14 September, 2016 — Our First BTEC Drama Lesson
Today in our drama lesson we explored an extract from the rural tragedy Blood Wedding, written by Federico Lorca in 1932. It was written and performed originally in Spanish and uses many metaphors and other figurative language that English speakers may find odd. However, the language directly reflects the time and setting of the play -early 20th century, in Southern Spain.
Before we were even given an extract of the play our teacher, Mr. Chipp, instructed us in some abstract physical theatre to warm up and get into character. He told us a generic story of two people, who met and fell in love, before he paired us up and gave us three movements to play around with. He had us face each other, standing with our foreheads touching; he had us kneel down, continuing to keep our foreheads together; and finally, he had us stand up and face away from each other -without losing contact between us. After showing us these movements, he asked us to act like we were in love with our partner as the people in the story were in love with each other. The only restrictions in this movement were that we had to do these three positions but Mr. Chipp encouraged us to play about with the usage of our hands and gesture, facial expressions, and posture.
This was a very useful exercise because it got us into the mood we needed to be in order to read the extract from Blood Wedding. We needed to understand the emotions that coincided between the ourselves and the lovers in the play to grasp the weight of the situation.
Task two of our drama lesson was to read Act One of Blood Wedding. This is a scene that occurs in the house -we thought perhaps in the kitchen- of the bridegroom, between the bridegroom and his mother. It’s an important scene because it allows the audience to see the how the anxiety of mother affects the decisions of the bridegroom: although he is a grown man, he still must ask permission from his mother to marry and even to borrow a knife. We were asked to create a moment of orientation, about 30 seconds long, that showed the dynamic between mother and son. We were asked not to speak, but only to imply the emotions and mime the actions that were going on.
One pair that volunteered I thought did an excellent job of doing this task. The mother was positioned stage left and towards the front, closer to the audience and was busily doing some sort of housework. The son entered on stage right and started quietly searching for a knife in the imaginary cupboards, without acknowledging his mother. His mother notices that he is there and they make eye contact; she then walks over and simply folds her arms…just daring him to ask her for the knife he’s looking for. The son then stops, looking very sheepish.
It seems that this would be a worthy moment of orientation for this play because it clearly showed the power that the mother had over the son, despite his age. It would be a good start to the play because you could really show the back and forth, the rebellion, and the annoyance of the son that builds slowly over Act One.
Our last task was to create another movement, based on the emotions that we had experienced from the bridegroom and from the lovers, the bride and Leonardo, and also what little we knew of the story of Blood Wedding. We were also given an eerie monologue that personifies the Moon in this story. The lines from this monologue were the only lines we were allowed to use in this movement.
Before we started, Mr. Chipp had us observe a lighting change that he had put together. It started with a full, white, moonlike light that cast shadows of a forest on the wall. There was then a blue spotlight that came on that slowly shifted to a dark, blood, red. In total, it lasted about 60 seconds.
When my group approached this task, we decided to use some of the elements that we had been learning over the past few hours. We used exactly the same movements as in our warm up to show the love and affection between the bride and the bridegroom and Leonardo and his wife. However, it turned out only to be an illusion, when Leonardo and the bride leaned towards each other and away from their rightful partners. As the lighting shifted to a blue, Leonardo and the bride stole away together. The lighting seemed suggest their rebellion and the desperation of the situation as they ran into the forest. Our ‘Moon’ was then cast in blue light as the bridegroom and Leonardo’s wife, fell to the ground and Leonardo and the bride ran into the growing red light. They then did the same exact movement as before to signify their passion before the bridegroom came and tried to take the bride back again. Both the bridegroom and Leonardo end up on the ground, shrouded in the crimson light to imply that they had each died for the bride. Finally the bride was left standing, alone, with the moon.
It seems that my group did a fairly good job of telling the story of Blood Wedding through this abstract movement; we tried to make each movement signify a moment in the play and tried our best to mirror the emotions of the characters. However, if we were to improve on this particular movement then I think we could have improved on the timing of our kneeling- we could have been doing it at the same time. This means that we could have had better communication within the group and perhaps, I could have had better communication with my partner who could see the other pair and she could have slowed us down (we descended quicker than the other pair).
This lesson I learnt and practiced a lot: learned that subtlety in body language can reflect a more realistic perception of a character and go a very long way and that emotion can easily be expressed through movement. It was very helpful to be reminded of these key acting techniques and methods and I shall continue to apply them to my dramatic career.