In our first unit we looked at opression (mans Inhumaity against other men) in general but we mainly looked at opression in Nazi Germany from 1936-45. We discussed things such as the death camps all over the world and we collected information about this and other types of opression over time. Over this Unit we used many different techniques to help us portray opression in a variety of ways. Whilst looking into opression, we were shown things to trigger responses from us all.
One of these things were pictures from the Miami Holocaust Memorial built in memory of the thousands of jews killed during the reign of Adolf Hitler.Seeing these pictures gave both me and my class mates an idea of how bad things were for the jews. Although these pictures gave us a slight idea of what was to come it made the class realise that this unit was very serious. We also looked at other aspects of oppression from different eras and cultures.
For me i believe oppression is rich and powerful stopping the "lesser People" from having their say. There are many examples of oppression over time such as the slave trade, Hitlers genocide of the jews and to the present day Robert Mugabi and the way he treats the public of zimbabwe.We have explored these different "versions" of oppression in many ways in the studio. We have done freeze frames in which we worked in pairs and in each freeze we had to show our power and dominance over our partner. we then looked at each of the freeze frames and analysed them.
i particually liked Hollys and Lillys set of freeze frames because i felt Holly used her body to show her dominance. For a small girl Holly used her stance very well. She had her feet streched out to the width of her shoulders which made her look bigger and stronger than she actually is also she had her shoulders back a bit which emphasised her posture.Also this was helped by Liily being on the floor which helped show everyone how small Lilly was and how big Holly was. As for lilly, for me it was all in the eyes.
Whether she was being oppressed or whether she was the oppresser although she used her body well to show off her power or weakness it was all capped off with her eyes. Lilly is one of them people who can bring out any emotion in her eyes whether it be sadness or anger. We also used still images and then went into spontaneous improvisation, this gave a great effect as we could get a true understanding of what it felt like being oppressed.We did many spontaneous improvisations such as the freeze frames (mentioned in the last paragraph) and the German SS Soldiers sorting out the jews into groups.
We had 3 Soldiers (our head soldier Luke, And the two side soldiers, Carrie-Ann and Me) and the rest of the class was in a line, Our head Soldier then walked past each person and decided whether they were to do hard labour, work on the machines, work in the brothel or die. This was really good as Luke picked on certain people and reacted in different ways to them.His improvisation was top class and so too were the people in the line as they did well to take it seriously and not laugh as we do have a few immature people in my class, i can be included in this catagory at times. As with all drama lessons, i like to have a laugh with my friends as we all find drama rather enjoyable, But for me i feel we all quickly realised how intense these sessions were going to be. i also quickly realised how serious this topic was and that we couldnt really use humour (although "Black Comedy" was later introduced to us).I found the way we acted during these sessions very interesting as there was a very serious attitude towards the work.
I also found one of the activities done had a great impact on the way the class saw oppression and it helped us all gain a better understanding of the subject matter. This was when the lights were switched off and the words "Time to Die" were shouted and a few of the group became German SS soldiers and they had to round the rest of the group in the corner (like the German soldiers did to the jews in the Ghettos). thought this was fantastic as no one new what was about to happen and to begin with i wondered how i was going to play the charactor of such an evil person after i am not a horrible person. But without even thinking the charactor of the German SS Soldier quickly took over me. it got to the point when Erin fell over my feet and i gave her a slight kick whislt she was down, afterwards i felt very ashamed about my actions towards her. After that was done Our teacher asked the Three "soldiers" (of which i was one) how they felt and each of us said they enjoyed it (even though i did kick someone).
I think i enjoyed it the most though as i had a massive smile on my face. It was nice to have the power over my peers and make them do what i wanted them to do. As the Soldier i only saw it as a job to do and nothing else. None of us felt guilty in what we did but some people were a little disgusted in us. We started by taking the story of oppression as far back as biblical times with the story of Herods massicare of children.
This is were herod thought the children could be a threat to him as the prophecy said "They will become kings of the future".He then ordered every family to take their eldest child to the town sqaure to exectute them. We starting this off with a photo of a happy family which then turned into a Spontaneous group improvisation in which we carried out the kings order. I felt this was a great way to get us acting as it threw us straight into the action. Personally i think that some of the groups best work comes when we do some sort of spontaneous improvisation. I felt some good work came from Danielle Delaney from this piece as she got straight into charactor and as her "husband" i really felt that she was begging me not to kill our oldest son.She has a very good technique for bringing out emotion into a performance and i wish i could bring such emotion.
This leads onto Emotional Memory. We mentioned this brifely during one of the sessions. This is where you use Certain events and feelings you have experienced in life to portray Honest and truthful emotions on stage. This would help bring empathy from the audience to the charactor you would be playing. I find this really hard to do as im not really one to show my emotions and although i understand its for the purposes of drama its still tough for me.We then looked at the use of "black humour" on stage. his is where you make the audiences laugh and then feel ashamed of what they have laughed at.
For example in our development piece we had two SS soldiers standing around guarding one of the death camps talking and one of them makes the joke "How many Jews can you fit into a car, Two in the front, Two in the back and 174 in the ash tray". We instantly got a few laughs but also alot of people going "ohhhh" as they new they shouldnt have laughed but this helped emphasize our facts about oppression. I feel this is a great way of getting your point accross and i feel it helps the audience remember the key facts.There were alot of opinions on this use of humour. i for one found it a brillient and different way of getting your points accross whereas others were against it and found it horrible listeneing to such sick jokes. All This led to the develpment piece. We were placed in groups and we had to use all these different ways of portraying information on stage to create a series of scenes showing oppression from at least two different eras and/or cultures. This piece had to include factual information and we had to show our views on oppression and whether it is acceptable in the modern world.
Our peice began with a mother and daughter in their house talking and 3 ss soldiers start to bang on the doors and burst in and take the child whislt the childs mum is trying to save her. This was a fairly intense scene to start off with. we chose this so we could grap the audience and shock them from the off. Our next scene was 2 guards lineing a family up into the gas chambers to die. again this was another intense scene but whilst doing this we were adding in facts such as & 6 million jews were killed" and "1 million children were killed". ecause of the intense start to the performance i feel that the information would have sunk in better with the audience.
In our 3rd scene we change time period and we go to the slave trade. In this scene we are at a slave auction and two blacks are being sold.I partically liked that part as we hoped that the audience would feel something for the slaves and then also feel that sinking feeling knowing that they wouldnt see eachother again whilst gaining important information at the same time. Our final scene is the 2 German SS soldiers talking about thier first kills and making "black Humor" jokes. Overall i felt that this development piece was fantastic as i thought we came up with some strong ideas and our acting and staging was even stronger. although we probably could have put more effort into it we certanly tried out very best. For a sample script see fig.