There are three main stages of the performance process; improvisation, rehearsal and performance. All three stages are closely linked to each other and often overlap; a dress rehearsal for instance is a rehearsal and it is also a performance. Improvisation is an unrehearsed performance, sometimes to an audience. There are always some aspects of improvisation that are rehearsed however if too much is then it can loose its spontaneity. Improvisation allows performers freedom, whilst still keeping them within certain limitations. There are certain aspects of improvisation, which often remain fixed, for example the structure and conventions of a performance. This is because without a structure there would be no performance and the conventions need to remain the same throughout because if the conventions changed so would the whole performance.
An example of this is in our music piece, the original idea was too big to develop in the given time, so the conventions of the performance were changed and then it was easier to compose something. Improvisation is used in all three disciplines of Performing Arts; drama, dance, music and also in all of the disciplines combined. In drama, improvisation is used when there is no script. This is good as sometimes when actors use a script the performance is unnatural and static, however if they improvise the performance is more naturalistic. Improvisation is used in drama both in rehearsal and performance. It used as a main focus in certain styles of performance, for example in stand up comedy such as Billy Connelly.
For all four performances, improvisation was used. This improvisation mainly occurred during the rehearsals for the performances. Improvisation was used throughout my drama piece, from when we first learnt about what we had to do, through until the final performance. It was used particularly in warm ups, when ideas were being brainstormed and when the performance was being blocked. It was important when the performance was being blocked because in order to give the audience the best possible form of participation, the performance had to be blocked in various ways and then the best chosen. We used improvisation during the choreographing of our dance piece. To find the correct step, a few are needed to compare and then one chosen. As in drama and music, improvisation can be used as a selection process.
Improvisation was used continually in the dance piece especially at the very beginning when a piece of music was being chosen. This is because the music being used had to fit in with a couple of steps, which were the stimulus, and everything grew from them. Improvisation was used throughout as new steps were added continually, as we amended the piece. Improvisation was used more continually throughout dance as we had the least limitations, and the most rehearsal time. The only limitation we had was that we had to incorporate some aspects from the two motifs we had learnt which played an integral role in the development of the devised piece. In music, when a piece is in the process of being composed, improvisation is used as the composer tries different styles, rhythms, instruments and notes.
Often jazz is improvised when it is being performed, particularly the melody. In our music piece at the very beginning, improvisation was used to experiment with tunes and rhythms until something stood out. We found that our initial idea, to incorporate a section of music from each decade in the twentieth century, was too expansive to do in the given time. Therefore, improvisation was used again as new ideas were born. Finally we settled upon and the specific styles, of the blues and classical music. These related to the given stimulus of ‘evolution’ because different styles of music have evolved throughout history. By using two different styles we showed part of evolution. Our combined piece, incorporated all three disciplines; drama, music and dance. There was a narrower scope for improvisation and ideas in the combined performance, as the stimulus given was more fixed. This meant less improvisation occurred.
Rehearsal is used to change and improve scenes or sections and to perfect a performance. Every performance began with a warm up. This varied for each discipline, but all the warm ups involved improvisation. In a combined warm up groups of different sizes had to make shapes of particular objects, thus improvising the shape of an object. Improvisation is used in rehearsal particularly when changing parts, for example, in music one section was not working, so other ideas were improvised and one was found which worked better than the original idea. From how the rehearsal time was used differently for each performance, I learnt that time management and organisation were required to get the full benefits from the time.
It was important to use the time judiciously right from the beginning, and although it was important to improvise using different ideas and styles, we had to be careful that we progressed in the development of the piece at the same time. For each discipline the time was used differently, for example in dance a lot of the time was used improvising, whereas in combined, the time was used more on finishing the piece than perfecting it.
The rehearsal time given for performances has to be used carefully and productively. In dance rehearsal time was spent perfecting the beginning rather than advancing on the rest of the piece and this caused us to rush at the end. For the drama performance, most of the rehearsal time was spent brainstorming and planning every detail of the performance, rather than rehearsing what was to be performed. The combined rehearsals were used most productively, because there was the least rehearsal time for this performance.
The first rehearsal series was spent improvising ideas, and the second part was then used to perfect and add music and props to the performance. The first rehearsal was also used to block the piece after it had been decided which idea was going to be used. When you are ‘blocking’ a piece you are deciding where everything is going to happen on stage; in our drama piece, we decided to have, at the end, two tableaux, one stage left and one stage right. We then had one person centre stage addressing the audience. By blocking it in this way, the audience focus would be on the person centre stage.