The first obvious acting technique in our production is the use of mime, as opposed to using props. This is a simple way of overcoming the problem of the constant and often quick scene changes. If we were to use props then there would likely be too many props – things may be lost or may be put in the wrong place on stage. Also, as we had decided to stay onstage throughout the production that any unused props would simply clutter the side of the stage. Similar to this is the set design. We decided on using only five stools, one for each of the drug addicts, and nothing else.
These stools were used throughout the production, in different ways to show different settings. This was for the same reason that props were not used. It also allows us as actors to focus on the acting to convey who we were and where the scene was set. The play opens with all, except for myself, sat in a line facing the audience doing a ‘rowing’ motion. They then begin to ‘sing’ “Row Your Boat” all speak together until “merrily” when each person says one word. The song ends on dream, which is repeated by everyone as they ‘fold’ down to the floor.
On the last ‘dream’ then all begin to repeat the word as the ‘boat’ falls apart, leaving the character Ellie in the middle and several bodies around her. These bodies then began a soundscape. Each person had a short phrase that they repeated over and over, getting louder. For example “Ellie, are you alright? ” or a hissing sound. This created a sinister, scary and ‘warped’ atmosphere – perfect for an LSD ‘trip’ that warps from good to bad. A similar ‘soundscape’ idea was employed in a later scene. In which we established a “Saturday Night” scene.
Each of us had one line that we repeated. For example, one of the weed smokers said “Bong”, one of the drunken ‘men’ said “Down a bottle of Carling” and I, as the bouncer said, “You got any I. D? ” We said these until we were in position for the scene and Katie said her first line. The Faustus-inspired “Angel and Devil” scene required myself and Luke to freeze, then the Angel and Devil characters spoke whilst we were frozen. This emphasises the fact that the characters are not physical beings, just representations of the fight occurring in his conscience.
The Alice and Katie (who played Angel and Devil) made sure that their voices and movements were not natural. The Devil had a harsh voice, and was hunched over in contrast the Angel’s voice was smooth and she stood upright and almost ‘floated’ around the stage. Throughout the production we used a blue-gelled wash. This light was the first thing we saw, and it washed the stage throughout the “Row Your Boat” sequence. This gave the impression of water but also gives the audience a feeling of a ‘dream’. Throughout the rest of the production the lights were generally kept full ‘open white’.
However, during the end scene the lighting returned to a similar state as the start, with a similar addition of a faint ‘spot’ on the dying Katie. Also in the last scene we used the song “Golden Brown” by The Stranglers. The song is, though in a major key, quite eerie sounding. It seems happy, but at the same time twisted and distorted – almost like a deserted fairground. We felt that this was perfect for the scene. There has also been many ‘theories’ that the song’s lyrics are actually about heroin, even the lead singer Hugh Cornwell was jailed for two months for heroin possession.
Towards the latter stages of production we were trying to find a way of staying on stage without distracting too much from the onstage actions. However, the people on the edges of the stage should have a purpose, rather than just standing there. When people have addictions, to drugs or other things, these are often referred to as their ‘demons’. We decided that we would use the demons as our off stage action. As we exited the stage we would slowly morph into the demons and freeze in a suitable pose, watching the action on stage.
This showed how people’s demons are always there, ready to ‘pounce’ and drag them down, there is a constant pressure from the demons to take drugs, or to progress onto harder drugs etc. In the final scene the heroin addict dies. I became a demon and appeared over her slowly, looking sinister and saying: “There’s always one who doesn’t make it. ” This symbolises how her demons have ‘got’ her, and how she has died because of her addictions and that she was unable to escape and go into rehabilitation.