[U8]: Task 10 – Project Evaluation

The Last Supper

This was my favourite piece out of the two, and that’s as clear as day. I always enjoy playing comedy more than anything else, I enjoy comedy over everything else in general. This piece was a chance to do more comedy with one of my good friends Will. I consider myself to have a pretty decent work ethic; I am organised and will do things that I’m asked to do. Will procrastinates on things a lot more than me. Once we’re put together though we both just kind of go with the flow and think “Oh, it’ll be alright.”; “That’s pretty good.”; “We’ve got it covered.”; “We’ll do it whenever really.” and the most famous quote of them all: “It’s just learning lines, really”. Yes, it is just learning lines as we’ve already done our research and we’ve already established how we want to perform this but we could never get a good rehearsal early on because we were never off book. We always needed to look at a script to get our lines right and that ruined the rehearsal process. We kept saying that once we learn lines this will be much better but we only learnt the lines after several rehearsals. We did work together well, and we both agreed on most things that the other person suggested, we just didn’t find much to work on; we just rehearsed. The research that we had to do we did at home and we did share it with each other which is how we came to the conclusion of costumes but there wasn’t much to be done in the piece – it was just an argument between the pope and Michelangelo.

Of course all of this affects the performance and although I am happy with it, there is still improvements to have been made because not all of the funny lines that were supposed to get a laugh, got one. I personally felt like both of our characters were at a stage where we were really comfortable with them and I could actually improvise being the character in corridors. I walked around college as the character for a while interacting with people telling them how I could see them in ‘The Last Supper’ and adding weird things to the painting along with them because I thought it was artistic. I didn’t do it as much with the pope character because he’s not as creative and really didn’t feel right to walk around as the pope. The performances on the night were both really successful in my opinion because we still got laughs, we didn’t miss a line, we didn’t mess anything up, but it still wasn’t as good as it could have been. I also added in two lines myself into the script. One line as the pope and the other as Michelangelo because I thought that they were funny and I wanted to not make it exactly the same as the original script even if only by one line. When I played as the pope I changed the line “Even if they had a conjurer and a steel band.” Into “Even if they had a conjurer and a steel band and a dancing monkey.” I wanted to change it into “Even if they had a conjurer and a mariachi band and a dancing monkey” But I forgot to on the night. As Michelangelo I changed the line “A real Last Supper, not just any old supper, but a proper final treat, a real mother of a blow-out.” Into “A real Last Supper, not just any old supper, not the final snack but a proper final treat, a real mother of a blow-out.” Or at least I tried to, I got slightly confused after saying “the final snack” and just improvised the rest. That’s because I decided to do it on the night I was performing as Michelangelo and did not ever rehearse it like that. Nor did I rehearse the other one either. I added a line on the night of the performance. I thought that was a fun thing to do.

There was a really big difficulty with finding the costume for pope. As one may guess there isn’t appropriate pope clothing lying about so we had to do with what we had found, which was not good at all.

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It did get us through, people could tell that I was the pope but it bothered me a bit that not a single one of the things that we had for the costume were even close to a costume that the pope would wear. Since we didn’t have any budget at all to buy any of the costume parts it was all random pieces mushed together that looked like the colours and type of thing that the pope would wear. Popes usually wear red papal shoes but we used black suit shoes for the pope. That’s because it’s the closest thing we had but black works thanks to Pope Francis wearing black shoes. He is one of, if not the only pope to wear black papal shoes because of his inclination towards being very humble and not further himself from the common folk. The same thing for Michelangelo, I mean we couldn’t find any shoes that would be appropriate for Michelangelo so we just thought “hey you know, Michelangelo wouldn’t really care about footwear in real life if he couldn’t afford it, right?” So we decided to leave him with no footwear. The black ragged cloth that he used in real life wasn’t hard to get except it wasn’t ragged, it was quite smooth and nice in fact but it was very fitting for Michelangelo.

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If we didn’t get that cross necklace fixed then the pope would still probably come across as the pope, in fact it could come across as the pope in our usual black clothes probably, or I think it would. But still, the cross is such an important element in the pope costume that if we had not remembered it then I think we would have lacked a big element in the performance. It’s unfortunate that the necklace broke but thankfully it broke again to allow us to actually fix it well enough to look like that’s how it was originally, you would never notice that this is not how it is supposed to be.

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If we didn’t know information about Michelangelo or the pope we would have only been able to guess costumes for them and they would be stereotypical and not actually character based.

There are things that I’ve researched and haven’t had much use for them aside from the fact that if I was the character I would know what that thing is. For example a refectory is a room that’s used for communal meals in an educational or religious institution. I don’t really care about this as myself, but the Pope should know these things and just having the knowledge makes it easier to make decisions as the pope. Knowing more grants you more power. The pope takes the whole business of the painting seriously and doesn’t want it messed about with and knowing where the painting is set allows for understanding of that seriousness, yes, “The Last Supper” is set in a refectory.

I’ve also always pronounced “Michelangelo” as “Meechelangelo” instead of “Maichelangelo” and only once someone pointed it out to me did I change that, having a foreign accent sometimes makes things more difficult, but once people correct me I try to change it and of course I didn’t say it the wrong way again.

I think the best feature of our performance is for people who came to see the show twice, they got to see something slightly different because even though we worked together we played the two characters differently. Some people preferred me as the pope because I looked more like him other people preferred me more as Michelangelo because of how I delivered the lines. I loved being able to start off the show though, Will and I were the first on stage along with the people from “The Creation of Adam” and “Huis Clos” which is exciting, we were the first people to be seen. The pressure didn’t affect me much at all though and me and Will performed it quite well in my personal opinion. I don’t recall anything going wrong at all… well aside from this one moment which I hope the audience didn’t notice. Once I went off stage as Michelangelo I went to try to sit on a bench but since it’s dark I didn’t realise there wasn’t a second bench there and the one that was there was already occupied by Ryan and Dylan. So I had to squeeze in on just a tiny piece of the bench and sit on it with half of my butt cheek; I had to support the rest of my weight with my leg, faking that I was sitting. Let’s just say I didn’t skip leg day.

A Doll’s House

Mia and I started off act 2 along with Lauren who was performing “I Wish I Could Forget You”. She sang her song first and then it the lights faded straight into us. I’ve mentioned before that I didn’t really enjoy working on this piece that much. I’m not sure why, maybe it’s because I didn’t enjoy the play or the character. Then again as an actor if you’re asked to act as someone then you have to do it because that’s what actors do: they pretend to be someone else. I didn’t identify with the character though, which made it harder to be him.

We were quite organised and did most of the things that we planned to do. Compared to my other piece we had planned more things but this also felt more stressful than my other piece because I felt more pressured. I had to learn quite a bit of script and it took me too long to learn it all, I spent my bus journeys trying to learn the script and I did learn it all well in the end but if I had learnt it earlier maybe this piece could have grown more. I’m glad I had the pressure though, because this piece needed the pressure and it needed me to work on it rather than improvise, because comedy is best when it comes out of nowhere and when it’s something new and exciting. This piece required me to find the emotional depth within it but I had a lot of difficulties doing that.

Each person interprets characters slightly differently and I think me and Mia interpreted the whole play slightly differently and the feelings that we were having towards this scene weren’t matching at all at the start. We had to look up a few videos of the scene to help us find what kind of characters we were actually supposed to be, but we ended up basing our rehearsals and most things we did off of this one:

Looking back at it it’s way too calm compared to how we played it, I think. We ended up going on a much more aggressive path than this, but this is also TV while we performed on stage.

Mia got distracted very easily while we were rehearsing; she could not have a serious rehearsal without getting interrupted. That was the thing that annoyed me the most when working with Mia. In the end the characters took way too long to become strong because of this, we rarely rehearsed in character. We did, but we always had an audience which sure, is not ideal but you just have to ignore them and Mia kept acknowledging them by saying “hi, you alright?” or something similar. It was specially worse when her boyfriend was around. Having said that, she still did what she had to do but I just had to push a lot to get her to concentrate.

At first I thought the stage was going to have wings, and that’s what we all thought – I think. But once we started the tech run I realised that we weren’t going to use the wings. It threw me off because no one had told me we weren’t going to have wings so I wasn’t sure on how to do the tech or dress for “A Doll’s House” because Mia usually entered from stage left behind the tabs. Since we didn’t have access to wings I was left wondering during the dress whether she would come in from stage right anyway but without being behind tabs or if she would enter through the same place that people enter for their pieces. Due to this I wasn’t sure on where to direct my initial monologue to and of course got the note of “Make sure to direct your monologue at Mia”. I know, I would have if I knew where she was, then again it was a bit our fault for not discussing this, but not knowing whether we would use wings or not made me confused. During one of the dress rehearsals I also was told not to lock the theatre door, which I really liked doing. The reason for that is because when I move to lock the door I move out of the lights. What usually would drive me back into the lights would be Mia entering from stage left but now she enters from upstage right and that just doesn’t work as well so I got a note about removing the whole of locking the door because it’s unnecessary. It worked just as well, but I was slightly sad that immersive bit was removed.

The chairs were closer together during tech and dress as well because they needed to fit it all into a nice lighting, which made them not look like armchairs as we intended but instead looked just like two chairs. It wasn’t a problem though, people’s first thoughts weren’t “who puts two chairs like that in a room?” We had to see the set, not them. Technically there’s a lot of alterations that need to be made to accommodate the audience for example when you have to try to always face the audience with at least half of your body; never turn your back towards the audience, unless of course it’s just for a really short while.

Funnily our biggest problem was getting a ring that would fit me but when desperate anything will do and so I asked Liam for his ring that he always carries with him. Before every performance I asked for it and gave it back at the end.

On the day I think we did good, we didn’t miss any lines except for the last night where she said the part which we had cut but it’s alright because it was cut just because it’s pointless. We didn’t lose or add anything when she said “Oh, Thorwald, for that . . . the miracle would have to happen!”. It made me have to say “What’s that?” but it’s fine because audience didn’t know a thing and it was in the original script anyway.

Weirdly I think both pieces went good and maybe even great but they felt underwhelming and not memorable. The reason it went good is because I wasn’t nervous and we ran lines before going on stage multiple times. I wouldn’t have enjoyed watching “A Doll’s House” that much either because it’s very slow and not much happens, it’s a very strong acting piece which I think I failed to give justice to. I wasn’t able to make it interesting. The thing is that a lot of other pieces are interesting even if the acting isn’t great because they have comedy or connection. I don’t think I ever ended up connecting with Mia because of how we rehearsed.

The performance of both pieces was just good and nothing more, there were no memorable problems and no memorable praise.

The project as a whole

The theme for this was art that came to life through acting, singing and dancing. Our audience wasn’t big but it had over 120 people in total watching us perform in a proscenium arch in the theatre. I prefer performing in the theatre compared to the other performance that I did outdoors. Considering we had no budget for this besides our own things and what we made, I think everyone did a brilliant job. Unfortunate that some people who made props had to not use them because they didn’t look good, weren’t necessary or just couldn’t be on stage for some reason. I didn’t suffer that problem thankfully because I barely had any props, my condolences to the people who had to get rid of their hardly worked on props. I have no complaints about any of my fellow company members because none of them were rude to me and I wasn’t rude to any of them; we all performed our jobs and went home.

The ideas that we all suggested were either adapted, changed completely or removed altogether. Erica didn’t want to set the show in the same way that we did our previous show “Inspired by Film”. This was a completely different show but the ideas suggestions and the way we presented were very similar to “Inspired by Film” and so the suggestions had to be altered. I wasn’t completely happy with the initial result because my idea of the painting “The Last Supper” was included but completely changed how we would turn it into life. Later on though I adapted and learned to love it. My other idea that I suggested was removed completely but I wish it wasn’t because it was amazingly funny, and other people though so too. Instead I got given a dramatic piece which I was happy with at first but then it turned into being very boring for the reasons I explained above. I still am happy that I got given something different though. A bad experience is also a good one because of what you learn.

As a whole the show got a lot of good feedback from the audience, people said they were really surprised by how good it was. One of the people I spoke to, and whom I agree with quite a lot said: “The dances are usually a bit boring, but in this show I have to say that the dances were the strongest point.” It’s not that the other stuff got worse, it’s just that the dancers really stepped up their game. It was a lot more emotive and characterised rather than “oh, look at me doing some dance moves on stage”. I do think it was overall an amazing show which I wish I did again, just like “Inspired by Film”. I didn’t enjoy performing fairy tales out in the open and in a school as much as I did performing the other two things. I’m more and more inclined towards screen acting every day that goes by, that’s what I’m aiming for in the future – that, and some sort of comedy. It was a well put together and organised show, which had faults but the audience never knows, so it’s all fixed for the next day. However in our case most pieces went better on the first day. If we had more days I’m sure it would be fixed for the third night. Some pieces were a bit dangerous and I think if this was on for more than two days then I’m afraid those pieces would have had to be cut because someone would have injured themselves, as they did during the second night

Thanks to Emily we had a programme of the show, she volunteered and she did a great job. However it didn’t mention who played as what character.

Conclusion

This was a long project in terms of work but not that long that we had to work on it. I feel exhausted from it but I also want more. I have learned how to control my stress for shows from this project. It has given me confidence to perform without stressing out. I have another show coming up in about two weeks in which I will be doing a lot more than I did in this one, so I think I’m more prepared. Obviously we all know that research makes a character more believable, it helps you become the character, but there is nothing better than actually relating to the character I think. If you relate to the character it’s so much more easy to become him. I had to work a lot to be more like Helmer in “A Doll’s House” because I am psychologically very far from him. I had to try to understand why the character does these things and what’s his motive behind it. I had to make myself believe in those things. With this project I had practice on that and I feel more ready to take on a difficult character. I’ve also learned that you need to put in ideas yourself and then let other people tackle them with either “no” or “yes” because if no one puts ideas forward, then no one can agree or disagree and propose a better idea. I do still need to become more organised, because following a schedule is not easy when all of us are major procrastinators. The comfort of being just with actors made me feel less pressure to organise things because I knew I was always going to be with them. In the end this whole project lead to improving me as a person and an actor. I’ve gotten many notes for things that I can apply everywhere, like laughter pauses, staging techniques and mostly theatre specific techniques. The more things I perform in, the more experience I get, the more confident I am in performing, the better I am at performing. Experience breeds success. I just hope that next time I get to perform a song to develop my skills even further!

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