We decided to see War and Peace as it had very good reviews and the production company ‘Shared Experience’ has done many other successful production like Jane Eyre.
The production was based on the bestselling novel by Tolstoy, and in its adaptation the company managed to break it down to a five and a half hour play. This was split over two performances.
The audiences was made up of mainly people who were over 40 and the auditorium was less than half full.
Personally we found it very drawn out, the production was very slow pace and perhaps we were under the age that it was aimed at. Our attention span wavered as the production drew on, we felt the story took a long time to develop which didn’t work in the theatre environment.
From the program we got a real sense that the production company had a very physical and unorthodox approach. “Shared Experiences has been instrumental in pioneering a distinctive performance style that celebrates the union on physical and text based theatre. Consistently dedicated to innovation and exploration, the company enjoys outstanding artistic and critical success at home and abroad.” It wasn’t.
The one redeeming feature was the design of the set. The set was very versatile, creating numerous location within the space. The lighting was very well thought out it became the source of atmosphere. However the uses of purple lighting during erotic scenes seemed very misplaced for the period and it didn’t work.
Throughout the entire play there was a man standing to stage left using sign language translating to the audience what was going on. Something we have never seen before in theatre.
The Guildhall Theatre is a medium sized hall, with a stage erected to one end of it. It has two levels of seating—a balcony level and a ground level. Due to the fact that it is not a purpose built theatre, it had a very limited equipment—for example, there were only two speakers on either side of the stage meaning that the sound was distant and almost echoing.
The performance itself was of an amateur level and the actors often stumbled or even completely forgot their lines. There was very little movement around the stage, which made it boring to watch. The sets and costumes were incredibly simple, which made the show even more dull to watch. The characters wore simple garments, often in greys or blacks. The set featured large strips of cloth hanging from the fly bars. It did not change in anyway, therefore it did not add to any of the action.
I think that the Guildhall does have some promise for future shows. If it was set up with a better PA system and a wider variety of lights then the shows would look and sound much more effective. However, the Guildhall is only suited to small shows with minimal scenery and props. If a larger, permanent stage was installed then the theatre may be able to present slightly larger, more impressive shows.
The type of show that would be best performed there would be a small, modern play or puppet show. It must be interesting and clever enough to really draw the audience in due to the intimacy of the venue.
This show was put on by third year Theatre Arts students at Derby University. The play itself was dark, yet funny and kept the audience entertained throughout. The studio nature of the auditorium and the small amount of seating made it all the more intimate, really drawing you in.
Much thought was put into the costumes and they suited each character very well. The set also worked very well—the actors used the stage, in front of the stage and under the stage to create the sense of a shop on two different levels. When each of the victims were put in the barbers chair, part of the stage could be removed so that they slid off the chair and under the stage.
The auditorium is, like the Guildhall, suited to smaller scale plays. However, I could also see it being used for small musicals and perhaps installation pieces, rather like The Pit and The Pendulum at Nottingham Trent University. This is due to its range of equipment—it has many fly bars meaning more lights and speakers could be rigged and things could be hung down.
Its is much more of a rarer occasion for most to go to the Theatre than the cinema. Therefore the experience has a different feeling. Sometimes people dress up to go if its to a grand theatre and others not as it could be a small theatre with a small production.
The prices for the theatre are usually more than a cinema.
Things like special effects have made cinema very exciting to watch. It seems to be much easier and often less challenging aswell.
There is a certain atmosphere that you get within a theatre as the audience are far more connected with the actors.
Subtitles can be added for the cinema and therefore pulls in more people who maybe foreign or even deaf.
With all the plays we went to see we decided that the best space we could use was the Nottingham playhouse. It was the biggest of the three and from a business point of view will attract the most customers as its in a well populated area and it also can hold a lot more people.
We intend for this company to be a touring one and on for no longer then 3 weeks in each place. This is so it doesn't lose interest and will hopefully get a lot of bookings.
THE IDEA : After watching War and Peace in this space we saw a man translating the whole play in sign language on stage and realised we had never seen this before. We thought it would attract a brand new audience who perhaps miss out on being able to go to theatre and enjoying this kind of experience. Also after watching a few clips which showed a man performing pop songs with sign language called ‘Deaf Karaoke’ in a very comic way we realised that this idea could be made into quite a good experience. http:// www.youtube.com/watch?v =F0hAUN4bYVk – The link to view ‘Deaf Karaoke’
With the idea in mind of having theatre for the deaf people in a comical way it can also be for people who aren’t deaf. The actors could talk as well in certain parts, incorporating the sign language. This will be a fun experience for both deaf and non deaf members of the audience.
We have thought about using lots of different sketches using all kinds of techniques such as mine, dance, singing, object theatre, e.t.c. Some could be from plays or famous senses and some made up.
The set will be very minimalistic certain objects will be brought out. Even parts of scenery could be bought on for specific scenes, such as windows, doors, and other necessary objects.
We want this production to be filled with lots of small pieces, a series of farcical sketches, using mostly mime and sign language, with sound recordings in parts to give other things for the actors to react off. These would of course be mimed out to inform the audience and bring other comical aspects to the play.
We feel that this play would be quite successful. A new way of acting, and to an audience that has missed out on theatre. It would be very entertaining and a night well spent at the theatre.