This was my fifth assessment: FIRST DEVELOPMENT STAGEI worked with Lisa, Lauren and Dani. The teacher gave each group a nursery rhyme relevant to the play ‘My mother said’ so we could devise a piece. These poems were ‘Georgie Porgy’, ‘Ring-a-ring-a-roses’, and ‘Ding-dong-bell’. My group were given ‘Ring-a-ring-a-roses’ which was the one we actually wanted. We had plenty of immediate ideas and we wrote down each one so we could evaluate them.
We decided to swap the version we were given of the poem because we knew we wouldn’t use the whole of it because it had lots of different meanings. So, instead, we decided to use the version we knew and grew up with. That version was originally about the plague and the deaths caused from it. So, I suggested using the plague as a starting idea for the piece. But, then we were told the task was to be a modern interpretation of the poem. We scraped the idea and tried to think more modern. I was glad because I wanted it to be more of an original representation.
We thought of other large diseases that are still common today as we really wanted to base the piece around disease and death. We came up with many ideas including aids and cancer. Then, I looked at the title more closely and noticed the ‘Ring of roses’ part. I immediately thought of a reef of poppies. I suggested basing our piece around the war and Remembrance Day. This fitted with the idea of ‘mass death’ (‘ashes; in the water’ means death) so we chose this idea to build on. I was really surprised at how sophisticated our ideas were as this was the first time we’d used a stimulus and I envisioned it being quite powerful as the final piece.
We thought, first, of a family on Remembrance Day pining at a grave of a lost relative, then to crosscut and show a tableau of the actual war. We wanted to make the war sequence as real as possible and not cheesy. We kept a tableau physicalising the jobs and what would have been going on in the trenches and then Lisa came up with the idea of using sound to create an explosion. I thought this was a good idea as it was introducing a new medium and it would also actually show death in action. The problem was how to actually make it look realistic. Lauren suggested using the sound effect of a bomb and the four characters in the trench could react by seeing it and trying to get away from it. I thought it would be better in slow motion because that way we could show the horror on the character’s faces.
We got up and started the beginning of our sequence (the grave scene on remembrance day). We were going to show a family crying at a grave but I thought it would be more powerful as a tableau. We arranged ourselves, me kneeling, Dani and Lisa kneeling higher either side of me, and Lauren the mum standing behind us. We decided to recite the poem in drama neutral, then, go into character with a single movement for me to put an invisible wreath down on the grave and the other 3 to put their hands to their faces to cry. We froze and then walked into the next section.
We crosscut back to the war and a trench sequence. We arranged our positions so two of us were loading guns, one was reading a letter from a loved one and one was looking over the top of the trench (all huddled together). We slowly looked up and moved to get away from the bomb coming towards us. We spent the rest of the lesson looking for music to create the bomb.
SECOND DEVELOPMENT STAGE
We returned to the beginning grave sequence to try and make it better. I thought of showing that it’s Remembrance Day, as we couldn’t show the reef and therefore the date. I said we could use a sound effect of a clock chiming but we couldn’t find one. We still wanted to use this idea so we did the noise ourselves, 5 chimes at the beginning 5 at the end. We hadn’t found a sound for the bomb either so we wanted to change that bit too. We wanted to show the 4 characters fear and the condition in the trenches. So we, together, came up with a thought tracking-sequence and I wrote lines we would say.
We showed Lisa reading a letter then kneeling up and saying how much the character missed their partner, Dani described the cold and wet in the trench, Lauren said she was scared because she was the lookout and I told of the horror and decision of either killing or ending up killed. We then got up and briefly spoke to each other before we showed the facial expressions of post ‘going over the top’ fear. I thought this sequence was good because it really got beneath the characters’. I tried to put as much feeling into my voice, expression and words as I could be; I felt I was really in role. We then decided we were going to add a whole new section. We wanted to crosscut back to the future and show some children using the poem ‘Ring-a-ring-a-roses’.
We sang the poem whilst holding hands and spinning in a circle. We also wanted to incorporate a serious element to it so we decided we would have a little girl talking to the audience about loosing her father. I was going to be that little girl. I wrote a monologue about loosing my father and how brave he was and how much I loved him and missed him. I started by sitting away from the girls and looking at a picture of my dad (without a prop). The girls sang ‘Ring-a-ring-a-roses a pocket full of poses, a-tishoo, a-tishoo, we all fall down’ then continued playing in mime while I talked to the audience of my loss. The other girls came over and asked me to play but the little girl made an excuse and the others carried on playing unaware of the commitment and sacrifice the men in the war had made in order for them to live in freedom and happiness.
We froze and the final 4 chimes rang out symbolising the end of the piece. I thought I played the little girl well as I added feeling and thought to every word and gesture. I tried to think how I would actually feel to loose a loved one and wrote the lines from the heart. I think this came across. I was really pleased with the overall outcome of this piece, as it was moving and powerful. I got to actually act which I loved and felt my roles were kept throughout. It was original and creative.
I was impressed at how our ideas came together to develop a symbolic story of a child’s background. I think the piece would have been better with music if we had had the time to add it. Also with props it could have been improved because the audience would have got the fact that it was Remembrance Day (because of the poppy wreath). Maybe we could have also added a scene with the little girl’s family and how loosing a loved one has changed their lives.