Ib Theatre sl Journal
Below is my IB Theatre SL journal. There, I will have any reflections, insights, thoughts, or reviews on our work in class.
A set from a production of Rumors, a play performed by WSA's own group of thespians.
JOURNAL FOR 1/30
I have been called in as an additional member of the 1st year's Commedia piece. I have been given the role of being the female young lover, the daughter of Il Doctore and a worker at his fruit stand. Being in this position has allowed me to continue working with the Juniors as they develop their Commedia piece. I hadn't worked with them in some time, so I was excited to see the progress they had made. I am actually very glad that Alena and I were able to step back into the process at this point, because there were a few aspects of the performance that we noticed were on the weaker side, and we were able to use the knowledge and experience we had from our piece last year in order to assist them. For instance, while they had made an effort to ensure every character had lazzi, the scenes with the lazzi was often very short, to the point of almost being unnoticeable or being dismissed as simply a minor stumble or coughing fit. By pinpointing this, Alena and I were able to encourage the juniors to more fully develop these parts of the scene more, giving them the agency to develop the Lazzi without being overly assertive in the process but still guiding them towards a stronger performance. Another change we suggested was a switch from spoken English to Grammalot. As we worked through the scene, I often found the Juniors fumbling over words, putting more focus on the dialogue than on the physicality of their character. Apparently, the reason they had chosen not to use Grammalot was because one student was very opposed to the idea. However, after a trial run using Grammalot in the piece it seemed to flow a lot smoother. This is one of the reasons that I am excited to work with the Juniors as they finish and present their final piece, because I am able to help pass on those tiny bits of knowledge that I have learned throughout my time working with and learning about Commedia, tips and techniques that will hopefully be passed from them down to next year's class of Juniors, which is a weird thought given how far away that seems.
JOURNAL FOR 9/18
After being given the option to review my IB Theatre Research Presentation, I realized that there were several points that could be improved. For one thing, I missed Criteria B almost fully, not mentioning my process at all during the course of the presentation. Additionally, I realized that I needed to clarify between the three types of Greek theatre, and distinguish them from one another to the extent that the audience could better understand what made each of them unique. This was also compounded with my decision to change the moment of theatre I used, reshaping my mask to better fit the theater as well as choosing a moment that conveyed the motion I hoped to relay with the features on my mask. Finally, and most crucially, I was able to improve my explanation of how and why masks where used in the theatre in the first place. I am glad that I have had the opportunity to reflect on and represent the project, as a feel that I do understand this topic quite well, and I want to convey that understanding in the best way possible.
JOURNAL FOR 9/13
Today we read a fascinating article on Theatre, Performance and Society. The article was in an interview format, with several people, all with different performance backgrounds, talking about and answering questions about art and theatre. The article was intriguing for me because of my own experiences with theatre. While many different subjects were covered in the article, I really liked the description of dance, and dance in musical theatre, as a universal language. I was once told that a person sings in a musical because they are so overwhelmed with emotion that it is the only way they can express themselves, and I feel that dancing in musicals is a similar emotional outlet. However, while singing and emotion can sometimes be difficult to translate through cultures, dance is something that I, and several of those interviewed, saw as truly universal. On the note of the interviewers, I most enjoyed being able to read the responses of several different people, and seeing how they compared, and contrasted, with one another. What struck me was that they were all very similar in their responses, not in the sense that they all thought the same way but in the sense that the values that tied them together remained constant over all of their disciplines. It was fascinating reading an actor and an acrobat, two artists in very different fields, speak and feel the same way about issues such as the origin of performance or its role in society. For me, the role of theatre in society is more than a mirror. It is the expression of whatever we want it to be: hopes, fears, desires, fantasy. What really captures my imagination is just how open theatre and performance is: the ability to express what you want, whatever that may be, is limited only to your imagination. That is why I see theatre as a fundamental part of society, and if the bombs started falling tomorrow and all of our history was wiped out I feel confident that one of the first things to evolve among the survivors wouldn't be writing or language. It would be theatre.
JOURNAL FOR 2/6
Today was all about getting comfortable with each other by using improv in order to get each other acquainted with our individual ways of acting and thought processes. I think that today was productive because while we did take some steps forward in regards to what our performance will be we also took leaps and bounds forward in how our group meshed. It looks like we might be doing an embodiment of fear in sort of a comical sense, but nothing is set in stone. We are looking at doing some Laban acting exercises in order to better nail done how we feel fear, without the danger of severe emotional trauma to ourselves. I look forward to continuing to watch our project play out!
JOURNAL FOR 2/2
Today was very successful. We got broken up into two groups, and my group looks pretty decent. Talked extensively about themes, looks like fear is definitely going to be a main theme. Process started with advanced look at correlating words, talking about what made us afraid, and how we could portray fear and personal fears. The challenge is that we only have 3 people but I believe that we will still be able to create a very convincing show that leaves the audience with whatever impact we want.
JOURNAL OF WEEK 1/14
My personal context is that I am a middle class white male living in Port Townsend, Washington as a resident and citizen of the United States of America. I am patriotic, agnostic, and intelligent, and also entirely in control of my mental faculties. Socially, I have what I would consider a standard social life - I would not describe myself as popular but I have plenty of friends, I have been described as having leadership abilities, and this is reflected through my status as President of the Student Council and Captain of the 2017 Knowledge Bowl team and current President and Captain of the Port Townsend FRC Team. I have always had a close relationship with theatre since both of my parents worked in the industry for many years, with my father doing props and holding the title of Head Flyman, and my mother working as a stage manager, as well as a showcaller/producer in more recent years. I am really interested in improvisational theatre, and value theatre that has strong themes of comedy. I enjoy working on the fly or developing a scene through controlled improv, and I find that I have a knack for making it up as I go along. I am interested specifically in making theatre that either has an improvisational element in it or was created through use of improv to flesh out or test scenes. I really enjoy this type of theatre because it allows for so many fun possibilities. I love working with other people in groups, and look forward to working on a devised theatre piece over the next few weeks.
JOURNAL OF WEEK 12/11
Rivals Acting Reflection: Our Restoration theatre project is coming along quite well. We finally decided on a piece, putting four students into one group and three into the other. My group, the trio, is performing Act II Scene II, in which Sir Lucius exchanges letters with Lucy, and Fag learns that Captain Absolute is the proposed suitor for Lydia. We decided on this scene out of practicality and significance, because the scene is a major turning point in the plot of the play. Also, every member of the scene thinks that they are in control, even when none of them truly are. To be sure that we are creating authentic Restoration theatre, we have worked to make sure all social cues are both presented and observed, such as bowing or curtsying when walking onstage and happening upon a fellow actor. We read about this in a fascinating article that forced us to really bring out the essence of Restoration Comedy. We also are carefully reviewing our lines, looking for the comedic value in the exchanges between characters, while striving to keep in mind the aforementioned social cues. I look forward to seeing the scene develop and play out, simply because I find it very funny at several parts, and eagerly look forward to communicating that same humor that I perceive on to our audience.
Journal of week 11/20
HowlRound Reflection - The article, The Artist as an Agent for Change, talks of the place of the artist in relation to societal change. It speaks to how the artist has become somewhat marginalized in modern times, as their message is lost in favor of either an appeal to the public or indirectly censored by those who select the performance or artwork for display. However, the article also speaks of how artists are trying to recapture their autonomy by banding together in a bottom-up structure. This is really relevant to the work our class, as well as me in relation to the Fall performance, because theatre can serve so many uses for the public. It can serve as a mirror, reflecting society and its good or worse parts. Or it can act as a catalyst for change, showing an issue, such as epidemics or human rights abuses, and inspiring change for a better world. This made me think of the work I have been doing on the Fall performance of The Diary of Anne Frank. The play is a perfect example of a catalyst for change, inspiring the audience to seek out the Anne Franks that are out there today, scared boys or girls that are just trying to survive. This article was a really intriguing read because it inspired so much thought on my part. I think that the role of artists is very important to our modern society because of how much influence they could wield if they wanted to, and I think that given the right medium and the right cause artists, myself included, could truly change the world for the better.
Journal of week 11/20
Commedia Reflection: Our Commedia unit has come to an end. I think that we as a group did an excellent job of representing Commedia and what it means to embody the classic characters therein. We presented our sketch to the class, and all in all reviews were positive. We got feedback on all aspects of our performance, and most of it was positive. I believe, and the audience echoed, that one of our strongest elements was our physicality. It was very evident who was whom, which was satisfying to hear because we had all worked so hard on making sure our bodies and accents matched that of our chosen characters. We got some mixed feedback on our Gramalot, since everyone's Gramalot was good but we were 'all speaking different languages', something that in hindsight is very true. We also got mixed feedback on our plot, since some people understood what was happening and others did not. I personally had to portray a shift in a character's goals, which was difficult but I felt as though I did the best I could to portray that shift, by using exaggerated motions to respond to other characters and their feelings. I personally also could have portrayed my character, Pantalone, a little better by creating an environment that would allow my character to gain wealth, something that we as a group fell short on achieving in the planning process. Our intention was to portray the struggles of a middle school couple in a parent-teacher conference, a difficult situation for all parties involved. I believe this intention was carried out, and though we did not portray this exact message to the audience I think our impact of showing the changing nature of Pantalone's relationship with his daughter went well, as well as showing the regime change carried out by Brighella and Harlequinn. However, despite any shortfallsI think that the Commedia project was really fun, I had a great time, and I think the lessons we learned about body shape and character traits will help not just in future Commedia but also in future improve and stage performance as a whole.
Journal of week 11/12
Commedia reflection: I think the work we have been doing with Commedia this week has been really amazing. This is my first experience with Commedia, but I think the fact that the characters all have so much of a personality already made for an easy transition into it. I played Pantalone, and by fully embodying my character, through proper posture and mannerisms, I was able to get into character in a way that I really haven't done before. This is one of the reasons why I have really liked the Commedia project we have been working on as a class. By utilizing classic Commedia staples, like the characters, Gramalot, and improvisation, I feel as though my class has been able to quite quickly develop a scene in just a few tries. As someone who loves improv and improv games, Commedia has turned out to be one of the most fun parts of the class to date. I enjoy the uncertainty that goes into every scene, the way that, while we have an idea of where to start and end, you really don't know what is going to happen. Additionally, the fact that we aren't using language has really helped to shake up what what might otherwise be just improv with stock characters. By utilizing Gramalot, we have to really look at what we as individual actors are trying to communicate, and then act on the emotions of others to create a cohesive scene. To sum up, I have really enjoyed the Commedia unit, and look forward to continuing it over this week.
Journal of week 11/5
To what extent is imagination a fundamental requirement for participation in theatre? I believe imagination is absolutely a critical part of participation in theatre. Theatre is all about telling a story, and not telling it as though you are just reading the script, but telling it by embodying the characters being portrayed in said story. For this to be authentic, the actors have to look at the motivations for the character. Why does he say this line? What does he mean by saying it? What is the reaction he is looking for when he says the line? These are just a small part of the analysis an actor does when getting ready to try and portray a role. However, usually, the actor does not always identify exactly with the character he is playing. In these cases, you still have to step into the characters shoes, but since you do not have personal experience to draw from, you must think like the character, imagine their reaction to certain lines or events within the play. This is where imagination becomes a fundamental requirement for theatre. Without it, many plays would just fall flat, because actors could never identify with the characters they are portraying. This is why I always try to incorporate a healthy amount of imagination in my acting and improv, because without it, what would theatre be?
Journal of week 10/15
What is the social function of theatre? I believe that the function of theatre is ever changing, and this can be seen throughout history. Theatre can be a positive reflection of the human experience, with feel-good performances meant to inspire the audience. Alternatively, theatre can be written and performed to show the darker reaches of the human race, like how in the Medieval period plays would see the protagonist fall from grace due to an inherent human flaw. Theatre can reflect the political mood of a time, or it can ridicule those in power, like Tartuffe and other French Farce. The role of theatre has changed over the centuries of human existence, and while I think the theatre of today is more diverse than some periods in the past I believe that change is still happening and will continue to as society evolves. For these reasons, I believe that the social function of theatre is to provide a medium for which a given playwright or director can impress the audience with a thought or emotion. This relates to our Practice Director's Notebook because we as directors are having to decide just that: what our intended impact on our audience will be, or rather what we want it to be.
Journal of week 9/17
When trying to decide what war to choose for my Practice Director's Journal I spent some time looking for a war with an appropriate scenario that would match the war within Lysistrata. Initially, I thought of WWII, but even by looking at it from different angles I was not able to discern a viable project with the war. Instead, I began to look through history, with my main criteria being wars where the enemies in question were close together (location) and also where the enemies were not completely ideologically separate, one of the main reasons why I couldn't do WWII. I stumbled upon the French Wars of Religion, 1562-1598. Not only were these wars done in close proximity, within the Kingdom of France, they were also not a clear civil war. By that, I mean that, unlike the American Civil War with a clear North/South divide, the French Wars of Religion had people on both sides all over the nation, even within cities themselves. This, coupled with the already exciting wardrobe of the French during this time, has led me to select the French Wars of Religion as the war in which I will situate my Director's Notebook on Lysistrata.
Journal of week 9/10
This week, we looked at a near-comprehensive history of theatre, mainly in Europe. For me, one of the subjects that caught my eye was the type of theatre practiced in Spain. What intrigued me was that, while most of Europe was still practicing mostly religious forms of theatre, the playwrights in Spain had branched out into a more adventure style of performance, of the type written by Calderon or Lope de Vega. I wanted to know more about this, so I looked into it and found some very interesting history. I specifically looked at Calderon, and found that, while for most of his life he wrote religious plays, after he had gained a good reputation, as well as some standing in the Church, he switched to writing non-religious focused plays. I would have thought that becoming a member of the clergy would make Calderon, if anything, more likely to write about religious events. This for me leads into a larger topic of theatre history, which is the relationship between playwrights and the Church. I think that this case of Calderon shows how that relationship can shape the actions of a playwright, but in the end not truly control those actions.