Elements of a successful performance

In this essay I will explore the elements that I believe make a performance a success. I will use exercises I undertook in class in order to determine why I believe a performance needs something in order to be a success the main topics I will be looking closely at character movement and voice along with physical theatre and devising theatre in order to explain why each element makes a performance more or least successful I will also refer to theatre companies who use the techniques such as Frantic Assembly and Cambridge Devised Theatre looking closely at what makes them successful.
 
Characters come in all shapes and sizes however all are key in creating a successful performance. Having characters helps create a narrative structure we as an audience are then drawn into the lives of the characters as we relate as humans to how the character thinks and feels making the performance far more engaging. Most characters are based on the text of a piece and rely on speaking the lines to convey the message of the piece for example in plays however not all characters are speaking ones and some are created just through the movements created by the performers bodies some characters are simply just physical beings on stage which in itself creates a whole different meaning to the play. For example in the theatre stage production of the woman in black, the character herself of woman in black says nothing and appears only a few times in the play relying solely on presents to evoke fear on the audience. without her they play wouldn’t be half as frightening as it is, the character adds a theatrical element by just being present on stage adding to the ghostly feel to the stage production and I strongly believe that if she was to speak it would not be half as engaging as it is .In this instance the character of the woman in black is just created by an actress who comes on during key moments of the play to create added fear she needs nothing but her stage presents to be the character she doesn’t even need to say anything but the play wouldn’t be the same play without her in.

During lessons we explored the creation of a characters we did this by a character moulding exercise in groups of four we created a tableau through moulding and shaping the bodies of two members in our group we were given a theme such love and we had a few second to create our tableau through this exercise we could see how the characters were forming our group chose to display the term of love through having one character on bedded knee proposing while the other seemed shocked. We then developed our exercise further by bringing the scene to life and having the actors play out the scene from their positioned simply by moving their bodies we were able to create characters.

All performances are driven by something whether the writer who wishes to express an idea or view the message the direct wishes to give the audience throw his direction or the actors portrayal I believe this can all only be achieved by having a narrative structure at the heart of a performance. Any successful performance must aim to tell or make the audience feel something otherwise what would be the point in its creation. I believe that in order to do this it must have a narrative structure as this is a simple way of engaging the audience and keeping their attention as there’s a clear story to follow. Many great plays writes such a Shakespeare would never have been able to create there works without the use of narrative structure .You can make a performance as abstract as you like but unless you tell a story give a plot line it will be incredibly hard to understand. The narrative structure of a piece give a performance a skeleton and everything else can follow after because your basic story is already set out even plays that are in non-chronological order follow a narrative structure the series of events are just in a different sequence the story remains the same.

Without movement nothing can be truly regarded as a performance even singers move when they are performing a songs a way of adding emotion and engaging there audience to listen to them. Of course a play can be conducted without movement and it can rely solely on text but this is boring nobody want to go to the theatre and simply watch someone talk for two hours state .physicalizing and expressing through the body can completely change a piece along with its meaning. Even subtle movements can be key to creating a sense of character or theme gestures are just another way of creating movement.

During lessons we explored the use of movement and look at ensemble as a way of creating movement as an entire class we explore this through an exercise called walking around the space for this exercise as a class collective we begin to walk around the room in time with one another . our lecture then called out some states of being such as a shift in tempo, heaviness, lightness, stopping becoming as large as you could ten as small as you could , then getting as tight to one another as physically possible and then as far away from each other as possible we then developed this further by trying to stop moving and start moving together however this was without looking at any member in the group this was Incredibly difficult as we were required to sense and feel others around us as a way of knowing when to move we then took this exercise further by traveling around the room and imaging we were a

Bubble thinking carefully about how we might move and then traveling as through we were clouds in the sky

Physical theatre is a form of theatre created and emphasized by the use of physical movement. An example of this would be performers such as dancers and mime artists.

The performer’s body movements are used as a story teller and are expressed through choreography and physicalized movements. An example of a theatre company who use physical theatre in their performances would be Frantic Assembly. Currently the company is touring around the UK and USA with one of their latest productions The Curious Incident of the Dog In The Night-Time .The collaboration styles of Scott Graham and Stephen Hoggett ,have recreated Mark Haledon’s novel using dramatic choreography to animate the life of the main character Christopher’s world as he makes his way from his home in Swindon to London .

The use of physical theatre by the company helps the audience see into his mind and through his eyes. Frantic Assembly’s unique physical style combined with dramatic movements ,design, text and music help to create engaging and successful performances. Having created and collaborated in over thirty countries around the globe. Frantic Assembly has built an undisputed reputation as one of the most innovative and exciting companies in the Attracting new and young audiences with their work which reflects contempery culture .Their use of physical theatre is a key factor in what makes them successful, they are able to express their ideas along with showing the characters of their productions thoughts and feeling’s using physical movements to convey them. Using physical theatre in this way adds more meaning to their productions and makes them more influential as there actors can tell the story just through their bodies.

During lessons we explored physical theatre though exercises such as The Ten Second Object during this exercise we in groups had to make the shape of the object called out by the lecture using our own bodies, joining together in different ways to create it for example we had to use our bodies to make a car 2 members of the group were the doors someone was the main body of the car and I was the bonnet and crouched on the floor with my arms up which were the wipers. We then developed this exercise further by bringing it to life so we created the sounds of our car and moved our bodies so our car looked like it was moving. This exercise was difficult as we only had ten second to create something and we weren’t allowed to speak so we were required to use our bodies not only to create the object but to communicate within our group this meant sometimes we created an object that looked nothing like what we were supposed to be creating yet at times we created a more successful creative version of the object. This exercise helped me as a performer to develop my creativity and movement skills proving that physical theatre as a key concept in creating and making a successful performance.

The voice of the performer is key in creating a performance it helps bring the writers text to life by the use of voice the actors voice tells us so much about a character for example where they come from how they’re feeling and there overall personality An actor also needs excellent breath control so power midway through a sentence losing valuable lines and confusing the audience in the proses. In order to create a successful performance the performer must be able to deliver their lines in a way which is sustained and controlled.key elements of voice that are curial to vocally making a performance successful are pich pace volume and emphasis on words

The importance of breathing during a performance is not be overlooked breathing is fundamental to everything we do the way you breath effects your speech and can even tell someone how you are feeling speech can be delivered to an audience is a completely different way if the person is out of breath it affect your tone ,pronunciation volume and eve pitch changing a performance entirely from a successes to a fail.

During lessons we looked closely at our breathing and during warm ups spent a lot of time relaxing and controlling our breathing to aid in our speaking .during voice classes we explored Shakespeare’s texts looking specifically at sonnet 116 and Shakespeare’s use of endemic pentameter through learning this speech we realised we had to breath in a rhythmic way and control our breathing so as to create a flow to our speech to do this we undertook serval breathing exercises to aid in breath relice and breath control exercises such as laying in semi supine and imaging that we are blowing a feather above our mouth and using our breath to control how far the imaginary feather would go depending in our breaths this helped us with our breath control. We developed our breath control further by overtaking an activity where we had to create a soundscape for a haunted house for this exercise we had to become the wind the house and anything that might indicate our house was haunted. Using our voices in this way showed that we could create a soundscape with nothing but our voices and also that we could create a theme or atmosphere just through sounds.

Devising theatre is just one way of creating a performance and is frequently called collective creation its created from collaborative improvisatory work by a performing ensemble its usually used to create new theater pieces but can use and be based on script

An example of a theatre company who use devising as a way of creating theatre is Cambridge Devised Theatre they produce entertaining modern plays basis on historical research they are innovative in their use of devising which is usually based on strong text and high-quality artistic collaboration. An example of a production they have recently done through the use of devising is The Christmas Dinner Scene adapted from the novel Great Expectations by Charles Dickens created by the street players who preform outside they use exuberant physical and verbal comedy to bring the Christmas scene to life, with all its self-importance guilt and terror the performance is aided by willing volunteers from the audience .The use of the audience in this way makes the audience feel part of the drama as members of them are chosen to help the performers making each production of this twenty minuet piece different from the last.

During lessons we explore the art of devising theatre, we were given a stimulus and told to create a one minuet devised performances my groups stimulus was to create a scene based on a train for this my group quickly came up with some characters that might be on our train for example someone reading the newspaper we then created a sequence of movements for our characters were they came into the train one by one there was then a securitised movement of everyone sitting down and opening the paper this profornmance was a representation of the London tube and how nobody makes conversation and would rather read the paper instead in order to make our train come to life we used newspapers as props and made a soundscape of train noises with our voices this helped bring our performance to life.

In conclusion I believe in order to create a truly successful performances you must use and merge of the above disciplines on stage. The performance must stimulate the audiences senses this can be easily done through the use of narrative structure and in order to trigger the audiences imagination its is important that characters take centre stage in a performance whether they speak or not .no performances can be regarded as successful without the use of movement and this is because it simply wouldn’t be a performance without it voice is not as key however the use of voice helps tell the audience what they need to know the benefits from a multi-disciplinary approach is what ultimately makes a performance successful .

Source: Essay UK - http://doghouse.net/essays/media/elements-of-a-successful-performance/


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