Work in progress
In our devising session today, we looked at different devising companies that we could use as inspiration. We ultimately decided on using Station House Opera as inspiration mainly due to the types of technical elements we want to incorporate into our peace. One of the technical elements they most commonly use is projecting a live feed of film onto another group of people that interact with the recording. We realized that two of the technical elements that we want to use are similar to that, those being the recording of Maggie's presentation onto the back wall, and the prerecorded phone call that the actors interact with that's not an actual interaction.
In our following devising session, we filmed and edited both the practice presentation and the final presentation that will be projected in the back wall. We also chose to run through the piece in our actual performance space to work out some of our blocking and to allow our Light Designer to document and adjust lights as necessary. We also are currently working on finalizing any props, stage elements, and costumes.
Within this last week, our group focused mostly on creating a preliminary script to work with. We first started with writing out the specific plot moments that we wanted to have. We knew since we were going to have to script the phone call between the brother, Maggie, and Dr. Johnson because we were going to record the brother's vocals, so we scripted that first. It gave us a nice outline of how we wanted to lead up to the phone call, so we decided to just continue scripting the rest of the piece through. We also decided on some of our technical elements including the presentations that Maggie gives, both the practice and the final version, will be played on a laptop for whoever is in the room, but will actually be projected on the back wall. We'll also have the audio pre-recorded for the phone call so the audience can hear what's going on. While scripting, we ended up making it so that Anxiety stayed invisible the entire time and not being reveal to Dr. Johnson, however, we aren't entirely settled on this decision. When running through the version of the script, it timed out to around 10 minutes, which doesn't include the presentations and will work well since our time limit is between 13 and 15 minutes. We also have container that we hadn't really realized of having only three actors. Another container also includes the piece taking place in one room.
We're getting to a point again where we're not necessarily stuck or in a rut so much as we're just needing to get up an do things. We've learned that improve is beneficial for becoming more vulnerable with each other and for opening up to different ideas and conversation. However, like I've mentioned before, utilizing improve when it comes to the topic of fear or anxiety isn't always productive or helpful to one's own mentality and to the material that will end up in the final production.
We've established our roles, both as characters and in terms of the process. We decided that I will play the role of Dr. Johnson, the therapist, due to being the tallest and oldest looking. We also agreed upon my role as Director, due to my active engagement and usually acting as the catalyst for a majority of our conversations or exercises.
We also agreed on some technical elements that we want to include as well, so as not to limit what we're capable of doing with this piece. For the phone the call that will take place between Maggie, our main character, Dr. Johnson, and Sam, Maggie's older brother who's away at college, we're going to have the call be on speaker phone, but have the audio for Sam be recorded ahead of time. We also decided that to show the practice run through of Maggie's Senior Presentation where she ultimately panics and doesn't finish it, that we will project the video that was recorded of the presentation. Dr. Johnson will mention how she has the recording of the practice presentation and that she wants Maggie to watch it so she can show her how she appears and what can possibly help. When the video plays, rather than have it play off of the laptop, it will be projected on the back wall of our set so the audience can see it as well. After it plays for some time, this will upset Maggie and have her slam the laptop shut ending the projection. One of the other ideas that I came up with that I hope we end up using is that at the end of the therapy session after Dr. Johnson gives maggie some tools on how to help her with Anxiety, that Dr. Johnson and Maggie will leave the room, but Anxiety will stay and open the laptop backup showing the projection of Maggie's final Senior Presentation where she ultimately succeeds.
After looking at and reviewing each of our group members reflections, including my own, I've been able to notice some distinct similarities that we share, along with some differences that might help understand our ideas better or add to our piece.
In our last week of devising, we developed our piece more regarding deciding what we each wanted to include or make sure that happened in our piece. We ultimately decided on the scenario of having our main character who has been having issues regarding school and dealing with their parents, and it's gotten so bad to the point of their parents forcing them to go to a therapist. While there, we see that the anxiety and fear that they have is actually real, but no one is capable of seeing them. The fear sort of acts as an imaginary friend that fuels the main character's fears. We decided that the reason why no one else can see the anxiety is that the main character has never been willing to talk to anyone about them, therefore not allowing anybody else to see them.
We talked about general points that we want to have occur within the plot of the piece such as that the reason why the main character is seeing a therapist is that something bad has happened that has caused bad repercussions or will in the future if the main character doesn't sort out their fears. We also decided that at some point while interacting with the therapist, the main character will reach their tipping point and share with the therapist their fear, causing the fear to become visible. Overall, we've developed a basic structure and just need to process some of our key elements further and to try out some more of our ideas physically.
With our last devising session, we went back over the different ideas we came up with and how they could be portrayed in different ways and different contexts. One of the elements that we all liked and agreed upon was how we would incorporate the personification of fear itself. After that, we were having a hard time going farther than that and decided to do some improve games to loosen us up and to make ourselves more comfortable and willing to be vulnerable with each other. The one improv game that we mainly used was "freeze," which has two people start acting out a scene, and at any point in time if there's a character making interesting movement or is in a position that looks like something else, another person can yell "freeze," and tap out with one of the people and take the scene in a different direction. One of the things that I noticed after class was how whenever there was a scene where someone was meant to be afraid of something their instincts were to scream or run away, and this was with everyone.
When I was initially thinking of exercises to use to help with the devising process, I initially thought of Stanislavski's "what if" exercise where people stand in a circle with their eyes closed. Each person will go around the room saying "what if you were in a certain place or in a certain circumstance" and for the next minute or so everyone would try and physically put themselves in that moment. I thought this might help, but after the improv games, I realized that probably wouldn't be the best exercise when it comes to everyone's mental health especially since our subject matter has to do with fears and anxiety.
I then thought it might actually help more when it comes to portraying someone who is afraid to utilize some of the elements that I learned from the theatre theorist Rudolf von Laban that I studied for my solo project. One of the elements that I learned previously from a director was the reason why she utilized Laban's techniques was because it wouldn't emotionally abuse her actors, mainly because the Laban's work was based on certain types of movement rather than emotions.
In our most recent class session with already haven created our agreements, we were given free reign to do whatever we wanted to initiate the devising process. In the class before, we all brought in different objects that were meaningful to us. One of the themes or concepts that I found was apparent in all of our objects was childhood and fears/monsters. Childhood was an obvious one considering most items that we tend to value we either find or receive when we are young. Monsters, however, was a theme that I wasn't expecting, but came up multiple times in songs, in novels, in collections of art in some way or another. We thought that both of these themes or concepts would provide a good starting point for our piece considering we've all experienced some kind of childhood fear. Our group decided to take a large piece of butcher paper and just right down different word associations that we were having. We eventually came up with several different categories that related to fears whether they were from our childhood, current fears, imaginary fears, real-world fears, causes of fears, and even securities that soothe us from experiencing fears.
After that, we tried to just come up with some initial ideas that we would want to incorporate into our impact and what audience we are aiming for. We eventually established that in some way we wanted our audience to experience whatever fears we will present, whether or not it's because they're familiar with that fear or because they're empathetic and understanding of another's fear.
In this last week, our group has looked at different suggested agreements for the devising process. Such agreements usually relate to how we are going to communicate with each other productively and professionally while also trying not to hurt anyone's feelings. We also wanted to create specific agreements that would help us in the devising process regarding how we choose to develop material and how we want to share our ideas. We developed a list of five agreements which include:
I was able to find an article about the devising theatre company The Krane's most recent piece titled Underground. What's rather fascinating is that the piece itself isn't describing the piece itself, but rather the process. Vanessa Garcia who's a member of The Krane describes that the devising process itself for the entirety of the team is like "living in a kind of metaphoric underground bunker of ideas wherein what we are doing, in essence, is building a ladder to the surface of the contemporary stage." What's at the top of the ladder is meant to be the end result of their devising process leading the company to the audience.
Vanessa describes how their devising process occurs similarly to how most would, starting with lots of different improvisations and collaborations that somehow forms into a script of sorts that gets changed and developed after each devising session. Vanessa explains that the starting point for the piece was the questions "What does it mean to make art in the twenty-first century? Where does art incubate today? Is there an 'underground' anymore, or is it—for good or bad—all “surface?” What is surface? What is underground?" along with the novel A Visit From the Good Squad by Jennifer Egan. Vanessa explains how a majority of the ideas the the piece is based off of and along with how the relate the surface to the ground comes from the second of the chapter. This chapter defines many different forms of surfaces whether it's the surface of a painting, the surface of a sculpture, the surface of the ground, or the surface of a story or idea. The 'underground' is that next level under the surface that allows for more depth both physically and mentally.Vanessa explains how one of the hardest things to do that one of the character's from the novel is capable of is the ability to go beyond the surface to the underground but is also capable of releasing himself and coming back to the surface.
Vanessa believes that that the devising they are doing isn't to ultimately create an end result but rather to study the process in doing so. Vanessa describes the process as "a form that incubates and lives most of its life underground—often the process of creation extending for much longer periods of time than the life of the performance. It lives underground and then surfaces, and, as it surfaces, it reinstates the underground."
I'm a young girl who has constantly had a hard time figuring out who she is and where she belongs. I never faced any extreme form of bullying and come from middle-class family with siblings that I never fought with. I remember always thinking that my friends lives were always much more exciting. I'm the baby of the family and in my single digit years I always followed my older siblings in whatever they were doing at the time and for a long time I didn't really have any of my own opinions.
For most of my youth, I was raised in the rather competitive north-east. It always seemed liked everyone blended together and there was no individuality. I moved to the pacific north west before my eighth grade year and it seemed like everything slowed down a whole lot. I was no longer clumped together with everyone else and stood as my own person.
I was fortunate enough to be put into private school for my education. I'm grateful for the small class sizes because as I got older, I learned to speak my mind in class and was even praised for it.
I've grown up in a time where technology was also readily accessible and never had to question it. When I started developing my own taste in music that wasn't whatever my sisters were listening to, I learned to appreciate small artists and their passion for what they do and is something I've always wanted to replicate in my own life, whether it's with music, theatre, or even something that's not in the arts.
I was raised as a Quaker in my primary years, which encompassed the belief that there is one light and that light exists within everyone. I always appreciated it as my first religion because it was never forced and was open to questioning. It allowed for me to develop my own personal beliefs and spirituality.