Saturday, 26 May 2018

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz- Week Four: 'Aunt Em's Farm and Munchkin Land!'

It was full steam ahead today with the Chameleons this morning as we got to work on the play! After casting the show last week we were excited to get stuck in and get the ball rolling on the first few scenes. Today's session featured plenty of puppets and some fantastic scenes from the group.

Before we dived into the scenes, however, we warmed up with a few games. To kick the week off we played a round of zip, zap, boing- which the group have heard of before (and some of whom have played). The game is a classic drama exercise and fantastic for getting everyone energised and ready for the week. Towards the end we played a fast zip version, where we had to pass the zip around as fast as we could in order to build up energy for the next game; splat, where a person in the middle must use the energy to 'splat' others. The person they splat must duck and the two either side splat each other. It's another fun classic which gets the group concentrating and having fun.

Then we did an exercise to get everyone thinking about puppetry- since we were working on the Munchkin scene this week we wanted to have the Chameleons thinking again about how anything can be used as a puppet- building upon what we learned last week. The exercise involved one person standing with no arms and a second person standing behind them pretending to be their arms. The group were split into teams and had to create some scenes with different characters who were unable to control their arms.

We discussed the structure of a scene with the group afterwards. How do you create a scene? First think of a place, then think of the characters and then finally think of the story. The Chameleons were taken through this and we also talked about the beginning, middle and end of a story- each important elements that make the story- and by extension the scene- work. Some rather amusing work was created during the exercise and everyone seemed to have a lot of fun.

The group then split up into teams again and this time had to get moving with some physical theatre exercises. This week we asked the Chameleons to create versions of the different elements in small teams, using only their bodies. We tasked them with creating fire, a waterfall, a crumbling rock and a swirling tornado. The group were very clever and produced some lovely moments of physical theatre, bringing each element to life.

Then we split off and started work on the play. While one team worked on scene one, another worked on creating the Munchkin town for later. The scene one team worked on bringing to life Aunt Em's farm, expanding upon the characters of her three quirky farm hands and setting up Dorothy's wishes to leave the farm and have an adventure. We were really impressed with the creativity that the group put in and that some have already started learning lines!

Across the space the Munchkin team worked on how to control the puppets and created some characters and scenes from around Munchkin land to help bring the setting to life. Some smaller, individual duologue scenes were created and featured a range of colourful and hilarious characters. The Chameleons really outdid themselves on some of the scenes and it was fantastic to watch.

Next came the classic scene where Dorothy first meets Glinda and finds herself in Oz after the tornado. Again it was great to see the Chameleons begin to bring their characters to life. We had some fantastic character interactions in the scene and the adventure really feels like it is about to start!

As we continued work on the scene we added in the Munchkins, with all of the different personalities from the earlier scenes, to create a massive stage picture with the entire cast! Very rarely are we able to get the entire cast on stage for a single scene but here it was wonderful- the Munchkin land felt alive and each character special. The scene was made all the more special by the arrival of the Wicked Witch of the West, who enters for her first meeting with Dorothy and Toto.

And so it begins! Our amazing cast of Chameleons produced some wonderful work today and we've created some brilliant scenes to go in our final performance. It was great seeing everyone get stuck into all of the acting and puppetry of the show. We're already excited for next week when we will be looking at some of the Witch's scenes, along with creating her wicked henchmen. Until then enjoy some more snaps from the madness of the morning...oh, and have a nice half term!

Saturday, 19 May 2018

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz- Week Three: Chorus, Casting and Puppetry!

Week three, and what busy session for our Chameleons this morning! We had a whole heap of fun things that we wanted to do this week before beginning work on the final show next week. Puppetry, choral work and, as promised, casting the show and giving everyone their characters. There was a lot to do and a lot to get through before we could reveal our casting choices though, and the group again produced some incredible work this week!

We started the session by talking about the Chorus. What is the Chorus in theatre? The Chorus is made up of members of the ensemble which serve the intentions of the play. For some shows it might be that they are narrators, or that they are characters in the background who make up part of the larger stage picture. For our version of 'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,' the Chorus will take on a variety of different roles and engage in a number of different physical theatre sequences. Our Chorus will be involved in nearly every scene, working to create the many magical effects and stage pictures which we have planned. It's an exciting role and the group seemed to enjoy the concept of having the chorus involved.

To help the group begin to think and work like a Chorus, we did some group/choral exercises- which involved them working together as one unit and moving their bodies in a number of ways. We kicked things of with a fun name and action game- where the group had to do an action and say their name, after which we would pass actions around the group, with one person doing the action of another to send energy at them, and the next person choosing someone else and doing the same. Next, we got the group to huddle together and move around the room, with one person elected the leader.

We last did this game during Peter Pan when building one of the physical theatre sequences. This time we asked the group to think about moving fast and slow, experimenting with speeds while everyone tried to move at the same time. We discussed how the original Chorus, back during the times of Ancient Greece and the birth of theatre, used to talk as one and serve (often) as the voice of the city onlookers in plays.

Once everyone had a turn at leading the Chorus, we played our favourite shape game. It's always fun to see what the Chameleons think up and this week we tested them by asking them to make shapes in small groups, instead of one large one. This week we asked them to create vending machines, rainbows and a pirate ship! The group are all beginning to feel more confident moving their bodies and using them in creative ways to create a world of different things. This will be a massive help when it comes to creating some of the physical sequences for the show.

We then stopped for a break. This week there was the added excitement of cake as we celebrated the seventh birthday of one of our Chameleons. Cake makes the break time that much better, plus it's nice to see the group celebrating together.

After the break we moved onto the second major theme of the week; puppetry. The final show will feature elements of puppetry and so we set the group the challenge of bringing some random objects to life. They were tasked with finding an object from within the room and transforming it into a puppet, which then had to feature in a scene.

There were some fantastic scenes made with a range of weird and wonderful objects. From a tissue and broom, to a book and a banana. The Chameleons performed their scenes to one another and there was some wonderful moments in all of the work. Each member of the group fed back on the performances they saw to say what they had liked about the scene. We enjoy allowing the group to give peer feedback as it builds bonds and helps everyone that there is a lot to learn from an audience.

Next out came our fantastic hand puppets. The group was split into pairs and each pair was given a puppet to work with. They had to bring the puppet to life, giving it a voice and showing us how it moves. The Chameleons all dived straight in and set about learning how their puppet should move and talk.

Again the group watched each smaller group's work and gave praise. Every single pair found ways to bring their puppets to life in different and exciting ways. Some had scenes and words, some had props and actions and all of them had plenty of character. It was wonderful watching the group tackle this task as it is different from anything we have done before. This term we hope to implement puppetry into the show on a larger scale and the group certainly seem like they will do a wonderful job.

Finally, as the session drew near complete, we sat down and looked at the script. One by one we talked about the different characters in the play, focusing on ones who might not be so well known. The Monkey King, Captain Oreo and the (newly written) Basil the Receptionist were among those we needed to explore before the session was done. When all was said and done, we finally revealed who was playing who.

The cast seem very excited to commence work next week. They did tremendously today with the amount that we asked of them. Some fantastic work was made and we are very excited to see the group get stuck into rehearsals for our big show. Until then enjoy some more pics from the session! See you next week!

Theseus and the Minotaur/The Odyssey: Week 6- 'Down in the Labyrinth/ Circe's island.'

A quick blog entry this week- as we are neck deep into rehearsals now and at that point in the term where there's little to say abo...