The text we were given was an opening to a typical ghost story, like “The Woman in Black. “. We were briefed and told to make the improvisation melodramatic, farcical and over the top. We were told to do this in order to make the audience laugh by acting challenging, extreme and weird characters in the setting of a ghost story. Our first response to the text of a ghost story was shown in a spider diagram here: These are the collective brainstorming of the entire group when we thought of what came into our head immediately after being given the text of a ghost story. We found over acting our characters extremely challenging.
For example: we were supposed to over exaggerate the fact that someone sold “evil hot dogs” and we had to play it seriously and melodramatically in order to make the audience laugh. We found this challenging, and some of the group found it embarrassing to shout loudly and make their gesticulations larger than life. We found the prospect of using practically anything and making it scary into a very interesting idea. We loved inventing the scary story that all the locals knew too. The plot of our improvisation was an English family staying in an American motel in a mysteriously deserted town in Montana.
They seek to stay there for a while, but are disgusted of the stories about a mysterious hot dog vender and some dastardly chewing gum chewers. They seek to flee from the motel, but leave behind the teenage girl who chews gum to forever be imprisoned in the American motel with the locals. The explorative strategies we used to explore the text were still image and marking the moment. We planned to use the explorative strategy of still image to emphasise the drama mediums of space and levels so it can show the relationships between the characters more clearly so the audience can see it for a longer amount of time.
We used this to mark the moment and emphasise an important moment in the play. The explorative strategy of still image helped us convey the idea of the melodrama as we could pause in the most eccentric positions to make the scene seem crazier. It helped me understand the text by seeing how a ghost story was pieced together. Marking the moment emphasised the importance of suspense and silence and helped me understand the text in this way. If I were to stage the piece I’d make the atmosphere very eerie. I would make the set extremely tacky as it would make the atmosphere scary and yet ridiculous at the same time.
SECOND IMPROVISATION BASED ON THE SCENES FROM ‘THE WOMAN IN BLACK’
The text we were given was an extract from “The Woman in Black” where Mr Kipps cannot find his dog, Spider. In this extract there is an eerie whistling on the misty moor and he desperately calls for Spider. We were to use this as a text to inspire our improvisation to make a ghost story that scares and mystifies the audience. Our initial response to the text was to identify important elements and then brainstorm what these meant to us. We chose: whistles, mist and losing something that’s close to you.
The spider diagram on the next page shows what we, as a group, have discussed in initial response to the text. When we were first asked to begin thinking about trying to create an improvisation we found the plot very challenging, as we wanted to include whistles, loss and mist into it because we deemed them all interesting elements which inspired us from the text. We wondered how we could get whistling into the improvisation and make it add to the atmosphere instead of hinder the plot. We found it very interesting to build up tension, which we found quite a challenge.
We decided to use the element of drama – contrasts- to make it scary too, as it added to the tension in the end. The initial plot was a man walking a dog in a misty park, when the lead snaps he loses his dog in the dense mist. He calls for Spider, getting more and more agitated, then an eerie whistle taunts him and he runs around in desperate search where he bumps into figures representing his friends, they don’t recognise him, but they make him recollect (by cross cutting) the last time he had seen them before.
These happy memories contrast with the bad news the whistler brings. The whistler is a dead plane driver that informs him he had just killed his fiancie, best friend and boss in a plane crash. Then he finally realises that he has just seen ghosts all around him. The two explorative strategies we used were cross-cutting and hot seating. We chose to use hot-seating to help develop our characterisation by deepening our understanding of the roles that we’re playing, which would hopefully come across in acting in the improvisation.
We used cross-cutting to build a relationship with the characters we had just introduced so the loss was more tragic to the audience. Hot-seating helped me understand the text by helping me understand the regret and fear in losing someone and being deserted and alone by putting me in the role of the character and having to ask questions I felt like the character who had experienced this loss and this will help us convey our ideas in the improvisation.
Cross cutting helped us convey to the audience that the last instances he saw his loved ones were warm times that suggested a long bond of friendship, and helped us do this quickly, concisely and effectively. If I were to stage the piece I would hope to create a setting of foreboding throughout the piece as it builds up tension and the mystery through the improvisation.