Friday, 25 May 2012

Hello, Goodbye...

Well. There it is. My year of AS level drama has drawn to a close.
I'm trying not to think about it too hard.
Because I might cry.
I've really, really enjoyed it. There have been some very infuriating moments - a Theatre Studies essay is not at all structured like an English one, apparently - but mostly very, very fun moments.
Our first text was 'Dancing at Lughnasa' by Brian Friel. I had not heard of the play or the playwright, and after finally reading it at the start of term, I found myself entranced. It is a powerful portrait of 30s Ireland and a family of women struggling through the obstacles life puts in their way. I was lucky enough to play Kate, the eldest of the sisters; she is highly religious, strait-laced, and feels everything very powerfully. She was an absolute joy to get under the skin of, and my heart broke along with hers. I still feel my best and most powerful performance of the year was her pivotal point in the story.
I think this picture from the Second Age Theatre Company's
production captures the sisters almost perfectly...
Next was 'Death of a Salesman' by Arthur Miller, a play that is seen far more often than our first. We ran into a slight problem; in a class of two girls and one boy, we had to produce a convincing couple of scenes from a male-dominated play. Both I and my female compatriot played chaps at one point or another - I played Happy, the younger brother and delusional son. I also, to my dismay, was told to play The Woman, with whom Willy Loman, the protagonist, has an affair. Despite our early hang-ups and our drama teacher's disappointment, we eventually got over ourselves and did the bloody scene.
Philip Seymour-Hoffman as Willy Loman in the current
Broadway production
I feel I need to mention a particularly strong performance from my best friend (who doubles as my Sondheim buddy). She played Linda, Willy's long-suffering and mousy wife, in a scene near the end of the play, where she confronts her two thoughtless boys. We had been practising the scene for a few weeks and each time she got better and better; Linda finally snaps, and the build and release of tension in the scene was hard to capture.
The lesson came where we had to film our work (to send off to the exam board... one hour each of our work on our two texts). We started the scene - me adopting my 'masculine' stature! - and as soon as she walked on set I knew she'd got it. Tears spilled, words were shouted, doors slammed. Everyone was very quiet after we finished. She nailed it. Much love to you doll xx
This term, having finished all the time-consuming coursework, we focused on our practical work that would be examined at the end of the year; a monologue each, and a final performance.
It was hard work, but we got there. I've never done a three-hander before, and even though this one was only 35 minutes long, DAMN you noticed there were only three of you on stage. 'Wanted' by Michelene Wandor is a very strange play - it focuses on the issues that IVF raises, and does so by placing the ideas in a Biblical setting. Sarah, Abraham's apparently barren wife, is visited by an Angel, who attempts to persuade her to try various methods to get pregnant. Sarah is unaware of Someone, an unborn soul, who haunts the Angel throughout the play, and who emphatically does NOT want to be born.
Yep. It's weird.
But rather fun.
As Sarah, I got to swear and shout and hobble about like an old hag.
Yes, very fun indeed.
Our performances to the examiner and a small audience were on the 9th of May.
Now all we have to do is wait for the results.
I'm very sad to wave goodbye to this year in the Performing Arts Centre. But I have plans for next year. Oh, I have plans.