Monday 13 January 2014

Development Overview: Section Two

2/12/13 - 13/1/14

I started by introducing my group to the whole story behind 'Awakenings', I did this through a visual presentation and speaking about what I had found. We discusses the content behind the book and the film, which lead to the decision that we preferred to do an adaptation of the book rather the film. This was simply because the book gave us significantly more to work with and expand on. The group and I then went on to discuss initial idea's and began to devise movement straight away. We decided straight away that we weren't going to work with words at all for the first couple of lessons, this was so we could develop the physical side of the things in more detail.

I got each person in the group to pick a character from the book and develop a character profile for each chosen one. This was so we had a insight to a range of different characters and their stories. From this we all sat down and shared idea's on how we could expand on the information found. I decided that maybe we would pick three or four characters to focus on, simply because looking at all seven would have put us at a disadvantage because it wouldn't allow the audience to build any sort of relationship with them. By doing the character profiles it allowed me to pick out certain little things which I could make physical movement out of. One of the first things that really stood out for me was a hand sequence which 'Rose R' had as part of her everyday lifestyle. I automatically linked this back to the work of 'Paper Bird's' production of 'On the other hand', I thought this could be something we could work with later on.

Another of the things I picked up from my own research was the idea of being controlled by this illness, so I took this as my initial starting point and began creating movement around this idea. I took the idea of chair duets and expanded to fit with the whole group being involved at the same time. I had three people sat on a bench being a representation of the patients and the other four standing in the gaps behind the bench as a representation of the doctors or the illness. I then came up with a sixteen count sequence in which they either did in sharp unison or in canon, repeating different sections. This was a really good starting point and allowed the group to branch off further idea's.

After creating the group 'chair duet', I had the idea of inner/outer personality chair duets. This involved everyone being in pairs except one person. After pairing the group off I then ask them in their pairs to come up with a ten count sequence. I gave them this stimuli: " The person on the left, you are the inner person however you are on the outside looking in, you annoyed and frustrated with yourself because of your lack of mobility. The person on the right, you are the outer person, the person with the illness who is unable to move, speak or make any communication with anyone." I then left them to come up with the counts and after seeing them individually, I got them to do it at the same time. I also asked them to repeat the sequence three times, each time getting more and more angry and frustrated, and once they'd finished I asked them to stand and just scream.
Here is a video showing this sequence:

I carried on working with the idea of restricted movement, and began to work on a floor sequence that implied the idea of the drug, L-DOPA and it's effects. This involved all the group lying at various points on the stage, facing different directions, moving in unison. I choreographed this movement carefully, to re-enforce the idea of this drug.
Here is a video of this sequence:

We established that when it came to speaking sections of the piece, american accents would have to be used in order to convey the adaptation correctly. So we spent a few lesson's watching video's on Youtube, learning how to speak with various american accents. This was really useful for the group so they were able to get a good idea of how to expand their vocal range in order to recreate a strong american accent.

In my free time, I began to look for further inspiration to help the group and I develop further idea's. I did this by watching a wide range of physical theatre pieces online. Watching these various video's gave me some understanding of how to go about making certain activities and movements slightly more physical but not in such a stylised way. I took away a few small sections from various video's I had watched and introduced some of them to the group to try. One of these things was a really nice lift, which involved some being threw into the air with the support of the rest of the group around them. When we tried this it worked really well and we definitely could use it at some point in our piece. Also I found a really nice drag which involved some pulling someone else as they hooked their arms under the other persons arms and slowly started to walk. When Livy and Joe tried this it worked really well, however we weren't so sure this would work for the style of our piece.

We spent a few weeks creating these various sequence's before starting to think of a set structure, this allowed us to become familiar with the kind of Physical Theatre piece we would be continuing to create. By doing small sections of physical movement it gave the group and I potential starting points for piece as a whole.

After showing the rest of the class the small sections we have developed, we received some very useful feedback which helped us come up with the starting point for our piece.

20/1/14 - 10/2/14

We all sat down as a group and discussed idea's on how we would start the piece. I'd had an idea to use like a interview kind of technique to begin the piece. We played around with the interview idea, manipulating the idea of 'hot seating', we did this with people being patients, doctors/nurses and family members,  until we had the idea of using Oliver Sacks. I then remembered a video that I had previously watched which was an interview with Oliver Sacks on the BBC. This involved Dr Sacks explaining the effects of the disease and the drug L-DOPA on the patients. I thought this could be a good way to open the piece with a little bit of explanation of the stimuli of the piece.

With this idea in mind we decided to use the opening of the video to start the piece. Instead of the video being visual through projection I thought it would be more effective as a voice over as the lighting mimicked a old projector by flickering. We created a six count sequence which everyone would do (except the character playing Oliver Sacks) whilst the voice over was happening. Each person starts on a different movement and it continues till the person is back to the move they originally started with. Once the track had cut, I then thought (Oliver Sacks) Joe could step forward and begin to speak about the ticks that patients had.

I got the other six to stand in a semi circle across the middle of stage whilst Joe stood down stage right. I thought it would be effective if they cut him off mid sentence by saying 'I got a question" in unison. We tried this in a number of other ways before deciding this however this was the most effective. Then I got Laura to say 'What about Rose, did she have any ticks?" then the whole group carry on repeating the word 'tick' and flinching their head and hands, while Joe begins to respond to the question. As he explains the tick to the group, Livy acts it out behind him. When he had finished I got the whole group to join in on the sequence at different point and finish together. This worked really well but took a while to get it perfectly synchronized.

Referring back to my original research, I discovered a section in the book which stated all of the patients felt completely isolated from the outside world and I thought this would be a good idea to explore. I had this vision of Livy (Rose) being central and the rest of the group talking around her, implying that every day life was just going on around her but she had no control over anything in her surrounding. I got the volume of the random chatting to rise to the point where everyone sounded as if they were shouting and Livy fell forward and the chatting stopped suddenly, and a deep breath pod shock helped to emphasis the fall.
Here is a video of  before we go feed back.

After showing the group this section we received some critical feedback on how to improve. From the feedback we got that the idea itself was a really good idea however it looked too cliche and predictable. So we decided to play around with levels and aesthetics of everyone stood around Livy. I 

  • everyone turns 
  • 8 count duo sequence
  • minipulating sequence
  • tried voice over of Rose's husband - didn't work
  • floor sequence
  • two tag 
  • Liv's monologue - airplane - dance- love life - sketch

17/2/14 - 20/3/14

  • Chair duet - What are you thinking about rosy?
  • Added Grid
  • Repetitive Miraim - ticking
  • Lift 
  • Dream sequence
  • Sleep Paralysis
  • Matt & Laura - Inspired by Frantic assembly 
  • Hannah and Georgie - monologue & visual representation
  • Ending Heartbeat 

*made dance more physical
- took out unnecessary speech
*took away throw lift

24/3/14 - 1/4/14

Before Previews we made slight changes to the order of the piece in order for it to flow better. We sat down and made a running order of the scenes as they were and discovered some bits didn't really link. The 'Rose' section which originally ran as : Plane, Dance and Heartbreak then into the Sketch section, didn't really make sense or continue with the impression we were trying to achieve. So we decided to change the order so the audience understood properly how we are wanting them to feel. We put the Sketch section first because it's really light hearted and Rose is talking about the happier times in her life, and the Dance and Heartbreak was put after because it has a more sad and depressing tone and it links with the isolation created in the Grid section and the two tag which comes after.

25th March: Previews



  • Various volume on the surround talking
  • Developed the transition between talking in to plane - made a plane visually -added more lines - economy "y'all want some nuts" - first class "champagne ma'am"
  • Counting altered - more random 
  • Dream Transition - slow motion - backwards movement - more surreal feel
  • Added Oliver Sacks revisit - what is sleep paralysis?
  • Refined two tag - more emotion - longer gaps - build up 
  • Altered Sketch - made it more precise and light hearted 
  • Took out heartbeat at the end - too cliche 
  • Created a ending to sum up the whole piece

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