[U8]: Task 5 – Performance Research

The Last Supper

davinci_lastsupper

Initial research

At first I went off to look at the Adrian Edmondson’s & John Cleese’s sketch of “The Last Supper”. Me and Will, who will be performing this piece tried casting it but couldn’t decide on who would be the pope and who would be Michelangelo. So we decided to ask Ryan for his opinion and he said that either of us could do it too. I’m going to ask Erica for her opinion and then in the end I will probably flip a coin with Will to see who’s who. We read through the transcript of the piece twice and indeed either of us could play either of the characters.

with Erica’s approval we have decided to perform each night as a different character because we couldn’t decide on who to cast as who.

Further research

I’ve found a lot of interesting things about The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. As it is one of the most famous pieces of art in history, there is a lot of information on it and there can always be found more, however the more information there is the more people start to make up to give something new and exciting about a piece. For example there have been theories of Leonardo basing Judas’ and Jesus’ face on the same person, as there has been theories of him actually painting his self-portrait onto two of the disciples. It is a painting that has many interesting facts about it though.

Leonardo started painting ‘The Last Supper’ in 1495 because he was commissioned to by Duke Ludovicio Sforza who he worked for at the time – and not the pope who the Monty Python sketch has as the person who commissions it. The painting took him 3 years to finish, but at least he did it; he was known for procrastinating and not finishing projects he started. It now decays on the dining hall wall of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie. Due to Leonardo using a technique invented by him to paint this painting, it started to decay even during his lifetime because the technique although effective during the first few years it quickly started falling apart. There have been numerous restoration attempts which failed miserably and made the painting even worse, thankfully in the year 1977 a successful restoration attempt began. It ended up being restored somewhat. The one thing that couldn’t be restored were the feet of Jesus because a door was constructed there. At the time his artwork wasn’t valued enough to not have it disrupted for the convenience of a door. You can see the door frame in the picture below.

article-2189604-0101694b000004b0-130_634x422

The size of the painting is surprising, no one thinks of it being this big, It’s 15×29 feet. This biblical scene has, of course, been painted before but the one thing that Leonardo brings to the table is real and easily identifiable human emotions. It was an innovative painting in terms of studying the emotional reactions and psychological states which are clearly visible through the disciples. The emotions being reflected through the painting are of shock, anger and anything similar because Leonardo is capturing not only the last meal they will have, but also the moment Jesus reveals that one of the disciples would betray him.

As someone who used to draw quite a lot and has studied different point perspectives and just painting and drawing in general I’ve picked up on a point that is mentioned quite often in articles about ‘The Last Supper’. This is one of the best examples of a one-point linear perspective, the vanishing point is at Christ’s head and all the focus seems to go upon him. The technique Leonardo used for this painting is subtly amazing because it draws you in to the points that he wants you to focus on without you knowing. Christ is also contrasted by the open window behind him which gives even more focus to him as well as having the same amount of disciples on each side of him.

The piece

A Monty Python sketch which, in this version, is played by Adrian Edmondson and John Cleese; two amazing comedy performers. In the original version which me and Will will probably take some inspiration from as well the role of Michelangelo is played by Eric Idle and it is very clearly different to Adrian’s.

I will be playing both the characters in this piece, one for each night. The script of the piece has been altered slightly from one piece to the other and the transcript is also slightly different, I think we will take the best bits of all and make what we think would have the best effect for comedy, and still make sense. There are some lines which really disrupt the tempo of the performance for instance every time the pope says ‘no’ it makes the piece slow down and lose momentum, I think. So we will find a way to perform it in a more natural way.

Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni

A man who was a painter, sculptor, architect and poet. One of the greatest renaissance artists. Born in 1475 he would have been twenty years old if commissioned to paint ‘The Last Supper’ at the same time that Leonardo painted it. This is a young character to play.

There’s a lot to know about Michelangelo as he has some of the most famous sculptures like ‘David’:

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He is one of the people who I recognise as a sculptor as well as a painter unlike many other artists who are recognised mostly just for their paintings.

the-last-judgment-by-michelangelo

‘The Last Judgement’ one of the most chaotic pieces made, there is so much going on. It took Michelangelo six years to paint it, it is 44×48 feet and covers a wall in the Sistine Chapel, just for scale it’s roughly four times bigger than ‘The Last Supper’!

For me one of the most interesting life facts of Michelangelo is that he made a sculpture called ‘Cupid’ which he made to look like an antique. He managed to sell it to a person who thought it was an antique as well and later when he discovered he was fooled he demanded the money back. However in the end even though it was a fake aged statue, that person decided to let Michelangelo keep the money because he was so impressed with the work.

Michelangelo is someone who didn’t care much for himself in terms of dress or food or sleep place; he cared mostly about his art. With that in mind I’m planning to play him enthusiastic because his art is being discussed but also portray him as a poor character instead of a rich one.

Who am I?

Michelangelo, a painter and a sculptor in the renaissance era. I am from a poor background and live like so even if I do get money from my art. I’m never satisfied with my work but I am also arrogant towards other people’s work.

Where am I?

In a hall at the Papal Palace, in Vatican.

What time is it?

Renaissance era, 1490’s. It is daytime.

What do I want?

To create art.

Why do I want it?

Because that’s my passion.

How will I get what I want?

By living and creating art either sculpture or painting.

What must I overcome to get what I want?

The difficulties of life; I need money to live and sculpting/painting as commissions is the way I get by.

The Pope

During the time that ‘The Last Supper’ was painted the current pope was Alexander VI; Rodrigo de Borja y Doms was born in Spain in 1431 which means he would be a 64 year old man in the Monty Python sketch. He was someone who neglected the spiritual inheritance of the church which led to protestant reformation. He was corrupt and he could not be relied on as he had no great political ideas and prioritised his family above all; committing crimes, all for money. He was a greedy pope.

After researching a bit I found out that Rodrigo had one good thing going for him which was his patronage for arts. Michelangelo was one of the few artists who worked directly for him. He’s who I’m going to base my character on, and at this point I’m pretty sure he’s who the Monty Python sketch based their character on as well.

I will be grounding my voice to play this character as well as try to act older. I will look at videos of the current pope just to give myself a feeling of how the pope would have been during his daily routine but I’m still going to be basing myself on Rodrigo de Borja y Doms.

Who am I?

Rodrigo, Alexander VI, the pope. I am a patron of the arts, however I prioritise my family above all and I want them to be well of in life. I have four children of whom Juan is my favourite. I studied law at Bologna and I got the qualifications for Doctor of Law.

Where am I?

In a hall at the Papal Palace, in Vatican.

What time is it?

Renaissance era, 1490’s. It is daytime.

What do I want?

Elevate my own family to success.

(In the sketch): Promote art.

Why do I want it?

Because I can, me and my family should enjoy these things.

(In the sketch): Because I enjoy art.

How will I get what I want?

Giving away papal property and money as my will to my family.

(In the sketch): Order people to make art in my name.

What must I overcome to get what I want?

The disliking of other people of my reign.

(In the sketch): I must find the right people and the right art to be done.

Bibliography

Monty Python. (2014). The Penultimate Supper. Available: http://montypython.net/scripts/JC-penultimatesupper.php. Last accessed 30th Mar 2017.

BBC editors. (2014). Michelangelo. Available: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/michelangelo.shtml. Last accessed 30th Mar 2017.

Italian Renaissance editors. (2015). Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper. Available: http://www.italianrenaissance.org/a-closer-look-leonardo-da-vincis-last-supper/. Last accessed 30th Mar 2017.

Kristy Puchko. (2017). 15 Facts About Last Supper. Available: http://mentalfloss.com/article/64372/15-things-you-should-know-about-last-supper. Last accessed 30th Mar 2017.

Shelley Esaak. (2016). ‘The Last Supper’ by Leonardo da Vinci . Available: https://www.thoughtco.com/the-last-supper-leonardo-da-vinci-182501. Last accessed 30th Mar 2017.

Daily Mail Reporter. (2012). Did da Vinci paint himself into The Last Supper? Fascinating new theory suggests Leonardo used his own face for TWO of the apostles Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2189604/The-Last. Available: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2189604/The-Last-Supper-Fascinating-new-theory-suggests-Leonardo-da-Vinci-used-face-TWO-apostles.html. Last accessed 30th Mar 2017.

Frances D’Emilio. (1999). Da Vinci’s ‘Last Supper’ Restored. The Ledger. The 50 Most Important Floridians of the 20th century (2), 4. (https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1346&dat=19990525&id=cMJOAAAAIBAJ&sjid=_fwDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6753,4714301&hl=en)

Alfredo Bosiso. (1998). Ludovico Sforza. Available: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Ludovico-Sforza. Last accessed 30th Mar 2017.

Biography.com Editors. (2015). Michelangelo Biography. Available: http://www.biography.com/people/michelangelo-9407628. Last accessed 30th Mar 2017.

NNDB Editors. (2016). Pope Alexander VI. Available: http://www.nndb.com/people/159/000092880/. Last accessed 30th Mar 2017.

Wikipedia contributors. (2017). Michelangelo. Available: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michelangelo. Last accessed 30th Mar 2017.

Francis Xavier Murphy. (2007). Alexander VI. Available: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Alexander-VI. Last accessed 30th Mar 2017.

New World Encyclopedia contributors. (2016). Alexander VI . Available: http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Alexander_VI. Last accessed 30th Mar 2017.

New World Encyclopedia contributors. (2014). Michelangelo . Available: http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Michelangelo. Last accessed 30th Mar 2017.

A Doll’s House

separation

Initial research

I only found out I was working with Mia one or two days after we all knew what pieces we would be performing. Since I hadn’t read ‘A Doll’s House’ by Henrik Ibsen yet I assumed I would be doing a monologue from it. In a one-to-one session with Erica she explained that I would in fact be with Mia and we would be performing the last scene. All of this relating to the artwork ‘Separation’ by Edvard Munch.

Our first trouble was to figure out where to start from. We knew we would be ending the scene when the play ends but where should we start? What is too long? Where does it make sense?

I only had a chance to read the last scene later and I suggested that we would start during the bit where Nora goes off-stage to change her outfit and Helmer stays and does a happy vibes monologue. From then on the atmosphere would quickly change with Nora’s appearance and their discussion. It’s slightly long but nothing out of proportions. This is what we should work on I think since Mia also agreed on this after having thought of other starting points but they would have been too long to perform.

After seeing the painting for the first time and having read the last scene it all made a lot of sense as to why relate these two things.

Further research

The painting which the piece was inspired by is ‘Separation’ by Edvard Munch (1863-1944, Norway). It is a symbolism painting as can be seen through the expressive style which focuses more on meaning than the realism of the painting unlike ‘The Last Supper’. This painting was painted in 1896, during the time when Munch reused the same figures in a lot of his paintings: column of light in the sea, blonde girl at the beach, the lustful woman in red, the older woman in black, the unhappy man, etc.

I find it really interesting that the painting can be interpreted as the woman fusing in with the shoreline and the man fusing with the red plant to demonstrate the pure past and the bloody present. There is a lot of analysing to do with symbolism paintings and maybe what you interpret in a painting might not be what the artist intended. For example the hair that is still connected with the man in a very slight way might be the fact that a part of the girl is still with him, or at least in his memories.

When Edvard Munch discovered Henrik Ibsen’s literature he became extremely inspired by his work. At first that might not seem important at all but when looking further into Edvard’s work you find out that they had an interesting connection. As I’ve mentioned before the piece I will be performing is by Henrik Ibsen. This painting relates to the last scene of the play very much but wasn’t directly inspired by the play I think. It might have been but it isn’t mentioned that it was. There is a big probability because Munch did base a lot of his painting off of Ibsen’s literature. The two Norwegian men did also meet and talk together from which resulted in Edvard painting a few paintings for Henrik that were directly for his plays. They shared a common interest which was to subordinate form and nature to emotional feelings and express them through art. All of this had an affect on Munch as he was constantly being inspired by Ibsen’s literature: he started to focus more on painting more feelings and less backdrop into his art.

the-scream

I also did not realise that Edvard Munch was the one who painted ‘The Scream’ I always thought that it was painted by some other really well known artist like Van Gogh. So this came as a nice little surprise.

The piece

A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen is the play that relates to ‘Separation’. Me and Mia Hoy will be performing the last bits from act III. Thorvald finds out that Nora forged a letter to ask for money to be lent to her behind his back from Krogstad. Nora has been trying to hide that during the whole play and everyone found out about it before Thorvald. He found that out by reading a blackmail letter from Krogstad who after having a change of heart sent another letter saying that he won’t be blackmailing him anymore. From that point on Thorvald is relieved that his reputation is saved, mostly. This is the point where me and Mia decided to start our scene from; Nora now will have a discussion with Thorvald about how she is leaving him. We end our piece as the play actually ends.

I thought the play was rather interesting with so many moments that made me just think “how did Thorvald not find out about it yet?!” I really dislike Thorvald’s character because of how demeaning he is to Nora. He loves her but it’s as if he doesn’t think she’s human or has any thoughts of her own. I think it will be quite a challenge to play him. All of the characters in the play had a lot of development in them, and there’s at least one thing I can say about each of them. Except for Anna and Ellen, I couldn’t really tell them apart. Krogstad is the person who Nora owes money to; Doctor Rank is the man who is in love with Nora and is dying of an illness; Thorvald is newly appointed bank manager, extremely busy all the time; Nora is the happy wife who has no worries about anything but trivial things – or so it is made out to be at the start; Christine is Nora’s old friend who replaces Krogstad’s position at the bank; and of course the children are seldom mentioned so there is nothing to them apart from being kids.

I do love how at the end Nora does what all of us wanted her to do during the whole play; she leaves him. I kind of wished she would get together with Doctor Rank but he would have died off eventually in the end and she would have been left alone again.

Helmer

As I’ve mentioned before I don’t particularly like his character which will make playing him more challenging. He’s extremely demeaning to Nora and treats her as a child. He thinks that her opinion doesn’t matter and that she should not be involved in any of his business. Nora compares Helmer to her father who also treated her like a child and now that she’s in Helmer’s hands she is treated ‘like a doll’.

Being the newly appointed bank manager makes him be extremely busy all the time but also now he won’t have any money problems because he will be quite well off money wise.

There is not much added to the character since he is always in his office busy with something. Nora comes up to him to ask him favours a lot of the times which he agrees to quite frequently, actually. However, when she begged him to not dismiss Krogstad from his position at the bank, Helmer lost his temper. He seems like the kind of character who would lose his temper quite frequently. Once he lost his temper he told her that he does not want to be manipulated. He values his pride above everything, even Nora. Afterwards he does realise he got too angry and said a few wrong things so he tries to redeem himself every time by saying some petty words that again probably devalues Nora into being the person who is there for him to enjoy. A wife does anything a husband says, is what he thinks most of the time.

From this I need to somehow realistically grasp a feeling to go off of. I will base the general feeling on as if she had betrayed me with some other thing and not something ridiculous as what it is in the story because then I won’t be able to act it as I will be questioning myself all the time. I will not base my feelings on anything specific because then I will not make sense but I will find a way to feel this, as that’s what I think makes acting more real.

Who am I?

Thorvald Helmer, a newly appointed bank manager. I am the husband to Nora and I have two kids. I view the world in a way that a woman, more specifically my wife, has no place in the business world and serves me the purpose of sexual arousal and to be my doll.

Where am I?

I am in my home in a Norwegian town.

What time is it?

19th century, Christmas day, night time.

What do I want?

I want to be respected.

Why do I want it?

Because I have pride in myself and I want others to see my hard work.

How will I get what I want?

By accomplishing something great.

What must I overcome to get what I want?

At the end of the scene I must overcome my wife having shamed my name.

Bibliography

Ursula Rehn Wolfman. (2017). Edvard Munch — Henrik Ibsen — Edvard Grieg. Available: http://www.interlude.hk/front/edvard-munch-henrik-ibsen-edvard-grieg/. Last accessed 30th Mar 2017.

EdvardMunch editors. (2011). Separation, 1896 by Edvard Munch . Available: http://www.edvardmunch.org/separation.jsp. Last accessed 30th Mar 2017.

EdvardMunch editors. (2011). The Scream, 1893 by Edvard Munch . Available: http://www.edvardmunch.org/the-scream.jsp. Last accessed 30th Mar 2017.

Justin Wolf. (2017). Edvard Munch Artist Overview and Analysis. Available: http://www.theartstory.org/artist-munch-edvard.htm. Last accessed 30th Mar 2017.

Tyler. (2012). A Separation & A Doll’s House. Available: http://the-tarpeian-rock.blogspot.pt/2012/06/separation-dolls-house.html. Last accessed 30th Mar 2017.

National Library of Norway editors. (2017). Ibsen and Munch. Available: http://ibsen.nb.no/id/556.0. Last accessed 30th Mar 2017.

Sarah Schnebly. (2017). The Munch Connection . Available: http://www.huntingtontheatre.org/blog/dates/2017/1/munch-and-ibsen/. Last accessed 30th Mar 2017.

Cliffs Notes editors. (2016). Character Analysis Torvald Helmer. Available: https://www.cliffsnotes.com/literature/d/a-dolls-house/character-analysis/torvald-helmer. Last accessed 30th Mar 2017.

 

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