Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Research & Initial Idea's: Section One

Directing: Awakenings                          

Our chosen styles are creative adaptation and physical theatre, we have selected these styles in order to portray our adaptation of Oliver Sacks  ‘Awakenings in a theatrically effective and emotionally engaging manner. It will involve going exploring the real life stories of patients who suffered ‘Encephalitic Lethargica’ otherwise known as ‘sleepy sickness’ which was a neurological disease. This 100’s of people to remain in a state of sleep paralysis for months, even years in some cases. We are going to be looking at the effects of L-DOPA, the drug that brought these people back to life.

The key aspects of a creative adaptation are:

  • Ensuring that the performance catches the essence of the story and making sure the moral of the story is upheld whilst changing a few different elements to the plot or/and the context.
  • Taking a one dimensional piece and re-creating to become a three dimensional performance.

To ensure we achieve these aspects successfully we will focus on utilizing the text but also having different inputs from other sources such as online video’s and DVD’s. We will also imaginatively adapt the story of a hand full of different characters in the book, to create a sense of pity. We will do this through a number of different physical sequences to show the lack of ability these people possess.

The key aspects of physical theatre that we will include in our piece are:

  • A huge part of physical theatre is making simple things such as speaking and moving very non naturalistic, another way to look at it making it look uncomfortable to watch, things people aren’t usually faced with on a daily basis. To ensure we for fill this, everything we do in the piece I will question as to whether it can be performed in a less stylized way. E.g if something is being spoken, I will add such things as repetition of words or little movements to contribute what they are saying.
  • My adaptation will be mainly movement driven which means thats the ‘story’ will be told through visual movements rather than long spoken elements. We will use things such as chair duets to represent the ‘inner & outer’ of the characters, this may also involve two-tagging to show how the characters are feeling. 
  • A lot of choreographed movement will be used throughout the duration of the play because it will help represent the similarities of the amount of movement some of these characters have.
  • We are also going to encourage the audience to use their imagination, because we are going to use very minimal props. E.g. some characters are in wheelchairs, instead of using the actual wheelchairs they will use their bodies in order to imply they are using a wheelchair.
  • The piece will be principally devised using their bodies and faces rather than with speech, setting and props.

Our first dramatic intention is to create sympathy for the characters, this will be done through their restricted movement sequences and the way in which they respond throughout the play. I want the audience to build a relationship with the characters as we recreate their lives, showing how hard it was just to get through each day. I also want the audience to feel slightly uncomfortable whilst watching the piece, because the piece is touching on some very sensitive issues such as disability and death, the way in which the actors will portray this will be uncomfortable to watch. Another dramatic intention is isolation, I want the audience to recognize the fact that these characters are being kept away from the rest of civilisation living in the institutes that were built for those suffering the disease, they were kept from the outside world and often their families would abandoned them as it was too much work look after them.

The productions I have seen has influenced some of the idea’s that  I am going to include in the piece. In the ‘The Secret Agent’ there was a synchronized sequence which involved movement of just the eyes, I think I could include this somewhere in the piece to represent the lack of movement the characters have. Also in ‘On The Other Hand’ there was a repetitive sequence used throughout the production, I am also going to involve some form of repetition as I think it will be a good visual representation of the characters inner thoughts.


  • Awakenings by Oliver Sacks
  • Your Handy Companion To Devising and Physical Theatre by Pilar Orti
  • The Frantic Assembly Book of Devising Theatre
  • Awakenings

Website Links


  • On The Other Hand - Paperbirds
  • The Secret Agent - Theatre O
  • Frantic Assembly

1 comment:

  1. Hi Danielle,
    I loved that you're sharing your process online. I'll link from my blog to both your posts as a great example of how to keep a record of your process. Congratulations!!!
    Pilar O. (Your Handy Companion to Devising and Physical Theatre)