As a class we read the poem ‘The Devil’s Wife’ by Carol Ann Duffy which is about the case of five murders committed by Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, the victims were buried across the Yorkshire moors hence the case being named ‘The Moors Murders’. The poem ‘The Devil’s Wife’ is Carol Ann Duffy’s interpretation of Ian Brady and Myra Hindley’s relationship. In groups we discussed how we interpreted the poem and how their relationship developed, that if neither of them had ever met then it is thought that neither of them would have committed the murders, this tied in with the idea of fate which we had been looking at.
We annotated it by writing about what it made us think and feel. Our group believed that the main aspect of the poem was the power Ian Brady gradually took from Myra Hindley. We focused on the first two sections of the poem entitled ‘Dirt’ and ‘Medusa’ because this is where their relationship was developing. We then went on to create a mainly naturalistic piece focusing on their relationship and what we thought the poem was suggesting- that the ‘Devil’ Ian Brady began to take over her to the point where he had shaped who she was.
In preparation for making our piece we did a trust exercises where we fell back into someone else’s hands and had to completely trust them for the task. We also explored some exercises where we had to take control of someone through using them as a puppet. So in our piece we tried to incorporate these elements of physical theatre, to show the trust, control and manipulation present in their relationship and that the control he had over her was more powerful than simply telling her what to do.
We used the poem to keep a close link between that and the context of our piece, so we tried to keep the character of Ian Brady like he was described in the poem- a quiet yet arrogant man. We portrayed Myra Hindley as someone who started off with a career, which we showed by using mime to typewrite in an office scene. To do this we had all of our characters typing perfectly in time, then when Ian Brady walked over Myra Hindley became to type very out of time. We thought this would show that before Ian Brady had even spoken to her he had managed to control her and change her.
We tried to keep this scene quite stylised to show the audience what was happening to her in a way that they could understand clearly but was also visually interesting to watch. When deciding on what elements of drama to include in our piece we decided that conventions such as freeze frames would work well when establishing a difference in time in our piece. For example we started by using a flashback and when we went to a future scene we froze at the end of the flashback scene so the audience could see the time difference.
We tried to keep our piece interesting by using levels when positioning our characters on stage so we had some of us at different heights- standing, sitting, kneeling in each scene where possible. Also we thought about how we could use the space most effectively and so in our scenes we tried to spread out across the stage and when we used props such as chairs we placed when diagonally so that an audience could see it clearly. We used drama medium in how we spoke when acting our characters.
We thought it was best for the character of Ian Brady to keep an almost dull voice that was low in tone because the poem described him as someone who hardly talked. So we wanted the way that he did speak to not be weird and disturbing but in fact quite normal and just had his actions portray the more confusing aspects of his character. We thought about how Myra Hindley would talk and decided to have her be cheery sounding until Ian Brady had completely changed who she was. For these later scenes she spoke in a slower, more confused voice as if she was oblivious to the environment surrounding her.
We also thought about how the characters would move around the stage especially in the final scenes when Ian Brady and Myra Hindley were completely lost in their own world. To show this we had the character of Ian Brady have his arm around Myra Hindley to show the power he had over her, and when they moved it was very much dictated by him so if he walked at a faster pace she would follow. In scenes where Myra’s old friends tried to communicate with her he would then speed up to get away from them.
In our piece we didn’t use any lighting/sound effects, but if we had I think that could have enhanced our piece greatly. There are a few specific scenes in our piece where lighting could have benefited the scene drastically by changing colour to show a sudden change in mood and content on stage. This would have worked well when Myra Hindley is first affected by Ian Brady she starts losing sync and typing out of time so here it would have been better if the colour changed once again highlighting the fact that he had a power over her.
Likewise towards the end of the piece where Ian Brady had gained control of her and shows this by constantly having his arm around her we could have had the lighting changed to show a difference in her as a person. The use of sound could have also created certain moods, for example having the sound of rain or stormy weather played in the scene where Myra has taken the victim Pauline up to the moors in the evening. Sound would have worked especially well, as it would have been a good use of pathetic fallacy-reflecting the eerie nature of the scene. Also it would make the performance more atmospheric for an audience to watch.