and has been very useful to create our collaborative project. I took GCSE drama and I started enjoying it when we created group work. Throughout the whole course of GCSE we created various pieces of theater, which led me to be the person who I am today. It helped me acquire many skills, such as being a better listener and more accepting of other people’s ideas, because one of my main challenges when I began drama GCSE was not approving of someone else’s idea if it differed from my own. Furthermore one of the main challenges I was able to overcome and I am proud of, is the idea of wanting to finish everything without looking back, reviewing and improving. I am proud of this because this has helped me with my developing and refining the piece of theater which is essential and now I am accepting feedback from the audience, which is a fundamental point to be able to refine and develop a better piece of theater. GCSE drama has made me an more open minded person and it pushed me forward to be able to give ideas on the spot. For example, the one piece that helped me develop and start enjoy drama is when we were in a group and created a whole piece based using a bed sheet (as shown in figure 1) to explore peoples shadow, accompanied by music. This has taught me a large amount of aspects on how to create theater work. Before taking GCSE drama I thought the term “drama theater” meant someone acting and speaking, but after having experienced one of our first drama pieces (as shown in figure 1), I’ve learnt that theater pieces can be completely non-verbal and consequently have a strong impact on the audience leaving them in awe. Secondly it has taught me that music and sound effects have a high impact on the theatrical piece. These atmospheric effects have connotations in the audience’s memory that link them to the scenes. Moreover this will have a significant influence the theater I am making in my collaborative project, in various ways: Since we will be having a non-verbal piece and only performed with background music, which I have brought forward from my GCSE pieces of theater. Additionally another influence it will have on our collaborative project is the acceptance of ideas and rather than us saying “no, but I don’t like this idea” it is going to be “yes, and we can also add”
Since I was little I was passionate about music in general, but I preferred classical music, I thought and think up till now that it helps me concentrate and enhances my imagination. Nevertheless I admire singing is one of the few things I do every day and it makes me release all the tension I fell.
Having studies Studying drama in at GCSE helped me develop many ideas from stimulus therefore it gave me access to a wide range of different and effective stimulus. Such as music, more of classical (piano) music such as Beethoven (Capell, 1938) and Vivaldi (fish, 2015)
the great creators of classical music, I have always liked to use this as a starting point for all my theatrical pieces, because music reaches out to us more than anything else also in my opinion, giving me a wider range of imaginative ideas which I can then develop and review in the future making a creative and outstanding theatrical piece.
Furthermore, when exploring my monologue I learnt to express myself by being able to actually get in character and get in the mood of the character, for example if the character I’m going to perform is in a happy mood and state of mind, I am able to transform from any mood I’m in, into the character I will be performing. To be able to do this I had to overcome one of my hardest challenges which is my shyness, which I personally think it’s a huge achievement for me. I took it step by step, initially I performed my monologues in front of my mirror and after being more confident I performed it to my parents, finally when I was completely confident and firm I performed it in front of my theater class. Additionally I learnt to express myself also with my body movement, being more smooth and natural, to be able to portray to the audience that I feel confident and I’m not just standing in one spot saying words. Also to be able to achieve my body movements I first learnt my lines really well to the point where I didn’t need a script then I divided them into sections and applied my body movements to each section, to conclude I tried out all the script with my body movements added to it. It led me to be made me more comfortable and confident, On the whole it took me nearly a whole year and a half of my GCSE drama course to be able to accomplish and overcome my challenges, by repeating and knowing more in depth the character I will be playing. Helping me to create a better character individually and in group work, as well as acting in a more natural and confident way.
I have been developing my knowledge of theatre through practical exploration and work seen and work I took part in live famous theatres. We have been introduced to Frantic Assembly and have seen many theatrical work done by them such as Lovesong which intertwines a couple in their 20s with the same man and woman a lifetime later. Their past and present selves collide in this haunting and beautiful tale of togetherness. A production by acclaimed film, television and theatre writer Abi Morgan. (Assembly, 2016) additionally the famous Othello “Frantic Assembly explodes onto the stage with an electrifying contemporary take on Shakespeare’s most brutal and gripping thriller-tragedy of paranoia, jealousy, sex and murder. Here, violence is a way of life and reputation is everything.” (Assembly, 2016) we also got the possibility to read how they created it, why they chose those specific sound effects and music thanks to their PDF where they explain to us everything. (Assembly, 2016)
furthermore, our school gave us the possibility to spend a day with some people from frantic assembly, making us feel in their place and they taught us the process they go before creating a piece which is all physical exercises and muscle strengthening, usually their stimulus is music or one body movement and from there they develop their theatrical piece. The types of theatre the type of pieces I like creating are involving physical theatre because personally I think it allows to portray a greater message to the audience than explaining it with words. This is my preference, because During my course of drama GCSE we created a group piece using physical theatre. Sustaining the piece with powerful music, we conveyed the message of how us human beings can be manipulated by other people without us wanting to be manipulated by them, this dramatizes the whole piece, this furthermore makes the audience more entertained throughout the whole piece by us creating tension throughout the whole piece makes them want to get to the end to understand the whole plot of this piece.
Furthermore taking theater has helped me to be a more confident and able to say speeches without hesitation and being anxious
Research into professional companies
When deciding which theater company to research I chose “Frantic assembly”. Personally I really like their way of creating projects and pieces because they create (assembly, 2016)”thrilling, energetic and unforgettable theater. the company attracts new young audience with work that reflects contemporary culture. Frantic assembly’s unique physical style combines movement, design, music and text.”
I like their approach because they put all three senses together drawing, reading and dancing to create a piece. I feel that frantic assembly could strongly influence our piece because we could use their different ways of approaching the devising process for example I enjoy the way how they use music (upbeat,slow ecc..) and then anyone from the group starts to improvise or start a pattern and everyone from the group follow, and from there they start their piece or could also be their starting point. We as a class also, had a great opportunity to be able to work with them, which is really helpful for creating our piece.
Furthermore while I was researching for theater companies I personally thought that invisible flock could be a strong impact on our group piece because (Anon., 2016)they have an interesting way of starting their piece, they create their pieces by inviting people to re-imagine the world they live in and how they participate in it, using technology to incite meaningful encounters. I like their approach because they make people imagine the world and things we are living in a different way.
After we came together as a group we had other companies suggestions such as (angel, 2016)3rd angel which (angel, 2016)”The great thing about Third Angel is you never know what you are going to get… Heavenly work.”
In conclusion we decided to use Frantic assembly because we also wanted to create “thrilling, energetic and unforgettable theater” using music and physical theater, also because we wanted to be original, since “usually” all performances have articulation in them and we wanted to be unique or more like frantic assembly, using our bodies more, expressing ourselves throughout music and body movements.
Formation of group
When forming our groups we decided to share each other’s skills and background knowledge on drama, so we could be able to choose our group wisely based on our similar styles/ genre and talents we each have. The group I joined was with Leena and Greta. Fortunately we were all interested in different things so this was easier for the creation of the project and to create something original with our talents.
These are our skills:
I’m good at creating physical theater since I participated twice at a frantic assembly workshop, leading it easier to me to express and give ideas on physical theater and having a bigger impact on the audience, furthermore choosing the adequate music for our piece, since from when I was little I loved music and have passion for music, so I have a wide range of music knowledge and information. I also play the piano and sing so this could help in creating pieces with musical and instrumental context, maybe further on we may use the piano as a prop in our piece.
Maddy is also really good with physical theater because even she has attended twice the frantic assembly workshop, she’s really passionate with music and technical things (lighting, projecting, computer) so she will be managing lighting and the videos that will be played in the background of our piece. Finally she is really good at improvisation and fantastic at giving good ideas. I’ve worked before with maddy In different project form the GCSE and IB, and we both have the same approaches to physical theater but with different ways of expressing them , and I think this may be really useful to have different ways if expressing ourselves, so we can have a wide range of physical theater explaining our intentions.
Leena is a really good leader and a singer and knows how to assign roles and give work equally to the whole group. She’s really good at giving ideas and writing scripts, another really good feature of Leena is improvisation. Having her will help us considerably since majorly all of us are more of “on stage” ideas, on the other hand she is more of “pen and paper” ideas, so she will help us by her leading role and scripted ideas.
Greta is good at singing so she is useful when finding music for our piece. Also she is good at giving ideas when we are having problems, or shortages of ideas.
I decided to work together with them as a group because we felt it would form a really strong and dedicated group and with each other’s potentials we could help each other. Regrouping all of our talents together, adding them up will help us create an extraordinary piece with a strong meaning by only using our bodies and different types of music to be able portray the different types of moods that are intentionally conveyed to the audience.
As a group we have positive and negative aspects since we have shortage of props and we are a small group so here are some positive and negative qualities:
? We all respect each other’s ideas and we always keep them in consideration, if they are good point’s we try and fit them in our piece. Hence step by step we get to improve our project and have a clearer dramatic intention to our audience.
? Each one of us has different skills, which is really helpful to be able to create a good collaborative project and also different ideas, additionally we all have different nationalities which have a strong impact on our project since we could explore our dramatic intention in our own nationalities.
? We are all determined, and work hard as a group and every lesson we come prepared with new ideas and thoughts, so we don’t waste time at all during the lesson and use all the time we have available and create new things every lesson.
? Being all women, makes it easier since having also boy we would have had too many opposition and critics, since they think differently from us.
? We are all women, having no men in our group makes it quit hard to have a different perspective of a man’s point pf view and emotions, having another point of view would give us a better idea for our piece and widen the thoughts and creation.
? Not everyone in our group gives ideas, which is not good because we are only in four in the group, not giving ideas makes it hard to proceed in the making of the piece hence having only 3 out 4 giving ideas, slows down the creation of the piece leading to poor delivery to the audience.
? Finally we don’t have available many props that could have enhanced our creation. But neither the less we were able to create an extravagant piece of work.
As a group we decided to imply some rules for our group so we can extract the maximum:
? We should all respect each other’s ideas and take them in consideration if they are not relevant.
? Everyone should give ideas in order to quicken the production of our piece.
? Everything should be agreed upon everyone thus we have no discussion and opposition.
? If given a task, we should all go home and do it so we are all prepared when arrived in class.
Implying rules for the group, I think it’s really important because without them we can’t have a safe ground on how to create a great piece. Furthermore since we have a short period of time to create the piece, we thought as group that this would be the best idea to not waste time and have something concrete to relate to every time we sit down as a group.
To begin our piece we decided that we should all, each one of us (me, Leena, Maddy, Greta) bring a different stimulus to lesson and we shared these:
I chose a piano piece called “Comptine d’un autre ete” it’s composer is a famous musician called Yann Tiersen extracted from the movie “Amelie”, I chose especially this piece because personally I love playing this piece on the piano since it recalls many memories, (Tiersen, 2002 )this piece is really calm at the beginning and towards the middle it starts to have a faster speed in tempo. For then recalling our dramatic intention and I thought this piano piece would explain the roller-coaster of emotion that is felt in the piece and that have to be portrayed to the audience.
Leena chose a song called “It’s a man’s world” performed in the series Glee, but originally performed by James Brown. I liked it because behind the lyrics there was a strong message portrayed, showing hoe the role of a woman is still important and feminism is shown, but personally I think it doesn’t really create a piece.
Maddy also chose a song called “Brenda’s got a baby”. It talks about real life problems of a woman who loved her cousin and had a baby and he left her alone, she needed money so therefor she had to sell drugs, it didn’t work out so she became a prostitute and got killed. This song is really powerful because of its mood and story. This is really powerful too because of its story line and meaning, I think this could be used as hints to our production but not as the “music” in the background.
We also had a quote “You’re never not afraid but my fear of failure never approached in magnitude my fear of what if, what if I never tried at all?” by Will Ferrell this quote gave us many ideas and good starting points for our piece.
After sharing our ideas with each stimulus we had to write a starting point for each stimulus, these are my ideas for each stimulus:
Leena: “It’s a man’s world”
It could be a storyline where it’s set in the 50’s were there is a girl/ teenager whose voice is oppressed and has no freedom of speech, but she’s a really dedicated and doesn’t allow this and manages to spread her voice. This was the first thing that came up in my mind after hearing this song.
Maddy: “Brenda’s got a baby”
When I first heard this song, what came up in my mind was about a girl who ended up being pregnant after a one night stand, and she was left alone with her baby and she has to afford money any way possible, she starts becoming a drug dealer and they end up killing her child.
Me: “Comptine d’un autre ete”
This could be a story of a boy/girl who is suicidal with a dead mother, and has one best friend who helps him out of depression. This piece of music has had a constant change in my mood while I was listening to it.
After each one plotting down what they think about each stimuli we came to a decision that we chose “comptine d’un autre ete”. After sharing each other’s ideas on the piano piece we created a baseline to our piece. It will take place in the 40’s/50’s with a family who has constant problems. One of our main theme is society, so we decided that we wanted to be a kind of “puppet” guiding the characters of the family, showing how society affects everyone brainwashing them. The main characters are the mother, father and the kid. The mother has no rights since she is a woman (in the 40/50’s) , she wanted to become a writer but can’t. The Father abuses of his wife and is a normal business man who cheats on his wife because he is “bored” of his wife. Finally the son is homosexual, being a homosexual in these times was considered to be a sickness or illness, his mother finds out and refuses to tell the husband because she knows what he is going to do, so she brings him to different doctors to “cure” him from homosexuality, these acts that the mother takes drives the kid crazy and becomes depressed. In the last scene we are able to see the suicide of the kid, the mother being able to break the rules, leave her husband and become a writer and the father staying being manipulated by society. We decided as a group to create this piece as a circular structure to clearly show the point of society manipulation and being brainwashed. We are going to start the scene with the whole family sitting on a couch doing a continuous sequence and ending the scene with only the father sitting by himself on the couch (showing how he is the only one still being manipulated by society) he will be doing the same sequence as the first scene.
We discussed the story and decided the our dramatic intention “we don’t have to let society control us”. We chose this as our dramatic intention because we know that even nowadays society is manipulating everyone through social media and celebrities defining the meaning of “beautiful” which leads on to depression for some people when they can’t reach that level of “beauty” implied by social media and celebrity. Another example is family and friends peer pressuring and nagging you which also leads to other mental illness like anxiety, depression and bulimia.
After a couple of lessons we developed ideas and brainstormed more ideas to be able to make our piece more detailed, and we tried to find music and act it out but we found out that i t was better if we changed the story line. Sd we changed the time setting instead of 40/50’s we decided to make recent and make it in the 2017 taking about two girls who don’t know each other passing through rough time one is depressed and the other one suffers from bulimia. We decided to change it because we thought that it would have a bigger impact on our target audience and convey a clearer dramatic intention to them.
As a group we decided that our target audience would be people from our age 16/17 and 6 people maximum who will be able to watch our piece, to be able for them to be involved in our piece and the message to get to them quicker. We decided to choose this target audience because we know that usually its at this age that get more affected by depression and other types of mental illness and especially now that there is social media and celebrities who are affecting even more this aspect in life for some of us.
My contributions to the collaborative process:
As we have decided that our dramatic intention was “we don’t have to let society control us” as a group we decided to go home and look for anything that could help us develop it, so I went home and went on YouTube and looked for some videos and then I came across a (AM I PERFECT?, 2017)YouTube video “Am I perfect?” from a famous youtuber called Inanna Sarkis, in her YouTube video she shows herself in comparison to Instagram models and how she hates herself and her body and how she doesn’t fit in to the “area” of beauty defined by social media models, so one day she decided to go and have plastic surgery by making her hips thinner, having bigger lips and widening her eyes. After doing her plastic surgery she realizes how prettier she was before, then she has a whole monologue speaking to her audience how being ourselves is the best thing for us and for our mental health. I chose some of my favorite quotes from her video which I thought could help us dig deeper into our dramatic intention and convey it clearer to our target audience:
? “Sometimes we have to remind ourselves that it’s ok not to be perfect”
? “How do you measure perfection anyways”
? “We shouldn’t have to measure perfection up to a media features”
? “We are all perfect our own way”
We have already decided the different scenes we were going to do so we decided that these quotes could help us in some of our scene, in fact we decided to use some of these quotes in our last scene where me and Leena are sitting on a black block where in the background there is our scripted voiceover saying how hard it is to be judged but at the end we decided to add “you aren’t ugly society is” I decided this quote, leaving it the last image impressed in their mind will make the whole piece clearer.
My contribution to certain scenes:
I contributed to the first scene by giving some ideas: I thought using physical theater for the first thing the audience to see is really effective. Me and Maddy collaborated together to create this physical sequence, we decided that we were going to do the same movement for the first minute and after the beat drop of (ignite-Alan Walker). Furthermore I contributed to the idea of me and maddy mirroring the sequence of Leena and Greta, I thought that mirroring them would have a higher impact on the audience. Finally the stare between me, Maddy and Leena, Greta, at the end of the first scene was my idea to make it clear that it’s the end of a scene and for it to have a stronger impact.
I furthermore contributed to the fight scene between me and maddy we created a script and I took time at home to create my lines for this scene.
For these scene I contributed the most, I Directed most of this scene. On of my decision was the idea of us 3: me; Maddy and Greta all saying the one keyword “exercise” “food” “healthy” and repeat it and screaming it to Leena’s face, I decided to repeat 1 one word to make it clear to the audience what it feels like being affected by bulimia, the feel of being pressured by friends, family and society. Additionally I also decided that when Leena falls to the floor us three me; Maddy and Greta we start crawling because another time, this is how a bulimic person feels, they feel attacked and there is no way out.
Furthermore I helped creating props, for the Bulimia scene: we decided to wear black masks and write on them what Bulimic person feels what they always hear, so I helped writing on the masks.
Finally I contributed to the script for the last scene with the script:
L: What’s the point? Everytime I try to change i fail
C: Everytime i try I get judged
L: I keep letting down everyone, i keep letting down myself.
C: I can’t recognise myself anymore
C+L: But people are always going to judge me
L: I can’t control what people think
C: I can’t control how the world sees me
C+L: I know i’m not defined by what other people think of me
L: You call me a loser
C: You call me a slut
C+L: It’s just a reflection of who you are and how you see yourself
L: But i’m not angry
C: And i’m not hurt
L: Instead i’m grateful to you for showing me i’m not alone
C: In my pain
L: In my self doubt
C+L: no one is alone
Me and leena worked together to create this script, we decided to start the “duologue” by showing our weaknesses and how it affects our feelings, gradually when it comes towards the end the script we show how the negative comments that we receive makes us stronger and the people we tell us these comments are weaker than us ( in the play we duffer bulimia and depression).
Analysis of our piece:
One of our strengths in our piece is the physical theater, as a group we worked so well on the physical theater I think we created three major physical theater parts, the beginning scene, the depression scene with the (river song) and the bulimia scene. I personally think these are one of our strengths because even though we are not speaking furthermore the sequence made the message clear.
One of our main weakness was the gym scene, since it was supposed to be funny, it didn’t really make the audience laugh, probably because it was the scene we spent less time, even though we tried our best to meet up after school and during lunch to go over this scene.
4 minutes video:
For the Bulimia scene I directed it all from the beginning to the end. Firstly i wanted the scene to start with Lenna (affected by bulimia) to be centered in the middle and a powerful background music with greta (represented as the mother) to start bombarding her with question in order for her to have a better body “did you walk to school”, “did you drink enough water”, then other aspects in life that bulimic people get affected by like “going to the gym” or “eating healthier”, these were represented by me and maddy furthermore also we started screaming at her “exercise more” “eat healthier” “go running”. I wanted for these 3 aspects the mother, exercise and food to be in this scene because when i researched i found out that these were the main aspects of what bulimic people get told and hear. Secondly Lenna manges to stop all these phrases being sad at her by her screaming “STOP”, because she is strong enough to stop it, but unfortunately the 3 aspects come crawling back to her, i wanted them to be crawling because i thought it would be more effective to the audience seeing crawling representing like animals (Snake) which are usually seen as evil animals. Finally lenna and the 3 aspects try to get up but lenna falls down to the floor also the 3 aspects showing that she managed to defeat the3se aspects but was so weak, also the 3 aspects fall down to show that they are dead.
Fight scene (the depression scene):
Furthermore I directed the physical theater to this piece with the background music of River which says “shut your mouth and run me like a river” which reflects on how society nowaday tell all girls how they are “supposed” to look like. So the scene start with me sitting on the floor (with a blank face) and society come over starts putting makeup on me and does my hair grabs my phone as if she is taking a selfie of me and i automatically smile and expose more of skin, I wanted this to happen because on instagram all pictures are taken like this. Then society lays down the phone on the floor and i start taking selfies and the situation stats to get out of my control so society grabs it from me, i wanted this to happen because if someone starts to exaggerate on instagram people start criticizing them and offending them. Then we stand up society hugs me i manage to get my phone from her and to show that i can fight society i punch her, finally i wanted this to happen because even though not many people manage to get through depression and fight back society my (as a character) managed to fight it. I wanted to portray this because i wanted to show the audience that it may be hard to fight back society and social media but it can happen and one you are done fighting it you feel so peaceful and you are not bound to anything.
Voiceover scene (last scene):
Finally this is the last scene where i contributed to the music and the script (voice over). The song is called where’s my love, I think it’s one of the most appropriate because it says “don’t wanna cry, but I break that way” and “if she ran away, if she ran away, come back home” these phrases are really relative to this situation. Because they reflect on what we say in the voice over like for example
L: What’s the point? Everytime I try to change i fail
C: Everytime i try I get judged
L: I keep letting down everyone, i keep letting down myself.
C: I can’t recognise myself anymore.