We have just done a topic based on a play called ‘Salt of the Earth’ the play was written by John Godber. I think we did a topic using a play so we could develop new skills in reading and performing using a script. I think Mrs Brockbank chose ‘Salt of the Earth’ as the play because it can be performed using only four people, so the class can be divide into small groups of four, rather than having a play which needed half the class.
If the class was in two large groups then some people wouldn’t contribute in performances and would get away without contributing ideas; also the large groups would be led and dominated by a few individuals whereas smaller groups would give other people the chance to contribute more. Another reason for choosing ‘Salt of the Earth’ is that the play spans through quite a long period of time (about the life of Harry or May).
So we get a chance to experience and develop acting the age of someone from 10 (Paul/Tosh) right through to some one about 60 (Harry/May). Through out the topic we have been performing extracts from the script and adding actions and expressions to make them more realistic. In-between extracts Mrs Brockbank updated us on the story line so we knew the relationship between different characters and how they would react to each other.
We also used the play as a stimulus for still pictures and physical representation for example: One lesson we performed a physical representation of May and her emotions in groups of four. Our group decided to show May before and after the operation she had, because this was quite an important turning point in her life. We showed this by having two people opposite two other people, both sets of people walked towards each other, one set of people were standing up straight looking proud and strong the other set of people looked old and tired.
When we got close facing each other we showed that we were looking into a mirror by moving our hand up and down in time with each other, we kept in time by counting in our heads because we had already rehearsed how fast we would move our hands and where they should be at each second like pointing straight down or straight up. When we met up in front of the mirror the people swapped roles, the proud people became old and the old people became strong then the people turned around and walked away.
This was like in May’s life, before her operation she was strong and did everything herself but after the operation she seemed a lot older and weaker. Performing using a script was difficult because at first we just stood around speaking the lines. This looked very dull and not too interesting so we then added facial expressions as we were reading through we also added expressions through the use of our voice like raising or lowering it or emphasising certain words or speaking quickly or slowly.
Raising your voice gave the feeling of anger speaking quickly made you sound worried speaking softly and calmly with your head at a slight angle made you seem concerned or understanding. This made the piece more interesting but it still didn’t look very realistic so we added actions and movement like backing away from a character to show fear or making a cup of tea in the background to add realism. I think this piece could have been improved further if I had learnt the lines off by heart then I could have thought more about facial expressions and actions rather than just concentrating on reading the script.