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 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 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. However, I 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.