Thursday, 27 November 2008

The Rehearsal Process

I went to my first rehearsal last week without really a strong idea of what i was meant to be doing while i was there, but it soon became apparent that i just needed to always be around, getting and finding things the actors needed to perform with, and holding puppets and gels in front of the lights for Mark, Tina and the cast to look at. Often i felt like i wanted to see the effects of the puppets being held up, but i realised that at this particular moment, it's not important, essentially, for me to get what i want. I almost had to be invisible in rehearsals until i was asked for advice or asked to get a prop, costume, etc. I found the rehearsals quite interesting as i hadn't seen how the play was going so far, and having only read the script i hadn't seen who was acting in what part. Having seen who was acting as Trinculo, and how they were playing the part i got a fairly good idea of how to dress him, and on speaking to Tina before we started pulling some costume, we decided we were going to go with britches, a shirt and a waistcoat sort of outfit.

Visit To Ham House

We went as a group to visit Ham House, the location the play will be performed. the first reaction i had was awe in a way at how beautiful the house was, and a keen interest in the history of the house. The next reaction i had was shock at how small the performing space is. I found it incredibly hard in the first half of the visit to envisage the performance in this small space and struggled to see how there would be space for the actors and the puppets. We then went up the stairs to the balcony and started brainstorming ideas of how this could be used in the production. Creativity escaped me at this point, i think because i had had a busy day and tiredness was beginning to creep in, but on my journey home i started to think about how the balcony could be used and came up with a few ideas like for example, material could be stretched over the top of the balcony and projections could be transmitted from below, or maybe material could be draped down to give the children the idea that they are under the sea during the tempest. However i did not get the chance to give my ideas to the group as the time that was arranged for everyone to meet together was during periods that i have to be at work. This was also the time when the puppets were being created for the performance, and positions of responsibility were being decided. As a result of this i was not able to be involved in making the puppets, however, i became responsible for costume, and in particular costuming one character, Trinculo.

The Project

I am in a costume group with 5 other people working on a Theatre For Young People production of Shakespeare's The Tempest to be performed at Ham House, a national Heritage site near Richmond. When we first met together to discuss this project and find out what we were doing on the production, i had a fairly closed mind, thinking that i would be costuming the actors in a fairly traditional, Shakespearean style. However, it became apparent in this meeting that we wouldn't just be dong costume as we began by playing with different types of puppets. Before i started this course, i thought that there was really not much difference between different types of puppets and that they all served one purpose. i quickly became aware that this was not the case. we started looking at the more traditional marionette puppets, then moved on to looking at puppets which were more decorative than usable. we played around with all the puppets, but i found myself drawn most the traditional marionette style puppets. i felt more at ease with this style of puppetry and managed to make her come alive, without the use of words, just getting to grips with movements, and gestures. It became very important to look at the way you were moving a puppet in the mirror so that you can see how the audience are viewing it, and also made me aware of how such slight movements could convey a massive emotion. After these puppets we moved on to a less naturalistic looking puppet made out of a large piece of material, using knots for the feet and hands. this style of puppet is called a Bunraku and uses several people to operate it because of it's size. I found this puppet incredibly hard to relate to as it seemed so unrealistic and i really struggled to bring it to life or see it's potential. after all this theory about puppets and how they could be used we were set a small creative project of choosing a character from the Tempest and creating a quick puppet to represent this character. I really enjoyed this project as i felt like i was getting to put my own individual creative stamp on something and would have been excited at the prospect of putting it into a production, but at the same time i found myself becoming quite attached to it, and felt like i was the only person who know how to operate it correctly. i think if i were to make a puppet to be used in the show, i would find it very difficult to let the puppet go to someone else. i also felt slightly less creative than everyone else in the group as i had used a mannequin's head to start off my puppet where as everyone else had thought outside the box and created a puppet out of an everyday object. i think i need to open up my mind in order to let creativity flow into what I'm doing.