Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Forced Entertainment

Do Forced Entertainment consider criticism and use it to improve their performances?

Forced Entertainment has been around since 1984 and over the years we have received a lot of praise. For example, the Guardian Newspaper has stated that we are "Britain's most brilliant experimental theatre company." However, our work varies quite a lot and is not always enjoyed by all audiences. Sometimes in a performance, members of the audience will simply get up and leave due to the dissatisfaction of what they are experiencing. An instance of this is "Who Can Sing a Song to Unfrighten Me?", which lasts 24 hours and is not only entertainment but a test of endurance.

We also receive a lot of criticism from respectable theatre reviewers. There are many who argue that our work lacks understanding and is targeted at a minority audience that is too small. However, we believe that our work is stimulating, challenging and provocative and should therefore not always be understood and it is part of our expectations that our performances are sometimes misunderstood.

Criticism rarely directly affects our performances or next performances. The entertainment we provide is forced upon the audience and should not be adapted to satisfy the critics or else it is no longer forced. However, we once received criticism that our performances were a "bloody mess". This is a usual occurance and remark directed towards our hard-work, we were not ready to change everything we do for this one comment. But we did however, use this comment for the title of our next performance which was named "Bloody Mess".

In conclusion, Forced Entertainment does not consider criticism, unless using the comments as a stimulus for a new, stimulating, challenging, provocative and exciting performance.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Practical Performance Proposal

269 word pitch about a piece entitled:


From the stimuli of the Nazi oppression as well as the reminiscence of Italian Fascism, I was inspired to devise a piece where a joint assassination attempt (Hitler and Mussolini simultaneously) takes place. It is carried out by German and Italian army generals and is to take place at the 1938 Munich Agreement. The set design would be based on three separated areas. Stage left would be where the Fascist camp is located, decorated with nationalistic and fascist banners and stage right would be the Nazi camp, also decorated with loud Nazi banners. In the middle is neutral ground where the generals would meet and conspire and where the Munich conference would ultimately take place. These contrasts of banners would emphasise the difficulty of the plan of coordinating an assassination of two powerful dictators from different nations at the same time. The dictators, when on their respective stages, would always be centre stage (on their platform) and higher up in levels – possibly with a raised chair – to emphasise their power and importance. Lighting would be used to represent the seriousness of each scene as well as the importance of secretive meetings – a dim, perhaps red, light would be used when the generals conspire or meet – representing secrecy and conspiracy. A bright white light would be used when the generals are present with the dictator in order to highlight apparent loyalty. Heavily uniformed army officers constantly looking around would be randomly situated in the audience to provoke a slight fear as well as the notion of distrust among the audience as well as to emphasise the motif of nationalism and militarism.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A critical Review of Cirque Reynier

Cirque Reynier is a French travelling circus company that offers a 2 hour performance for 12-15 euros (depending on seat type). The venue was surprisingly good, seeing as the ring was set up the night before and was able to withstand gale-force winds that happened to be blowing in the French alpine region of Les Deux Alpes.

Whilst being seated and waiting for the audience to fill up, traditional circus music was being played. This helped to create a circus atmosphere within the tent. The mild smell of horses and the stronger smell of popcorn also added to the atmosphere within the tent. The ring had a diameter of around 10 metres and was used effectively to make the spectacle of the animals seem more exciting. Having large animals perform in a small area increased the impressiveness of the feats.

The costumes were professional and the character known as "Reynier" played a variety of roles. Ring leader, horse trainer and clown. Each costume was convincingly suited and the senior members of the cast stayed in character throughout the duration of the performance (the younger members of the cast sometimes lost focus). The make-up, notably that of the clown, was reconisably rushed because of the changing of roles throughout the performance. But it was nevertheless convincing.

The performance was very authentic and some of the acts were somewhat controversial since the animals were blatently not enjoying the acts. Some of the human performances were weak and boring, whereas others were somewhat exciting but nothing special.

If you can speak French, can spare 15 euros for a ringside seat, and want to experience an authentic travelling circus, then this is perhaps an ideal way to spend at afternoon. But definitly not worth seeing more than once since the acts are fairly poor. Make sure to bring several friends as the most interesting thing about this circus is the discussion afterwards about the appropriateness of what you have just witnessed.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

King of Capri Throne

For the King of Capri Junior School performance, Mrs. Richter requested that we make her a "spaghetti throne". Initially we thought this wouldn't be so difficult, but this was mainly because we hadn't started to build it yet. Our initial design was a basic wooden chair with wooden "side skirts" that pasta pieces could be glued onto. It then had a fan of makeshift uncooked spaghetti pieces of around 1.5 metres long to fan the back of the chair to add extravagence. The chair would then be accompanied by a pillow made of meatballs to represent sauce.

This idea however, had to be changed because of the problem of actually finding a wooden chair. So instead we tried doing the same or a similar idea to the wooden boxes we use in the drama room. We placed a white sheet over the boxes and began glueing the pasta pieces, donated by the ...over-generous... Sodexho company, onto the sheet. We tried a small section of the sheet and gave it a few minutes for the glue to dry. Once we moved the sheet even a tiny bit, all the pieces began to fall off. This idea had to be scrapped.

Another idea came from using one of the existing chairs in the drama room, which, much to Adrian's dissapointment, looked remarkebly throne-like already. We decided to simply use coiled up (or messy) rope to represent cooked spaghetti. 89 euros worth of rope was bought from Obi by Dr. Riley and we began experimenting with the spaghetti. We first just placed the spaghetti randomly over the chair. It looked like spaghetti, thank god! However... the pattern on the chair looked somewhat odd, and it definitly did not look extravagent. So we decided that it was probably best to place a sheet over the chair and then apply the spaghetti.

We experimented with various colours, orange, beige, black, white. The black and the orange made the rope stand out the most, but they also just made it look like rope, rather than spaghetti. By adding "sauce and meatballs", which was created by putting polystyrene balls from Obi in a red sheet This made the spaghetti on the white and beige sheets stand out more, and begin to actually resemble spaghetti on a plate. We decided also to ditch the randomly-placed idea and positioned the spaghetti as it would come on your plate if you just ordered it. We decided upon the white, solely because Dr. Riley said we weren't allowed to use the beige sheet. We stood back and admired our throne.

However, there really was something missing; extravagence. It looked surprisingly much like a chair, with spaghetti on it. We needed to create a royal look. Golden polystyrene balls were recomended by Dr. Riley, to be placed in key places on the chair. This was a good start but I knew it was missing something... The King in the script is surrounded by wealth and material items. His chair had to be the centre of the room. So, to make his chair look more like a centre-piece, I suggested we frame it with a giant knife and fork. This idea went down very well, and we set to work looking for scrap bits of cardboard to cut out our over-sized utensils. Luckily the Hausmeister was able to spare us a more than adequate piece of card. We began drawing the outline of the fork and then class was over. So that's what we have so far! Below is the final chair without the golden balls and Besteck.

Make-Up with Mrs. Hall

On the 23rd of April, the same day that we went to the theatre to watch Schnee, Mrs. Hall, a make-up artist from the BBC, ran a workshop with us about how to apply stage make-up.

She started off by explaining how effective make-up can be in theatre and briefly explained how it is used to accentuate or manipulate different aspects of a character, for example, age or tone.
We began by off by choosing a shade of foundation to attempt to match our skin. Mrs. Hall explained that the foundation must be applied everywhere on the face, including on the eyelids and over the lips. She pointed out that if you start at the middle of your face and spread it outwards then you won't end up with contrasts around your hairline. Unfortunately, I went a little overboard and looked like I had come straight from the film Troy, minus the muscles - in other words, I had picked a shade a lot darker than my actual skin colour. However, Mrs. Hall explained that this was fairly irrelevant.

Once we had applied the foundation we could then add character. We talked a lot about the eyes and Mrs. Hall went around the room examing people's eyes and the effect that inset or outset eyes had in the theatre. For example, Paul had fairly inset eyes and this can be seen as sinister. By creating shadows or adding light (using dark and light make-up) we can manipulate the eyes and thus manipulate the character. Personally I found it very difficult to apply make-up to my eyes and although I hadn't done so bad on the one eye, the other one looked completely different because firstly I am a novice at applying make-up and also because I have some sort of dyslexia for constructing symmetry.
After the eyes we learnt how to add "racing stripes", as she called them. These stripes, however, had no relation to speed or racing. They are the shadowey grey lines that are applied under the cheek bones to accentuate the cheek bones. The effect of this can be to add beauty, to add age, or to establish a malnutritioned or underfed appearance. To apply these racing stripes we were instructed to suck in our cheeks [seen left on Fritz]. This clearly displays the outline of your cheek bone, thus making it easier to follow it when you apply the make-up. However, this didn't seem to make things any easier for me and my racing stripes just looked like dirt that was smeared on my face. It was meant to look something like the picture seen right of Rosina.

We then quickly went over applying blush to create a healthy looking character. It can also create beauty in females. This was fairly simple to apply and once applied, one looks just as pretty as Fritz, shown left.

The workshop carried on a little bit longer into our lunchtime. However, Claire and myself had an extended essay meeting and had to miss the last part. I quickly ran to the bathroom and removed the make-up with soap and water and drying my face aggressively with paper-towels. I think this was probably a very ineffective way of removing make-up. Even though most people did not notice the remains of the make-up on my face, it made my face irritant and was really itchy. It also made the make-up run into my eyes and they were sore for the rest of the day.
I feel a lot more confident about stage make-up through this experience and can provide help when deciding what make-up to apply to a character. However, my ability to apply the make-up itself is poor and should probably be left to a girl with a lot more experience.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Schnee Review

Regie Lars-Ole Walburg
Bühne Robert Schweer
Kostüme Nina Wetzel
Dramaturgie Malte Jelden
Musik Theo Nabicht
Video Sebastien Dupouey
Licht Stephan Mariani

On the 23rd of April around half of our class went to see the production Schnee from Lars-Ole Walburg. The play was in German so was fairly difficult for me to understand. The storyline I did not fully comprehend but picked up that it was some sort of social critique on Islamic culture and the turban issue. The play in itself was fairly complicated so I tried to focus on interpretting or picking up on the director's intensions. I had some ideas, but most of them were quite hard to remember since I had no context or storyline to match them up with.

The set was very interesting though. It began with a pile of fairly old-looking TV monitors ranging in sizes all piled up and displaying signal interference. They went from dark to light in colour, and when they were light, the pile looked very much like a large heap of snow. Whether this was the intention or not I am not sure. But I know that in Britain the signal interference is seomtimes referred to as snow. The reason it is referred to this in the UK is because when interference occurs one sees white marks moving around on a black background and on US monitors you see black marks moving around on a white background, sometimes referred to as "bugs".

The visual parts of the performance I found very exciting since I could not understand the aural text. One of my favourite parts was when they used a live AK to shoot blanks. This can be seen in the above picture with the Turkish flag in the background. The shots were very loud and the effect was very realistic. I also enjoyed when Ka the main character picked up a handheld smoke generating device and used it to mask most of the stage [shown right]. The effect of it moving around the stage was really cool and was followed by an actor, who's character name escapes me, playing an entertaining song on the keyboard which I was able to translate successfully and find interesting. Although where it fit into the story that I was so unsure about, I don't know. Another visual effect I found interesting was displayed in the last 20 minutes, which were just an actor talking and telling a story; so for me this was highly uninteresting since I could not speak. The effect of falling snow that was meant to represent real snow. It was very convincing and very asthetically pleasing. Both myself and Paul (who also found it difficult to understand the spoken text), were fascinated by the snow and were staring at it for, well, 20 minutes.

All in all, it was an interesting experience and I did somewhat enjoy it, despite not understanding about 95% of it.

Ibsen Set Design Evaluation

Initially, I was very satisfied with my Ibsen set design of A Doll's House. My idea was to create a home a modern home that captured all the main themes of the text; a disfunctional family, money, appearance vs. reality, deceit. More detail on how these themes are incorporated in my set can be seen in my journal.

So when I received a 5 I was a little dissapointed. However, I knew after looking at other people's work why mine was not worth more than a 5. Most other people's sets were a final product of a lot of research. They took a lot more time into researching different types of traditional sets, as well as what aspects of a set can bring out different theatrical qualities. My mistake was to have an idea in my head and carry it out without sufficient enough research. Also, I did not go into much detail with my script analysis.

On the whole, despite the flaws in my work, I am proud of what I produced because I feel it was a good attempt. However, some other people's sets I greatly admired, specifically Lana's. Not only was it very asthetically pleasing, but it was obvious that alot of time and effort had gone into the making. I enjoyed Andrej's also, but thought that a lot of his intention or a lot of the sets feeling was lost in his method of presentation. It was difficult to really appreciate what he was getting at since the graphics weren't perfect - the "slanting" ceiling for example. It is alright once he has explained to us that the ceiling should be slanted, but to see it in true really helps to envision the final product that he was trying to explain.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Dance Essay: What are the gender roles in Poi and Haka and how do these reflect the values of that specific society?

Millennia ago, there existed a group of people known as the Māori. The practices of males and females differed significantly depending on their role in society. Much like any other tribe, the Māori women dedicated their lives to the upbringing of their children[1]. Being the backbone of a family involves many other responsibilities, too, such as cooking, sewing, and other household chores. The men, on the other hand, were committed to protecting their people. They safeguarded the women[2] and often travelled in large groups known as war parties to fight other groups. The Māori took their duties to society very seriously. In order to improve their techniques, they often honed them through dance. Women developed their hand coordination through the creative dance of Poi, whilst Māori men strengthened their mind, bodies, and image using the fierce warrior dance Haka.

In Māori legend, the sky and the earth were both assigned a gender[3]. The sky god was known as the Sky Father; Ranginui. The earth god was known as the Earth Mother; Papatuanuku. When the couple was separated, mortal life on earth began. Before the couple was separated, they gave birth to 70 sons, all separate gods. The gods noticed something was missing. Tane-Mahuta, the god of Man, created the female. Thus, Māori lore encourages male dominance over females. The male sky god is in a position of power in terms of height over the female earth god. Also, the female was created by the male. Therefore, it is also the protectorate of the female.

Whilst men were busy protecting the people, the women tended to equally as important passive duties. Many of these duties involved crafty handwork. To the Māori, ritual and dance carried much significance, so the Poi dance was created to improve the hand coordination of women[4]. Poi involves swinging two kis. A ki is a plaited flax rope, each with a woven flax basket containing a moa (egg of a now extinct bird) on the end. However, as the benefits of Poi dance became apparent to men, they realised that Poi could be used for honing weaponry skills and for hunting as well. For this the moa was replaced with large rocks and only one ki was used. Therefore, the Māori society was fairly male dominant, but they were prepared to share roles.

A male role in society is to defend their people. Before entering into battle the Māori men would perform the Haka dance[5]. There are two forms of the dance. The first is with weapons; the peruperu. This dance was said to invoke Tumatauenga, the god of war, one of the 70 sons. The other form of the dance is without weapons, haka taparahi, and usually accompanies cultural performances still today. For example, sports matches. However, only men’s teams practice this dance. But in the past, some war parties contained women, making the Haka a non-exclusive dance, like Poi.

The Māori people, as a society, practiced separate male and female dances. The dances were separate because their roles in society differed also. However, adaptions were made to the dances so they could be performed and used by the opposite sex. For example, Poi was adapted to work with weapons, and the Haka was preformed with women as they too become part of war parties. Therefore, as a society, the Māori people are very accepting of genders as well as adaptable and this value is underlined when observing their dances Poi and Haka.

[1] Mary-Kim, Arnold. "Kerewin's Character and the Cult of Domesticity." Kerewin's Character and the Cult of Domesticity. 15 Mar 2002 . Scholars.nus.edu.sg. 21 Jan 2008 <http://www.scholars.nus.edu.sg/post/nz/nzgender3.html>.
[2] Mary-Kim, “Mateship and The Family Man”
[3] Whitmore, Robbie. "Māori legends and myths." New Zealand in History. 02 May 2004 . New Zealand in History. 22 Jan 2008 <http://www.history-nz.org/maori9.html#creation>.
[4] Whitmore, "The History of Poi Toa."
[5] Whitmore, "Māori and Warfare."


- Mary-Kim, Arnold. "Kerewin's Character and the Cult of Domesticity." Kerewin's Character and the Cult of Domesticity. 15 Mar 2002 . Scholars.nus.edu.sg. 21 Jan 2008 <http://www.scholars.nus.edu.sg/post/nz/nzgender3.html>.
- Mary-Kim, Arnold. "Mateship and the Family Man." Mateship and the Family Man. 15 Mar 2002 . Scholars.nus.edu.sg. 21 Jan 2008 < http://www.scholars.nus.edu.sg/post/nz/nzgender4.html>.
- Mary-Kim, Arnold. "New Zealand as a Gendered Culture." New Zealand as a Gendered Culture. 15 Mar 2002 . Scholars.nus.edu.sg. 21 Jan 2008 <http://www.scholars.nus.edu.sg/post/nz/nzgender1.html>.
- Whitmore, Robbie. "Māori legends and myths." New Zealand in History. 02 May 2004 . New Zealand in History. 22 Jan 2008 <http://www.history-nz.org/maori9.html#creation>.
- Whitmore, Robbie. "Māori and Warfare." New Zealand in History. 02 May 2004 . New Zealand in History. 22 Jan 2008 <http://history-nz.org/maori2.html>.
- Whitmore, Robbie. "The History of Poi Toa." New Zealand in History. 02 May 2004 . New Zealand in History. 22 Jan 2008 <http://history-nz.org/poi.html>.
- Whitmore, Robbie. "The Māori – Brief pre-history." New Zealand in History. 02 May 2004 . New Zealand in History. 22 Jan 2008 <http://history-nz.org/maori.html>.