Dominic's Theater Blog

Theater in Motion

This blog will act as my theater journal for my IB HL theater class.

My First Monologue of the Year

This monologue was very interesting to recite. It used a lot of language in a way I wouldn't think of using it. It really had me get into the mind of the character Arthur Birling. I felt the hand-motions were a little exaggerated, and I think that the exaggeration of hand motions is something I will need to work on in the near future.

My Second Monologue of the Year

I am rather proud of this Monologue. It was a monologue I performed in my freshman year, and still remember today. This monologue was not graded, but I feel I captured the character very well.

Plans for Commedia Dell'Arte!

For my IB theater RI, I will be performing research on Commedia Dell'Arte, or Italian Comedy Theater

How is Commedia Dell'Arte Performed

Commedia Dell'Arte is performed with stock characters. Characters that perform the same function and basic personality. Some of the most famous characters in Commedia Dell'Arte are:

  • Arlecchino, which was the most famous Commedia character. Very witty, and acrobatic
  • Il Capitano, which was a parody of soldiers, given overabundant confidence and cowardice.
  • Pantalone, which was the parody of the greedy vencian salesman. Money grubbing and selfish to a fault. Usually Pantalone has a young wife or a exciting daughter.
  • Inamorato, which was the archetype for the lover. the Inamorato would go by many names in the various plays he appeared in, but the character was extremely identifiable. The female version of this character was known as the Inamorata.
  • Pedrolino, which can be simply described as the clown. Pedrolino is the example of a Zanni or servant, which is a popular Commedia character.

My chosen Play

I have decided that for my Commedia Play to perform my RI on, I will use the play "The False Turk in 12 Minutes", which is a one act performance that takes approximately 15 minutes to perform. Below is shown an IB performance of "The False Turk in 12 Minutes"

Once the performance of the False Turk gets underway, the different actors don various masks to represent certain characters. The characters represented here are:

Flavio: He is an example of the inamorato character.

Isabella: She is the inamorata character for flavio.

Arlecchino: He maintains his personality. Despite being one of the most famous characters in Commedia, he plays the part of a servant in this performance.

Pantalone: Pantalone in this performance portrays the typical Pantalone character, as he is a greedy man, with a rebellious daughter.

Capo Comico: The head of the theater group. This character is a standard way of creating a liaison between the audience and the show but is generally not in the show itself.

Pedrolino: As he usually is, Pedrolino is a mute character. He is a clownish character who plays the part of the fool in many shows. In this case, he is a janitor for the theater.

Bread and Puppet Theater

Bread and puppet theater is a form of theater developed by Peter Schumann in New York City in the 1960's. It's a form of theater that does not have large expensive sets or props. In fact, all the props, costumes, and sets are made of recycled materials. Performances will usually have a message about a belief carried through the actions, even if they are very abstract ones.

Model Stage for Bread and Puppet Pitch

Bread and Puppet Performance

For our bread and puppet performance, we decided to make a production showing the eventual progression of pollution and disregard for sea life, and the eventual ignorance of the situations that arise.

Below is me working on a paper mâché sea-turtle for the production

DADA Theater

DADA is an art movement started in the early 20th century. DADA art includes music, theater, really any form of art. Bread and Puppet theater takes inspiration from DADA, in it's abstractness. DADA theater prides itself in taking normal things, and twisting and warping them into pure randomness, as shown below.

As you can see, DADA theater is very unique, and designed to be very confusing to the audience. It is plainly stated that the purpose of DADA is to enrage the audience.

Other students made DADA performances based on other events

Our Bread and Puppet Performance

The bread and puppet performance went quite well. Part of this was due in part to the joint effort that was instituted towards the end of the project. Below is shown the introduction to our show, given by me.

Senior Year

The highlight of my HL Junior year would be the Bread and Puppet performance. I learned about a brand new style of theater in the way I best knew how: Performing it. All around, it brought me closer to the classmates I worked on it with, and was an amazing hands on experience.

I did have trouble figuring out some of the intricacies of the Neutral Mask unit, as it required complete silence. I tend to have a harder time performing works without speech. I prefer to use my voice to tell a story, which was very useful during the African Story Telling unit.

Lady Be Good Review

Rebecca Brudner and Joshua Gronlund as Susie Trevor and Watty Watkins

Over the summer, I attended a showing of the Gerschwin Musical "Lady Be Good" by the College Light Opera Company. It was a show full of witty dialogue and characters. It's plot is highly reminiscent of the classic Broadway comedies of the 30's and 40's.

The plot follows the two Trevor twins,who have been evicted from their apartment. Through a series of humorous circumstances, multiple couples form, and it ends happily for everyone involved.

The College Light Opera Company (often refereed to as CLOC) performs 10 shows every summer using the stock method. This means that while they're performing one show, they are practicing for the next week.

This show had phenomenal acting, with all actors getting into their parts and making truly believable characters to inhabit the well constructed sets.

Devising Project 1

For our first Devising project, we had to use a piece of stimuli to create a set of movements. My fellow classmates then took our movements and generated a set of words that they felt through the movements. We then had to take the words and use them as a basis to devise a piece of theater. Our initial Stimuli was an bag of Cape Cod Potato Chips, which was crumpled up and thrown on the floor.

Our devised piece of theater is shown below.

The Mock IPP

In order to prepare for the IPP, we have been assigned a mock IPP assignment. Working in groups of 5, we're devising a piece of original theater based on a given stimulus, which is shown below.

Despite the very heavy message conveyed by the source, we're encouraged not to be anchored to it. We have a week and a half to create our theater, and each one of us will have a different job, in addition to being a performer. The different jobs are as follows.

  • Director
  • Set Designer
  • Costume Designer
  • Lighting Designer
  • Sound Designer

I have chosen to take on the job of set designer, so while I will be showing how the different parts of the performance come together, I will mainly be focusing on set design.

From the stimulus, we all came up with various words and phrases that we associate with the video. I mainly took "Red" and "Fast Paced" from the video. I will need to work to incorporate these with the other messages students took. Many people got very primal reactions from it, which definitely can work with what I took from the video.

We have decided to continue with a more movement based piece, after realizing a brilliant dichotomy within the color red. We realized that while red can stand for love, passion, and romance, love can also stand for rage, fury, and primal anger. We felt this also relate back to the concepts of the original stimuli as well. For this reason, we decided to use to music shown in the video.

Set Design

Balinese Shadow Puppetry

Currently in theater, we have begun to learn about Balinese shadow puppetry. Balinese shadow puppetry is a form of  Asian theater started in the country of Bali. It is most often used to tell famous stories from the Hindu religion, such as Ramayana and Mahabharata.

Balinese Shadow Puppetry Reflection

          To understand Balinese shadow puppetry better, two of my fellow classmates and I created our own Balinese. In doing this, we found the different aspects that needed to be incorporated into the performance. Recognizable characters and stories, as well as a spiritual figure, a good moral, and an evil to be defeated. We found a way to incorporate all of these into a fine Balinese performance.

The Plot

For our story, we decided to go with characters known to our culture, but also our class. With this in mind, we ended up with a slew of recognizable characters, such as:

Leonardo Dicaprio

The Flying Spaghetti Monster

And even our own history teacher.

We mainly came up through these ideas through random brainstorming. We had a plan in mind to make our production as comical as possible, while remaining faithful to the concepts of the original practice.

Unsafe Play Review

On January 14th, I attended a read-through of the play Unsafe by Jim Dalglis. Set in New York City, about 2 years after the 9/11 attack, the action of the story revolves around a mother and daughter, Lisa and Georgi who lost their husband/father in the 9/11 attack. At the same time, the daughter Georgi is also living a daily life with Williams Disease, a rare neurodevelopmental disorder.

Occurring on the night of Lisa’s 40th birthday, the audience was introduced to a number of people who had a profound effect on Lisa and Georgi in the prior 2 years. One such person is Nathaniel, a neurologist who is studying Georgi, and Will, Lisa’s step-son who she hadn’t heard from in a year. Over the course of the evening, memories, both good and bad return to them. Unfortunately, Will had recently fallen in with the wrong people, and when they come for him, both He and Lisa wind up dead.

I found the actors that performed were very dedicated to their characters despite only reading from the script. Furthermore, they used a good amount of physicality despite remaining in a seated row before an audience. The lighting was fine, and as a reading there was no special set. The way the audience was situated around the stage in a semi-round fashion, which let us see the whole row at once.

Despite all of this, there were a lot of aspects I had a hard time following within the play itself. At times it felt that the play was attempting to touch on too many social issues at once. One minute they’d be discussing drug abuse, then the 9/11 bombings, then Georgi’s condition, and then Lisa’s mental state. Then they would proceed to do it all over again. Often it felt like some of the characters were made tragic just for the sake of being tragic. While I enjoyed some of the monologues, some of them went on for such lengths I found it hard to keep engaged. While this may be partially due to the fact it was just read and not performed, I still feel that despite the acting being well done, the work it self simply tried to make the audience feel too much.

IPP Intro

For my IPP, I plan to produce a piece of immersion theater called “Murder in the Wings”. This piece will incorporate many pieces of immersion theater, such as audience participation. Timing will also be vital to the production, as many events will only be viewable if the audience is in the right place at the right time.

Another interesting aspect will be the setting of the production. Being called “Murder in the Wings”, the play will take place during a theatrical performance. Every person involved in the production of this piece will have some variation of character to play, whether it be a very simple background character, or one who is a central character. For instance, the man who is in charge of the snack table, while being in charge of the snacks, will also be assuming the character of the snack vendor. The character of the snack vendor would have his own motivations. This is just one example.

For any actors not familiar with the concept, I will need to spend at least one rehearsal session dedicated to teaching the methods of audience participation theater, as well as how to use improv to correctly play their character. They need to be prepared for changes in the direction of the plot they aren’t prepared for.

Murder in the Wings Opener

A Play with Words Review

A recent play I saw was at the (placeholder METG). This play, entitled “A Play with Words” demonstrated how an actor can use their own physicality to further extend their dialogue. “A Play with Words” followed the antics of a playwright named  Scribe trying to attempting to write a play, but finds himself dragged into his own story populated by words personified. The writing of the piece on its own was funny as it was in its own ridiculous way. However, the actors in it really gave the piece its character.

The actor playing Scribe carried himself well on stage, fully immersed in the emotion of whatever scene he was in. He made good use of setting and prop. There was large amount of memorization needed to work with all the word play, jumbled phrases, and double entendres. To do that in combination with his physicality and emotion made for an unforgettable experience.

The set work, props, and lighting were also first rate. There were numerous stagehands involved to allow for seamless transitions that made the show shine. Overall, “A Play with Words” was an amazing piece of theater I would love to see put on again.

Review of my growth in Theater Outline

  1. Sculpture explanation
    1. Based on what isn’t the sculpture as much as what is.
    2. As an art, theater is much the same way.
    3. Over my two years, I sculpted what i consider to be my persona.
  2. Bread and Puppet
    1. Learned a lot about budget set and prop construction.
    2. Had a harder time with the hidden messages.
  3. Discovered Stock characters during a research project on commedia dell’arte.
    1. It became easier for me to create in depth characters by taking these stock models.
    2. Then I would use the practices I learned during the devising process to flesh them out.
    3. I would put the fine detail into my characters with stanislavski’s methods.
    4. With stanislavski, I learned all about how to use your own emotions and memories to get into a character.
  4. Michael Chekhov
    1. researched for a research project on theater practitioners
    2. was a disciple of stanislavski
    3. had a more physical approach to character development that appealed to me.
    4. learned that he developed his practice over his differences in stanislavski's methods.
    5. instilled in me what developing a theatrical persona could be.
  5. Neutral Mask
    1. Silent art.
    2. Enjoyed discover an object.
    3. While the entirely silent aspect of neutral mask was not something I connected to, it set me towards a work that incorporated neutral mask called “Sleep No More.”
    4. Punchdrunk
    5. While I didn’t attend a showing, I was fascinated with the concept of promenade theater, and chose to further my research into immersive theater practices.
  6. Developed into immersion. Want the audience to feel like they are there. Not stuck in one viewing position. I found multiple other types of theater practices that i also researched. Shear Madness being chief among them. I would take whatever parts I got the most out of, and use it to further develop myself. I would use what practices I didn’t identify with to further shape my direction in theater.
  7. unfinished sculpture. It’s not done, as i will always grow as a theater student. No right way to be a theater student as there’s no “right way” to make a sculpture.

Comment Stream

3 years ago

Dominic, Please continue to EXPAND on each narrative entry. You did not go very far with the potato chip entry...The "What" is important, but the "why" and the "how" are also crucial elements! Be as specific as possible!

3 years ago

What happened with the play review? It has one this supposed to be your wild card entry?

3 years ago

the play review is a WIP. I will expand on the potato chip entry.