How research material was gathered and used within the process

At the very beginning of the production process we split into several pairs. Each pair was given a drug to complete some scenes on, part of the producing of the scenes required some research, so therefore each group attempted to research their given drug, and obviously anything they felt would benefit the whole group. The drug my pair was given was LSD, we conducted research using the internet and found several accounts of people’s experience on drugs. We use their recollections of ‘trips’ to construct a ‘trip’ for the character Ellie. The research told us that when ‘tripping’ on LSD that things become very fluid. Lifeless objects seem to breath, or beat like a heart, and it’s possible to taste and smell things like colours.

Our research also taught us how LSD-induced ‘trips’ do not create things, only warp something normal that we might see. For example, a house with its light on may seem, on a ‘trip’, as a house on fire. I myself spoke to someone who has experienced a bad LSD trip, in which she believed she was being chased by giant ‘Mars Bars’, they were, as she found out later, just wheelie bins. We therefore realised that there must be a trigger.

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We created a ‘bad trip’ scene, in which the audience experiences through Ellie’s eyes a ‘bad trip’. We positioned Ellie in the centre of the stage and had James, her brother, walk around the very edge of the stage. Ellie, confused, calls out for James but he ignores her, slowly moving around the stage…he then advances towards her, and circles her slightly before lunging towards her. There is then a ‘snap’ back to reality and James is trying to make Ellie ‘wake up’. To add to the tension we discussed the possibility of adding loud and heavy breathing or a heartbeat over the top of the action – and to possibly time the action to the breathing. This would link back to the testimonials which say that everything appears this way during a ‘trip’.

The research material was used in similar ways to construct the other scenes however, after the performance to year 10’s, and some discussions with those that had watched the production, it became clear that the research was not being used effectively, and not being shown in the scenes we had produced. It was at this point that we decided to take an idea from the recent production ‘Talking to Terrorists’. The production is completely verbatim theatre. Whilst we did not have enough access to, nor time to construct a completely verbatim script we made a conscious decision to use at least some verbatim quotes, if not scenes. This would give an extra meaning to the things that the characters are saying, it is not just our opinion and what we think is happening, it is being backed up by a quote from someone that has experienced it.

Bill Hicks was a popular American comedian who was well noted for his drug use, and the openness in which he referred to his drug use. He refused to condemn the use of drugs, but at the same time did not wish to promote the drugs – he simply wished that the whole story be displayed. This was the same basic notion behind the production of our piece; it is therefore a justified reason to include a quote from a man who wished to do the same as our piece is doing.

But wouldn’t you like to see a positive LSD story? Would that be newsworthy? Just once, to hear what it’s all about:

“Today a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration. That we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively. There is no such thing as death. Life is only a dream and we are the imagination of ourselves.”

– Bill Hicks

We decided to place this quote within a scene where LSD user Ellie asks her brother James to borrow so money. He questions her, and then when realising (or deciding based on his assumptions) that the money will be used to by drugs he begins to lecture her “Haven’t you seen the stories on the news? Young people on acid throwing themselves out of the top floor of buildings?” to which she just ‘zones out’ and turns to the audience and ‘recites’ the Bill Hicks quote above.

On scene, entitled “Politics Weekly” involved an interview with our character Gerald McMillan. In this scene we had several questions to which Gerald had planned responses. These were quotes that David Cameron used on the politics show “Question Time”.

“I believe we are all entitled to our own private past…”

“Politicians should be judged on policy, personality and delivery and not media witch-hunts.”

We used these because they sound like a planned response and don’t exactly fit the question that was asked…they are also ways of avoiding questions that they do not want to answer. These answers were “fed” to Gerald onstage by his PR. On one question however Gerald answered by himself, which is quoted below. This quote showed his true feelings on the matter, without worrying about “Public Relations”.

“Cocaine addicts on the whole do not tend to be deeply traumatised. On the contrary they are usually very successful, intelligent, highly skilled, motivated and dynamic people.”