And it’s done…

I really didn’t think we were going to be ready for our final performance date. We were still polishing things off and smoothing things over – vital things too such as our character profiles and postures and everything, this made me nervous, I really began to think we weren’t going to do well because we simple weren’t ready. I personally, think that we all put our effort in far too late, there wasn’t enough solid, hard work happening throughout rehearsals throughout the term and now we’re having to finalise things that we should have been doing a week ago.

We’ve had a few somewhat genius ideas however such as introducing the instruments throughout the scene to indicate when a particular character has power which really adds something to each scene, as well as reminding the audience that they’re watching theatre.

Despite all my worries and concerns about our piece, I think it went pretty well, we certainly did the best we could and we all came away saying that it was the best we’d performed it. There were small but significant things I felt as though we could have done considerably better with, for example, with our character profiles, I don’t think they were all the same, we should have spent far longer working with each other, perfecting our character’s postures and the way they speak, built up more of a story and profile for them. I think using the instruments worked really well. It gave the audience a clear indication as to who was on stage and the kind of character that they are. It also showed clear musical gestus for the individual characters. I also really liked our use of multi-rolling, this worked well for our play, it helped with the verfremdungseffekt and showed what we could do regarding different character profiles.


From our buddy group:

  • Most thoughts came from our projections
  • Use of multi-rolling was really good, with the change in gender, relates to todays society and the very recent acceptance of ‘more than genders’
  • Powerful movement sequences
  • Use of instruments was really good – especially the drum for Gurdjieff
  • Picked up on the feminist themes and suicide themes – unfortunately not quite what we were going for but strong and similar themes  
  • The use of repetition and connection between the two worlds was strong – the force drinking scenes etc…
  • It was the best we’d ever performed it.

From Kate:

  • Challenging playwight
  • We were very responsive to feedback
  • Remember to come back to the text more often – I completely agree with this, we should have always been linking back to the original script to relate more. Perhaps we should have carried out a more in-depth analysis of the script nearer the beginning. 
  • We made it contemporary well
  • Bold choices regarding the worlds
  • Could have overlapped the worlds more. – I think this was likely to have come down to fear. We were worried if we merged the two worlds we’d lose the clarity we wanted to have. We could have done it if we’d really tried to right from the beginning though I think. and it's over

Now that it’s all wrapped up and done however, I’ve had time to reflect upon our piece and although there isn’t much I would change as such there are certainly elements that I would like to have put far more effort and energy into during the rehearsal period. I truly believe that when we performed, we performed the best performance we had, however, I think we should have put much more time and effort into our character profiles, as I believe they had a lot more potential. I also believe that we should have spent more time analysing the script and looking for De Groen’s original meanings and then drawn from this, I think we had a delayed start because we were a little unsure of what our task was, which isn’t necessarily our fault but we should probably have handled it better.


Time for the tech…

This week we had our tech time. Everything got very real, very quickly. It took a long time to get all the lighting and sound right but once it was all in place we felt a little steadier in our piece but it also highlighted for us that there are still a lot of areas that need to be worked on:

We’ve been working on our characterisation in even more detail this week. Looking at the way in which each character walks, talks, how they hold themselves everything and when someone saw the Kite Runner at the Northcott Theatre, they were inspired by their use of instruments within the performance, and their link to characters. We spent some time going over what instruments would suit each character and we’ve ended up with a musical gestus for each character that we have paired with a series of three very simple movements to show which character will be in the particular scene:

Gurdjieff: (drum beat) *emphasises placing coat on*
(drum beat) *adjusts crotch in an over the top manner*
(drum beat) *steps forward and stands in a broad stance with chest and crotch puffed out*

Katherine: (triangle chime) *delicately wraps shall around shoulders*
(triangle chime) *tucks hair neatly behind ear*
(triangle chime) *steps forward and stands upright in a ‘ladylike’ fashion*

We worked through an exercise where we went from 1 to 10 on emphasis of the characters posture and walk (1 being fairly neutral and 10 being completely over the top) which really helped us understand how far we need to go to emphasise characters like Wayne and the way he walks all hunched over with his head down.

We have also been looking to introduce movement into more scenes within the piece so the physical sections and the beginning and end don’t look out of place. We have had the members of the group who are not in these scenes looking at them and directing them to create physicality is some scenes. Such as, nearing the end when the man has committed suicide and Wayne finds Audra in the empty room and attacks her we’ve chosen to bring on a couple of members who are not in the scene to help with the movement and Georgie performs the ‘attack’ facing the audience. This is unrealistic and therefore helps create the verfremdungeffekt.

We have thought also about bringing placards into play, a classic epic theatre trait, only we wanted to make it more modern and use projection instead and title each scene with something our audience can relate such as, the very first scene, where Audra tells Wayne it’s just for the sex, we’re naming it the “Fuck and Chuck” which is a frequently used hashtag on Twitter.

Fuck and Chuck

In the projection slides, we’re adding in videos and images of poignant lines too along with corresponding political images and/or statements that are relevant today

man up


Asus I don’t need feminism because [accessed 25 Nov 2017]

Short, C. (2017) [accessed 25 Nov 2017]

Not long now…

We met with our secondary supervisor this week. There were a number of things that arose which got us questioning our work so far. For example; Cathy recommended we do a Russian accent when portraying the role of Gurdjieff, immediately, we all agreed with a certain “Hell no!” However, the more we thought about it, we wanted to stay true to De Groen’s depiction of Gurdjieff, he was after all a real person. We didn’t want to start doing an appalling amateur Russian accent so we thought about how we could show him in comparison to our other characters. We thought that having him speak in broken English would show that he wasn’t British but didn’t make him a comical character with a silly accent. Although it’s taking some time to get right and adjust the way we speak when playing the role, we’re getting there and I look forward to the feedback we might receive regarding it. Cathy also pointed out that it was often difficult to tell who was male or female as we were multi-rolling and recommended wearing false moustaches and hairbands but we wanted to be more creative than this so we’ve been working this week on gestus for each character. One of her most helpful comments was to show the slow deterioration of Katherine, so the audience are able to see her getting worn down by this man. She should start strong and independent but throughout the performance he gets to her more and more. Her final comment was that our staging should either be merged completely or as two separate sets.

By observing people around us and noticing certain movements or gestures that either males or females perform more often than the other we’ve been working on gestus to indicate whether we’re playing a female or male role and then looking into character analysis to make them more individual. For a male role we are using the gesture of rearranging one’s crotch and for a female role we use positioning hair – the manner in which we do these gestures depends on the character and how much power they have.
Some examples:
Gurdjieff: (powerful character) really emphasises adjusting his crotch, over the top.
Wayne: (oppressed character)  adjusts his crotch discreetly, as though not to cause a scene.
Audra: (powerful) flicks her hair back with emphasis
Katherine: (oppressed) tucks hair behind her ear delicately and discreetly.

We have struggled a lot with how to have our staging. We first thought two separate sets completely to show the two separate worlds but then we thought that perhaps merging them slightly would help our audience compare the worlds. We don’t want to merge them completely and just use one because we’d like our audience to see the mirroring happening within the both worlds, emphasising the need for change.

We have begun to rearrange our scenes now to have them in the most creative and effective way possible. We took each scene, with a description and laid them on the floor to rearrange – a clear and helpful exercise.

Scene arrangement

Moving onto the final thing…

After a refreshing week off we’re back to hard work, we received our feedback this week for the producers pitch and to be honest, it wasn’t what we expected. It was however a bit of a reality check into how much harder we need to work as a group. What caught us most regarding the feedback was the comment that we “had some problematic race issues”. Now, to us, Cemone is simply one of our group, she’s a peer, nothing more or less however after thinking upon the feedback in more depth, we do have to remember that everything we put on stage says something to the audience so when it comes to our final performance, we’re going to multi-role. A strong element of epic theatre and a good way to show that none of the group is being singled out in any way, we will all be playing both male and female roles. The feedback also stated that our strongest work was our physical movement – this I think we knew and have intended to incorporate into our final piece the best way we can. We also learned that it was the voiceover that let us down, again, something I think we were all worried about but we ran the risk and it didn’t work this time. We’ve no intentions of using in the final piece but it’s a shame it didn’t convey the messages we’d hoped it would.

After finding out that the rope was such a strong element to our pitch we were sorry to admit that we’re not able to find a purpose for it in our final piece, the rope linked mainly to our theme of suicide which we no longer have but with this information we decided to work with some costume ideas we had instead of the rope…

Image with costume

We did however, feel a little lost regarding our play and how we wanted it to be so we went back to Elinor Fuch’s Notes on a Small Planet and began to question, as a group how we wanted it to be. These we some of our answers:
What is the seasonal feel of our play? Autumnal
What is the mood of our play? Lonely
What is the colour of our play? Grey
If our play was an object, what would it be? Rusty metal pole

We know that we now want to include both timelines again, instead of just the futuristic one. I know that personally, after rereading the script over reading week, I am beginning to understand the playwright a little more now. In The Rivers of China, DeGroen is showing the two separate timelines for a reason. She is showing the past and what could be the future, in Katherine Mansfield’s story, in the 1920’s, she clearly depicts the oppression that a lot of women went though at that time, especially after researching Katherine Mansfield and her life, learning that she was somewhat of a maverick, that even, this strong willed woman, who defied her parents and society was still oppressed by this one man. Then in the future, we see a world dominated by women, we see men oppressed to the point where it’s everyday news that men are committing suicide due to the oppression – DeGroen is telling us in this play that we have to find a balance. Men and women have to be equal, one cannot have power over the other or the world simply doesn’t work, it’s a really powerful piece of feminist writing and I only hope our performance can make others think as much as me when I read the play.

Research, research, research…

That’s reading week done. My group and I chose not to rehearse during reading week but to get cracking on some of the pressing things we could do from afar so we were all able to have a slight rest and some time off from staging. We planned to have the script completed by the end of reading week and to have plenty of research on various other areas. My research this week has mainly been focused on Katherine Mansfield and Australia in the 1980’s (the time and place The Rivers of China was first written). We have also all been contributing to rewriting the script for our final performance by taking a scene or two each and rewriting and altering to fit our message of gender oppression.

Australia in the 1980’s:

  • Generation X – Suicide Generation. During the 80’s when this generation were teenagers, the teen suicide rate shot up. by 1990, the suicide rate among males aged 15-19 had more than tripled in Australia.
  • AID’s crisis forced people to confront homophobia
  • Ultrasound technology was introduced – sex selective abortions in China and India, used to abort baby girls.
  • 1984 – Band-Aid formed to raise awareness of the problems in Ethiopia.
  • 1986 – Australia gained full independence from the United Kingdom.

Katherine Mansfield:

  • Born in New Zealand, 14th October 1888 as Kathleen Mansfield Beauchamp
  • As 3rd daughter and the fact that she wore glasses left her feeling ignored or neglected
  • She was writing from a young age and teachers described her as “imaginative to the point of untruth”
  • In 1903 the family moved to England, leaving Katherine, as she was now known at Queen’s College, a small school, specialising in the arts and languages.
  • It was here she began writing more before, at the age of 18, her parents moved her back to New Zealand.
  • Mansfield grew more and more rebellious in New Zealand before convincing her parents to let her return to London.
  • When her parents gave in, she led a very unconventional and carefree life involving erratic sexual behaviour with both men and women resulting in two unplanned pregnancies, both rumoured to have ended in miscarriage.
  • Due to her sexual involvement with women, her mother disinherited Mansfield.
  • Bisexual themes and sexual identity feature in a lot of her work – Bliss (1918) being the most notable.
  • Having always felt an outsider, when she met John Middleton Murry in 1911, her life stabilised to an extent, her affairs with both men and women continued but with less frequency.
  • From 1912 to 1914 Murry and Mansfield lived together on and off for months at a time before and finally married in 1918
  • In 1917, Mansfield was diagnosed with tuberculosis and despite growing more and more ill, she did not stop writing. Her work continued, often relating back to her own life – her childhood, her struggle with sexual identity and being an outcast.
  • In her final years she became interested in signs of the Russian ‘soul’ seeking the treatment of a Doctor Manoukhin before entering the Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man run by George Gurdjieff. After three months here, however she passed away in 1923, aged just 34.
  • As more of a guest than a pupil of Gurdjieff’s she did not join in with the strenuous exercises of the institute, she grew very interested in Gurdjieff’s work and intended to introduce it into her own life.

George Gurdjieff:

  • George Invanovich Gurdjieff was born in Alexandrapol in approximately 1866.
  • Kept his early years and childhood fairly private
  • He is said to have joined a strange group inspired by the writings of Theosophical Society founder Helena Blavatsky.
  • He travelled across Asia in search of the Ascended Masters from who she claimed to channel her wisdom.
  • He wrote a heavily mythologised account of his travels
  • Gurdjieff spent his life travelling and teaching fusing Western and Eastern, old and modern traditions and focused on Hindu and Buddhist beliefs regarding reincarnation, non-attachment, classic harmony, self-awareness and self-development.
  • He looked into the three well-trodden paths to enlightenment – the way of the Fakir, the way of the Monk and the way of the Yogi and thought each was lacking, thus leading him to create his own way – combining the body, the soul and the emotions.
  • Despite all this, he was very much human and brazenly so – he loved to drink and enjoyed smoking opium. He is said to have fathered over 100 children as he had the belief that everything in life was about sex: “Everything that people do is connected with sex: politics, religion, art, the theatre, music, is all ‘sex’”

Below is a really fascinating and informative video on Mansfield’s life.


Poetry Foundation Katherine Mansfield [accessed 2 November 2017]

Seal, B. (2013) Gender, Truth and Reality: The Short Stories of Katherine Mansfield [accessed 2 November 2017]

And We’re on Our Own…

After receiving Kate’s feedback last week about the rope being a powerful image on stage, we looked into various exercises involving the rope, getting inspiration from YouTube and various theatre productions we’ve seen. There was a show in term 3  last year in which a chain was used throughout the production which had clear meaning attached. We thought about how much the rope could symbolise. Originally we had it as a noose but the more we used it, the more meanings and images we were able to create using it. We did an exercise with the rope where we had to create an image based on one word:


With our new direction of gender pressures and the effects they have on people, especially their mental health, leading to suicide we’ve been looking at the pressures that are being faced and how to show them with physical theatre images using the rope. We have all been looking into specific things in today’s western society that can be classed as gender pressures and have come up with ideas such as:

  • Looking a certain way – women wearing make up and being thin with curves. Men being well built, attending the gym etc…
  • Men being ‘breadwinners’ and taking care of their families
  • Women being ‘baby makers’

Continuing with our idea of taping our mouths and using a voice over has been working really well during our rehearsals, we’ve found there are ways to reach the audience in a way we would never have been able to do if we were just standing there speaking. They are able to see our expressions and reactions to what is being said so much more clearly.

Taped mouths

It was really helpful to meet with our buddy group this week before our producers pitch and interesting to get a completely outside eye view on our piece before performing it. They gave us some really useful feedback regarding our performances and some ideas into how we an improve it before we performed. They recommended that we alter the voice recording slightly to make it easier to listen to and alter the movement so it is less distracting for our audience. After receiving this feedback we’ve added a number of pauses to the recording and have paused our movement sequence in poignant moments during the recording.

Our producers pitch went really well. We had a momentary technical difficulty at the beginning but once that was sorted we were fine and we didn’t allow it to throw us off. Despite feeling so unprepared, the pitch ran smoothly and nothing went wrong. One of my favourite bits that I feel was most powerful, having a clear impact on the audience was then Romy and I ran to the audience with the rope when the ‘birthing’ image was just about to happen and made eye contact with our audience members – this made them feel uncomfortable as I could tell. My concerns are with the voice recording and whether our audience were able to fully understand our intentions and message through the images we were creating. Having altered the recording to sound less like a lecture and more interesting I think this really helped, especially with the pauses we introduced within the movement happening on stage. At the end of the day, it was a conscious decision made by us as a group, justified by the tape over our mouths and after speaking to my peers in the audience after the pitch, I received feedback that it was a powerful piece and they understood our message so all in all I am happy with how it went.

Step by step…

That’s all lectures and seminars done for this module and we’re on our own. Our final lecture was on Post-Brecht Theatre, a lecture that emphasised that we should not only take Brecht’s ideas, tools and methods but we must also question them “To use Brecht without criticising him is to betray him.” -Heiner Müller (Müller, H 1986).  Looking then, in contrast at The Laboratory of Dmitry Krymov who’s post-dramatic theatre uses more symbols and images, focusing on emotions and one could argue that this could also provoke change within the audience and make them think. Personally, I find myself wanting to change things that I can emotionally connect with far more than if I were disconnected. I think that the two different ways of provoking change both have their place in the theatre and often perhaps it depends on the subject you’re addressing or your audience itself.

My final workshop was really interesting this week… It was with Jon Venn, we did an interesting exercise where we were in pairs and had to come up with something we wanted by the end of the day, followed by in a year’s time followed by the end of our lives but an obstacle in our way, for example: By the end of the day I want to have gone for a run, BUT I have too much work to do… In a year’s time I want to have my seizures under control, BUT I don’t want to sacrifice my social life. How do these things differ? How can we get around the obstacles? I could go for a run tonight and put my work off until tomorrow, but what about deadlines? There are always questions to be asked about the outcome. We then proceeded to look at an excerpt of the script of Carol Churchill’s Faraway – we looked at what the characters wanted and what their obstacles were. We then cut the script to form a performance consisting of 50 words from it after being given a word to focus on, a theme if you like – Gemma and I chose to do a monologue, with the word ‘violence’ it really put into perspective how many words and phrases you can cut when you have a limitation and a specific direction or theme.

What did I take from this workshop: The main thing I took from this workshop is that you have to have a direction when you’re working on a piece of theatre, you always have to be aware what that direction is and remember it. Every choice you make, you need to come back to the direction to make sure it works and still fits and make sense.

We met with Kate Newey, our supervisor this week for some feedback which was really helpful. She really liked our use of the rope and has suggested we use it more and create more images with it so that was something we’ve planed to play around with. (Perhaps we could intertwine it within the entire piece? Could it become the red thread?) We need to engage with the text more – look into Katherine Mansfield and analyse it in more depth, try not to even out De Groen’s dramaturgy and maybe look at the feminism in the play and the fact that the playwright has turned it on its head. Try swapping gender roles (add more focus on both masculinity and femininity?) Push things to the edge of danger (add more risks with the rope?). Kate really liked the things that were real. The main concerns are that there wasn’t enough links between the speech and the action and that the voice over may turn into a lecture but if performed correctly could really work…

After receiving this feedback we decided to make a few changes. Rather than focusing on male suicide as our main theme, we’re going to look into gender pressures on both sides, we’re going to reintroduce the 1920’s timeline, to look at the oppression that women felt then and then look at the oppression that men could end up feeling when feminism goes ‘too far’ – looking at both ends of the spectrum, will hopefully be thought provoking for our audience, allowing them to see that we need to find a balance where men and women are equal or things go wrong… We’ve been asking ourselves some questions to help us with the pitch:

How do we get the audience to want to come to watch our final performance?

  • Shock factor – danger, risks, realness
  • Entertain them – hook them in, suspense, get them questioning

What do we want our audience to get from the pitch?

  • An awareness
  • Shock factor
  • To be put on edge
  • The want to watch our performance
  • The want to invest

What is our style of performance? 

  • Comedic/sinister?


Little by little…

Week three, done and dusted. Lecture three was on Violence in the British Epic Theatre. Looking at Edward Bond. Bond had a traumatic experience of the military in his youth when called up for compulsory two years of service when he was sixteen. This is what led him to write about violence and the idea of humans being ‘turned into’ machines which is a recurring theme in his work and indeed also in epic theatre. Humans being taught to fall into line, be the same. Taught to hate and to kill. “I write about violence as naturally as Jane Austin wrote about manners” (Bond, 1978) He was brought up with it, it is what he knew, much like Austin was brought up with the manners, she wrote about young women finding love, she wrote what she knew. Both writers were drawing their inspirations from their experiences. – Linking this to Alma De Groen really makes me want to research further into her as a playwright and how she grew up. What got her writing the way that she did? Bond responded to a review of his play Saved  (1965) with this quote:

“I meant the violence in Saved to shock. I wanted to evoke the cruelty and heartlessness of all violence. I wanted to make its loathsomeness unequivocal. I wanted to show that any violence—whether it happens in Europe, Asia, prison, backyard, living room, fun, anger, war or peace—has an aftermath of corruption, and that when the violence is severe the corruption is permanent.”

This says a lot for epic theatre and having read the play, it really made me think about how we can shock our audience into provoking change in terms of our own theme. What makes violence in the theatre harder to stomach than violence on t.v or film? Is it the fact that it’s right there in front of us? There’s no CGI or special effects? I think for me it’s when it’s so real, if it is stylised I can cope but when it is naturalistic it becomes much harder because I find I can imagine it happening to myself so much more clearly I would imagine. When watching it in a film you’re able to pause the film, turn the light on and break out of the story but when you’re in the theatre there’s no pausing or stopping it, it’s happening right there in front of us. When is comes to creating our own work I think it is going to be important to draw on our own experiences, that way, we can really know what is right and what is wrong, what is too far and what is not having enough of an impact on our audience.

Our seminar proved to be really useful this week, we talked about what it is that shocks in the theatre. Given that a huge part of epic theatre is the shock factor you give your audience in order to provoke them to make them think, thinking about what it is that shocks us on stage was really helpful. It made us think about what we could include in our own performance to help with the shock factor. There is certainly a lot that we can play around with in terms of our theme of suicide and society being responsible, audience involvement is definitely something we plan to include. Other things we came up with were:
Graphic suicide
Bodily functions (vomiting/going to the toilet)
Sex – in forms of rape and/or incest
Actors forgetting lines
Naturalistic torture or violence
Extreme violence or abuse
Fascist “comedy”
Audience involvement
It’s strange how things like sex and nakedness can depend on who you’re with, when I’m with parents for example, I know that I would feel far more uncomfortable watching a sex scene on stage than if I was watching with a bunch of friends. Is it the age gap or simply that it’s a parent?

We then proceeded to do an exercise where we all had, written on a piece of paper, a noun and we had to connect it to our play and argue to our group why our particular word connected with the play the best. I had a high heeled shoe and so naturally thought of the way in which women dominate men in the futuristic time frame in The Rivers of China, it could also be linked to feminism. It was interesting what we were able to come up with for such everyday words. A particular noun we really liked, as a group was when Ana described hers – a moth. The way that they are often swatted away and seen as a nuisance and only when it dies do people take notice and pity it. When a man comes forward to talk about his emotions, so often he is shut down and told to ‘man up’ or ‘grow a pair’, then of course when their pain becomes too much and ends in suicide, people question it and pity him. There is also the link with the light – they drift towards the light because it looks better than what surrounds them at the moment, much like someone suicidal drifting towards the idea of death then when it happens, it’s not actually better. This is an idea we’ve really grown to like and are thinking of using it as a motif in our performance, perhaps in every scene, use it as something that bothers the actors on stage, then only when it dies we take notice. Much like the man, when he dies.

My third workshop was with Kate. Now, given that I am really not a fan of puppets, I wasn’t looking forward to this workshop all that much, however, I was pleasantly surprised. We were looking at the way that puppets can become so much more that what they originally appear to be. We took the story of The Old Man and the Golden Fish and had to create puppets out of random everyday recycling/objects to tell the story. It was amazing how immersed you become when watching puppetry, you forget that you’re watching theatre, you’re often so focused on the performance and the puppets. This being said, it’s a brilliant way to provoke the verfremdungseffekt, because, however immersed you become, you are always very aware that it isn’t real, it is much harder to empathise with a puppet than it is with a human on stage. It was really fascinating, the way in which each group was telling the same story with the same words but given the different styles of puppetry going on, each was completely different. My group for example, had all members of the group on stage. Hannah, was even part of the set – having all the performers on stage, in full view of the audience is useful when using puppetry in epic theatre because you are able to be a constant reminder that they are watching theatre.

We’re getting there with the producer’s pitch now I think, still a lot of work to do on it but we’ve arranged to meet our supervisor so we’ll be able to get some feedback on what we have so far which will really help but this week, we’ve really

Imagegot going. When thinking about the pitch, we thought of taping our mouths and recording our voices – this gives the impression that we cannot say what we want to say, only what society wants us to. We also thought of using the game Hangman, with a poignant quote from the script to show that by saying the wrong thing, you can kill someone.



Tara took us through Sarah’s workshop this week which produced some really good ideas. We took a small section of the script – the poem


by Shelley that the man reads on page 24 of the script and had to present it in 30 seconds, and then in 5 seconds. This meant cutting the script and picking out the lines and words that we felt were most necessary, this exercise really made us think about the sections that we needed most, given that we are cutting a 55 page script into half an hour production we have to cut the script and pick out the best and most relevant lines to our themes and message when condensing it into a much smaller time frame. This also made us think about what we could use instead of the text to create meaning and explain our message. For example, we were thinking of the elements of epic theatre and thought about the use of song. Romy came up with Ten Green Bottles, with the line “if one green bottle should accidentally fall” which could have connotations of suicide/death.

We also went through Kate’s workshop, led by Ana and Cath this week, we did a couple of really interesting exercises with this one: the first one, w


e had one member of the group in the middle about to ‘jump off a bridge’ and the others, sitting down, surrounding her. The ensemble sitting down had to convince her not to jump but if we sounded insincere or she didn’t believe something we said she’d move closer to the edge or jump. It was interesting how different the room suddenly became, we really felt like we had to save this girl, despite knowing it wasn’t real, we could see there was no bridge but it didn’t stop the tension. This exercise helped us think about how we can be real with what we were doing, reminded us not to act throughout our piece but to always be real and believe ourselves in the message we are trying to convey – then our audience will believe it too. The second exercise was a ‘mother’ deciding whether or not to give away a child, depending on the noises that we, as an ensem


ble made. We had to stop her giving it up and it was interesting in that although instinctively, in the ensemble, you want to make louder noises to stop the ‘mother’ giving up the child, it was the much calmer sounds that made her want to keep it. The sounds like lullabies that calm the stressful situation she is in. This made us think about what kinds of sounds we want to use in our own piece to help the audience to understand our message of male suicide, will calming noises help them to understand better or will loud, ‘punchy’ noises be more effective? We thought about using these exercises, the


first one in particular in our final performance, using audience involvement we could perhaps use the audience to determine the fate of our character – force them to take part and they’re likely to take something away from it.

We thought about staging this week too; we want to have our audience in the round. We felt as though this represented society, always being around and not really being able to escape. Also, for the audience, they can look straight across the stage and see other audience members, therefore, a constant reminder that they are watching a piece a theatre – another epic theatre element. In terms of our set and costume design – we have decided to keep it very minimalist and bland – not only is this a classic trait of epic theatre, but it adds to the sadness and loneliness one feels when


suicidal. We have thought about using placards around our necks with the gender symbols on to define us as a gender, making use of the multi-rolling element of epic theatre too, we can become anybody we wanted to on stage.

We’ve thought about how to use the script and we are thinking of cutting the 1920’s time frame and focus on the female dominated one set in the future. We plan to take lines from both time frames of the script but set it just in one. In a world dominated by women we can focus more upon male suicide and the way it is so often society that causes it. Our problems to overcome are how can we m


ake that relate to the society our audience knows now given it’s very much a male dominated society for most of our audience.

As a group we went to the Bikeshed theatre this week to see Happiness LTD. We booked the tickets last week as, reading the flyer, we saw that it was looking at themes of mental health so we thought it’d be an interesting production to go and watch, given our own theme. In all honestly however, none of us were all that impressed, we all came out with a fairly similar viewpoint… They had some really interesting ideas and there were some well thought out elements to the production however, regarding the theme of mental health, predominantly depression, it felt almost as though they hadn’t really researched it well enough. I’m certainly not a theatre reviewer by any standard but I’m unlucky enough to have suffered depression and unfortunately I didn’t believe that character had. I didn’t really feel for the characters, nor did I want to change anything the moment I walked out the theatre. Some wonderful ideas, just perhaps not quite executed the right way.



Slowly but surely…


This is a collaborative piece of work and we have to work together to create the very best piece of work that we can. If things start to get stressful and tense, just burst out laughing. Proper laughing, the kind of laughing where your tummy starts to hurt. Always pay attention to others in the group, no one deserves to be forgotten or go unheard. It was recommended that we designate roles within the group. We’ve partially done this but we need to follow through with it and stick to it in rehearsals I think. Possible roles: director, script editor, tech coordinator, choreographer, set design, costume design, stage manager…

Some notes from Bryan: 
Have principles within your group, establish ground rules:
Respect, show up, be on time, pay attention, listen to one another
Work with interest, curiosity and openness
Strive for the unexpected and the impossible
Experience first, analyse afterwards
Attention is always to the other
Encounter difficulty with a smile
Look, hear, listen and see
Beauty is in simplicity and humility
Own what you make
Respect each other
Try all ideas
Problem find and problem solve
Embrace the literal process
Celebrate each day’s journey
Address conflicts as soon as possible
Have clear goals
Tell the truth

FLOW is the optimal state generated from skill and challenge.
Barriers of flow: being late/being absent, questioning ideas before trying them out

We need to think about the red thread running throughout our production… the core idea that the rest of the story is revolving around – the generator of ideas.

In our seminar we were looking at Büchner’s quote “What is it in us that lies, whores, steals and murders?” that he wrote in a letter to his fiancee. We looked into the things that really really irritate us:
Being walked all over
Being patronised
Being kept in the dark/not being told/not understanding
Then we looked at the current issues and what we could use within our own pieces:
Climate change
Gender inequality
Police brutality
School pressures
NHS crisis
US gun laws
Health – obesity, mental health, elderly health

How can we find links to these issues within our own play? What impact do these issues have on our lives? What do we want to make our audience think about? What action do we want our audience to take? I believe we need to feel passionately about our theme, if we feel passionately about it, we will be able to convey the right message and make our audience want to do something about it too.

I had a second workshop this week, with Will. This workshop I found particularly interesting regarding cutting and creating your own work from a piece of text. In groups of about six, we took an article written by Katie Hopkins about women wearing high heeled shoes at work, we using this piece of text, found a theme from it and cut it up to create a five minute performance. My group and I looked at the very concept of women wearing high heels at work and looked within the text to find a counter argument to form a debate. This workshop was really useful in that it really helped us to pick apart a piece of text and focus on the important words and phrases for the theme you have chosen to focus on. Using a piece of media text rather than an actual play script that we are used to completely changed my look on it. I found it much easier picking it apart, than I would a script simply because it was a political article but we were working with political material and it allowed us to pick out the specifically political sections and phrasing which would be useful in our ‘debate’. This has made me look at my script of The Rivers of China in a different way now, I am able to pick out the more political sections and the phrases and words that will be useful to us to put into our own version of the script.

Some facts on male suicide:
Incidents of suicide in men are higher than that of women in all ranges and it’s the highest death cause in men under the age of 40.
As of 2015, around 2/3 of suicides are committed by men.
Highest suicide rate for the UK is men between the ages of 40 and 44 (2017)
Highest suicide rate for the Republic of Ireland is men between the ages of 25-34, just topping that of the ages 45-54 (2017)

In our group meetings this week we’ve been discussing our producers pitch. We thought of perhaps using a very over the top happy advert type performance pitch, advertising suicide kits whilst giving the information simultaneously. We were thinking of perhaps separating our audience into girls and guys to emphasise the message we want to send about masculinity and male suicide but we’re not entirely sure it’ll send the correct message, but it’s something to think about. In terms of what we plan to say within our pitch, we are looking researching further into Alma De Groen, her background, epic theatre and our theme. We want to include some epic theatre elements in our producers pitch that we plan to use in our final piece too.

With regards to our final performance we’ve been thinking about having a noose over our audience as though to symbolise that male suicide is often there, as an issue but it gets forgotten with everything else going on, it gets ignored and brushed aside. Despite the original play being set in two different time frames we’re looking to set it in just one. We like the idea of playing around with time itself as an element though and are thinking of timing our piece in full view of our audience, as though counting down to the suicide and perhaps beginning with the death, then going back and showing the causes and reasons the suicide happened.

This ‘Man Up Campaign Ad’ really speaks to me – it’s very simple, very quick. But says so much. It says a lot of what we’d like to achieve with our piece.

And so it begins…

Week one, here we go: Having all read the plays, my group and I met up this week to discuss which of the three plays we think we should do. We’ve decided to focus on The Rivers of China for our module because we thought it had such interesting themes and there was a lot we could do with it with regards to epic theatre. We were torn for a while between The Woman in the Window and The Rivers of China but eventually the latter won our vote as we decided to look into the themes of male suicide within the play. We felt, as a group that male suicide is an issue that isn’t often addressed in society, even in theatre, various mental health conditions are but specifically male suicide was something that, when bought up in our discussions really started a strong conversation and certainly had us asking questions which made us realise the potential it had for an audience. All three plays had strong feminist themes throughout however, this is something that often comes up in theatre and so we wanted to find a different route and this seemed to capture our interest most. The Girl Who Saw Everything, we found that most of us were in agreement in that it wasn’t all that interesting and when looking at the plays in terms of epic theatre, there just wasn’t a strong enough theme or issue that jumped at us that we felt we could use in our own performance. It was definitely a play that we felt as though we couldn’t really relate to and given that none of us particularly enjoyed reading it, it was fairly quick to be ruled out. If we couldn’t immediately find something to pull us in, it would have been difficult to work from. The Woman in the Window was a truly remarkable play however, the themes we picked out from it, although interesting and relevant, held less relevance and less interest to us as a group than those in The Rivers of China.

Themes we plan to focus on: Male suicide, feminism, control, power and the dangers it can have on society

My first workshop – Aqeel: We were creating our own adaption of a scene from The Antigone of Sophocles by Brecht, thinking dramatugically. My group and I, taking the scene in which Antigone and her sister are talking about the death of their brothers brought it into a more modern context, changed the story so that one of the brothers was transgender as was therefore not allowed into the military, much like the situation in America with Trump. We had Antigone arguing that her transgender sibling should go and fight anyway and her sister on the side of the law, not necessarily agreeing with it but wanting to do what was right by it.

Why do we make contemporary adaptations of ancient epics?: When these older plays were written, there were political issues to be addressed there and then, theatre is a way to bring them to the light and make an audience see them. The specificity of the issues may have changed when looking at present day politics but many of the issues themselves are still relevant today. Looking at Antigone, she was a woman, standing up for what she believed to be right, it was set in a completely different time to the world we know but the relevance is still there.

Importance of dramaturgy in this kind of theatre: dramaturgy is important here because the context is important, we have to stay on track, always making sure we’re remembering our themes, what is it we want to portray? What message do we want to send to our audience? Having a dramaturg keeping an eye on this throughout the rehearsal period will be really helpful.

What did I take from the workshop?: I’ve taken a lot from this workshop regarding the importance of dramaturgy, specifically within epic theatre. When creating and rehearsing work, it’s easy to forget your themes, resulting in a piece that has no clear message and you’ve almost got to try and pick something out from scratch. When you’re constantly aware of it though (as I hope I will be now) you’re always thinking about your message. Each stage of rehearsal and each section or line of script that you add you have to think, how is it helping send the message? How is it portraying the theme?