U8 Task 10 – Project Evaluation

Martha’s Harbour

During the rehearsal process I was working alone in Martha’s Harbour for the majority of the project. This made things a little easier for me because when my partner for “Doll’s House” wasn’t available it gave me the opportunity to work on my vocals, I would often find it difficult to find an empty room to sing in so most of my practice for Martha’s Harbour was done at home where I could test my volume without disturbing anyone who was trying to work. While I was working at home I managed to work on what the feeling and meaning of the song was. I saw it as a good opportunity to really get to listen to the song and analyse it so I could really feel what the character was feeling.

A couple of weeks before the show nights the tutors introduced me to Nigel who was a teacher in the music department, at this point I  had learnt the lyrics, was confident enough to sing in front of people and I knew the pitching. One problem was that I often sung in a capella which often made me to rush through the song. Working with Nigel really helped me boost my confidence and it also was an amazing opportunity to have someone to listen to me so they can pass their judgement on whether my pitch was wrong or if I was going flat. Having Nigel work with me was the biggest factor that helped me with finishing the piece, if I had carried on working alone I don’t think that my confidence in myself or the character would have been as strong as it was on the night. However working alone really made me realise that I need to be confident not only in myself but to ask others for help and to listen, during the time I was working alone I often asked for help from Lynn and Chloe Sheehan, but I didn’t ask enough I feel if I had asked them for help more often my confidence would have built quicker, the character would have connected to the song faster and I would’ve gotten a grasp on the speed and pitch of the song quicker. During the show we all worked as one unit, we all supported each other and all helped each other with quick costume change and with confidence, I had help changing into my Doll’s house costume as I needed to have it buttoned up at the back along with several safety pins in the side of the skirt to hold on my waist as it was too big.

The main problem with planning rehearsal time was finding a space to rehearse in the college, many people would often use EO50 which is where I would rehearse and EO44 would be used for rehearsal space for other pieces or shows so as I said I would rehearse at home. This was because at the beginning of the rehearsal period I would be too scared to sing in front of people, my posture would be awful and my body would close up due to nerves so my breathing would be disturbed by my closed body, so before I asked anyone for advice or I was going to practice in front of anyone I wanted to become confident in the song and had the pitch right, so then anyone who I asked for advice could edit as they please. I had several rehearsals with Nigel which we organised after each session we had for either later on in the day or the next morning, the problem I would have is when Karolis couldn’t rehearse with Will or when he thought that it would be an appropriate time to go over “Doll’s House” I would have to say that I couldn’t because I had an arrange rehearsal time for Martha’s Harbour. A big problem was confidence and stepping out of my comfort zone, this was a massive issue and it effected the final performance but not as much as it did when I was first performing it during the producers run.

(Video 1 is the producers run and the second video is the show night)

Even though you can’t see my face on the second video you can see that I hold myself well and I stand still, maybe a bit too still as I said before I didn’t put forward too much emotion through movement as I felt it would take the audience away from the lyrics, I also hold my shoulders down instead of holding them up wards like they are in the first video.

My research for Martha’s Harbour helped me significantly in the end especially my character research. I leant on developing a character throughout the rehearsal process which unfortunately in the show the character I created didn’t come out as much, I did try but in a way it felt wrong to put too much emotion in this song as it would have distracted the audience from the lyrics. I ended up doing what ever felt natural as when I practiced it with me “telling the story” it was too much and it threw me off pitch often, although I did try to tell the story without being too over dramatic but I still got the feed back that I needed to be more expressive and looking back at the video I could see that I wasn’t expressive enough, my face was often fixed and my arms would stay by my side as I was worried that if I moved them my breathing would change and suddenly make me too quiet or would make my pitch change. The character I had created I hadn’t mentioned if she was over expressive or if she was upset with her partner I had mentioned that she missed him and that she wishes she could leave her life behind to see what was beyond the town that she lives in. The research for my character was vital because without a character the song would have no story and the audience’s attention would have been on other things other than the song and lyrics.

Doll’s House

I only worked with Karolis for “Doll’s House” and we really had to work with each others emotions, the main objective for me was to work on bouncing off of Karolis. What I liked when working with some one else was unlike with Martha’s Harbour where I would have to work alone and then go and find someone for advice and help when needed, me and Karolis could stop each other at any moment and ask each other if that felt right, or if we could try that part of the scene better. We never really performed that piece in front of many people during the rehearsal period only the group who were doing Alice (who were Liam Swain, Thalia Weavers and William Rice) watched our piece and gave little feedback because we were using the same rehearsal space (this was also one of the few opportunities to video this because as I said before we were limited for rehearsal space so we would often have to rehearse where there were several people rehearsing so there would have been too much background noise for the camera). Unlike with Martha’s Harbour I found it difficult to rehearse at home, I never realized how much this piece relied on the other person and their reactions, for the entire piece I was relying on Karolis’s reactions to my remarks, if he was belittling me Nora would shout and have more anger in her tone and movements but when he began to realize Nora wasn’t joking and I finally saw I was getting through to him Nora would be more rational but would bring up the heat again to match Karolis. I talked to Karolis a while after the performance and asked him whether he had to lean on my reactions as much as I had to lean on his, he said he didn’t at first as the character Thorvald would have brushed off her behavior as just being silly when I got more angry his character would put Nora back in her place and then when Nora says “That’s just it” when Thorvald exclaims that she doesn’t love him like me he relied on how I reacted on how he reacted more because he was actually listening to Nora. Us working together closely made a real bond with the characters, I feel if the script was given to two people who just met each other the connection between the characters wouldn’t be there, this really effected the finished piece, if we had relied on us going away and building the characters ourselves the real connection would have been lost.

Me and my partner Karolis had arranged after the Easter holiday that we should use the commission lessons on Tuesdays and Thursdays to look at Doll’s House as we had decided that before the Easter holidays started that we should focus on character development throughout the holiday as the first few rehearsals were unsuccessful because we didn’t understand the strength of the characters enough so we were clashing and the character connection was very weak because we hadn’t taken the time to get to know the characters which made it difficult to do the scene. Most of the time this plan wasn’t disturbed unless we had a progress check to go to. The rehearsal time we had was enough to really establish what the characters were feeling, how they would move around each other and what reactions they would have. During the Easter holidays I found myself often when I was in my room walking and looking at objects as Nora would to help me get to know her, I felt as if I had to live as her outside the script and story for a while to really know what she felt like.

(Unfortunately we don’t have the video from the first progress check and due to camera complications we don’t have the footage from the second show night. I used the footage from the producers run and from the second dress rehearsal to signify the change we had.)

In the first video you can see how week the climax of the scene was and because I was sitting down until I left when I talked about Thorvald being worried for himself it lost its power however when I stood up in the dress rehearsals and on the show nights it had power because it really did symbolize that Nora finally had power over Thorvald.

My character research helped me the most during this project, I had to look at what woman’s roles were during that era and found out that due to fashion they couldn’t do much in the household work because of the bell skirt and they would keep falling over. As I said before I found it difficult to understand the character so I spent the holidays acting like her, I would exam things in my room as if she had stepped out of the past into our present, I would react the way she would have reacted when she heard that woman can now leave their partners legally and how woman are seen as equals. This was essential to the final piece because it helped me develop her more and understand the struggle she was going through but even as the show was approaching I still felt as if there was something missing in her character, I felt as if there was a massive bit of information I was forgetting in her character and it wasn’t until the dress rehearsals when it finally hit m, the vital information I had left out was that Nora was a mother. I had only realised what I had missed out when me and Karolis were doing a line run but I was having difficulty with my hair so I told him we are going to have to walk and do my hair while doing the line run, during this time I was focussing on how to keep my hair in place, finding hair slides, walking too and from the mirror and doing a line run and I realised that mothers have to multitask everyday and do things not for herself but for her children, which made me realize that she isn’t just tired for Thorvald, she is also tired of having to do things for her family and never having to think for herself. It was that short moment that gave me a glimpse into Nora’s world outside of the written script which really made her character strong throughout the show.

The Entire Show

Throughout the entire show s I said we all worked as one unit, we all helped each other to get in and out of costumes, no one refused to help anyone with hair or makeup and everything went smoothly. The tech team on the first night were amazing getting everything on and off stage all the mics worked and everything was on time, on the second night I was pulled to the side and was asked to check my mic as there could have been something wrong with it, this was dealt with efficiently and the mic worked perfectly on stage and I had no problems with it. On the second night Sunday had some technical issues with the sound not working but the musical theatre students dealt with it maturely and had to improvise a tiny bit so then the audience weren’t left with looking at a frozen scene. The improvisation was connected to the piece as Faye was asking Ryan (who was playing the painter George Seurat who painted Sunday Afternoon)  if he had finished his painting, soon after this the song came on and the show continued as normal, I was in the wings at this point and I could see some of the actors faces, they all stayed neutral as if nothing had gone wrong and when they realised the music may not come on they started moving into their positions as if the music was playing.

When I saw the incantation dance I was captivated by it, it almost tricks the mind into thinking that the two dancers on stage aren’t human and that they can shape shift into any form they desire, this really drew me in and I did feel like magic, the music went really well with the piece and the dancers worked around the music really well. The ending I felt however was a bit weak and would have been better if it had ended on a more spooky tone than just leading each other off stage.

I felt that on the first night for Martha’s Harbour my confidence wasn’t quite as high as I would of like it to be, but as the song went on I grew more confident, perhaps if I was more confidence in myself I would have shown more emotion than I had put forward. Doll’s House on the first night went very well I did stumble a bit and nearly repeated a line, I put my hands up to my face and realised that this was not the right response, I changed it to an aggravated noise and then sharply pulled my hands away from my face, I feel as if I could have handled the situation better but at the time I didn’t let myself slip from my character and I kept composed throughout the scene. On the second night Martha’s Harbour didn’t go as well as the first night, because of what happened to Sunday I was worried that my track wouldn’t play, fortunately it did but all the build up and worry made me start on the wrong pitch, it took me a couple of lines to get back to the songs pitch but like before my confidence grew as the song proceeded.

The way the show was set put was nothing like the previous commissions but I expected it and I found that I preferred performing on an end on stage, however because I was so used to the audience being on three sides of me I found it difficult to keep all my energy focused to the front of the stage. The type of audience which we had like the other two was all ages (even though we had some harsh language at some points so I would say that there was an age limit or it was a PG rating), the humour and the scenes were targeted at an older audience but the dance scenes could have been for a younger audience. Again we had no budget everything had to be made, in this project like the last I didn’t need to make any set, for my pieces I didn’t have to make or find any odd pieces of set (like signs or gravestones as Alice and Hamlet had to make) I didn’t need anything for Martha’s Harbour and we only needed two chairs for Doll’s House. I had no trouble with rehearsing, Doll’s House only had two people me and Karolis which meant we only had to find each other so unlike the Inspired by Film project finding timer to rehearse was easier.

Summery

What I really learnt from this project was different methods on how to develop you character and how to understand them, this was the most difficult with Nora. Nora’s character already existed so I couldn’t add or take anything away from her personality or what we knew about her past, I had to build around this information and doing this I realised that just doing the basic research of what woman had to go through and reading the play wasn’t enough, with a complicated character like Nora you had to find someway to see what her daily life is like and I explained before I didn’t find this out until very late in the project and that’s what really pushed me forward and her character forward. This will help me enormously in the future as I will need to be able to work my way around different characters and characteristics that have been given to me, along with if I was to be given a character to make up (like I did in Martha’s Harbour) I would have to do the same and not just assume that just because I have made the character I know exactly how she feels because each character has different experiences than me. In the future I will need to put my 100% confidence into the project, my nerves held back a lot of progress that could have made if I wasn’t so scared or nervous about my singing, I would also need to speed up connecting with the character but luckily due to this project I have come up with a method that will speed up the process. This project was by far the most useful towards connecting with the character, the Inspired by Film project really helped me with organising time which really helped in this project.

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