The Voices Project: The One Sure Thing atyp teacher resources february 2012
Emma Campbell Photo: Angelo Sgambati
atyp SEEKS TO CREATE EXCEPTIONAL THEATRE EXPERIENCES THAT ENGAGE YOUNG AUSTRALIANS AS ARTISTS AND AUDIENCES atyp is driven by the belief that the arts have the power to transform lives, enrich communities and ultimately impact on the future of our nation. The power of stories and storytelling, of sharing experiences and seeing life from another‟s point of view, are integral to everyone‟s growth and development. Our work is motivated by the need to improve access and opportunities for all young Australians to participate in the arts and to encourage them to share their stories, regardless of economic, geographic or social barriers. We provide a supportive, creative environment for artists of all ages to take risks, engage, challenge and test ideas and, in doing so, uncover their creative potential. All atyp programs generate stories told by young people via the development, production and promotion of new writing, and the maintenance of the dynamic creative hub that connects young people with experienced professional artists locally and nationally.
This Resource Kit has been designed as a classroom tool to assist with the preparation, evaluation and analysis of the Australian Theatre for Young People (atyp) production: The One Sure Thing. The notes and activities have been divided into three components: Before you see The One Sure Thing The Performance: Behind the scenes of The One Sure Thing After you see The One Sure Thing They are designed for students from Years 11-12; however some of the activities could be adapted for younger year groups. NSW BOS Syllabi have been used as a guide for this resource kit. It is recommended before using the recommended websites in this kit that teachers first visit the sites to assess suitability of content for your particular school setting. We hope you find these activities useful and that they enhance your creative arts experiences in the classroom. Heather Clark Education Manager Australian Theatre for Young People
table of contents
Before you see The One Sure Thing What is The Voices Project? Getting Comfortable with the “D” Word Individual Project: Performance – What the Markers Say A Writer‟s Inspiration and Reflection – Brooke Robinson In Rehearsal The Performance: Behind the scenes of The One Sure Thing The Creative Team & Cast Interview with Director – Tanya Goldberg Interviews with the Writers Interviews with the Cast Get Involved! After you see The One Sure Thing: Written Responses Initial Reaction Design Elements The Elements of Drama Write a Review After you see The One Sure Thing: Practical Responses Spatial Awareness Audience Awareness Building and Maintaining Energy Directors in Action Acknowledgements
before you see the one sure thing
what is the voices project?
Alistair McIntosh Photo: Claire Harris
All of the monologues that you will watch in this performance were created through our young writers‟ program, Fresh Ink. Fresh Ink is for writers hungry for a career in theatre. The program helps writers build skills and the confidence to step into the industry. Emerging writers are matched with experienced mentors who help bring out each writer‟s own voice. When the scripts are ready, we support writers through creative development workshops and public readings to link them to other companies and artists in the theatre industry. The One Sure Thing is the second annual instalment of the overwhelmingly successful The Voices Project. Born from the need for quality scripts specifically tailored for young actors, this collection of seven-minute monologues will challenge the way you look at youth theatre. The Voices Project 2011: Tell It Like It Isn’t was a runaway success. This is a unique opportunity for a first look at the scripts that young people will be performing for years to come.
getting comfortable with the “D” word Tell it Like it Isn’t explored the theme of first love. This year, The One Sure Thing takes a look at the one thing we can count on in this life. Prior to the show, we advise that you prepare your students for the content of the performance. There may be some scenes that, for students who have experienced the death of a loved one, may be upsetting. The monologues are all very different – some cheeky, some uplifting and others quite moving. It is our intention to provide a thoughtprovoking performance without exploiting the emotions of the students.
classroom activity BRAINSTORM In groups of three, make a list of the plays, novels, songs, poems and artworks that you know that explore the themes of change, transition and death. Share your list with the class and upload them to the interactive whiteboard or write them up for the class to see. PRACTICAL TASK Group the titles into similar genres. For example, you may use categories such as “comedy”, “tragedy” etc, or “demographic groupings”, or pieces that move you and those that are more objective in their reflection of death. It‟s up to you as a class to decide how to split the “works”. You may change the groupings until, as a class, you agree how to classify them. Discuss why you grouped the titles as you did. REFLECTION Answer the following questions in your Drama journal. You may also like to discuss them as a class. How do you feel about seeing a production about death? How do you think you‟ll feel at the end of the show? Choose an object that represents “transition” for you. Find a picture of it or draw it in your Drama Journal. Write a “stream of consciousness” inner monologue from the perspective of the object. Write for 15 minutes. (Stream of consciousness is an unedited progression of thoughts that you write continuously). Don‟t read over it until after you have seen the production. After you have seen the performance, read your “stream of consciousness”. Compare and contrast your ideas to those that were presented in the performance. Bookend the experience with questions before seeing the show that can be answered at the end of the performance. - The playwrights have expressed the theme of death differently in each monologue. Look for differences in style, costumes, lighting and language. How do these interpretations work with or work against the theme? - Look for differences in acting styles. What effect does this have on the theme and on you as an audience member?
individual project: performance - what the markers say (2010) 2011 HSC Drama markers comments were not available at preparation of these resources. Follow the link to access marker comments when published by the NSW Board of Studies. http://www.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/hsc_exams/hsc2011exams/
BRAINSTORM The following list is a selection of words and phrases that HSC markers use when commenting on Individual Performances. You have 10 seconds to brainstorm and write down what each of these words/phrases mean to you. (Your teacher can be the timekeeper). When you complete the list share your answers with the class: HSC students are encouraged to “focus on”: 1. “Well-rehearsed” 2. “Theatrical journey” 3. “Actor-audience relationship” 4. “Action/objective analysis” 5. “Absolute conviction and clarity” 6. “Dynamic character journey” 7. “Subtly defined complexities” HSC students are encouraged to avoid: 1. “Running over or under time” 2. “Simplistic storytelling” 3. “Unclear or incomplete theatrical shape” 4. “Lack of audience awareness” 5. “Style unsustained” 6. “Reliance on production elements (e.g. music, lights)” 7. “Lack of spatial awareness (i.e. wandering aimlessly around the stage” 8. “Low energy, one-dimensional characters” PRACTICAL TASK Create two lists (i.e. “Focus on” and “Avoid”) based on the words and phrases from the above activity that outline what you will look for in The One Sure Thing monologues. REFLECTION In your Drama journal, take time to reflect on the following questions
Thinking about the comments from the markers, what do you think will be your strengths in your IP? What areas are potential weaknesses for you? What will you do to address your weaknesses? Are there specific techniques that will help you?
a writer‟s inspiration and reflection
Brooke Robinson is the writer of Hunger For more articles like this, go to www.freshinkaustralia.com
Hunger started with an image of a helium balloon; as it slowly drops to the ground, someone rises and floats away, the two connected as an invisible counterweight. I knew this image took place in a kitchen and that the person floating away was doing so because they had lost a lot of blood. Blood and guts and the body are recurring themes in my work over the past year. I'm not sure what this means, even on a pop-psychology sort of level, so I assume I'll keep writing about these things until I figure out why. Hunger places seventeen-year-old Sam in a commercial kitchen that is also a dystopia. It's a world of total loneliness and disconnection and he as a kitchen hand is desperate for approval and kindness from the head chef. I was interested in writing about a world I knew nothing about – a busy commercial kitchen. I spent some time reading blogs of professional chefs to try and get an idea of the way they spoke and what their day-today life is like. What I read was people who, in their quest to make the best food and become the most popular chef, ended up living an insular life on the fringes of society by working very long and very odd hours. A blog by a chef in New York gave me a great starting point, “... a life of broken dreams, broken lives and living in the moment. No past, no present, just 'get it out there' and make sure it's HOT.” I would make Sam's dystopian kitchen a closed, timeless, sort of self-perpetuating system where nothing but getting the food out mattered – not even bleeding to death! As Sam cooks on the production line, he realises he has cut himself and has dripped blood into one of the dishes. The head
chef doesn't notice and serves the dish to restaurant customers without Sam able to stop him. The customers applaud the food and soon the whole restaurant wants Sam's dish. Aware that it's his blood that has made the food so desirable, Sam secretly leaks more and more of his blood into the dishes, his reward being affection from the head chef, something he has never had before, possibly from anyone. With Hunger I chose to write about death in a blunt way by showing a death on stage. Sam ultimately sacrifices his life for what he sees as his only opportunity for approval and human connection and thus dies satisfied. He dies outside of the kitchen and its self-perpetuating system - his death is of little importance and the hellish world of the kitchen will carry on unaffected. There are three worlds in the play: the dystopian kitchen, the bleached, calm and almost forbidden world of the restaurant and the alfresco dining area, a sort of fantasy escape world where Sam goes to die. Sam and the head chef's is the only relationship in the play and it is a very utilitarian one. Sam speaks to the head chef for the duration of the monologue, although most of the conversation exists in his head and only a fraction is actually said aloud. We get the idea that Sam has a lot of these one-way conversations with his boss. Maybe he has conversations – real or imagined - with other people outside of the play, but this is the one that matters. For me, Hunger is a play of images and rhythms. I hope that line-by-line I've somewhat captured the sense of urgency and mania of a commercial kitchen and that the images are a truthful albeit unrealistic way of portraying death.
DISCUSSION Writers use many forms of inspiration to get started. Brooke Robinson was inspired by the image of a helium balloon slowly deflating. She then imagined its opposite (or counterweight), a person rising and floating away.
Bring in photos, magazines and web images that can be displayed in your classroom. In groups of 4, select 5 images that interest you. Discuss the images and decide on a “counter” or contrasting image. For example, the image may be of an old tree stump and your counter image may be a newborn baby. You don‟t need to draw a picture of the contrasting image, simply write it down. Present your images and counter images to the class.
PRACTICAL TASK Individually, select one of the images/counter images. What themes emerge from these two opposites? What could the images represent? What characters spring to mind when you look at the images? In what setting or environment could you place your character? On a continuum, map your character‟s journey from one image/point to the other. Think about the things that change your character. E.g.
The above journey can become a metaphor for a character‟s journey. Something old and dying is given new life. You may like to include obstacles on the continuum. Also, the journey may not be linear. Try showing the journey (narrative) in different ways (e.g. circularly, retrospectively or as a mosaic).
REFLECTION How does creating your own character and character journey help you with your preparation for your IP (performance or otherwise)?
Our cast members rehearse two evenings a week and Sundays. They are all under 26 and some of them are school students. Evening rehearsals allow our young actors to work and attend school during our season.
Have a look at the pictures below of the cast in rehearsal:
What do you think is happening in each scene?
What are the characters feeling/ thinking?
PRACTICAL TASK With your classmates, physically recreate the actors‟ positions and facial expressions. Hold the position and then improvise a monologue from that starting place. Remember, there is no right or wrong in this activity. Have fun with where you can go in the improvisation!
Photo: Lucy Coleman
Charlotte Hazzard Alistair McIntosh Photos: Claire Harris
the performance: behind the scenes of the one sure thing
The One Sure Thing atyp Creative Team atyp Artistic Director Director Production Manager Stage Manager Designer SX Design LX Design Assistant Director
Fraser Corfield Tanya Goldberg Liam Kennedy Asha Watson David Fleischer Kingsley Reeve Verity Hampson Liz Arday
Rhys Keir Photo: Claire Harris
The One Sure Thing atyp Cast At atyp we make theatre by young people, for young people. Our cast members range from 16 to 26 years of age.
Thatâ€&#x;s What I Am Now Twisted Hunger The Circle of Life The Last Post La Conversacion Stick Senseless Ben Thomas, I Love You Prince Willy
Patrick Richards Shaun Foley Rhys Keir Alistair Mcintosh Emma Khamis Charlotte Hazzard Emma Campbell Kate Campbell Julia Rorke Lucy Coleman
interview with director – tanya goldberg
I think theatre is an invitation to participation not exploitation. Good theatre should leave you choosing to participate in the questions it poses, it shouldn‟t let you sit back and then wonder what you‟re going to eat for dinner. That can happen in lots of different ways. If an audience is valued, that is, the piece has been made explicitly to share with them, then participation can flourish.
We’re thrilled that you’ve been available to direct The One Sure Thing at atyp. Could you tell me how this has been different to some of the other shows you’ve directed? A show of monologues has a whole different set of challenges from a standard play. The through-line of the whole needs to be constructed/imposed, rather than mined from the text, since there isn‟t just one text. Each piece needs to be interrogated and explored, with each actor, but every actor also needs to inhabit the world of the ensemble. So there are two different areas of focus: the individual pieces, and the greater piece that together they create. What do you look for when auditioning young actors? The same things I look for in any actor: their natural instincts and tendencies, their ability to be agile with choices, any ticks and habits that get in the way, how thoughts and body and voice come together to communicate ideas. The theme of the show, first experiences of death, could provoke quite strong responses in your audience. How do you ensure that you don’t exploit that response (or do you)?
How do you direct essentially quite individual pieces and give them a sense of cohesion? See the first answer! Also, a unifying design helps keep disparate pieces in the same visual world, and the way the ensemble travels from one piece to the next helps the audience make that journey too. Finally, I don‟t think that difference and contradiction per se is a problem – after all, we humans never behave consistently. We change our minds constantly, yet we are still the same person… I like that potential for contradiction, it allows for richness and complexity. What have been the challenges in directing 10 individual performances? Dealing with different actors, different levels of experience and understanding, and dealing with very different pieces, some of which are simple, others which would challenge even the most accomplished of performers. Flexibility and patience are essential! What advice would you give to aspiring young directors? Read: books, plays, magazines. See: theatre, movies, art. Hear: all different kinds of music. Live in the world. Eat good food. Get clear on your passions. Follow them. Don‟t ignore the details.
interview with writer – georgia symons intellect. I wanted the character to be calculating, and aware of exactly how to push people‟s buttons. What was the most challenging part of the process of scriptwriting?
Georgia wrote the monologue, Twisted. How did you come up with your idea for your monologue?
As always, the challenge was not in writing the script in the first instance, but rather in cutting and changing that draft. At first you can really see the flaws and pitfalls of your work, but the more drafts you do, the less material you can find to cut or alter, and the less aware you become of what is and isn‟t working - especially, I find, when you‟re having to work on that one piece of writing all day, every day, for an extended period of time.
When I was starting out, I thought that the best thing to do to get ideas flowing to write a monologue on the topic of death would be to brainstorm some ideas about death as a concept. Pretty soon, though, I could tell that was getting me nowhere. And so instead, knowing that the monologues were to be performed by teenagers, I started brainstorming about youth instead. Some phrases I came up with were „hormones‟, „fun‟, „hidden depths‟, and „inability to connect actions and consequences‟. I was pretty intent on writing a darkly comic piece, and so connecting these ideas and phrases back to death through the prism of comedy, I found my idea.
What advice would you give to aspiring scriptwriters?
What was the process involved in developing your character?
The writers were all invited to the first day of rehearsals, where we sat around the table with Tanya, the actors, and all of the creatives involved. First we heard the actors read each of our pieces, with a brief discussion of its themes and people‟s initial thoughts after each reading. Then we had a design presentation, and Tanya shared with us her thoughts going into the rehearsal process of what the show might look like and how it would be put together. It was an incredibly exciting day and gave us writers all something to look forward to. Unfortunately, as there are ten writers on the project, it hasn‟t been possible for us to attend rehearsals, but I think we‟re going to get to go along to a tech rehearsal, which I‟m looking forward to!
When I write a character, I usually think of one particular person I know who most closely resembles the character I‟m trying to write, and whenever I get stuck I try and think what that person would say or do in any given situation. The process for this character, though, was slightly different. I had three different reference points which I thought would come together to create a more multi-faceted whole. For the Australian teen idioms and general word placement, I kept my younger brother Jono in mind (thanks, Bro!) To make that character a little more outrageous and larger than life, I would occasionally cast my mind back to the character of Nathan from the TV show Misfits. Then, as more of a guiding principle than a specific reference point, I tried to infuse the whole character with a hidden but powerful
If you‟re only a few drafts in but can‟t see what needs fixing, leave your script alone for a while. Save it in a folder on your computer or put it in a desk drawer, and leave it there for at least a week. Once you‟ve been out doing other things and not thinking about the script, the next steps you need to take will become much clearer. Have you had an opportunity to collaborate with the director, Tanya Goldberg, and the actors? If so, what has that been like as a writer?
interview with writer – carolyn burns One of the difficulties in writing monologues is that it is often a person‟s interaction with other people that is most important in defining character. Here I found the challenge was developing a strong sense of the people around Louise: her immediate audience, the support group, but also her family. What was the most challenging part of the process of scriptwriting?
Carolyn wrote the monologue, Stick. How did you come up with your idea for your monologue? The theme of the 2011 Fresh Ink National Studio was death and loss, and while we talked a lot about the loss of loved ones during the week, no one really seemed to want to talk about their own mortality. I was diagnosed with Crohn‟s disease in 2010, and am living now with a chronic illness, I‟m often surprised by how uncomfortable people can be with acknowledging the challenges faced by those with medical and physical disabilities. Beyond examining some of my own experiences, the monologue is about leading the audience on a journey through the challenging landscape of chronic illness. In Stick I wanted to fairly explicitly raise a couple of important questions: is it possible to ever truly understand someone else‟s pain? What are we allowed to find funny? Are we obliged to try and make other people comfortable when we are suffering?
Beyond developing character and establishing the relationship between characters, I always try to think about what it means for something to be performed for an audience. The difficulty lies in imagining not just what something means to your character, but also how different people in the audience will perceive that character. I find this to be the most challenging, but also the most rewarding part of scriptwriting – when something you‟ve written really connects with the audience. What advice would you give to aspiring scriptwriters? I‟m really not sure I‟m in the position to provide advice, as I‟m learning more about writing every day, but what I would suggest to writers starting out is to write as much as you can and try not to fixate on the end product. Often I‟ve written half of a script and abandoned it, only to find that something about it can be used in a different play. And it‟s great to be able to switch between projects when you get blocked.
What was the process involved in developing your character? While the monologue is to some extent autobiographical, in developing a distinct character for the monologue I tried to think about how the experience of chronic illness would be different for someone younger than me. To do this I used the five stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance – as a rough guide and thought about how each of those stages might be experienced by a teenager.
Emma Campbell Photo: Claire Harris
interview with writer – sarah gaul Being the only girl in a group of guys isn‟t an issue for Rose. The „same street‟ connection transcends age and gender. Perhaps they all „dated‟ Rose in kindergarten, perhaps one or more of them will develop feelings beyond friendship at some point soon.
Carolyn wrote the monologue, The Last Post How did you come up with your idea for your monologue? I was on Facebook really late one night, and I noticed friends were still posting comments on the page of someone who had passed away a while ago. I looked at this person‟s Facebook page and started thinking about the relationship between Facebook and death. For those who use it, Facebook chronicles our lives in such detail, that it makes sense for it to be a kind of „online memorial‟ after we die. The theme of piece developed from there; the characters are based on people I have seen or people I know, and the setting is based on a small country town where I grew up. What was the process involved in developing your character? I grew up in a small country town, so Rose is based on various people I have known. All Rose‟s friends are as well; Kevin was the character I came up with first. He‟s that guy who always takes the risk, jokes about dying but seems invincible. They all live in the same street – Ryan, Alex, Ed, Rose and Kevin. I remember in my town there was a strong sense of „neighbourhood‟ that I haven‟t seen so much in the city. My own best friends lived on my street as a kid. The characters who never appear in the monologue are as real and important as Rose. She‟s grown up with them, they‟ve shaped the way she thinks, and who she is.
Rose is a character totally open to interpretation. But there are some things about Rose that are very clear to me. She‟s a problem solver. She‟s pretty sharp and she‟s really loyal. She has a boyish sense of humour but that doesn‟t make her a „tomboy.‟ The way she handles herself with Ed suggests she‟s been through some personal tragedy before. Some questions that I asked myself during the process, and that I‟m still considering – does Rose play sport? Does she hang out with the boys at school or just outside of school? How does Rose cope with her grief when no one else is around? What would someone think of Rose just by looking at her Facebook? Does she have many, or any, girlfriends? What was the most challenging part of the process of scriptwriting? The biggest challenge for me was to find language appropriate to both the enormous, universal subject matter, and the seventeen-year-old who is discussing it. It‟s great to use poetic images and phrases in writing. But realistically no school-aged girl who is crippled by grief and loss is going to speak in iambic pentameter. For me it was a process of finding language that works when the character DOESN‟T have the language to express what they are saying. The most important communication happens in the pauses and long silences. What advice would you give to aspiring scriptwriters? If you have an idea, write it down – on a napkin, on a wall, in your diary. Just write and don‟t be afraid of the rubbishy stuff that comes out – work through it and you will
come to the material you actually want. Draft, draft, draft, draft. Save a copy of everything you do. Try everything that is suggested to you, take advice, try it and keep what works for you. Challenge everything you write and be meticulous. Consider how every phrase moves the piece forward or speaks about the character. Write the backstories, because what isn‟t mentioned in the work, the characters that don‟t appear, the stuff that has happened just before and just after, can be really clarifying. Use your own experience and .
stories, because they will be more authentic than anything you make up. Don‟t underestimate how much the audience reads into the work, and don‟t imagine that one interpretation of your work is more „wrong‟ or „right‟ than another. And remember that any script that you write is for an actor. A script is a blueprint for something that lives and breathes onstage, that is performed by real people in real time in front of other real people. That‟s what makes it so exciting!
Emma Khamis Photo: Claire Harris
interview with writer – alex cullen
What was the process involved in developing your character?
Alex wrote the monologue, Senseless How did you come up with your idea for your monologue? Access for people living with disability is something that I am passionate about, and something I wanted to write about. There are many Australians who live without access to basic things the wider community take for granted. I wanted to write about someone who is faced with isolation, and has to find a new way to connect to their community.
I played around with different voices, trying to find a fit. Once I had the voice, the rest of the character felt more focused. It‟s important to ask questions of your character, flesh them out. What was the most challenging part of the process of scriptwriting? Self-assessment is really crucial. Being open to feedback, and deciding which feedback is relevant and which feedback is not. What advice would you give to aspiring scriptwriters? If you see a show that you love, get the script and read it. It‟s the best way to learn about structure and pacing, and other techniques. Have you had an opportunity to collaborate with the director, Tanya Goldberg, and the actors? If so, what has that been like as a writer? It‟s really exciting when a director works on your piece, because they bring with them fresh viewpoints and ideas. You see the progression from first rehearsal to opening. A script takes on a new kind of life when other people have been exploring it.
Kate Campbell Photo: Claire Harris
interview with writer – alexandra macalister-bills
Alexandra wrote the monologue, La Conversascion How did you come up with your idea for your monologue? My Nan had Alzheimer‟s. She had been in a home for years before she died and had long forgotten who we were or who she was. When she died we were on holidays in New Zealand and for Dad deciding whether to return home or not was an incredibly tough decision. I never set out to recreate that story; I merely wanted to work with the ideas of absence and loss. I travel a lot and someone dying or becoming ill while I‟m away has always been something I‟m afraid of. I started wondering how I would deal with a similar situation to my Dad‟s, how someone even younger would, what would be the arguments on either side, what would be the „right‟ thing to do. This dilemma of what to do became the central question in La Conversación and what I built the monologue around. What was the process involved in developing your character? My character was born from the situation she was in. Before I knew anything about her I know she would be dealing with death from a distance and confronting the choice of whether to return or not. She needed to be young as she was designed for 17-year-old actors. Once I knew she was on the phone to her sister I
began imagining fragments of the conversation she would be having and tactics she would use to avoid the elephant in the room. From there I began piecing together more details about her background, her personality and her relationships. I think because I didn‟t know the answer to the dilemma she was facing I decided she wouldn‟t either; she would avoid the issue entirely. She became distracted, overly enthusiastic, naïve and a little insensitive, basically the type of traveller I am terrified of being. She is not a bad person; she was just fed by my own insecurities! What was the most challenging part of the process of scriptwriting? Death and I haven‟t had too many confrontations so when I was told the theme of our monologues was „Death and Passing‟ I was afraid. I was worried that my lack of experience would mean I couldn‟t do justice to a theme that was bound to raise emotions in the other writers, let alone audiences. I had to retrace my previous dealings with death and figure out what aspects of those experiences I could build my writing upon. I realized that although the circumstances of Nan‟s death were fairly unique, the link between absence and loss was not. I began to understand that I couldn‟t dismiss my own experiences as comparatively meaningless. Instead I had to be confident that I could utilize them to develop a concept and character others would find intriguing. What advice would you give to aspiring scriptwriters? Never dismiss an idea before you have explored it. Don‟t underestimate yourself or compare yourself to other writers. Write your own stories in the way you feel they should be told. Submit to every magazine, blog, competition, internship and theatre company you can even if you don‟t think you‟ll succeed, sometimes you surprise yourself.
interview with writer – alysha herrmann What was the process involved in developing your character?
Alysha wrote the monologue, Ben Thomas, I Love You How did you come up with your idea for your monologue? We were all given the theme of death and dying and I toyed around with the theme from a lot of different perspectives before finding the final idea for Ben Thomas, I Love You. I brainstormed all the personal experiences and feelings I‟d had in relation to death to discover which of those I most wanted to explore. I became really fascinated with the idea of a character that was holding onto something physical; a memory, a trinket they didn‟t want to (or couldn‟t) let go of. Thinking about the theme we‟d been given of death and dying, I started thinking about the times I‟d been to funerals in my own life and other people had talked about the deceased person as though they were a wonderful paragon of virtue – to the point I often didn‟t recognize the person they were talking about anymore. Which is where this monologue started to take shape – what if someone you loved died and shortly before they died or directly after they died you discover they‟d done something terrible; something so terrible that it matched none of your ideas of that person; something so terrible that it would make you hate them and call into question your whole life with them? How would you reconcile that? How would you talk and think about them? What would his or her funeral be like – someone that you‟d loved your entire life but now you hated? It was from those questions that the idea for Ben Thomas came.
In my early drafts I focused a lot more on Ben‟s character and telling his story and it was only through redrafting that Alison became clearer. Having said that, those early drafts were really important in clarifying who Ben was, to be able to find who Alison was and why this relationship mattered to her. It was really important to me that Alison didn‟t become a robotic character and I wanted her to have this sense of losing control and perhaps having actions that didn‟t quite make sense. I think sometimes when people write characters there‟s this really strict idea that the character has to be „consistent‟ which of course they do, but I think it‟s also really important to remember that real people aren‟t always consistent, sometimes we don‟t make sense and our actions aren‟t easy to explain. Real life and real people are complex and we never get the full story, which is something I really wanted people to feel with Alison. What was the most challenging part of the process of scriptwriting? The most challenging part of writing Ben Thomas, I Love You was grappling with my own self-doubt and finding ways to overcome my inner censor. During the writing process I found myself deciding that the monologue was going to be bad and poorly written before I‟d ever put pen to paper and that was really crippling for me. Once I overcame that, the whole process was a lot easier and a lot faster! What advice would you give to aspiring scriptwriters? Tell the story only you can tell. Reach out to your peers and the wider arts industry, for connection and for development. Engage with life from the core of who you are – that‟s how you‟ll find great material and tell stories that are meaningful and relevant to others.
interview with writer – alice cooper
Alice wrote the monologue, Circle of Life How did you come up with your idea for your monologue? To be honest, I just began writing. I actually sat down to write something completely different - a humorous, largely unspoken monologue to be performed by a female. Instead a male appeared on the page and it ended up being quite sad, so I‟m not sure what happened there! I had just been for a long bushwalk and came back and started writing, so perhaps the fresh air and exercise had something to do with it - but I really don‟t know. What was the process involved in developing your character? The character I wrote largely came out of a strong desire to create an accurate portrayal of the person he was speaking to: his four-year old brother. This aspiration was the single most influential thing in creating the character, thinking about ways a seventeen-year-old boy would go about communicating a difficult topic, his mother‟s death, to someone who is significantly younger and thus processes the world in a very different way. With this clear goal in mind, the character somewhat wrote itself. What was the most challenging part of the process of scriptwriting?
I think starting is always difficult. This monologue was the exception to the rule as it felt relatively easy and natural to begin. Normally though, as a perfectionist, it‟s hard to start, as I feel that it won‟t be perfect the first time, or moreover that the ideas in my head won‟t meet expectations. Redrafting can be tricky too, especially if you really like a section and then you realise, for the greater good of the piece you need to let it go. I‟m learning to not be so precious, so starting and redrafting is becoming a little easier, but only a little! What advice would you give to aspiring scriptwriters? As an aspiring scriptwriter myself, there are a couple of things that I‟ve learnt that help me. Firstly, don‟t put too much pressure on yourself to be perfect (I realise this sounds hypocritical coming from a perfectionist) and allow yourself to simply write. I think initially when starting something, just write a lot even if it doesn‟t make much sense when put together, I think you need to get things out there on paper and then you have somewhere to edit from. That‟s what I keep telling myself to do anyway. Also, in a practical sense, I find an egg-timer (or similar) can be useful when I‟m stuck - I set it for ten or twenty minutes and force myself to write non-stop for that time and see what happens. One of the mentors we had for Fresh Ink this year said something very wise, “It‟s too hard to think and write at the same time; write first, then review it”. I try to follow that too. Another useful thing I try to keep in mind when writing is something Peta Murray said to me at the National Studio. I was explaining an idea to her and finished by saying, “Oh, but I don‟t think it will really work”, to which she replied, “Create before your criticise”. Rosie Dennis, who has been my mentor for Fresh Ink, has always encouraged an attitude of trying things first and not getting too attached to ideas. That way it‟s easier to drop them if they are not serving you well.
interview with cast member – lucy coleman
How does your character change and how do you reflect this change in your performance?
Lucy (21) plays Elsa in Prince Willy
Why did you audition for The One Sure Thing? I saw last year‟s monologues‟ production and it was great! Plus atyp always puts on a great show and I was keen to be a part of it. The theme of “death” could be perceived as quite heavy and depressing. What has it been like preparing for the role? Do you need to de-role after rehearsals and performances? Death doesn‟t come into my monologue as much as it does the others. The monologue starts in the big, bright, happy world of Elsa and gets a little heavy towards the end, but Elsa is more confused about what is going on towards the end and there are never any actual references to death itself. So when I‟m preparing for my role, it‟s more about me taking myself into the heightened, overexcited world of Elsa.
Elsa in on a quest to marry Willy and fulfil her dreams of being a famous actress. She comes up against hurdles the whole night but nothing deters her from going after what she wants. When her plans aren‟t working out the way she wants, Elsa acts out and hits Willy. Her world begins to fall down around her. Still trying to cling onto whatever hope she can, Elsa begins to see her dreams fade and disappear. When she realises that Willy is in serious trouble, her focus finally shifts and her mood changes to confusion/ guilt and wanting to help. The monologue is left on an ambiguous note as to what actually happens to Willy. But Elsa‟s dreams have definitely gone down the toilet (sic)! What advice would you give to young actors preparing for the HSC Drama performance? Pick a piece that really resonates with you; a monologue that has themes and events that you are interested in exploring. This way you a) won‟t get bored of it half way through working on it, and b) will be passionate about researching and performing it. Then go for it! Don‟t hold back, learn your lines and let loose! Most of all have fun!!
interview with cast member – emma campbell effect of being diagnosed with a chronic, incurable disease and how it impacts not only the individual and their life, but how their family lives, was an eye-opening experience. Having said that, the writers of the monologues have successfully written them in such a way that the pieces have elements of light and dark in them. Emma (17) plays Louise in Stick
Why did you audition for The One Sure Thing? I graduated high school last year, and my HSC Drama IP was a piece from The One Sure Thing’s predecessor, Tell it Like it Isn’t. Having read countless monologues, the aim of the project – to create and encourage quality writing for young actors to play young characters – is much needed and warmly welcomed from the perspective of a young actor. Being involved with that process is what prompted me to audition. The theme of “death” could be perceived as quite heavy and depressing. What has it been like preparing for the role? Do you need to de-role after rehearsals and performances? When I was researching Crohn‟s disease for my role, it did become hard, reading about what people went through with a relatively unknown disease with no cure. I read some personal accounts of living with the symptoms and talked to a girl who had been recently diagnosed. Realising the
How does your character change and how do you reflect this change in your performance? Stick very much explores Louise‟s reactions and feelings towards her disease. She experiences a range of emotions, including an element of denial, but eventually is able to be very vulnerable and honest to herself (and the audience). It‟s very much about submerging yourself in those emotions and feelings, and either putting yourself in the situation and simulating how you think you would react, drawing on your own experiences, or creating a world of given circumstances for your character, which is what works best for me. What advice would you give to young actors preparing for the HSC Drama performance? Find a monologue that you love and won‟t completely hate by the end of the year; there‟s nothing worse than forcing yourself to perform a piece you despise. I‟ve seen it happen before and it‟s just not the same. Don‟t get lazy with your GP and IP, but don‟t work them beyond a point of no return, either.
interview with cast member – alistair mcintosh is still a lot of yourself in most roles you play and I find that it's finding those pieces of you that makes a character really come to life. How does your character change and how do you reflect this change in your performance?
Alistair (19) plays Liam in Circle of Life Why did you audition for The One Sure Thing? My agent was contacted by atyp, I only recently started living in Sydney full time so it was nice to finally have an opportunity to be involved in an atyp project. The theme of “death” could be perceived as quite heavy and depressing. What has it been like preparing for the role? Do you need to de-role after rehearsals and performances? To an extent, but I think the average role an actor is cast in is already around 80% you. The other 20% comes from another place, the text, other actors etc, and so while you may be fully immersed in your character there
My character has fairly subtle changes within the piece, but I have found that in my case the more significant change has happened prior to the piece, and the way that is reflected in the monologue is hugely significant. My character‟s change within the piece is more to do with his brave and almost paternal bravado he puts on for his brother and how that strengthens and weakens as the piece goes on, letting us in and out of his head and reflecting the impact of his mother‟s passing on him. What advice would you give to young actors preparing for the HSC Drama performance? Exactly what they don't want to hear! Choose wisely, work hard and don't waste any time on your individual performance. The harder you drill your piece the better and come the big day you'll breeze through it. Your performance is certainly one area of your HSC you can't afford to procrastinate in, and the band 6 will do all the talking for you come December.
interview with cast member – patrick richards among others have been a huge help but in the latter half of rehearsals we shifted my piece to a more absurdist and in many ways more sinister tone and so I went on a hunt for people who smile a lot but are incredibly insincere. Children‟s television hosts were the perfect find. Fortunately I haven‟t had to do any „deroling.‟ While the content of my monologue is undeniably dark there is also a beautiful sense of humour through it and I‟ve tried to avoid being too serious so that I don‟t lose the comedy. Patrick (19) plays Jaz in That’s What I Am Now Why did you audition for The One Sure Thing? Having performed in Tell it Like it Isn’t last year I was more than a little eager to be involved in The Voices Project for a second time and I am always interested to work with new directors. Tanya Goldberg has a very strong history in this department so not auditioning really wasn‟t an option. The theme of “death” could be perceived as quite heavy and depressing. What has it been like preparing for the role? Do you need to de-role after rehearsals and performances? The theme could certainly be construed in such a way and, to be honest, it was my initial impression. However, I think the selection of pieces cover many facets of one‟s experience with death. We have characters who are having to face their own mortality or having to deal with the passing of another or, in some cases, being the direct cause of that „passing‟ and I think the tone shifts dramatically enough between these concepts to keep the show dynamic. In terms of preparing for my role the first thing I did was hit the serial killer films. David Fincher‟s Seven and Zodiac
How does your character change and how do you reflect this change in your performance? I think the greatest change that Jaz experiences, has occurred well before the monologue. It‟s quite clear that the shift from perfect young woman to pharmaceutical serial killer happened a while ago and her intention remains largely the same throughout the piece. However what does change is her understanding of herself and her „duty to God‟, if you will. She begins to realise exactly why she‟s doing what she‟s doing resulting in an almost explosion of enlightenment at the end. What advice would you give to young actors preparing for the HSC Drama performance? I think the best piece of advice I can give is to love your chosen piece. Don‟t select a piece that you think will get you the marks but you don‟t really feel a connection to. Remember that you will be drilling this monologue for 9+ months and you need to be able to keep it dynamic and fresh that whole time. Finally, have fun with it, mess around and try every silly idea that pops into your head. If it doesn‟t work, so be it, but sometimes these crazy moments can help you discover something truly special.
get involved !
How do you audition for an atyp show? All atyp auditions are advertised on our website www.atyp.com.au and in our enewsletter. Once they are advertised call atyp to book an audition time 02 9270 2400. atypâ€&#x;s productions provide students with the opportunity to work alongside professional directors and creatives in staging a show, providing an opportunity for them to learn from people who are actively working in the industry.
after you see the one sure thing written responses
initial reaction What was your initial reaction to the performance? What sticks out in your mind? ___________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________
Would you recommend the performance to a friend? Why / why not? ___________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________
design elements Costumes Describe the costumes. How was costume used to portray character? Was the use of costume successful? Why / why not? ___________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________ Lighting Describe the lighting. How was lighting used to set the scene and define the space? Was the use of lighting successful? Why / why not? ___________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________ Set Describe the set. Why do you think the designer used school lockers for the set? Was the movement of the lockers by the cast effective? Why / why not? ___________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________
Sound and Music How was sound and music used to create atmosphere? Identify a moment where the sound/music affected you as an audience member. ___________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________
elements of drama Comment on how the performance used the elements of drama: Tension: Where were the moments of tension in the overall performance? _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ Which moment held the most tension for you? _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ Recreate the tension in the moment as a tableau. Focus: The One Sure Thing is a collection of monologues with all actors on stage all the time. How did the director draw the audience's focus to the action she most wanted you to see? _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ Identify a moment that was really successful. _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ Space How did the actors use the stage space? _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________
How did the set reflect the theme of â€œfirst experiences of deathâ€?? What was the most interesting aspect of the use of space? _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ Movement How was movement used to portray each character? How effective was the use of unified movement? Why? _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ Symbol Can you identify any symbols/motifs used in the production? _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ What were the most successful symbols used? _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ Mood / Atmosphere Describe the mood of the piece. _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________
What sort of feeling did you have at the end of each monologue? Did it change? Why/why not? _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ Where were the high points in the performance? _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ How did you feel at the end of the performance? _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ What devices were used to create mood throughout the performance? _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ Draw a mood map that shows the emotional journey of the overall show:
Character / Role The show has 10 actors. How did the cast portray character? _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ How successful was this? _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ Identify 2 characters that stood out in your mind? Why were they so memorable? _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ Actor-Audience Relationship What was the role of the audience in the performance? _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ How did the characters relate to the audience? _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ The brief for the writers was to create characters that Year 12 students could relate to. Did you identify with any of the characters? _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ Why/why not? _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________
write an atyp review A review is an important part of theatre criticism. It gives an account of the production with the writer's opinion of the success of the performance. Become an atyp theatre critic! Use the scaffold below to write a review of The One Sure Thing. Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org We'll publish well written reviews on our website. How to write a review: Remember to: - Paint an accurate picture of the production for someone who has not been there - Give a personal opinion about the success of the performance You may wish to approach your review writing by following guidelines: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
Statement of the details of the production, where, when, by who. Synopsis of the overarching plot of the monologues (without giving away the ending!!!) Background of the show, importance of the production (including the background of the scriptwriting process). Information about the style and genre of the piece. Analysis of the mood and atmosphere created by the cast/designers. Analysis of the choices of the director. Analysis of the performances of the actors. Analysis of set, costume, lighting and design aspects and how these relate to the themes of the show. Your personal opinion supported by examples to justify your opinion. Recommendation and / or overall rating.
Charlotte Hazzard Photo: Claire Harris
Remember to make it concise and clear. Try to write your review in 300 words. We look forward to receiving your reviews!
after you see the one sure thing practical responses
spatial awareness Spatial awareness is the ability of the actor to be constantly aware of where he/she places him/herself on the stage. The following activity is designed to help you develop your sense of “placement” within the performance area.
Shaun Foley Photo: Claire Harris
Begin walking around the space with your class. Imagine that you are all moving on a finely balanced plate and the class must be spread evenly over the floor to keep the plate from falling. Keep walking around. Fill the gaps as you see them. When the teacher beats a drum, freeze. Look around to see if you are equally spaced. Moving to different types of music, initially walk around the space again. At your teacher‟s direction, walk forwards, backwards, sideways. Walk quickly, slowly, on the ball of your feet, on the heel, on the sides of your feet. Add the directions “stop”, “lie down”, “kneel”. With the music you may use any of those directions as you please. You may copy what you see someone else doing, or you may choose to do your own combination of the specific movements. Split the class into two groups. Have one group “perform” for the other and then swap over.
What did you notice when you were performing? How did it feel to use the space fully? How did you respond to other members in your group as you moved? As an audience member, what did you notice about the movement? What had the most impact? Where were the most prominent spaces on the stage? Which positions lost focus? What could there have been more of?
audience awareness Audience awareness is a difficult skill to develop as an actor. If the script requires naturalistic acting, overt audience interaction isn‟t suitable. However, an awareness of the audience is still required. When we speak one-on-one to people, we adjust our speaking to and awareness of who we are addressing. As an actor, you should be aware of how an audience is responding to your performance. Good actors will be flexible in their performance, bringing the audience with them and engaging them in the “dialogue” of theatre.
classroom activity BRAINSTORM
Which actors from The One Sure Thing had strong audience awareness? How could you tell? How can you develop audience awareness?
Split the class into two groups: one group is audience and one performs Performers find a space on the “stage” and perform a simple action (e.g. brushing teeth, peeling a banana etc.) Audience spends at least two minutes looking at the different “actors”. Which actors seem to have the greater audience awareness? Why? Swap groups and repeat the activity.
REFLECTION In your Drama journal, discuss what “audience awareness” is. On a scale of 1-10, measure your own audience awareness. How will you increase and develop it?
Patrick Richards Photo: Claire Harris
building and maintaining energy Similar to “audience awareness”, an actor‟s energy is difficult to define. Read the following link on developing your energy as an actor: http://www.jbactors.com/actingreading/tenactingtips/actorsenergymasters.html (Teachers: please read the article for some interesting class-room activities. The mix of psychology and acting is particularly useful.)
classroom activity BRAINSTORM As a class discuss the following questions:
What is “energy”? How is energy different to intensity? Why do you need “energy” on stage? What is the effect of shifts in “energy” – both within one actor‟s performance and between different actors?
Say the following lines from Stick, by Carolyn Burns, with varying levels of energy. You may like to say them all with the same energy or change the energy within the excerpt.
Louise: So I‟ve got five minutes? Okay. I‟ve got the talking stick. What am I supposed to talk about? Pause What about the weather we‟ve been having? Pause Do I have to talk for the whole five minutes?
Perform your lines for the class. As a whole class, stand in a circle and create a low energy sound and movement that can be repeated. Gradually build the energy until as a group you intuitively find an ending.
REFLECTION What was the effect of different levels of energy? What was it like to perform the different levels of energy? How did you generate the different levels of energy?
directors in action Directing a performance can often enhance your skills as an actor, particularly with the overall through-line of a piece, spatial awareness (blocking), energy levels and audience awareness.
Tanya Goldberg Photo: Claire Harris
Follow the link to the Sydney Theatre Awards http://www.sydneytheatreawards.com/2011.php Write down the nominations for BEST DIRECTION OF A MAINSTAGE PRODUCTION and BEST DIRECTION OF AN INDEPENDENT PRODUCTION in 2011. Did anyone in your class see any of the nominated performances? If so, ask them what they thought about the production. Who were the winners? (Winners are in bold type) Choose one of the nominees and write a one-page outline on their: -
Training Past productions Style of direction Tips that they have for directors Tips that they have for actors
What can you apply from the above research to your own IP? How will that improve your IP?
This Education resource has been created by atypâ€&#x;s Education Manager, Heather Clark. The classroom activities are an amalgamation of her 15 years Drama and English teaching experience and training. Some useful websites: http://www.sydneytheatreawards.com/2011.php http://www.jbactors.com/actingreading/tenactingtips/actorsenergymasters.html http://www.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/hsc_exams/hsc2011exams/ atyp runs an extensive student workshop program during school terms and holidays. See our website http://www.atyp.com.au/index.php/workshops A big thank you to all of the respondents who have contributed to this resource. A special thanks to Kerrie Noonan from The Groundswell Project: using the arts to promote resilience and well-being through all phases of life. http://thegroundswellproject.com/
Published on Feb 1, 2012
The teachers resource pack for atyp's The Voices Project: The One Sure Thing. To book, visit http://www.atyp.com.au/index.php/atyp-producti...