Props/Set List

Below is a brief list of all the props and set that I am using and a short description of their use in the show:

  • Water Bucket- used to hold water that will be flicked at the audience.
  • Dad’s cap- used when acting as my dad.
  • Plank of wood- used to symbolise the bridge, I will walk over it.
  • Chair- used to symbolise the car, I will sit on it and use it through this section of the story.
  • Sofa and chairs- used to recreate my living room, the audience will sit in these chairs.
  • Throws- these will be placed on the sofa to make the recreation more authentic to my house.
  • Coffee table- used to hold the biscuits and to add further authenticity to the sitting room.
  • Tray- the biscuits will be provided on this.
  • Biscuits- a selection of my favourite biscuits from my childhood that the audience are welcome to eat throughout the performance.

Update as of 18th May:

  • Water Bucket- used to hold water that will be flicked at the audience.
  • Dad’s cap- used when acting as my dad.
  • Plank of wood- used to symbolise the bridge, I will walk over it.
  • Chair- used to symbolise the car, I will sit on it and use it through this section of the story.
  • Sofa and chairs- used to recreate my living room, the audience will sit in these chairs.
  • Throws- these will be placed on the sofa to make the recreation more authentic to my house.
  • Battery Powered Fan- used to aid storytelling whilst I am in the car.
  • Snorkelling Mask- used to aid storytelling when I have fallen into the swamp.
  • Tree Branch- used to aid storytelling whilst I am in the car and to close the space between the audience and myself.—————————————————————————————————Giggs, J. (2015) Menorcan Greenery. Unpublished Photograph.

Changes to Set/Tech

As I have made many changes to my script, I have decided to also look at the set and how the audience will engage in the piece. As I am only focusing on the first story I have removed all audience participation, however I want them to remain an active part of the story, therefore my piece will still incorporate interactive elements.

The first notable change is that, instead of sitting in chairs that are placed to look like a car, I will have the audience sit in a recreation of my living room- using throws, a tray and a coffee table from home. I will also provide the audience with biscuits (particularly ones that I favoured when I was a child). By doing so, I hope to add an intimacy to my piece by inviting the audience into my home. I am keeping the projections to create the effect of a home theatre. By doing so, the audience become involved in my memories as soon as they sit down. This also allows me to have more room as a ‘stage’.

The show will start with the audience entering my house as I am looking through a photo album- another item from my house. At the end of the piece, I am going to close the photo album, symbolic of the memory coming to an end.

When I fall into the swamp, I am going to have bucket filled with water that I can place my hands in, so that I can flick water at the audience. As such, the audience are not simply passive listeners in this moment. Throughout the walking section of the story I am going to have the sound effect of cicada’s playing (similar to the video below), further involving the audience into my memory. The staging area is also going to feature a plank and a chair which will be used by me to symbolise the bridge and car, respectively.

Throughout the piece, many of the sound effects will be made using my own voice to further demonstrate how these are my own memories- it is how I remember it sounds. I also intend to use various lighting states to reflect the mood or atmosphere during the memory, for example, upon entering the forest in the car, the lights will slowly fade to a dark green. By doing so, I hope to add another layer of interactivity for the audience. This will also help make the transition between the car and the walk more obvious and interesting.

The structure of the show is therefore as follows:

  • I start sat in my living rooming looking at a photo album as the audience come in.
  • I stand up and talk to the audience about my dad and my holidays in Menorca to contextualise the piece.
  • I sit down on a nearby seat in the ‘staging area’ to aid in conveying the story.
  • I begin telling the story of when I was 6, based in the car.
  • I get out of the car and pick up some ‘plant props’ and begin to scratch them near to the audience, making the noise that happened using my voice. Lights transition from warm light to dark green.
  • I mime crossing the thin bridge.
  • As I fall in, I use the bucket to flick water at the audience and begin miming swmming around in the swamp.
  • I resume the story and conclude with Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken.
  • I close the photo album.

Currently these are all the changes that I have made but I will continue to update the blog as additionally changes are made.

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Jojikiba (2011) Cicada sound effect (2) . Available from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hpQUmRCGNuc [accessed 23 April 2017].

Editing the Text

After having received some initial feedback, I have decided to make some edits to the text. I have added more detail about my dad’s office and the bookshelf that divides the room to help contextualise the piece and add another layer of detail. I want the audience to be able to vividly imagine the scenery, as if it were their own memory. Moreover, after timing the piece, I have had to make substantial cuts and the piece will now just focus on the first story (in which I fall in the swamp). This allows for greater detail in this story and means I will not run over time.  I have thought about how to layout the stage and am currently considering having the audience sit on chairs that are laid out like the car in the story (adding a layer of interactivity and involving the audience more so in the story). This means that the audience will no longer be able to move around freely, but will still included them in the piece. Furthermore, I have been looking through various old holiday photos in search of ones that I can project during my performance. I have also decided to use Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken to conclude the story as I feel on one hand that is about making individual choices, but on the other is commenting on the illusions and fantasy we utilise when telling a story about our own lives – to make them more exciting.

Below is the edited text:

My dad is an adventurer, not officially, but he loves to explore. Every year since I was 5 my family and I have always gone to the same place for our holiday, Menorca. Whenever we go there my dad likes to plan journeys and walks to different historic monuments. His favourite are Martello Towers – ‘cylinder shaped defence towers that were used in the Spanish Civil War, built by the British’ or so he would say.

Months prior to going on holiday you can walk in his office to find him looking at maps of Menorca that span a whole dining table, all covered in sticky labels, post-it notes and scribbles to mark out travel destinations. I say his ‘office’ but it’s just a small cornered off section of the lounge. A huge bookcase stands between the two, full of books my dad has collected throughout his life – conspiracy theories, films, history and photo albums. Photo albums filled to the brim with pictures of Martello towers and pillboxes, not so much my childhood.

Every holiday I go on these walks with my dad, sometimes my family tag along but usually it’s just my dad and I. Despite owning many caps, he always tends to wear one we got from a restaurant in Menorca. I don’t think it’s particularly comfortable and it’s definitely not stylish so I couldn’t tell you why he favours it.

When I was 6, a time when my biggest concern was having enough pocket money to collect Beyblades and having air conditioning in a hire car was a luxury, one of our journeys started to go wrong before we had even started walking. I was sat in the front of a 7-seat people carrier alongside my brothers, my dad (who was driving) and my sister’s boyfriend (at the time).

It was a sweltering day so we all had the windows rolled fully down. Now I know you’re not supposed to but I could never resist leaning out of the window, letting the wind blow through my hair. It was shortly afterwards that the road we had been driving on seemed to just disappear. The car started to bounce, rattle and shake on the rocks and stones that the road now consisted of- sending me flying across the car (bearing in mind that I was about 3-foot-tall and weighing in at a whopping 40 pounds). Whilst I was distracted by the rocky road, I hadn’t realised the deep, thick forest that had started to envelop the car.

The branches from the trees started to reach towards us, the tree leaves that were as sharp as daggers slowly scraped across the car, the car cried out in horror.

The windows! We had left them fully rolled down allowing the very same leaves to reach towards us. SLICE, I narrowly avoid the blade. Everyone was frantically trying to close the windows, of course we had to roll them up manually- putting us directly within range of the tree leaves. Heroically I dived to wind up my window, I managed to turn the crank a few times but it wasn’t enough. The tree started to fight back, sending a legion of daggers towards me. I fell to the floor, covering my head from the bombardment. But then, a break in the attack, a moment’s respite- round and round I turn the crank. THUMP, the window was closed. The tree, still clawed at the window. I think to myself: How many more innocents will be caught by this same trap?

I didn’t have much better luck once we’d reached the destination. A bead of sweat crawled down my face from under my cap. I took it off a shook it, trying desperately to get the wind to cool it down. The same sword-like leaves that had attacked the car now littered the ground, all at the perfect angle to claw at my legs – the leaves could pierce the flesh with one swift jab and that wasn’t the worst of it. Halfway through the walk we came to a huge swamp, the water was murky and long grass peered out from the surface. There was little more than a plank of wood acting as a bridge over it. Of course, my dad charged off ahead and my brothers weren’t much use either, leaving me to cross the ‘bridge’ on my own. Cautiously, I began to walk over the bridge, taking one step at a time, one foot in front of the other. With each step the bridge creaked and groaned. My breathing slowed, I was completely focused on the bridge.

Face to face, out in the heat
Hanging tough, staying hungry
They stack the odds still we take to the street
For the kill with the skill to survive

It’s the eye of the tiger
It’s the thrill of the fight
Rising up to the challenge of our rival

I had gotten about halfway across, but then there was a lapse in my concentration. I can’t remember what made me lose focus, but before I knew it, my right foot had twisted making me lose my balance. Time seemed to grind to a halt. There I was, about to fall into the swamp, waiting for the inevitable rush of cold… SPLASH. The murky water went straight up to my chest, to my surprise it wasn’t as cold as I had thought, in fact it was quite warm, but falling in seemed to unleash an unbearable smell of rotting vegetation. BLEAGH. I was probably only in the water for a few seconds but it felt like a millennium. My sister’s boyfriend, being the tallest person there, lifted me out. As I was pulled out, I noticed that some of the water had gotten caught in my shoe, it could feel it swishing about. I took them off the second I was on dry land to empty them out. My favourite trainers were ruined. The rest of the walk I had to put up with the squelching sound that they made every step… SQUELCH SQUELCH SQUELCH. When I got back to the villa my mum tried washing them out but they never smelt the same again.

It’s funny, these moments in my life that, at the time, were worrying and alarming are some of my fondest memories. I could tell you all about the dangerous walks that I’ve embarked on, everything that’s gone wrong and every time I’ve been hurt. But I couldn’t tell you about that one ice cream I had, it’s flavour, where I was, who I was with.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

 

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

 

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

 

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

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Frost, R. (2012) The Road Not Taken and Other Poems. New York: Courier Corporation.

Giggs, J. (2015) Menorcan Sea. Unpublished Photograph.

Research: Robert Frost’s ‘The Road Not Taken’

As I addressed in Writing the Text (Part 3), I am yet to find a conclusion for my piece. Throughout my search for a story or poem that I felt would create a fitting ending, I came across Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken, a poem that immediately caught my attention as it was not only about journeys (and not knowing where they will end up) but also about how we romanticise the stories we tell to make them more dramatic. After reading it several times and coming to my own understanding of the poem, I decided to research how others have responded to the text.

One article I found particularly interesting from David Orr, was the allegation that the poem is often misinterpreted. He states that “Everyone knows Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken”—and almost everyone gets it wrong.” (Orr, 2015). Throughout the article, Orr criticises the common opinion of the poem being about a journey advocating that it is wrong to say it “is a straightforward and sentimental celebration of individualism” and that “this interpretation is contradicted by the poem’s own lines”. (Orr, 2015). Orr therefore interprets that the “poem isn’t a salute to can-do individualism; it’s a commentary on the self-deception we practice when constructing the story of our own lives” (Orr, 2015) an impression I had already got upon reading the poem. Orr concludes by saying that the poem embodies both meanings (despite the “poem’s own lines”). He concludes:

“The poem both is and isn’t about individualism, and it both is and isn’t about rationalization. It isn’t a wolf in sheep’s clothing so much as a wolf that is somehow also a sheep, or a sheep that is also a wolf. It is a poem about the necessity of choosing that somehow, like its author, never makes a choice itself—that instead repeatedly returns us to the same enigmatic, leaf-shadowed crossroads.” (Orr, 2015).

Regardless of how the audience interpret the poem, I felt that it was very fitting to my piece. This is because my text is very much about the journey and choice, but is told in a way which romanticises the action much like how Orr says the poem is about “self-deception” (Orr, 2015). As such, I have decided to use Frost’s poem in order to end the piece to draw attention to my journey, choices and self-deception. The poem therefore adds a self-mocking element to the piece, which I feel is important as I am trying to avoid becoming overly self-indulgent. Over the following days, I will be adding the poem to my text and rehearsing its implementation.

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Robert Frost Image:

Biography (2017) Robert Frost Biography [Online]. Available from http://www.biography.com/people/robert-frost-20796091 [accessed 15 April 2017].

Frost, R. (2012) The Road Not Taken and Other Poems. New York: Courier Corporation.

Orr, D. (2015) The Most Misread Poem in America. The Paris Review, 11 September. Available from https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2015/09/11/the-most-misread-poem-in-america/ [accessed 15 April 2017].

Working with the Text/Space

Below is a sound clip from one of my rehearsals in which I was experimenting with the text and use of space. Depending on feedback, I may choose to add additional details or extra segments that aid in the storytelling. If I make any significant changes to the script I will do more recordings to help rehearse and improve the text.

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Giggs, J. (2015) Menorcan Sea. Unpublished Photograph.

Giggs, J. (2017) Rehearsal Space. Unpublished Photograph.