During the rehearsal period before our short performances of ‘A Taste of Honey’, each actor improved all aspects of their performance, from the interpretation to their proxemics on stage. This was due to our intense rehearsal period where we developed our own acting skills as well as our way of interpreting characters. One of the issues I faced whilst playing Geoff was how best to convey his love and caring toward Jo. Because this is a core and essential part of his character, I felt that I had to work on this part of Geoff more than other parts.
To achieve this, I worked closely with Poppy (who played the character of Jo) to perfect the scene which opens the piece we were performing, because this is the biggest chance we had to express Geoff’s feeling toward Jo whilst Helen is not in the scene. I included more gestures to show my feelings, such as stroking Jo’s shoulder and helping her up as she is pregnant- these worked together to show that my character cares immensely for Jo. In turn, several techniques helped me to perfect my interpretation.
A strategy that I found extremely helpful was called ‘Reflection in Role’; during this process I was asked questions about my character directly after the scene had finished so that I would still be in role and have the feelings of the character fresh in my head. This technique helped to establish a relationship between our characters and develop our understanding of the Human Context. The next strategy which we used is called ‘Hot Seat’ which involved sitting in a chair in front on the class- in character- and being asked questions by the audience about feelings, relationships or statuses within the scene.
This helped us to develop a deeper understanding of our character. Furthermore, one of the most common issues within our class was that our dialogue and the delivery of it didn’t sound believable in the ‘Kitchen-Sink’ context. The style of the piece was naturalistic which meant that our actions and the way we said our dialogue had to reflect this. An example of this is, during the fight scene, our lines had to overlap because this would be what would happen in a real fight- we had to make it seem like our lines were unscripted.
Repetition of the scene helped us to familiarise ourselves with individual cues, certain moves between characters and being careful not to block each other- this was especially apparent in the scene where Helen is parading across the floor space and steps in front of Jo and Geoff quite often. To perfect the timing of this scene we practised it lots of times, as the repetition helped us to remember and time the section perfectly. Other techniques that we used included going through the scene without stopping- even if we did make mistakes- because this would highlight which areas we needed to improve.
Because of the realism theme, everything had to feel as if it was happening for the first time. This was unusual for me, because I am used to each of my lines being heavily rehearsed and sound it. However, in ‘A Taste of Honey’ I had to act as if it was the first time that I had said it- and react accordingly. I found this particularly hard with the line: “Don’t tell her I came for you,” because I had rehearsed it so much that it had started to sound as if it wasn’t important to the scene- which it was. I improved this by changing the tone of my voice each time I said it, so that it would sound more genuine.
In turn, these techniques also helped our next dilemma in rehearsing which were our positions on stage. Before we practised in front of an audience, our scene was using far too much space on stage; we improved this by restricting the amount of room we could use as a performing area. Our group also decided to experiment with different proxemics, so that we could show relationships and the interest and focus of the characters just by the positioning on stage. We also found that we often blocked each other on stage- especially during the fight scene- which would distract from the main action.
This was easily corrected, however, and we were able to not upstage each other by our recorded concluding performance. Also, a common problem that some groups faced was that they forgot about their audience and played their character too much in profile so a lot of facial expressions were missed. This was fixed by remembering that the audience are the most important part of the theatre- if they were not there, there would be no theatre! The final obstacle that we faced as a group in our rehearsal period was how to vary the dynamics during the performance.
As, during the scene, we are supposed to convey a variety of emotions to the audience we had to include different dynamics. To achieve this, our group experimented with different paces- especially during the argument section. We experimented with different pauses in places where they felt necessary to let the emotions of the scene process with the audience and to dramatize the moment. In each scene that required it, lines would be read at a fast pace, very quickly as to heighten the audience’s emotions and keep them on ‘the edge-of-their-seat’.
In contrast, some of the scene was improved so that it was much slower than the rest of the piece. This would add tension to the scene (especially when Helen and Jo are discussing their futures) and would juxtapose the fight section. This would also create a stronger effect as it shows that Helen does truly care about her daughter but doesn’t know how to show or prove it. Before our rehearsal period our characters were very one-dimensional and ‘flat’, but after practising, interpreting, and getting used to our characters we were able to make them a lot more two-dimensional and more interesting to watch during a performance