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SWED 2015/16

1. How is the initial material being researched and developed


at significant stages during the process of creating drama?

In order to create our drama we have been given 4 different stimuli,


researching about them was a priority, so we began doing just that.

Our first stimulus was a quotation Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not
natural. It is manmade and it can be overcome and eradicated by the
actions of human beings. by Nelson Mandela who became the first black
president in South Africa after spending 27 years in jail and is well
known for promoting messages of forgiveness and equality. He spoke
these words during a campaign to end poverty in developing the
world. After further analysis, research and mind mapping with the rest
of the group we have come to understand that it effectively
represents what could be the unsympathetic and cruel side of human nature
and how we are the ones who control the way we want our world to develop
nevertheless we are mostly motivated by economic issues or impulses. This
along with the second stimuli has made us want to portray the injustices
committed nowadays and in the past against innocent people and in
particular victims of slavery.

Our second stimulus is a deep and emotional poem Notherm Slaves


by Mustapha Mohammed, capturing the horror and sad essence of slavery
in 1789 when its practice was legal in the United States. It creates a
sense of pain and suffering encouraging the reader to place himself
in the shoes of a slave. It has made us reflect on the awful things slaves
went though, so we agreed we wanted to shock the audience showing the
lack of evolution man has made as slavery is still occurring nowadays,
perhaps by introducing a flashback with a short scene of slavery in
those times.

Finally, our third and fourth stimuli were a cover of the magazine New
Internationalist which makes references to the brutality of organ trafficking
and a title of an article Modern day slavery: which states that Slavery was
abolished by most countries 150 years ago, but bounded and forced labour,
trafficking and exploitation persist. In view of the harsh topics we were
addressing, we thought that it would be more appropriate to target
our piece to an older audience, our peers, as it could be quite harsh
and inappropriate for younger viewers. This would help raise their
awareness of mans cruelty and how slavery still persists today; how this
taboo issue which we thought was long gone can happen to anyone,
slavery is closer that you think. A slogan which derives from the UK
modern slavery campaign TV advert of 2014.

Centre Number: 97057 Candidate Number:9932 Word Count:3325 Lydia Jara


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In order to reach a deeper understanding of the topic of modern day slavery,
we established the main examples of modern-day slavery: organ
trafficking, forced prostitution and forced labour. Each of us focused on
an area of investigation. We believed we would work more effectively this
way as we could use our time more efficiently and then feedback our
research in class.

For example I researched human trafficking and discovered four different


articles which I believed were relevant and interesting for the development
of our play. For instance, one article stated the different warning signs
victims of human trafficking may have during trade e.g Victims of
slavery communication may seem scripted, as sometimes traffickers will
coach their victims to say certain things in public to avoid suspicions. I
believed this could be useful for the characterization of our victims.
Moreover each of us mind mapped our area of research and
highlighted phrases we thought were shocking and could be included
in the piece, for instance the poignant phrase Organ traffickers use
the slogan sell a kidney buy a new iPad was then incorporated in our
devised piece.

After sharing our research, we created still images adding music and sound
to evoke atmosphere to visually depict the different areas of modern-day
slavery we had decided to focus on, this worked as a stepping stone to
developing the scenes of our play as we would base them, on these still
images. For example to portray slavery at first we initially stood in a line
facing each other with suffering facial expressions to symbolize the slaves
physical and psychological cruelty they were subjected to. We werent very
happy with it as, it was too simple so we suggested that in order to create a
more dramatic image, and in order to engage the audience in a more
emotive way, we could use levels to symbolize the evolution of a slave and
how he finally cant even hold himself up due to the terrible conditions they
were subjected to.

Centre Number: 97057 Candidate Number:9932 Word Count:3325 Lydia Jara


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We decided it would be beneficial for us to establish basic rules for the
group, build a rehearsal schedule and have all our work gathered on a
working wall; this would enable my group to display all of our ideas in one
place, we placed our initial research on our wall, which then encouraged us
to think about different scenes for our piece and a possible plot.

2. How effectively are you personally exploring and developing your


roles?

Different characters relating to modern-day examples of slavery began to


emerge.

My character, an 18 year old girl, represents the outrageous situation an


organ trafficking victim has to experience, in response to our 3 rd stimulus. I
started to develop the sense of my character through hot seating. Emily was
who I built; a slightly depressed, discreet, immature, moody and determined
teenager with the hope of eventually living a happy life with her
girlfriend due to the violent situation she has to endure living on the
streets, as she was rejected by her parents when she announced she was
gay. Questions like Why did you think this was the best way of
getting money? and Since when did you start thinking of selling your
organs? prompted me to explore my backstory and Emilys role .I stuck
with this character through various rehearsals nevertheless I realized our
main objective was for the audience to acknowledge the underbelly of our
society, through the portrayal of the exploitation of slaves therefore it was
vital that the audience would sympathize with Emily. This made me alter
her; I took the moody aspect out of her and I knew I needed to develop
Emilys emotional and bitter side. To achieve this I made my posture
slightly rigid to show her sense of injustice portraying her inner anger to the
audience, I avoided eye contact with most characters which demonstrates
her insecurity. However through the use of proxemics I realized my
character would react differently towards others. For example, Emilys
posture will be slightly stooped when she interacts with the pimp,
demonstrating to an audience her sense of fear, in contrast her
communication with the victim of forced marriage needs to be more relaxed
and open demonstrating her sympathetic side, which adds to her pleasant
nature and possibly her curious character.

I was quite unsure how I could build my characters angsts during the scene
where Emily is contemplating the decision of whether to sell her organs or
not. Initially, I thought of using Stavislaskys emotion memory technique,
which would allow me to step in to my characters shoes and therefore

Centre Number: 97057 Candidate Number:9932 Word Count:3325 Lydia Jara


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reach this sense of realism in performance. However, I couldnt think of a
similar situation. Ive been exposed to therefore it was for me the hardest
scene to shape. After discussing with the group how I could summon these
feelings, someone suggested the voices in head technique. This technique
enabled me to examine more closely my facial expressions and posture.
Practically the technique consisted of letting the audience know the
characters thoughts, we liked the effect it gave as it increased tension so
we decided to adopt a non-naturalistic approach to the scene, yelling
Emilys thoughts while adopting actions in slow motion. By clutching my
head in my hands and adopting a shocked facial expression (my mouth
slightly open and eyes wide, glaring at the audience) effectively
demonstrated to an audience the atrocious situation Emily is exposed to.
When Emily decides to sell her organs, her tone here would be dismissive
and firm, to reflect miserable acceptance of her grim situation.

3. How did you and your group explore the possibilities of form,
structure and performance
style?
During the AS course we were introduced to a number of theatre
practitioners. The structure of our piece was an important issue, given that
it needed to be 25 minutes approximately; we certainly wanted our
audience to be engaged throughout our piece through building up tension in
key scenes, having a good structure would be a key aspect for our piece.
Nevertheless, the type of structure we aimed to use would greatly depend
on the form and style we wanted to incorporate into our drama.

We wanted a climax halfway through the piece which would, increase the
audiences involvement. The surgery scene was therefore our point of
climax; we built tension in the scene through the use of music (theme song
of American Horror Story) complemented by the unrealistic and larger-than-
life surgery equipment we made with the intention of shocking the
audience. Meanwhile, the idea of alienating the audience before our climax,
making them think about the more shocking scene afterwards was obtained
by the use of comic relief with the doctor scene; this provided a contrast
which made the audience become even more shocked and alienated.
Furthermore, in order to increase the pace of our drama, we came to the
conclusion of having our scenes almost merging into each other by avoiding
the use of complete blackouts.

We finally came to the agreement of adopting a non-naturalistic style in


order to end our drama with a strong impacting message Slavery is closer
than you think, which reinforces to the audience our overall message of the
play. We, as a group then linked this end with the opening scene by the use
of masks which portray the anonymity of human trafficking victims, they are
ignored by society and have no voice at all.

Throughout the devising process, we explored various approaches to our


piece, embracing various non-naturalistic styles that would doubtlessly
complement the naturalistic acting style in parts inspired by our AS work on
Stanislavski. Originally we meant to create a non-naturalistic piece, but we
realized we had the audience detached from emotional involvement with
the characters at all times which didnt allow the audience to feel sympathy
for our victims of slavery. Therefore we aimed to include a more realistic
portrayal of characters, with each of us elaborating a small monologue

Centre Number: 97057 Candidate Number:9932 Word Count:3325 Lydia Jara


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where we included background information about our characters, in order to
present a deeper understanding of their situation and basically leave the
audience questioning whether this might occur to them at any point in their
lives. This acting style added a naturalistic angle to the piece. Meanwhile
the decision to use a minimal set enabled us to speed up the pace of our
piece and prevent the audience from becoming disinterested; therefore I
believe this mix of non-naturalistic and naturalistic scenes was beneficial to
our piece.

To further emphasise our non-naturalistic style, we thought it would be


effective to act as puppets in the end scene, only tilting/rolling our heads
,doing the same movements repeatedly, to symbolize that slavery has
become a vicious cycle which no one has yet managed to abolish. The uses
of masks have also linked to our opening and emphasise how modern slaves
are often not visible to society.

4. How did the work of established and recognised theatre


practitioners and/or the work of
live theatre influence the way which your devised response
developed?

With our concept of embracing this mix of non-naturalistic and naturalistic


scenes, Liam Steel from Stan wont dance would definitely complement the
non-naturalist side. We incorporated his physical theatre idea of counter
pointing by juxtaposing slow soft jazz music with violent shadows of
domestic violence behind our sheet centre stage to make the audience feel
uncomfortable and moved at the same time; an aspect which would
definitely fit with the theme of our piece.
We wanted our devised piece to appear like a sequence of short sharp
scenes which would communicate our theme of slavery depicting the
injustices committed nowadays against innocent people, raising the
audiences awareness of mans cruelty, and of how slavery still persists and
hasnt disappeared by keeping the audience in an analytical and critical
frame of mind. Through the use of alienating techniques (multi rolling, use
of minimal props, or character changes in full view of the audience), all
techniques inspired by Brecht, we included shocking statistics such as:

One in three girls is forced into marriage under the age of eighteen.

Four hundred thousand children are trafficked each year.


This information intempted the dialogue thereby alienating the audience
and so this effectively helped us to give the performance more of a didactic
approach.
Linked to Brechts idea of Epic Theatre staying with our aim of alienating the
audience. We showed how the dark side of slavery still persists, but more
subliminally its closer than you think and can affect any individual, in the
ending scene with the coordinated movements and the masks which
suggest how these unrecognised people could be anyone. This devised
response initially came from an idea inspired by the theatrical company DV8
with the trailer of the play The Cost of Living.
Our set has also been influenced by a piece of live theatre, Macbeth by
the National Youth
Theatre we saw in year 12.My peers and I liked how they introduced
silhouettes in the scene

Centre Number: 97057 Candidate Number:9932 Word Count:3325 Lydia Jara


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where the witches tell Macbeth of their vision of the future, and throughout
our piece we incorporated a series of silhouettes showing the harsher parts
of slavery e,g. domestic violence. Our aim here was to astound the audience
by showing the brutality of slavery, nevertheless having a screen in front of
the actions portrayed how this is a taboo issue that society tries to keep
underground, so the design was optimal.

5. How successfully did your final performance communicate your


aims and intentions for
the piece to you audience?

Our intentions I believe, as a whole have successfully been reached and


achieved throughout our devised drama. We aimed to create a piece which
had this mixture of styles (naturalistic and non-naturalistic), and to make
our audience feel horrified and shocked by revealing the atrocious situations
human victims of slavery have to deal with I had goosebumps at times!
announced one member of the audience, I think we successfully
communicated the moral message that slavery is closer than you think
through the creation of a convincing storyline and through informative
statistics on the subject.

During the devising process, we realized how crucial constructive feedback


was to us in order to obtain our final piece. We invited people to watch and
then constructively criticize any aspect they didnt understand or liked. One
member of the audience raised a question in the domestic violence split
scene, in which my character, Emily, enters her new house: I realized it
was a split scene but wasnt sure where Emily was. It was suggested, in
order to make it more straightforward and transparent to the audience, that
Emily should initiate the scene by saying My new house! .Moreover; every
time we finished performing our play to our trial audience we asked them
if our aims or intentions were effectively communicated.

The monologue I developed for my character Emily was at first challenging


for me to perform; I found it difficult to make the audience feel sympathy
towards Emily. Initially I performed my monologue by adopting a more
sentimental manner but then, I thought it would be more beneficial to
achieve sympathy if I played her tougher and more numbed by her parents
rejection. Aiming to represent she has already overcome the fact that her
parents dont accept her. Nevertheless, I believe in the end it went
reasonably well and I was able to move the audience by portraying her
feelings. Another aspect which was challenging for us to achieve was the
coordination of the heads during the last scene. We accomplished this by
practicing several times in front of a mirror, in our final performance our
audience disclosed The coordination of the heads on the last scene went
pretty well.

The technical and set designs elements of our piece could have been
improved, we were
not able to carry out some ideas e.g. during the prostitute scene, we
thought each client should hang up an element which would represent the
different risks a prostitute is exposed to (a broken condom, a pregnancy test
etc..), our aim in this scene was to communicate to the audience the
dangerous situations slaves are exposed to by making them feel

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uncomfortable. I believe this stylistic device would have helped to
successfully communicate our aims.
However, overall, I believe our set design reflected our theme and provoked
a sense of intimacy and involvement because it informed and educated the
audience with statistics related to the theme of poverty hug all over the set.
To conclude, I believe we achieved our intentions and aims for Sold.

6. How effectively did the cultural, historical/political context of the


piece communicate to
your audience?
Sold was devised for a current 21st century audience, and I believe we
succeeded in creating a modern day piece. Firstly, the theme on which we
bared our piece is a particularly taboo issue nowadays yet slavery is now
illegal in all countries with Mauritania being the last country to abolish it in
1981.However, practices akin to it continue today in many places
throughout the world, 1 10.5 million children are estimated to be domestic
workers around the world, and many of these children are held in slavery.
They cook, care for children, garden, fetch water, clean, and anything else
that needs done in the homes where they are employed. It is almost
impossible to stop it from happening, and this is exactly what we aimed to
communicate to our audience by shocking them. In contrast people, in the
19th century would have reacted differently as slavery was common
practice. The action of whipping a slave was a motive throughout our device
as it addressed the backstory of slavery and its historical context.

Firstly the language used was very 21st century as it was modern English,
for example we used colloquial terms such as gay. Secondly, our dress
was contemporary we all wore black clothes however, as most of us were
multi rolling, in order to distinguish each character we had a specific prop,
for example The Pimps tie.

We thought of hanging up statistics, and phrases from different case studies


about slaves on our set, our concept was to inform and educate the
audience making the theme of slavery immediately visible to the audience.
As a whole, our group felt that our research conveyed the darker side of
slavery, the creation of newspaper covers with case studies gained this
cultural aspect, showing that is either covered or ignored by social media.

1 http://listverse.com/2014/01/07/10-horrifying-examples-of-modern-day-child-slavery/

Centre Number: 97057 Candidate Number:9932 Word Count:3325 Lydia Jara


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In terms of political context, we discovered that black market organs are
being transplanted in Philadelphia, New York and Los Angeles, as there are
broker-friendly US hospitals, which complete with surgeons who either
dont know or dont care where the organs come from. According to the
World Health Organization worldwide a total of 2 7,000 kidneys
approximately are illegally harvest. In order to communicate to an audience
our research, we thought it was necessary to devise the character of Brenda
Kent, a woman who has been diagnosed with kidney failure and has entered
by means of a hospital to this illegal trade of organs. Overall I think, as a
group, we effectively succeeded in creating a 21st century modern piece,
capturing and engaging the audiences attention by means of the cultural,
historical and political context.

2 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/10146338/Organ-trafficking-a-deadly-trade.html

Centre Number: 97057 Candidate Number:9932 Word Count:3325 Lydia Jara


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