(quick)SET DESIGN + COLOR OF REALITY

JANE EYRE PRODUCTION set design
https://youtu.be/UVTRWx8_CKA

NOTES:
We define atmosphere as the tone or mood by set or performances

Actors and directors can experiment and transform the playground to fit their needs.

The set has to show the struggle. Even though it is internal they should externalise that.

Corset shows the restricting aspect.

Fire implies danger, anger and struggle

 

REFLECTIONS:
WOW. Everything requires so much effort. To view all those details, to pursue excellence. Nevertheless, I find it inspiring at the same time. Theatre is not just about acting. I won’t argue that acting plays a significant role in the conceptualisation of theatre but set-design does so as well. Design connects the materials with the artist to express the meaning of art more clearly, to give the audience an idea of what he wants to interpret, to even let them create their own perception of the piece. Materials don’t have to be expensive or too many. Just the simplest resources used in the right way can affect the performance. But is there a right way? And if there is, what is it?

Right is what feels right. Art has no boundaries as to what is right because simply everyone sees the same thing differently. Art design supports the actors as much as they support it. There is no specific outline as to what a set should look like. Actors are able to affect the way a set is set if the set doesn’t suit their needs.

Since my relationship with theatre only spreads to acting, the territory of designing has been unknown. Today I was inspired to engage with this aspect of theatre.
Theatre! So many aspects. So much creativity. So much emotion, tension, expression. So much power.

 

COLOR OF REALITY https://youtu.be/Dq1tm5TqYsg

 

A short video. How can such a short video contain so many messages and how am I supposed to reflect on all of these.

Impressive. That’s what this video is. From the facial expressions to the hidden messages of colour and the contrast across the actors’ movements, this art piece expresses the struggled tragedy of the black community.

The colour of reality: Why is reality painted red? Since red is the symbol of warning and danger is this supposed to be a warning? If colour is for coloured people and red stands for blood then the brutal ending is subconsciously expected.

The coloured room: Everything seems fake. Even I at first was conceived that this was a painting. The paint has its meaning. The resemblance to Van Gogh and the mystery at first behind the visual artwork pique the viewer’s imagination and lead him to create his own picture and his own assumptions.

TV: The living room is equipped with a TV. Is that the only connection this room has to the real world? The video on the TV is the only realistic statement so far. The fast beat in the voice of the news presenter gives the essence of anxiety. The topic of discussion in the news; police violence against unarmed black people clarifies the purpose of this video.

DANCING: The beat of the music which accompanies the dancing seems very fast bit but not emotionless making it perfect for fast thinking and reflection upon the topic and the ongoing dancing. The dancing, without knowing the exact style to describe it, is a fast bit, electro dance which normally gives me the essence that there is no room for emotion, but in this case, there is more than enough. Their movements give me the impression that the actors are trying to find their balance, their place within the mess of reality.Their reactions both facial and physical appear soft yet shocked and confused.

THEIR OUTING: Their first outing appears to be their first encounter with the world and their surroundings. They observe their environment and start  slowly interacting with it. They start realising that it’s different from what they had imagined, what they had envisioned from their own little reality in the painted room. The environment screams American dream. From the trucks to the waving national flag you see the American reality.

INTERACTIONS WITH OTHERS: The interactions of the characters with the surroundings include the humans as well. They seem like they discover something new, they’re eager to learn and experiment. The other side though is not that responsive. It is visible that it is negative or neutral towards them as if they are so focused on their own world, their own reality, that anything that intervenes with that is irrelevant.

FINALÉ: Death. The final call. Everything resulted to that. Why? Is there a reason? Is there a reason for this brutal ending? Is there a reason for injustice? The contrast between blue-toned colours and bright, harsh red is mesmerising. And after the shock comes normality. Life continues as if nothing happened. People walking without noticing without reacting. People even step on the hand of the dead body. The ending is powerful and as the shot moves away, the scene becomes more and more intense.

-BLACK LIVES MATTER-                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   -Konstantina

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Cinderella

Yesterday, my first official day in Suzhou, the 15th of September, the day of the Mid-Autumn Festival, I attended a ballet performance with my friend Minyuan (Eleanor).

The ballet performance took place in the Suzhou Culture and Arts Center. As my first time in a big city, I was blown away by the size of the building. From an architectural approach, the curves and the high ceiling gave the impression of luxury and expensive lifestyle. That was all a first for me. Coming from Greece, a small country with financial issues I was never familiar with this type of entertainment. My family and I mostly attended cultural exhibitions that were free of charge but still worth watching.

The performance was, in my opinion, a coalescence 0f ballet and theatre. Having in mind that ballet follows really strict rules of posture and moves, this particular performance didn’t fit into the boundaries of traditional dance, but actually embodied pieces of comedy and theatre staging. For those reasons, I decided to write about my observations during the performance in my theatre journal.

This is also the first time I am analyzing and writing an entry that is not the product of a theatre class. In my opinion, education should interfere and blend with reality, by making connections to real life events.
In theatre class, we talked about how the director and designer achieve moments of TENSION, EMOTION, ATMOSPHERE, and MEANING. These all are applications also seen in the ballet show.

-And yes ladies and gentlemen after my never-ending introduction, the time for the long-awaited analysis has come.-

The production had modern elements which were visible from the start. From the costumes to the choice of dancers revolutionary statements were made throughout the show. Those changes differentiated the show from similar recreations of cinderella while making it eligible for everyone to watch since the audience included both children (they witness funny and colorful elements, to catch their attention and keep them entertained.) and adults (they’re most likely interested in the technical aspect of ballet and perfect execution of the choreography will keep them pleased.), since the balance ballet-theatre and fun-professional is kept throughout.

The theatrical nature of the performance used certain gestures and movements to convey different messages. Since the use of spoken language is minimum and non-existent, the emphasis and the importance of the kinetic features is even bigger.

Throughout the performance, there was a contrast between the confident and arrogant step-sisters and the introverted and restricted Cinderella. This contrast became visible by their posture. On the one hand, the step-sisters were walking and acting as their hands and feet were extended; covering more space and giving out their confidence level.Both of their feet were facing outwards, which is a sign of extroversion and confidence. On the other hand, Cinderella afraid to express herself always kept her movements to the minimum, by avoiding to elongate her arms and legs, and never felt at ease to let loose, which was shown by her always tilting her shoulders forward and looking out so that no one sees her when doing something out of her comfort zone.

A number of other examples can be found in the performance especially when referring to movements and kinesis. One of the elements that impressed me the most was the use of their bodies to form objects or concepts without having to use more scenery. A perfect reference for that was the clock formation that the dancers formed to imply the passing of time and the need for Cinderella to leave the ball. The clock was formed after all lights on stage were turned off with the exception of one central source of lighting. The light originated from the central ceiling and went through a combination of two intertwined rings which were connected to it. The result was the formation of two circles on the floor (one bigger and one smaller within that). The circles were used from the performers to form their own circle one by one; showing the passing of time (each dancer represented one hour). Once twelve dancers completed the circle, three men created a gate with their bodies for Cinderella to come through.

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Human-Made Object – Clock
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Human-Made Object – Gate

The show apart from traditional ballet consisted of bits of Spanish and Arabic dancing techniques. This gave a more intercultural scheme and made the story-telling more interesting.

Color throughout the performance played a contributing role to the perception of the audience. Color conveys emotion, so the right use of color can be used as a tool to create atmosphere and emotion.

One of the places in which color was used was the costumes of the performers. According to the color of the dress or suit, the social and personal identity of the character was given out. The most distinct example one can use is an element found particularly in this show and it is four dancers, wearing four different colored dresses and representing four different seasons. The colors were white, green, orange, and pink which represented winter, summer, autumn and spring accordingly. Since the time is set during a play, it is quite challenging to portray passing of time without words or fast forward video. This problem was solved by the right use of colors.

This following reference in the use of color particularly aims to intensify the emotions felt by the person while at the same time create the image of the character’s situation. Cinderella, for example, was dressed in a gray dress helped to prove her awful living conditions (mistreated by family members, working as a maid) and to portray her emotional status (depressed, sad and hopeless). Once the emotional status changed from hopeless to hopeful as she found her prince the dress became white with sparkling details (happy, peaceful, pleased with life).

The color of the costume helped also distinguish other characters such as the stepmother and stepsisters of Cinderella. The two sisters wearing bright colors the opposite for each other to display their love-hate relationship with each other (love when it comes to together plotting against Cinderella and her dad, hate when it comes to who will dance with the prince) and their hilarious and stupid attitude (bright, clown-looking). Their mother on the other hand by wearing a long black dress shows her evil nature since black and darkness are often associated with that.

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The Stepsisters’ Dresses

The scenery in both theatrical and dance productions plays a catalytic factor in the establishment of a performance. The scenery has to be chosen carefully since it contains messages concerning the atmosphere and the general context.

In the first part of the performance, the scene is set inside the house. Nevertheless, the scenery that accompanies the performance is  a dark image of the moon and many abstract shadows. Here it is obvious that the scenery’s purpose is not to inform or make things clearer for the audience, but set the undertone mood of cruelty (Stepmother & Stepsisters – dark colors) invading in tranquility (Cinderella & Father – the moon).

Lastly, an interesting observation is that the roles of the stepsisters were embodied by men. The movements of the characters were distinctively more stiff which does not agree with what is traditionally considered the womanly figure.This caused the audience to laugh more since the contrast between expectation and reality was great.

(As the power of language is easier to pass on information, there were two screens used on both sides of the stage, giving a bilingual outline of the fairytale while accompanying the dancing act.)

-Konstantina

Change of Mood

Just five minutes before today’s theatre class comes to an end, I feel relieved, ready and strong.

When I walked into the theatre I felt tired, in need of more sleep to relax my body. I felt anxious, nervous and mad at the same time for the changes that I cannot control. All of this tension though was about to be taken away.
And now theatre starts. Actually, theatre warm-up starts. Today’s menu consisted of warm-ups stretches and flexes. All of these explored and activated every part of my body, making movements more consequent and effortless. And that was how my mood was transformed. By reaching across my physical existence I found the mental balance I was looking for.
Now I am more than ready to seize the day!

Assignement on: Art + Fear

1. Write a short 2 to 3 sentence summary of the main ideas from the     reading.
2. According to the authors, how does fear interfere with creativity?
3. How does fear affect your own creativity and artmaking? Use examples     from your         own learning and/or art making.

1.The authors aim to extend our understanding of the process of art-making. Whether that’s painting, acting or even writing they offer the reader an inside look at the difficulties and especially insecurities that the artist faces before he finishes his artwork. Art-making is a creative process that comes from the combination of imagination, use of materials, self-expression, vision, and execution. All in all, the passage aims to encourage artists to keep creating without overvaluing establishment and fame.

2.  Fear & Art (Creativity). The relationship between those is portrayed in the second chapter.

Doubt and fear amongst other things haunt the artist’s mind. They are both constantly representing the barriers of creative outburst and artistic behavior. As ordinary as it may sound to experience these, they are the greatest enemy of creativity.

When insecurity and doubt take over the artist’s mind he feels discouraged to keep on with his work; he feels like every attempt to express himself creatively through his artwork will fail either because of his lacking talent or his unique approach. Quitting is the easy way and sadly occurs very often in the art world. Quitting should not be a way at all. When you engage with your art-piece, you instantly discover parts of yourself you’ve never experienced before. By quitting, your creativity shrinks and disappears into oblivion.

But aren’t constant failures worse than quitting? NO!
To finish it off art-making is unarguably a complex procedure that demands mental wellbeing and creative readiness to unveil its majesty. No matter what fears or insecurities you face, excellence and greatness are never impossible for a passionate artist. Even if those never come in money, fame or recognition, they will come in feelings of fulfillment, achievement, and personal expression. So while accepting doubts, as a reasonable and at the same time unreasonable part of creativity, never let them push you away from the pleasure of creation.

3. As I mentioned before, one of the traits of a passionate artist is fear and doubt. Whether the artist is at the start of his journey, trying to find his own identity within the storm, or at the peak of the mountain, with his artworks worth more than he could ever imagine, he will have felt the uncertainty of doubt while creating his masterpiece.

I, myself, as the aspiring artist that best fits in the first category have experienced the same exact thing. I too have been taken over the doubt and formed it into an unwillingness to keep on trying and creating. And that’s why it is totally a relatable situation for everyone.

It all started from art projects in elementary school that ended up stressing me out and making me cry on how I had built up the expectations of both my teachers and schoolmates, but now, I had nothing to take to class, nothing to create, nothing to reassure them and myself, NOTHING. With time, this ended up evolving into me being insecure about my acting, my performance, the way I talk and the ideas that I put onto the table every time a performance is coming up.

But after all, I never gave up. And that happened for one simple reason; I enjoy the process of art making. I may not be Picasso or Meryl Streep, but this won’t stop me from expressing and exploring myself by the simple and complex act of art-making.

The Book: Art & Fear
Authors: David Bayles and Ted Orland

 

Jacques Lecoq

Description of the activity

Today as our theatre activity, we were asked to assemble the movement of a falling paper. This was part of a more general lesson on Jacques Lecoq’s study on the types of tension our body experiences during any acting performance. According to Lecoq the tension that takes over the human body during a performance can be summarised into 10 general categories.
No tension
This type is also known as the jellyfish. The actor during this state is basically relaxed and exhausted.
Example: Dead body

Zombie
Following the jellyfish with slightly more tension, the actor here appears laid back with no anxiety or extreme emotion. Just like a Californian, the performer is cool and carefree with distinct difficulty to move his body.
Example: Californian

Actis Neutral
In this state the performer is aware of the atmosphere around him, observes the surroundings, but does not have a proactive stance on the scene.
Example: Walking

Alert
Any curious character that appears more tenuous than the Actis Neutral could be described as alert. He also appears impatient, with constant movements to express his emotions, and indecisive by repeating movements and words.
Example: Mr. Bean

Suspense
With suspense taking over his body, the persona is filled with tension as he sees the threat. The reaction is delayed.
Example: John Cleese

Melodramatic/ Opera
An explosion of craziness and tension. Through opera, the audience witnesses an overload of tension, which is expressed by exaggerated movements. Everything is bigger and intense.
Example: Opera

Tragic
So much tension, that the body is unable to handle it and freezes instantly. This is the most extreme case, where the tension is at its peak point and the chaos of the atmosphere has taken over the scene.
Example: Ending of King Lear

(Please note that the first 4 refer to everyday life as well, but the last 3 appear mostly in the theatrical environment.)

We also experimented with other objects of different volume, size, weight, and material. The purpose of the activity was one; to experiment within our own bodies and find the balance and freedom of the paper within our own movements.

 

Discoveries+Struggles

It felt right. Right in every way. Not only because it involved moving freely in the space without worries trying to assemble the stiffness of a bean bag or the elasticity and freedom of a falling paper, but mainly because I discovered parts of myself; not implying that I was not aware of their existence but that I now made optimum use out of them by using every muscle in my body to portray and assemble the movement of the object on its downfall.
While admitting that the procedure was very freeing at first, it was also quite demanding. Once I started attempting to mime the movement I felt held back by the abilities of my body. It felt almost impossible to actually portray the exact act. As much bending, moving and shifting as I did, I could not do it. This turned into the downgrade of the excitement I held for this activity.

 

So what?

So what? Why? Is moving according to a random object in any way related to theatre? Has this activity impacted your acting skills in any way?
Yes! Yes! And once more, yes!
The art of acting, performing and expressing ideas, feelings and situations, that build up the concept of theatre and theatrical essence, uses our bodies to pass on the message. Our bodies, by assembling movements, imply different things. Knowing how to use the muscles of your body will assure that the message you’re trying to pass is not allured because of the disability of the human body to interpret that.
And that’s where this activity comes in. I discovered different aspects of my body and I was able to play with the level of tension based on the circumstances. This aptitude reaches its maximum potential within the world of theatre, by undoubtedly improving the actor’s performance.

 

Connections

Recently I have been rehearsing Bollywood dancing for my school’s Grand Opening. As an amateur dancer, this was a chance for me to discover the intensity and empowering powers of this dancing style. The levels of intensity within the dance performance are interchangeable, which reminded me of today’s theatre reference. As I am dancing I use different parts of my body to express signals and embody a different cultural mindset. The same also happens in theatre, where you transform into a unique character and you embody the different aspects of his personality; may that be his cultural identity or his interactions with the environment around him.

For more of Lecoq’s theory refer to the following links:
http://dramaresource.com/seven-levels-of-tension/
https://youtu.be/sHSze5w8fiE

 

FIRST THEATRE REFLECTIONS

Now is the time I found both inspiration and time to dedicate into this creative outlet. During theatre, we explored our bodies, faces, and voices, which build up the image of the character; without one of the above, the persona that the actor tries to create is most likely to be misinterpreted.

In our case, we had to prepare a scene; the scene took place in an asylum and within that, the minds of two psychics, trying to find paradise, were explored. It was approached by its comedic side by alluring the image of both characters and sudden plot twists. Performing this act felt exhilarating and like I was overcoming my boundaries with more exaggerated responses, movements, and reactions.

As an introductory activity, this performance served its purpose and gave us a clear taste of what’s to come, how to cope with time management, collaboration and most importantly it was a chance for us to get to know our team members.The biggest lesson though from today’s class was not that. It was the realization that

The biggest lesson though from today’s class was not that. It was the realization that music can affect the actor’s image of his character by offering a different point of view and understanding of the concept.

Before performing, our teacher Kate played music and asked us to adopt our scenes according to what we heard each time. At first, I felt uncomfortable since we had already visualized and explored our scene’s potential and the different style seemed to threat to “allure its quality”. Oh, how wrong was I.

French; upbeat
This particular music seemed french. Either way, what made it special was that it had this extraordinary power of making our scene x10 times happier. Even though it was firstly intended to be a psychic scene with maniacs freaking out, this melody turned the hopelessness of the characters into hope. Now all of their movements, words and actions had hope as their purpose or source.
Upbeat; jarring
In contrary with the first one, this beat brought out our insanity and our insecurities were maximized. It was definitely more intense and felt more real making me feel insane. This harsh-toned melody made everything intense and therefore they had a bigger impact on me.
Calming; liberating
by transporting our scene in paradise we both felt happy and blessed seeking for god in our surroundings. We felt liberated from any burden, not giving emphasis in the past. Now, the peace and quiet atmosphere had a visible impact on our behavior which was expressed by both our physical performance and our improv lines.

Our scene was easier to adopt each time since we didn’t have any prepared lines and everything was improvised. This gave us the freedom to change the lines and transform our scene while keeping the broader guidelines the same.

 

The Beginning of IB Theatre

(This was written on the first day of the IB.)

Hey! I’m Konstantina and I created this platform to reflect upon my theatre experiences.
Whether you like to call it a journal or just blog, this is going to be the place where I “document” my theatre journey.

Today was a landmark. Today is the beginning of my new academic journey within the IB.
Even though the first class was an introductory one, it was supposed to give us a taste of what’s to come. From analyzing scripts to creating our own, from exploring ourselves to developing our own personalities, IB theatre will be my main creative outlet for the next two years. Within the magical world of UWC, I am excited to experience the spontaneity and creativity  that is released by the act of theatre. With much more to come, I welcome this new beginning with excitement and enthusiasm.

Stay tuned for much more!

-Konstantina