Today we performed the blend. What is the blend?
Preparations started less than a week ago. Groups of four from our theatre class started working intensively on this project.
The project? Narcissus. We were assigned to perform, direct and script the entire myth of Narcissus. This is an ancient Greek myth, which describes the story of Narcissus, a handsome hunter. One day, as he was walking in the forest he encountered Echo. Echo immediately fell in love with him, but she could never express it. She could only repeat his words. Narcissus, on the other hand, remained ignorant and went closer to the lake. There, he saw his reflection on the water for the first time. He was captivated. Never before he had ever seen such beauty. He couldn’t walk away. He stayed there as long as he could looking at his reflection until death came for him at the bank of the lake. His place took a flower which was named after him.
It all started one sunny afternoon, during Kate’s theatre class, where the magic begins. We were then assigned to interpret the myth, Gossip Girl style. Before that, we were assigned to groups of 3 or 4. So now three of us were to make this happen, to bring it to reality, but to, first of all, create this.
Setting off by searching and understanding, we were all committed. Committed to seeing it finally happening. As one of our group members, Shirley, was not familiar with the TV show, it was Benedikte’s and my obligation to introduce the elite society of Upper East Side of Manhattan through teenager’s eyes. Even though it didn’t take long it was really important for us as a group to have the same level of understanding.
Next was brainstorming, actually exploring the task and creating what we wanted to perform. Many ideas were floating by, but only a few made the cut. We agreed on having three scenes or actually three different time point to distinguish the flow of events.
1st Scene: Starting of with Gossip Girl’s distinct phrases and words we hoped to give the idea to the audience of an elite, closed society where gossip and drama are part of their lifestyle. One person being Gossip Girl describes the high-class event but also gives the audience the impression that two different class characters are about to encounter. But the rest is all up to the two performers, one portraying Narcissus and the other, Echo. Echo, in this scene, comes across the magnificent beauty of Narcissus. Taken away as she is by him she can’t keep her sight away from his figure. The presence of Narcissus is piercing and dominant as he is overpowered by confidence. Throughout the scene the contrast between Narcissus feeling at his element and Echo feeling left out is distinct.
2nd Scene: This scene plays the most significant role in understanding the plot. Here we describe the first encounter of the two main actors. Taking place at Bergdorf’s, one of New York’s finest and expensive boutiques we see Narcissus shopping and Echo working before they realize each other’s presence. Narcissus doesn’t take long to realize that Echo has been staring at him. And now the break happens by a single phrase repeated twice. “What are you doing?” “What are you doing?”.As none of the characters has spoken before, this is the first time for them to produce sound, breaking the expectation of the audience. The scene ending is filled with tension as we now know that Echo’s desire will never be fulfilled.
3rd Scene: As our last scene was supposed to imply the morbid death of Narcissus we decided to go with something more dramatic and intense. In our last scene, we focused mostly on physical theatre. By having two Narcissus’ and an imaginative mirror between them we wanted to show how he was being affected by the “narcissistic” behavior he was developing. On the one side having the overly confident Narcissus over-enjoying the pleasure of admiring himself, but on the other having the dying Narcissus being destroyed as his other self is more and more drawn to his beauty. The ending is powerful with both actors falling on the floor, one suddenly (confident Narcissus) and one slowly (dying Narcissus).
We failed. Our performance on stage was not up to our expectations.What is it to blame? For me the lack of confidence and discipline. I have never faced this before and I felt devastated when I realised what happened.How could I let this happen? In the end, I guess everything is a lesson. A lesson to make you better for the future. So I will take this failure and turn it into a teaching for future performances.
Now enough about our own performance. Since everyone else prepared the myth with a different style I found really interesting the contrast between each style. From this ”assignment” I realised how important style is to define a play. Style is everything. Even though we had the same exact plot, the same exact story, same amount of people, same exact stage, (do I need to go on forever?), the style made each performance piece individual, unique, different.
The styles were 5.
- Starting from Brecht‘s style as the first one that performed on stage, the performance was more descriptive, giving more information due to the written messages. I’d say this was a coalescence of writing and acting.
- Next on was ours. Gossip Girl was a modern approach to the ancient myth by making connections to the way an elite society works.
- If my memory doesn’t fail me, afterwards, we witnessed the style of Mime. The interpretation made the performance comedic. Since they were not allowed to use voice as a mean to communication, their movements were far more intense and their acres elongated, exaggerating every concept.
- Ritual. Ritual theatre reasoned everything by references to God. Traditional approaches to God were used to justify what was happening.
- Last was Physical theatre. In this particular style, the statements were made by movements. They used their own bodies to create meaning and the connection between the performers to conceive the reality between the two characters.