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In what was the stimulus material developed through the drama process

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  • Pages: 5
  • Word count: 1128
  • Category: Drama

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At the beginning of the devising process we were provided with a number of stimulus materials which were all connected with our chosen subject of war. Out of this bulk of material we agreed upon the use of three poems which we felt communicated the right messages. Having little previous experience of devising work meant that we had trouble during the beginning stages our writing, the man problem being that we didn’t know where to start. The stimulus material acted as a preconceived idea which were able to change with our own input.

These materials either ended up as a finished scene or gave us an idea for the devising of another scene not necessarily connected with the material. In addition to this, having a ‘starting block’ for these early scenes meant that we were able to have them finished to some standard before starting any others. This gave us a structure to work to for future scenes, making the whole process much easier. Before commencing with any devising work we first analysed and discussed the story, messages and emotions created by the material.

After writing notes and ideas for the three pieces we set about constructing abstract scenes to represent the poems. We did not set out to use these abstract scenes in our final piece, they were used to show our ideas on the stimulus in a practical way, which could then be ‘toned down’, and then hopefully turned into a usable scene. The first we began work on ‘The Encounter’, a poem which tells the graphic story of a young woman’s rape by a soldier who was once her neighbour. What originally attracted us to this poem was its basic story of the division of a community with individuals turning upon each other as a result of a conflict.

This very human affect of war seemed to fit in perfectly with the message of our piece, and it was these themes of aggression between individuals which we wanted to show with this scene. We felt that, if used right, the lines of the poem would make for a very dramatic, and hopefully shocking abstract sequence. After discussing the most important elements of the poem we decided upon the lines which best represented those elements and set about constructing a scene around them.

Through the use of a vocal collage and choreographed physical theatre we were able to show the dividing of a united community, and in turn their aggression towards each other. This scene, even in its early stages was very visually impressive. With the three actors, representing the community, moving away from each other in order to show the towns division and then an aggressive vocal collage using the lines from the poem being shouted back-and-forth created a real impression of hatred between the actors. Although all of these elements worked perfectly we began to feel that the scene had lost all of its original meaning.

Lines such as ‘young mother raped… Young mother destroyed’, in their original context of the poem were especially poignant, however since they had been taken out of this context they were no longer about war and would mean little to a watching audience. With this in mind this scene was put on ‘the back burner’. Although we did not think that ‘The Encounter’ was right for use in an abstract scene we were still very interested in its actual story. The ideas of invasion into the home would strongly contrast ideas posed in earlier scenes of home being a ‘safe haven’.

Using the basic essence of the poem we constructed a scene which graphically showed the mimed murder of a couple within their home. This was certainly our most dramatic scene, and was probably the easiest to construct and perform. Without the stimulus material this scene would not have devised and our piece would have been seriously lacking in ‘power’. Towards the end of the devising process, when we need to construct a conclusion we decided to return to the abstract scene originally devised around ‘The Encounter’.

We were certain that we did not want to use the original lines but were still keen to include the concept of the scene. The visual image created by the cast turning upon each other would be in stark contrast to the cooperation which we had shown throughout the rest of the piece. Members of the group decided upon lines which were not in the piece, but that they felt represented a part of it, for example, ‘Soldier! Grenade! ‘ was not used during our piece but was used to represent our ‘trench’ scene.

These lines where slowly recited while we stood back-to-back, turning in a circle. Still reciting the lines we moved away from each other, increasing their volume until we were aggressively shouting at one another, finishing on the line ‘their gone, their dead, their gone’. The combination of the physical theatre and violent vocal collage was used to confuse the audience whilst re-capping on the whole play. The two poems ‘Disaster Zone’ and ‘All things are connected’ were used together to created our opening scene.

Much like the early stages of creating our abstract scene around ‘The Encounter’ we dissected the two poems, deciding upon the most important lines and isolating them. ‘All things are connected’, a poem about the connection between man and the Earth was included so to communicate our ideas of wars effect upon even the smallest element of life. This is a very ‘organic’ poem which was written by the Native Americans, a culture famed for their connection with the Earth. We wanted to show this through the use physical theatre.

Starting with the line ‘man belongs to Earth’ we showed three forms rising from the ground chanting ‘man belongs to Earth… man belongs to Earth’. This continued to a point where we began shouting other lines of the poem at each other. This was a very visually interesting scene used to catch the audience’s attention early in the performance. The ‘organic’ nature of the opening sequence was use to strongly contrast the use of our lines from ‘Disaster zone’. This poem is very man-made and urban. Describing the destruction of buildings and homes worked perfectly to conflict the messages in the previous poem.

Shouting our chosen lines at the audience like headlines communicated our other, not so humane messages. The clashing of these very different stances alerted the audience and gave the piece a past pace to begin with. So to conclude the play we decided to recite the poem ‘All things are connected’ in full. In its entirety this poem crested a very retrospective mood which enabled the audience to consider all of what they had just seen. This poem enabled us to give our piece both a very strong start and finish.

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