Blood Brothers – Development Task

For our coursework, we created several scenes and performed scripted pieces from the play ‘Blood Brothers’ by Willy Russell. I shall discuss some of the main scenes we created/performed and what mediums and elements we used to improve them.

The first scene I’ll discuss is where Mrs Johnstone and Mrs Lyons are arguing over who’ll keep the twin. We used various mediums and elements of drama to help us put the scenes from page to stage. I have listed how we implemented elements of drama and what effects they gave below:

Content- We produced this scene directly from page to stage, except we added thought tracking to it- two extra character characters that spoke their thoughts. We used the stage directions to produce movement and facial expressions which were the main content of the scene, including the dialog.

Actions- We used various different actions both from the script and improvised. These ranged from Mrs Johnstone cleaning at the start, to Mrs Lyons waving her arms in argument. We did this to give the effect of emphasising Mrs Lyons’ frustration and madness and to add more visual interest for the audience. It proved very effective as it made the scene more dramatic and evocative.

Climax- The climax in our piece was near the end where Mrs Johnstone swears on the Bible to give a twin to Mrs Lyons. We built up tension which lead to this by increasing volume and the tone of frustration in our voices. Reece whom played Mrs Lyons used a more pleading tone whereas I used a more frustrated tone. We did this because we wanted to engage the audience throughout the scene with the build-up of tension and emotion.

Contrasts- We created a clear contrast between the characters Mrs Lyons and Mrs Johnstone as shown on the script. These contrasts where presented in social class, which we portrayed through our differently accented voices. Also the dialog of the script suggested their contrast as Mrs Lyons had more authorative lines. In order to develop the contrast in characters further, we also had different postures to connote the contrast of status. I had a more relaxed posture and Reece had a more formal withdrawn posture. We did this to create an interesting conflict in the scene for the audience.

Symbols- The only symbolism we used in this scene was the Bible prop. In the script, Mrs Johnstone swears on the Bible. This symbolises a binding contract, especially for her character as she is very superstitious. We used lighting to mark the moment of this symbolism. Willy Russell may have used symbolism in this scene to add tension and interest for the audience as this reveals that an event is going to happen later on in the play. We could have added more symbols to the scene to create more tension.

Now I shall explore what mediums of drama we used in this scene to take it from page to stage and develop it further:

Costume- We didn’t use a particular costume as it was easier to change to different scenes and characters. We maybe should have used costumes that represented their class to show a visual contrast between the two characters.

Sound/Music- We didn’t use any music in our scene as there wasn’t any scripted, however we used a heart-beat sound effect to mark the moment of madness when Mrs Lyons was pleading. We could have used music when Mrs Lyons pleads for the twin to mark the moment and add emphasis on her character’s madness more effectively.

Space & Levels- We kept spread out on the stage to use space effectively, and we incorporated the use of levels to show a visual contrast in status of the two characters. Mrs Johnstone was generally lower than Mrs Lyons throughout the scene to connote her lower status.

Voice- Our voice intonation of anger and frustration built up throughout the scene to add more interest and contrasting moods from the beginning of the scene to the end. This use of voice gave the effect of showing the emotions of our characters clearly for the audience.

We rehearsed this scene by initially reading through the script as our characters and using voice intonation to add emotion to the lines as we read them out. We used the explorative strategy of thought-tracking to explore the inner-characters that weren’t shown in the script. Then we used the stage directions to take it from page to stage and add movement and gestures. We then added our own improvised actions etc. to develop the scene further.

We made the decision of having two additional characters that represent Mrs Johnstone and Mrs Lyons’ thoughts to reveal them more effectively to the audience. We also decided to use a heart-beat sound when Mrs Lyons pleaded to show the audience the madness of her character and signify it.

I think that the performance of this scene went well as our characters came across as we and the playwright intended. We made our emotions clear for the audience as we portrayed them through our gestures, use of voice etcetera. However, to improve this we could have used music at specific points such as when Mrs Johnstone swears on the Bible so as to mark the moment and add even more emotion to it. We demonstrated that Mrs Lyons and Mrs Johnstone had a good relationship initially, and how it deteriorated throughout the scene by using more infuriated expressions and vocal tones.

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