There are 3 main categories involved in the audiences overall enjoyment of the play: – entertainment, education and aesthetic experience. Entertainment: We wanted the audience to empathise with the characters we created, we wanted to create the characters in such a way that the audience would feel like they had stepped into the characters shoes. So that they could escape their problems and enter our world for the duration of the play.
Humour is also a key element in the enjoyment of a play – and in retrospect I feel that our play could have done with slightly more humour – not so much that it detracted from the message, but just enough to lighten the mood slightly in places. The humour in our play – such as in our doctor flashback – was well received and definitely appreciated. Education: One of our main aims in the play was for the audience to learn something from our play – to be educated in the ordeals that some people go through everyday.
This was particularly true with my character; where I used the theme of euthanasia. I researched the topic and found out about a real euthanasia clinic in Zurich, called Dignitas. Euthanasia is a topical subject at the moment and is the centre of many ethical debates – so by including it in my character I hoped the audience would think about it themselves. Aesthetic Experience: Another way of contributing to the audiences’ enjoyment is their aesthetic experience; this is essentially what everything they see/hear invokes emotionally in the individual.
We attempted to create this through set design (see photo), costume design and our voices. We had a fairly minimalist set, which was meant to give the idea of an art gallery. When designing it, we had to take into account that the audience were in a slight semi-circle, so we had to ensure that the view was of good quality for all members. We also photocopied the picture that was our original stimulus, so that the audience could understand further where we were coming from.
It was especially effective at the end of our play when we played music of the time, and assumed the poses in the picture in a stylised manner. This turned out to be very aesthetically stimulating. In line with our minimalist design we all wore very basic ‘day to day’ clothes as we wanted the emphasis to be on what we said rather than what we wear. Another thing that played into our favour was the number of people in our group – 5. Aesthetically speaking this is a pleasing number – as are odd numbers in general due to the unbalanced nature of them which in a way makes them more true to life.
The overall message we were trying to convey through the play is that whilst on the surface everyone has their ‘public image’ to try and give a fake impression of themselves to others, this hides their real emotions, and inside everyone has their problems and issues. Character Creation: When creating our characters the main concern was that we didn’t end up with stereotypical characters, we wanted 5 different contrasting characters.
So we decided to use the randomisation technique whereby we hoped the characters would be more individual and we would avoid such characterisation as ‘the blonde’ or ‘the snob’. However this did not really work, we found that the characters became too far fetched and thus were exceedingly difficult to make convincing – especially when we were trying to convey a serious message through a monologue. We decided to just go away and think for ourselves about what characters we could do, and most of us changed our minds several times.
It took me a long time to decide on a character that I felt happy with; for a long time in the early stages I was going to be a struggling musician, but in many ways this character lacked sufficient depth to make an interesting monologue with. It also became very close to my own personality as I went on – meaning that it would not have been an appropriate choice. I decided on my actual character after reading a newspaper article about euthanasia, when I realised that I could probably write quite effectively on that subject.
I used the internet to research euthanasia in general, and actually found out about a real clinic in Zurich, which I included in my monologue. I also had to research motor neurone disease so that the description of my wife’s illness was accurate. 2) In what ways did the stimulus material develop through the process? The picture we were presented with also contained a poem; we discarded the poem as we found little benefit from it – and after considering asking for a different picture we stuck with Seurat. However to say we were a little stuck for ideas would be putting it lightly!
We did a brainstorming session to try and come up with some ideas; but at first we were only scraping the surface and getting no further than thoughts such as ‘sunny afternoons’! We had been set the task of performing what we had devised so far – we had nothing! In fact that’s were the main basis of our play came from – we had the idea of all of us standing perfectly still looking at the painting in an art gallery. Our set design sprung from this concept – we aimed to have it like a gallery with large (imaginary) pictures on 3 sides.
This idea further progressed and gave us an effective opening to the play, we started in silence, moved position several times, then we said the first line of our monologue so that it went round the group in a staggered way – resulting in us talking over each other. There was a huge contrast between the silence and that, which was most effective. As we progressed in the dramatic process we tried to look deeper into the picture, and the ideas that can be taken from it; at first we thought that the people all look normal – and indeed they do.
But they all seem almost too ‘normal’ as if they are trying to look that way – the people are dressed up in their Sunday best. It seems like a typically idyllic scene, except that the people in the picture although externally ordinary have a lot of emotional baggage on the inside that is hidden from the world by their front/public image; in fact their inner isolationism gave us our title. Our decision to do monologues came from the stimulus in that we wanted to have an insight into the thoughts and lives of the people; the main problem we encountered with this technique is that it comes across as very static.
Our answer to that was the flashbacks, during or after the monologue we would step through the picture into the frontal stage area and act out a flashback from the characters life. For example in my flashback we acted out the wedding speeches. At the end of the play we went from the last flashback and assumed poses of people in the picture in a styleised manner whilst piano music of the time was playing. This was aesthetically pleasing, and gave a nice end to the play. The characters we made actually seemed to fit into the picture at the end, mainly coincidentally but it worked well.