Murder at Midnight Naomi Sage Becky Cutler Emma Townsend
Fame: The Review This was a production put on by Nottingham Trent University dance students and performed in the Royal Concert Hall. The set was on two different levels with two staircases that moved in and out,allowing access to the top half from the stage, there was also access from the wings. There was a large space in the centre of the set where at the end of the production a replica of a car was rolled out with one of the characters on top. The space was also used to create different sets, by placing sheets of mirrors up they gave the illusion of a dance studio without moving anything else. Benches were brought on to create a different area within the school that the production was set. We liked the idea of having minimal set and props because it made you pay more attention to the actors than to what was around them. The set was used as a practical apparatus rather than just for decorative purposes. It catered to all ages and although only a one off performance it was a sell out. The theatre was a good choice for the production because although large, the actors needed the space to dance and move around freely and the bright colours of the lights and costumes could be seen by everyone. As a piece of entertainment it was fun for everyone to watch and enjoyed throughout, although as an amateur production it could have been improved as a piece of theatre. It was obvious that the technical side had not been rehearsed as much as needed and unfortunately that affected the actors on stage. We could see what was happening on the stage from all different levels as our seats were in different places. Because it was a concert hall it was a good space to pick to perform a musical because the sound flooded the whole space. The Royal Concert Hall is situated right next to the university and so is easy to give directions for and to get transport to and from.
Glacier: The Review This performance was a piece of dance based around today’s effects on environment. There was a full audience which consisted mainly of adults due to the issues in the piece. It took a while for us to understand what the dance was about, but it soon became clear. The first part of the performance used the dancers performing on large pieces of polystyrene. These were cut into jigsaw shapes and there were three different sculptures of them. The idea behind this was that it was an art exhibition. Later the dancers interpreted the polystyrene as ice burgs. And were floating around on them hoping not to fall off. The idea of the art exhibition then returned and the artists work was covered in a large piece of plastic sheeting. Cans of oil were spilt all over the sheeting and the dancers who found it difficult to stand still. This could have been interpreted as animals falling around as the spilt oil affects them. Later on the artist is tied to a bed and a drip like apparatus is attached to his arm filled with oil. We found this piece to be very successful and entertaining as it showed the effects that oil and global warming etc can have on the environment. It informed us on an important issue in today’s society. The space in the lakeside is quite small but was used well. The set was empty except for the polystyrene and sheeting. Therefore nothing needed to be taken off with difficulty. This space could not be used to a large theatrical experience, for example something with many set changes and a need for a large audience. We think the only thing that could have enhanced the experience would to have got the point and ideas across more quickly because the start went quite slowly then the piece started to speed up. Other than that we liked the fact there a minimal set and only a small amount of dancers to portray the ideas.
Out Of Order: The Review This Production was put on at New Theatre which is based at Nottingham University and run by Nottingham students. The theatre was very small and the set was a fixed scene, a hotel room, with two doors that allowed access to the stage. There was also a window that gave access in and out and was a main part of the set. There were minimal props used which helped keep the stage space free for the actors to move about. The lighting was kept simple only ever used for the beginning and ends of scenes. The small space meant that everyone could hear clearly and so the audience could concentrate. Because it was the last performance the actors knew their parts really well and so it was easy and enjoyable to watch. The audience were largely students because it was set in the University and put on by students, although it was open to the public. As a production we thought it was successful, mostly because it was completely run and produced by students. As a comedy the characters were entertaining and acted well. The size of the space worked well for the set,because it was located in a hotel room it was made more believable and so a much larger theatre space may not have created the same atmosphere. The window that was an essential part of the play could have been improved when it was falling down on characters to have made it more realistic, however it did make the piece slightly more amusing when the actors had to over exaggerate to get over the technical hitch.
The Analysis: An experience of a night out to the theatre is a cultured example of our society. However is counted extremely different to a filmic experience. There are many issues involved in the theatre compared to other nights out. The main one is cost. Designers have to be aware greatly of budget when buying materials and paying labourers to build the sets and costumes. And the directors have to be careful when paying actors, designers, technicians, stage management etc. And the producers have to careful with where the performance is being held with stage space and cost. A theatre performance can build up to a very expensive outcome. This increases ticket prices as in most cases performances will only be on for a certain amount of time ranging from 1 performance to a ongoing run of years and years. If you compare this issue to that of a night out at the cinema it is obvious of the price difference between theatre tickets and cinema tickets. The reason for this being popularity. A film can cost as much and in many cases a lot more than theatre performances can. However cinemas make their money back through sponsorship and the face that their film is being shown all across the world at regular intervals. A popular film can be shown for example 30-40 times a week in one cinema. So if you multiply this by the amount of cinemas there are across the world it is simple to see why ticket prices are much cheaper. It is proven the Pantomime is the most popular out of all theatre and makes the most money. This is because it is suitable and fun for all ages and seen as a cultural and traditional thing to do at Christmas. Yet all other theatre has huge competition with other media. Many theatres are not that big in terms of space and cannot fill a large audience. This means designers need to consider the amount of shows his/her play performs . Yet a cinema can fill up many people sufficiently. This also effects ticket sales. Theatre tickets are of a limited amount, yet cinema tickets can be bought whenever and if one show is not available they can go to the next one or go to another cinema. Things that attract more people to the theatre are the use of multimedia and special effects to present a more visually interesting show. The use of puppets introduces a different style to theatre using figures to imitate people. Also the use of interesting technology such as pyrotechnics can attract people to see show. A performance nowadays needs something that breaks the boundary of normality and present something different to the audience. This means designers need to be researching into new techniques of working every day to be able to show something different. The more unusual a performance, the more it sticks in peoples heads and they recommend it to their friends and families.
The Plot: Characters – Charles, Elizabeth, Detective Brown, 6 Extras (Victims, Police Officers) Theatre – Lakeside Theatre, Nottingham University Date: 1890 The Play starts when Charles and Elizabeth, brother and sister, move to London because of Charles job. Elizabeth dislikes the city life and the hustle and bustle of living in London, this drives her to a mental instability, resulting in a split personality disorder. When at home with her brother Headlines appear projected above the sitting room space, telling of recent murders that have happened in the city. Charles becomes protective of Elizabeth as he has started to realise she is unwell. Elizabeth comes into the hallway one night confused and distressed with blood all over her but she does not realise where she has been or how it has got there. The Detective Brown comes to the house to speak with Charles and Elizabeth to see whether they have heard or seen anything,both know nothing. Charles and Elizabeth spend time together as more headlines flash past,eg THE WEST SIDE KILLER the gruesome murderer strikes again as another two bodies are found with both their right ears cut off. The stage is dark and a voice over of Charles and Detective Brown having a conversation is heard, the Detective is clearly suspicious of Charles, on stage we see two actors silently acting on the top floor while Elizabeth,dressed in black comes through the hall way and up the stairs, she goes into the room and kills the two people, her back to the audience but as she descends they see her face clearly. It is clear to the audience that Elizabeth does not know about her second personality and that what she is doing is because of the hate and unhappiness that is being suppressed. On their own Charles calls Elizabeth a name, referring to something wrong with her ears, Elizabeth gets upset and angry and a conversation about childhood days when she was teased about them ensues. A voice over of Charles and the Detective is once again heard and Elizabeth repeats what she did before, moving up the stage to kill an actor on the top floor and leaving again. Detective Brown and Charles come onstage still having the sae conversation and Detective Brown says that he is ordering a search and will come back later. Later Detective Brown comes back with police officers, they search the house,find the box of ears and arrest Charles. Elizabeth is distraught and in a mental breakdown both her personalities appear at once, fighting against each other, now she realises it was herself she is racked with guilt and ends up killing herself centre stage alone.
Design Ideas: Set – We took inspiration from both Fame and Glacier by deciding to use a minimal set so that the audiences attention would be focused on what the actors are doing. Although having a staircase leading to a second storey, the downstairs hallway has doors leading off it that are never used and are simply painted. The stairs lead up to a living room type area with a few sofas and chairs, maybe a small table, but the back wall would be painted white as that is where the projections of the headlines are being seen. In the last scene when Elizabeth breaks down in the hallway, the doorways which would be on revolvers at the top and bottom would be turned around from behind so that the doors turned into mirrors, she would then be facing herself from all angles. Lighting – Dim lighting would be used when Elizabeth is killing onstage, maybe a slightly brighter light to follow her movements. During the daylight scenes the whole stage would be lit and at night time when Elizabeth and Charles are talking in their living room only that would be lit. In the last scene with the mirrors, there would be a few spotlights from different angles, making the light bounce off the mirrors and causing more disorder and distraction. We wanted to create shadows across parts of the stage at different times and certain scenes to make it seem more eerie and mysterious. Costume – Because the play is set in Victorian times the actors would all be in period dress. Charles and Elizabeth are fairly well off and so their dress would be of quite good quality. When she turns into the Murdering Elizabeth she would put a black cloak over herself to cover her dress and skirt. Effects – We wanted to use projection to enlarge headlines about the murders across the top of the stage,making the impact bigger. It would also inform the audience of what is going on and how much time has passed.
Why have we chosen this space and Place? We chose the Lakeside Theatre because it is in a more distant location than the centre of town and so causes it to be more eerie, given the nature of the play. The Lakeside Theatre is a smaller studio and so would be more intimate,given opportunity for more intense moments and audience interaction. A smaller venue creates more tension in the atmosphere and the audience can get more emotionally involved with the characters. In the Lakeside it is easy to play around with the seating and so we can alter it to fit with our piece If we decided to make the actors move into the audience more. Because of the size of the theatre it attracts a more minimal set relating to our performance ideas. Why have you chosen this idea? We chose this idea because a murder mystery is a popular genre of theatre and is gripping for an audience to watch. We decided to set it in Victorian times because it would make it much more unusual for the murderer to be a woman and to have a mental disability. These issues were not covered then as much as they would be in modern times. We all find those genres within the theatre interesting and thrilling to watch and the sinister side to Glacier prompted us more to work in that direction. We also thought that if we worked in a smaller theatre, writing a darker play would create more tension and atmosphere for the audience, making it more exciting to watch. The ideas behind the play led us to be able to work with more effects such as shadows, lighting and sound. Give a clear sense of what the audience experience will be. The intimate space means the audience are situated inside the action and therefore can feel more involved. We want them to experience Theatre of Cruelty recognised by the practitioner Antonin Artaud, this means that they go on an emotional journey with the characters and feel more empathy towards them. Situated in such a detached space and a small theatre will increase the audience’s awareness of what is going on around them. The fact that there is only three characters makes it less complicated for the audience to understand what is going on, especially because the plot becomes quite complicated. The audience see some of the murders take place which also related to Theatre of Cruelty because they are directly involved in what is going on onstage and they see it just as it would happen in real life.