Behind the Scenes : Julie Taymor

SIDE A:

1. You have to show or create a shipwreck on stage. How might you do that?

  • I would put a screen at the back of the stage and project a picture of a shipwreck. I would add sand and broken pieces of wood as the set and add some sounds of waves crashing.

2. One character in your play is a spirit. How might you have a character as a spirit onstage?

  • I would use harnesses and attach them to an actor so they can “fly” onstage.

3. Another character is imprisoned in a rock. How would you show a character imprisoned in a rock?

  • I would make a set piece that looks like a big rock from all points of view but make the front of it look like a jail cell (with the bars). This way, the audience knows it’s a rock but also a jail that the character is imprisoned in.

4. You have to portray ‘magic demon dogs’ that are unleashed onstage. How might you portray magic demon dogs (without using real dogs)?

  • I would make the characters dress up in demon dog costumes and play sounds of dogs howling and barking (so the characters on stage don’t have to actually bark).

5. What elements would you bring in to create a deserted island? What would you create? Describe how the audience would know that it is a deserted island.

  • I would have a screen at the back of the stage a project an ocean on it. On stage, I would have a lot of sand on the floor, a few palm trees, dried up sticks and leaves on the floor, and tumbleweeds tumbling around.

6. What challenges would you face when trying to create all of these elements in person, on stage, live, in front of an audience.

  • making them look realistic and making sure that they don’t harm any of the actors while they are onstage

SIDE B:

A. “Inspiration” comes from many sources. Describe one source of inspiration for Julie Taymor when she was setting the scene for the play.

  • For the character Caliban, she got inspiration from the Mudmen of New Guinea.

B. Describe one moment where you went “a-ha!” or “that is brilliant!” or “I never would have thought of that!” and describe how or why that moment stood out to you.

  • The way she thought of an actor being a spirit. I never would have thought of making the actor “invisible” and just using one of her hands to act out the emotion.

C. ‘Symbolism’ plays an important part in most theatre. This is different than ‘Literal’. Pick one moment or element that was represented “symbolically” as opposed to literally and describe it.

  • In the book, Shakespeare wrote, “the bigger light”. Julie Taymor interpreted it as the Sun. To show the audience that Caliban is talking about the Sun when he says “the bigger light” she asks the actor to point up to the sun.

D. What would you change about the production (from what you saw) if you were filming it for movies or television?

  • I would edit the spirit instead of using a real actor to act it out so it looks less awkward in films.

E. What stuck with you from watching this? What moment, element,

  • I liked the small opening from the sand for Caliban to enter the stage. It was a really creative way to introduce a new character to the audience.

Literary Essay Reflection

The two main things I feel like I can improve are my organization and language use.

What did you do well?

  • My understanding and interpretation of the poem were clear, and I could explain my thoughts distinctly. My understanding of the stylistic features used and their effects were also clear.

What do you still need to work on?

  • I still need to work on my organization and language skills. My transitions between body paragraphs were not smooth, and the language I used was informal (e.g., “we”)

What goals do you have for next time?

  • Refrain from using informal language
  • Coming up with a better way to integrate all of my paragraphs together to flow smoothly

How will you work to achieve them?

  • I will read more exemplary essays and learn how they organized their work and used formal language.

The Date — Rehearsal #1 (Dec 3rd 2021)

  • what did you accomplish today? did you get through everything on the agenda? what did you not get to finish and why?

We were able to thoroughly discuss our 9 questions. This enabled us to get a better idea of what all of us thought of about this scene. We also read through the script once only but we were able to add a bit more emotion to our actions as we understood our character better.

  • what is your plan for each ensemble member between today and the next rehearsal? what should everyone be doing to prepare for the next rehearsal?

We planned to somehwat memorise our lines for the first few pages so we have more time later on to create and polish our blocking ideas. We also planned to divide the scirpt into 5 sections in the next rehearsal so we can be a bit more organised.

  • what is YOUR OWN personal plan to prepare for next rehearsal

I plan to read the script several times and memorise my lines in the first few pages so I can be prepared for the next rehearsal. I will read the script several times to see which way of reading my lines sound better as well.

Uta Hgen’s 9 questions – Process Journal

 

  1. Who am I?
  • Ray
  • 16 years old
  • Black hair, brown eyes
  • Does decent in school but doesn’t really enjoy it
  • Does not like school except for PE
  • I am the only child and my parents, and I have a good relationship
  • I like basketball
  1. What time is it?
  • It is around 6pm and the sun is setting
  • Evening
  • October (Halloween, horror)
  • Fall/autumn
  • The darkness makes everything scarier
  1. Where am I?
  • Claire, Minnesota (America)
  • In Chris’ backyard (Jinny told Chris to meet her there)
  1. What surrounds me?
  • Chris’ house is behind me
  • There is a table set up with four chairs and some snacks (looks sad)
  • Candles on the table
  • Cloudy, humid, chilly, and dark
  1. What are the given circumstances?
  • Jinny/Elizabeth has had a crush on him since 1st grade and we all (Felicia, Chris and I were weirded out) (Past)
  • Felicia and I find out that it’s a double date with Jinny/Elizabeth and we end up getting killed (Present)
  • Jinny will continue to live her 1 good year and loves the attention she is getting because of her looks (Future)
  1. What are my relationships?
  • Felicia: my girlfriend (I enjoy being with her a lot)
  • Chris: my best friend (He only has me as his only friend but I also love hanging out with him/known him for a very long time)
  • Jinny: acquaintance (thinks she is hot)
  • Elizabeth: I make fun of her because she was obsessed with Chris
  1. What do I want?
  • I want Chris to date Jinny officially because I was surprised that she asked him out
  • I want this double date to go well
  1. What is in my way?
  • Felicia (a bit suspicious of Jinny)
  1. What do I do to get what I want?
  • I ask more questions?
  • I continue the conversation

Page to Stage: The problem with problems

1. DISCUSS your role in the development process: What did you contribute? How did you collaborate with your ensemble? What were some successes of that collaboration?

  • I contributed by giving many ideas to my team. Since we were going to present our piece to elementary school kids, we had to make our actions bigger and more straightforward. We had to think of different ways we could present it. All of us equally would come up with many ideas for each scene. We all would listen to each other’s ideas, try them all out, and finally pick which one we thought worked the best. Sometimes we joined two ideas together to make a better one. We also thought about what props all of us could bring to make our performance even more enjoyable. People who had good props would bring them and show them to the rest of our group to see if we all approved of it. One success of our good collaboration was knowing what to do for every line/scene. Overall, our working process was very collaborative as we all contributed equally.

2. DISCUSS your experience as a performer in this piece: What do you think and feel about your performance and performing for an audience? What new insights did you gain (yourself, theatre, audiences, performances, etc.) through this experience?

  • I think that if our group had been given more time, we would have done better. Our performance went well, but there were many pauses as we were confused because we did not know what to do next. Performing in front of a young audience felt different from performing our individual monologues in front of our class. Since they are younger, they would exaggerate their reaction. For example, in our performance, a line said, “take a deep breath”. Our action was to take a deep breath, so when we did it during the performance, the kids giggled and took a deep breath with us. This made me feel more confident and happy that they were enjoying our performance. Sometimes the audience would not react at all. This made me understand that all audiences are different from each other. Some might be more expressive while some can be quieter, but it does not necessarily mean that the more silent audience did not enjoy the performance.

3. DISCUSS what new learning or understanding about theatre or the process of creating this piece you gained. What do you now KNOW or UNDERSTAND that you didn’t before?

  • After knowing that this assessment was meant to be done quickly and performed on an unusual stage, I realised that we should adapt to any environment. I now know that I should always keep in mind that we should act in any location while creating and practising our performance. I also understand that we should always use the time given to us and make it productive. Being productive and finishing our performance earlier would earn us some time to do full dress rehearsals, which would help us feel more comfortable performing. This experience has helped me learn new points about theatre, which will help me in my future performances.

Quarter 1 Reflection

What am I doing well on?

  • I am doing well in the speaking/listening and reading standards. I have improved in the reading standard because I have practised by doing more reading and annotating. I always speak out my opinions and thoughts about whatever is being discussed in class. I do collaborate with my peers whenever we are given time to discuss what we are learning. I also am responsible in terms of submitting my work on time and clarifying any questions I have.

What do I still need to work on?

  • I still need to work on my writing skills. I have definitely improved from the start and the end of quarter 1, but I want to get even better, mainly using various literary devices/techniques.

What steps can I take to continue moving forward?

  • I can ask my teacher whenever I need help on my writing tasks as she can help guide me and give me feedback that I can work on. I can also use tools like Grammarly to help edit my work more carefully. I can also read more books, articles, and reading material to improve my vocabulary and thought process of forming sentences.  I can also use IXL to practise my writing and reading standards.

My Monologue – Stanislavsky style

  1. SUMMARIZE: When I first read my monologue, I knew my character was an egotistical girl, but before I finalized a character, I reread it several times. After some imagination, I came up with the idea that the girl wanted to ask her Theatre teacher to give her some more roles/auditions to get more experience. I pretended to be a shy girl to ask her teacher; another time, I pretended to be a girl asking just because she was forced to. The last time I pretended to be an egotistical, proud girl (like my original idea). I felt like the lines suited the egotistical girl better after choosing my character’s personality. After answering Stanislavski’s questions, I realized I built my character with more details, which helped me act it out better. For example, when I responded to the question “Where is your character” it made me less awkward while performing on stage because I knew where I was and who I was talking to.
  2. EVALUATE: After watching my video, I was glad that I got my point across to the audience; I was a self-centred character. I could tell by the way I carried myself and the way I talked. I was talking very loud, which made me watching feel inferior! Something I could work on would be taking more pauses and beats. I felt like I rushed through my monologue while watching.
  3. CONNECT: This technique has been very effective and helpful to me during this journey because it helped me think about my character deeper. Thinking about my character deeper enabled me to act more realistically. From now on, I will always use the Stanislavski method to help me get to know my characters better.
  4. SYNTHESIZE: I used to think that acting was just to say your lines in realistic ways but I never thought of HOW to make it realistic. Now I know that we have to think deeply about our character, background, age and personality to make our acting realistic.

Rhea’s Performance 

Independent Reading

I am currently reading the book “One of us is next” by Karen McManus.

In my opinion, this book does not have much potential for the final literary essay project at the end of this year. The book is very literal and the writer does not use many literary devices to describe the story. This book is a good book but I don’t think it’s a good book for me to analyze and write an essay on. My next steps are to maybe find another book I think might be more suitable for me to analyze at the end of the year and also to analyze the book while I am reading it.

Who is Constantine Stanislavski?

  • Born in Moscow, Russia in 1863 (died:1938)
  • Began as an actor and moved on to become a director and teacher
  • Parents didn’t indulge in his passion for theatre, so he changed his name
  • Developed a new system of actor training and development – a new way to approach theatre
  • It took years of experimenting to get to what is now known as the Stanislavski system

5 elements of actor preparation:

Relaxation
Learning to relax the muscles and eliminate physical tension while performing

Concentration
Learning to think like an actor and to respond to one’s own imagination

Observation
Discovering the sensory base of work: learning to memorise and recall sensations, often called “sense memory” and/or “affective memory”; learning to work from a small sensation and expand it, a technique Stanislavski called “spheres of attention”

Communication
developing the ability to interact with other performers spontaneously, and with an audience, without violating the world of the play

Imagination
The more fertile the actor’s imagination, the more interesting would be the choices made in terms of objectives, physical action, and creating given circumstances around the character
there’s no such thing as ‘actually’ on the stage. Art is a product of imagination, as the work of a dramatist should be. the aim of the actor should be to use his/her technique to turn the play into a theatrical reality. in this process, the imagination plays by for the greater part.

Improvisation

One activity that we did during Improvisation was called “Yes, and”. We were paired up with someone, and we would have to respond to their statement with a “Yes and” at the start.

For example:

a: Let’s go to the beach today

b: Yes, and let’s bring some drinks there!

We were only allowed to add on to our partner’s sentence; we were not allowed to change the topic and say anything else at the start of the sentence other than “Yes, and”.

  1. I used to think that it wouldn’t be wrong to not participate in games and ask my questions. It is not that it is wrong, but now I think it is better to participate in games and ask whatever questions I have. After I stopped being shy and just started taking risks, I realised how much more I learned. I started participating in more games, and I understood that my risk-taking made my classmates feel more comfortable participating, which resulted in more of us learning more from the game.
  2. I remember one big idea about Improvisation is how I should go along with anything my co-actor says. The “Yes, and” activity will help me remember this. It was emphasised that the scene will not go anywhere if we say ‘no’ or don’t go along with something our co-actor says. This idea will help make my scene easy frot the audience to understand and will flow smoothly.
  3. One thing I did well was that I took more risks. Instead of acting as a teenager, which I am, I acted as an old lady. I think this makes the scene more interesting and challenges the person acting with me. One thing I struggled with is to come up with ideas quickly. I wanted to think outside of the box and act as a character I normally would ever act as. I hope I can work on this better throughout the theatre lessons. Observing my peers and how they approach an acting task or working with my classmates will definitely help me improve to become a better ensemble member. When I observe people acting, I tend to start doing what they did that I liked. This will broaden and build my acting skills. If I work more often with my peers than by myself, I will learn how to work as an ensemble better.