During the first few rehearsals we worked as one large group. We began constructing scenes that contained as many people as possible. Scenes such as the ‘campus’ scene were constructed as a large group with every person involved. The second scene we created was the ‘positive trip’ sequence. Whilst these scenes provided us with some rough ideas they were not very focused, and due to every member of the group being involved we lacked a ‘director’ who could watch everybody and provide suggestions.
We decided at this point that it would be smarter to split the production into several smaller stories. Each story would have a main character, and several supporting characters. However, the main character of each story is open to play the supporting characters in the other stories. At first we were split into temporary pairs and each decided on a drug. The aim was to create a scene that showed the negative effects of the chosen drug. I worked with Jack, on the drug LSD. We had conducted research before this session about the effects of LSD.
We read case studies on people who had experienced using LSD and its effects. It told us that LSD can cause both bad and good trips, and that bad trips often include pain and suffering and that they feel very real. When an LSD user experiences a bad trip it is likely that they will have flashbacks to the bad trip up to a year after having the bad trip. Jack and I decided to do a ‘flashback’ scene. Reading that ‘flashbacks’ often occur during periods of high stress or anxiety we set the scene as revising for an important test.
We began by working away at some revision and then – where a “flash” would be or a change in the lighting state – ‘I’ began to choke Jack…. and then we snapped back to work… with myself halfway through a sentence and ‘Jack’ questioning as to what just happened. We thought that the throttling could be a main part of the bad trip which would be developed at later stage. As the pairs changed this scene was dropped, however, a similar scene may be implemented at a later stage in the production and possibly for another drug, it is said that cocaine has similar flashback effects.
Whilst about one third of the way through production we were asked to complete a rough structure of our piece. We decided on having a starting and ending scene, or sequence and then created several stories; each labelled A, B, C and D with each story relating to a drug. The drugs are alcohol, LSD, cocaine and weed (Heroin was added later. ) Inside each story we wrote some ideas for scenes. One of the scenes we developed was a comparison scene between weed and alcohol. We split the stage, with one side being a group of people on alcohol and other side of the stage being the two smoking weed.
The alcohol side had a highly drunken member, who when attempting to enter a club was refused entry. She then got violent and aggressive. The group decided to get a pizza… and at this point froze to allow the weed smokers to be heard. The weed smokers were show as being friendly and calm which was a stark contrast to the loud and brash alcohol drinkers. They decided to go to the pizzeria where they met the alcohol drinkers. There was a short scene before words such as “stoners” and “piss heads” were thrown at the opposing group.
This caused the alcohol drinkers to get much more violent and angry. In the next session we split up into the different stories, each pair took a different letter story relating to a different drug. The aim was to create one or two scenes, then show them to the rest of the group for feedback. I, again, worked on LSD with Alice. The first scene was a ‘bad trip’, and the second was a confrontation between the drug-addicted Ellie and her brother James. Each pair showed their scenes to the group, which allowed for feedback and alterations to be made to the groups desires.
This session allowed six scenes to be created in the space that one larger scene had been created in the previous session, it was therefore a lot more time efficient – it also provided the opportunity for other members of the group to take on the role of ‘director’ and also giving the scene and audience to see possible reactions. The splitting into groups also allowed for a more intimate atmosphere to create scenes. The next few sessions were focused on the rehearsal of these scenes, however as we continued rehearsal the energy of the scenes depleted.
It was decided by the teacher that, to increase the energy to do some light ‘operatic’ work. We were then asked to do a very quick run-through of our play, but instead of playing it naturally and saying our lines we were to perform it in an ‘operatic’ manner. Whilst this would not be used in our actual production it did give us, as actors, energy. It also made us realise that without energy in the scenes that the audience would become bored and the message of the piece would not be received.
Another thing it brought to our attention was the need for quick changes in-between scenes so as not to lose the energy that has been created in the previous scene. During the later stage of the production process we as a class did a session focusing on creating atmospheres. This session, lead by the teacher, involved creating a haunted house. Our aim was to ‘frighten’ the teacher by creating a ‘scary’ atmosphere through the use of mime, and to create a soundscape. Each of us quickly formed a part of the house and decided on an action and sound. This showed us how effective soundscapes can be at establishing a place, or mood.
We decided to implement a soundscape into the ‘LSD trip’. We had several ‘bodies’ surrounding Ellie (the LSD user) and began to build up the soundscape. One by one each person began their own sound… it was a short sound that was repeated for example ‘Help us’ or a sinister-sounding laugh. Once each piece had joined the sound was increased. It got louder and louder until the ‘breaking point’ at which she screams ‘Leave me alone’. This caused the soundscape to end abruptly. The effect produced was a very sinister and spooky one, perfect for the scene.