We began looking at the play ‘A Taste of Honey’ by Shelagh Delaney in a naturalistic style. During the first few workshops, we were exposed to the set, the characters, their relationship, their moods and their everyday lives. We acknowledged the fact the Helen and Jo were mother and daughter but didn’t always get on and there always seemed to be an essence of competition in their relationship, more like a power struggle. This power struggle can be seen visibly through the text and the way the play is written.
We used Tableaux to show moods and relationships established in the first few pages. This gave me a strong, in depth, realistic perspective to the play. When we used out facial expressions and gestures to create a frozen picture, it really helped us to gain an insight into Helen and Jo’s relationship. I think that tableau is one of the most effective skills used in drama today. It creates a visual, still picture that relates to a part of the script. I then went on to use Tableau a lot more when studying ‘A Taste of Honey’ due to the fact that I thought this was very effective and gave a clear understanding and justification of relationships and moods to the audience.
Tableau was such an effective skill that I went on to discover new ways of conveying information when using Tableau. Through Tableau I was able to incorporate an essence of power by using levels. In my opinion, Helen and Jo were always trying to compete against each other more like a power struggle. I needed a way to show this to the audience very clearly. I thought that levels would be the most appropriate dramatic skill to use because it shows where an individual is visibly and in terms of status in an argument.
When Helen and Jo are arguing, this is what I would identify as a power struggle. We use levels to show who has the most power and who has the less power in any particular one scene. Using levels is basically a way of showing what character is winning the argument, without using movement or any vocal expression.
Once I was confident enough to take another step, I started using Hot Seating. This was basically a way of getting in tough with the characters inner feelings. When I was playing Helen, I had to think on my feet and sound as realistic as I could. The audience was able to get answers to questions that they wanted to ask. They also gained a complex understanding of the character. When I was asked the question ‘Do you think are a good role model towards Jo?’ I had to think up a well structured reply that also sounded realistic.
In my opinion, Hot Seating was a very effective skill that I liked to use as I think that it really makes one familiar with the character that he or she is playing. It makes you think on your feet and really feel like you are that person. This skill, as an actor made me a lot stronger. Although I didn’t use Hot Seating consistently when looking at ‘A Taste of Honey,’ I found it an interesting a useful technique that I could use in the future.
Once I had got in contact with my characters inner feelings, using Hot Seating, I decided to experiment with Forum Theatre. Forum Theatre is were everybody could take part and each implement and input their own ideas, making the acting stronger. Better known as the fourth wall, the audience can have a chance to say what they liked and what that didn’t like.
As a director, Forum Theatre is a brilliant way to make my piece of drama appeal to everybody. I think that Forum Theatre can make a piece of drama 100 times better than it was when it was shown originally. If someone notices something that they would like to change, it could be changed and if it doesn’t work, it can be turned back to its original state. This was an excellent way of experimenting with different dramatic effects and to improve your drama. I learnt that Forum Theatre could improve your acting immensely. For example, let’s take the scene where Helen is drinking heavily and Jo insults her and says that all she ever does with drink. Originally our idea was to just have Jo standing there without using any gestures or facial expressions. I then decided to have Jo’s hands raised in the air to show that she was about Helen and have Helen’s hands on her lap showing that Helen is below Jo.
This brings me to my final stage in my process. Once I had a good understanding of all the other dramatic techniques i.e. Tableau, Hot Seating and Form Theatre, I started to experiment with Expressionism. This is basically when you are using all the effects together as one. It can be a string of symbolic gestures to create an image to the audience that conveys a clear understanding and justification of the text.
Expressionism can also reveal to the audience the characters underlying feelings. It can make a great impact on the audience and help them to understand the moods, relationships and themes throughout the play. Also, we performed to the class a section of the play using Expressionism. We took away the original script and just used facial expression, gestures and noise’s to create a clear perspective for the audience to understand. I have learnt that you don’t need the original script to understand what is going on between the characters. Expressionism can reveal the moods, themes, relationships and the characters emotions in a very symbolic way which can also be much more powerful than naturalism.
I have learnt a lot from using ‘A Taste of Honey.’ I can now look back on it and see how the process has made me develop my drama skills. From just using tableaux’s which are quite strong, to experimenting with effects such as Forum Theatre and Expressionism. I have now taken a more abstract approach to drama.
We have learnt not to just look at a piece of drama from a naturalistic point of view but to take it further and looking a symbolism and expressionism. These are so powerful and can make your play have a lot more impact on the audience.
I have learnt a lot from ‘A Taste of Honey,’ it has been a worthwhile project to look at for GCSE Drama.