We were given a text ‘A Midsummer Nights Dream’ by William Shakespeare to work on and develop towards performance. We used this text as previously we had worked on another Shakesprean play ‘The Tempest’ and had enjoyed this, so we thought this would be a good opportunity for a follow up.
The main themes we explored and discovered in ‘ A Midsummer Nights Dream’ were oppression, freedom, power and various forms of love; Passion like the love shown between Theseus and Hippolyta, Parental Love resembling the love shared between Egeus and his daughter Hermia and finally Unconditional love the same as the love shared between Lysander and Hermia; for this play I was put into a group of four- two males and two females, then we were given a scene to work with and develop in our group, our particular scene was Act one- the court scene for which I was given the role of Hermia’s father Egeus.
To help develop our characters further we used explorative strategies, these were, freeze frames, hot seating, role-play and a tableau as well as marking the moment and thought tracking to give our character more depth and background. Tableau To show the theme of we used ten people for this strategy of mixed gender.
The tableau consisted of five people standing in a row on a chair; this was to symbolise their roles as the oppressors as they were socially higher than the other five who were standing on the floor with their heads down, these were all diagonal with one another to form a triangular shape so that none of the characters were blocked from view. We used a series of three freeze frames to show the change of theme from oppression, to equality and then finally freedom.
The first stage was all our heads down and the leaders of the two groups turning round, then the second stage was all of the other participants following the example set by the two leaders lifting all our heads up and around to give the idea of , then finally the last stage was all of the characters embracing one another to show that we were all free of responsibility and captivity Role Play
For this strategy I was put into another group of four, containing three white males and one white female, we were then given the theme of oppression to work with and a number of possible storylines we could of used, we chose slavery and I was given the role of slave master. The scene was set on a crop plantation in the early 1900’s and was about to African slaves being trapped by slavery.
The story line was about a rebellious slave who wouldn’t listen to the slave master, this develops into a love triangle between the slave masters wife, and Sparky, as Slave One falls for her which eventually leads to the killing of Sparky’s best friend and the second slave when I try to kill Slave one. Not only was this explorative strategy useful in developing my character and show the character I played in a new light it also made me understand how Hermia felt by the pressure she was suffering under her fathers will.
Marking The Moment and Thought Tracking When I had marked the moment in the role play on African slavery, it was placed right after I had shot the second slave, we placed it there to give a dramatic effect and to show the remorse my character felt for this worker and actually shooting him, I think this helped in the play as it showed how I had to present my character and characteristics of Egeus in the final production, and to also express the most important parts of that scene during the play,
Hot Seating This technique used was used as an explorative strategy to give a greater depth and realism to the character I played in the play as they were very quick sharp questions which we had to answer as fast as possible, as I was the slave master I had to build up the background of how I came to own the plantation and why I was so harsh to my slaves I came into contact with as well as why I drove them so harshly without giving them a break or a chance to rest.
After we had used all these dramatic strategies we were then placed back in our original groups for ‘A Midsummer Nights Dream’ to use them to develop our themes and characteristics as well as the overall scene to give it more dramatic impact The Development Phase After receiving our texts ‘A Midsummer Nights Dream’ we read through it, we decided that the main themes explored in ‘A Midsummer Nights Dream’ were love, oppression and freedom after this we discussed the characters we were each asked what part we would prefer to play although I was away for this part I was given the role of Egeus Hermia’s father, an old man.
When I found out I was too play an old man I tried very hard to put on the voice of an elderly man to give my character more realism. This put a bit of stress on my voice, but I knew I would get used to it. I was then put into a group of four- two males two females to give an even distribution of sex and were given Act one, Scene one- the court scene to develop, in this scene Theseus and Hippolyta look forward to their wedding yet the star crossed lovers are interrupted when Egeus tells Theseus that his daughter (Hermia) refuses to marry Demetrius, the man Egeus has chosen for his daughter, and wants to marry Lysander.
After Hermia argues her case on why she wants to marry Lysander instead she is given an ultimatum by Theseus saying Hermia must obey her father or either become a nun or sentenced to death. This is how my character developed throughout the play. The movement of my character had to be slow and pondering. I had to seem like I was slightly hunched in appearance to portray the age of Egeus, who was around seventy years old. But when I was waiting while Hermia argued her case to Theseus, I am much more hunched, not so tense, so this is more my normal posture, because I feel more comfortable not speaking directly to Theseus.
In the first rehearsal my voice was not as good as it should be. Although I knew I had to start talking in an old mans accent. The use of levels also symbolised power as Hippolyta and Theseus were on a stage where as Hermia and Egeus are low to show that there is a moral and social difference between the two and the fact that I was in front of Hermia also gave the sense that I had power over her as well as her being overpowered by the Theseus and Hippolyta.
To help the play look more like a court scene we made Hippolyta and Theseus sit on chair s on the stage and also made it long and narrow by spacing apart Hermia and Egeus. To help speed up the play we made it so that Hermia was dragged on stage getting the attention of Theseus almost immediately I think this gave the whole scene a much quicker start and gave the audience something new to focus their attention on. I think the most important part of the scene is the Ultimatum and the plan that Hermia has to escape the city and her fathers will, as this truly represents the kind of independence she possesses.