This week in theatre, I began to search for a monologue that would fit the needs of my moment of theatre. In addition, I also began to construct my slideshow and find images to use in my presentation, while updating my worksheets to reflect my process.
To begin the process of selecting a monologue, I first evaluated the type of convention that I was presenting. To fit my portrayal of the principle boy as played by a girl, I decided that I would need a monologue from a principle boy character. I was very interested in exploring the scripts that are used in pantomime because I felt that this would be an excellent way to portray a character that as specifically written for pantomime. I began by finding several principle boy characters and searching for monologues by them. This proved to be more challenging than it initially seemed because many of the lines that this character type has is in the form of short lines of dialogue with other characters. However, I eventually found a monologue by the character Jack from Jack and the Beanstalk that would work.
Next, I constructed my slideshow. Throughout the process of this project, I had been keeping a digital record of notes that I took using my sources. I was able to group these notes into several categories:(History and Origins, Conventions, Moment of Theatre, and Connections) and these eventually became the outline for my slideshow. This as very helpful in this part of the process because I was able to easily transfer the notes that I took to slides.
This week in theatre, I focused on connecting the many different aspects of my research that I had worked on acquiring over the course of the past few weeks. I began by filling out some parts of a worksheet that allowed me to sort through the information that I had in order to weed out what I didn't need and categorize what was useful.
The first aspect of my presentation that I focused on was summarizing the context of pantomime. This included information relating to the origins of the tradition, the ways that it had evolved over time, and what other theatre traditions it had drawn influence from in order to get where it was.
Next, I revisited the conventions of the theatre tradition. I was able to add new information from my research relating to the way that large gestures and vocals are used in order to appeal to the children in the audience. I also was able to use the information in this category, in addition with the aspects of the tradition that I had discovered, to narrow down the convention that I wanted to use in my moment of theatre. Though still tentative, I am planning on showing how voice and movement contribute to a female actress playing the part of the principle boy, an aspect commonly seen in pantomimes.
Finally, I looked at how the aspects of my chosen tradition could be applied to the piece that I was going to choose for my moment of theatre. I knew that pantomimes were commonly based off of fairy tales, and this allowed me to begin my search for a monologue to use. I also used my knowledge of the fact that I wanted to play a male part commonly played by females to find pantomime scripts that would fit my needs.
Watching Example Presentations
This week in theatre, I looked at several examples of Research Presentations done by other students. These presentations were on a wide range of traditions, including shadow puppetry, Kathakali, and Punch and Judy Puppets. I also made sure to watch a presentation on Pantomime because that is what I will personally be presenting on.
From these videos, I picked up several common themes:
1. The students began by discussing some of the personal connections that they had with the tradition that they chose and/or talked about how they arrived at their presented topic.
2. Many students included some of the history of their chosen topic to give the audience some background and help set their scene in context.
3. When discussing the conventions of their tradition, the students focused on the one that they would include in their monologue. This helped the audience to recognize the elements that they wanted to be present in their performance,and proved that the student had done ample research in order to accurately portray the convention.
4. In the performance part of the presentation, the students would first take time to explain their thought process to the audience, and break up their monologue with this explanation before performing it in full. Although this initially seemed unnecessarily awkward to me, I feel that it helps the audience grasp the thought process that went into the creative choices that the student made.
5. The performance/monologue did not have to be memorized or fully polished. The student was often reading from a script or had reference cards. This shows that the focus was more on the thought and research that went into the convention, as opposed to the emphasis being on the student's performance and memorization skills. That being said, it was essential that the student was actually able to integrate the convention into their performance.
Discovering Pantomime Sources
This week in theatre, I continued to conduct research for my Pantomime research presentation. This included a variety of tasks, including making a a list of questions, writing out things that I knew for sure about the tradition, finding new sources for my research, and beginning to look at some important conventions of Pantomime.
To sort my thoughts, I first used a template to define what I knew about the tradition, what I thought I knew about the tradition, and what questions I had abut it. These questions included things such as: How did the gender-swapping aspect of pantomime originate? and In what ways has this theatre tradition evolved since its beginning? It is my hope that researching these questions will allow me to gain a deeper understanding of pantomime, in turn enhancing the quality of my final presentation.
The next step that I took was to find a wider range of sources. When I was first looking at Pantomime, watching a video of a pantomime performance and reading some short online articles about the tradition were enough to give me a basic understanding of the tradition and the way that it worked. However, I began to notice that I was reading the same information over and over again, and decided that it was time for some more in-depth research. I obtained two books about pantomime from the library; one about the history of pantomime, and the other going into detail about some of the characteristics of the tradition. In addition, I secured an interview source that will allow me to find answer to specific questions that I may not be able to find in my other research.
Finally, I began to fill in a chart that organized conventions of pantomime into categories such as movement, voice, and body. Continued work on this chart is my next step in this project, and I hope that my new sources will aid me in understanding some of the finer details of the conventions of this tradition.
Starting Research Project
This week in theatre, we began to research and chose the topic for our Research Presentations. To begin the process, we were given a list of world theatre traditions to look into. At first, I was drawn to the shadow puppet traditions, but as I began to research the traditions with more physical comedy such as French Farce and Pantomime, I became more excited about the project than I had been when looking at the puppets.
Using this realization, I was able to narrow my two choices down to one. Although I was initially skeptical of British Pantomime because it was not at all what I expected when I though of pantomime, I began to enjoy it more and more as I watched examples of it. Although I had never heard of or encountered it before in my theatre experience, I was excited to explore something new.
To begin my research process, I watched an example of Pantomime to get an idea of what it entailed. Next, I read several articles to solidify my understanding of the various aspects of the tradition and to answer several questions that I had about why the play was put on the way that it was. Reading these secondary sources also helped me to gain some background knowledge that was not made obvious in the video I had seen, such as understanding that Pantomimes originated from and still held close ties with Commedia, and that they were often performed for a broad range of ages at Christmastime.
Looking ahead, my next step is to figure out the aspect of this tradition that I will focus in in my presentation. Currently, I am exploring using movement because there are many opportunities for physical comedy in Pantomime, but I would also like to look into how the voice is used in this tradition. I feel that I am in a good place in the preliminary research phase, and I feel that I am on track to finish this project in a timely manner.