Drama Coursework: Response Phase

Drama Coursework: Response Phase

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Drama Coursework: Response Phase

The play that we have been work-shopping is ‘Legal Weapon’ by Mark
Wheeler. This play at first appears to be concerned with road safety
but under further study we see that it deals with guilt and denial,
family loss and retribution. We have several central roles, Andy is
the speeding driver and Jazz is his girlfriend who’s seeing a
footballer called Matt whose brother was killed by a drug addict
driver. Kelly is the learner driver who is tragically killed by Andy,
her father, Brian, who desperately wants retribution for the death of
Kelly. There is a narrator character known only as “A” she is
omnipotent and described all the characters feelings throughout the
play and gives us a summary of what is about to happen. We have also
studied a play called Too much Punch for Judy which deals with similar
issues in a very much different way.

From this play, my group and I saw the possibilities for lots of
explorative strategies for example cross cutting and marking
significant moments. We work shopped different sections of the play,
the first section, Loves Young Dream was cross cut with section 2:
Apart. We decided from the outset that we wouldn’t use much set or
costume to keep the attention of the audience on the action and to
emphasize the areas that need to be central. We also work-shopped the
section with the actual accident in it, Section 3: Fatality was we
cross cut with some of section 4: Outcast.

We used a lot of still image in our workshop mostly to portray a sense
of fear in the piece. In Section 4 + 5 we began with a still image of
three separate stages of the drama piece as a way to mark the moment.
CSL was Alex in the role of Andy driving his car, carefree and happy
driving along the road, this is set seconds before he tops the ridge
and hits Kelly, before the freeze, Alex for a few seconds made driving
sounds and turned his imaginary steering wheel before freezing. Most
of the stage was in darkness with a bright spot on Alex. The light
went off on him and a spot then came up on Jenna as Kelly in the
centre of the stage facing away from the audience Sally was a
concerned bystander running towards her; this scene is just after the
accident, Sally being a witness to the crime. As Sally reaches the
stricken Jenna she freezes with a look of panic and a blackout ensues.
The spot comes up on Aaron and I walking as a funeral procession with

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imaginary coffin above us CSR, we walked forward and after three steps
froze with a black out befalling the stage.

We then had the scene with Kelly and Brian, her dad before going out
on her moped, we used this as a tool for ironic comparison, we wanted
there to be a sharp contrast between Kelly’s happy attitude in this
scene and her horrific accident shown just before. We also wanted the
contrast between Brian who is content and happy in this slow scene and
later there’s a very fast intense scene where he is angered, emotional
and bitter towards Andy in court, we thought that’s using so much
contrast would make these key moments more emphatic.

The next scene was with Andy driving to work, we tried to cut as much
conversation from this as possible to keep the pace moving on. It
started with Andy saying to the audience that he was foolish to only
leave himself just enough time to make a journey, saying that he knew
the journey well and the conditions were fine. This speech gives us a
sense of foreboding for what is to come showing us Andy’s strange and
tragic ‘need for speed’, he has to rush around, it ‘help’s him think’
this is almost an addiction for him.

We then had Narration from the omnipotent character known only as “A”
played by Claire. She was basically telling us that what Andy was
doing, rushing, would end in tragedy. This can be likened to
Shakespeare’s prologue in Romeo and Juliet where the play starts with
a narration that informs the viewer that the end will be tragic with
the death of the lovers. Andy talks excitedly about how he is driving
fast and enjoying the feeling it gives him, raising the tempo of the
play and making the sense of anticipation even stronger. This is only
interrupted with A’s questions about the safety of the venture and her
quips about his speed.

This scene was quickly interrupted as Andy says ‘I’m setting myself a
challenge, thinking “how fast can I go?”’ the scene cross cuts to the
court scene in Section 4. Andy remains exactly where he is but after a
brief blackout with the lights coming up on him he is completely
changed, his attitude is very dark and the atmosphere is completely
changed from foreboding to being able to see what the direct result of
his previous actions were, we tried to use this as a sharp contrast to
make the audience’s attitude change suddenly with the piece as that is
a very emphatic way to keep the piece running scene to scene. Aaron is
the prosecuting judge on a higher level standing on a chair to
symbolize his authority and aloofness from everyone else showing us
his authority. The jury consisted of Jenna (using irony as she was
also playing Kelly), Claire (also playing A) and Sally (she was at the
scene of the crime playing a witness). Brian (me) stood opposite Alex
and delivered all my lines with high volume in a very emotional manner
to make the comparison between his normal, nice and relaxed exterior.

When Andy has received his punishment the scene again shifts back to
the accident, we do the scene exactly the same as the freeze before,
except adding a few seconds to each action, Alex sees Kelly, slams on
the breaks, crashes and then covers his face slumping forward on the
freeze, in the centre of the stage, Sally reaches Jenna body, checks
her pulse and shouts for help, on her freeze she is looking up
shouting holding Jenna’s neck. Aaron and I walk forward and Aaron
lowers the coffin into a grave, I turn to the audience and cry into a
handkerchief.

We cross cut the entire scene after that with Andy writing a letter
and thought tracking what he is writing, Matt and Jazz are opposite to
him on stage, USR flirting, this gave a very heavy sense of irony and
increased a sense of pathos towards Andy in the situation he is in,
this is built up purposely to be shattered when the refuses to accept
responsibility for Kelly’s death making that event seem all the more
powerful. We used the narrator, A, as the connection between the
couple, Andy’s letter is delivered by A to Jazz.

We also used hot-seating as a technique to further our understanding
of characters in the piece. We decided that the person who was most
complex in the piece and needed more work on understanding his role
was Brian, Kelly’s father. I played this character and it was
immensely helpful in understanding him. We found out in more depth his
long term reaction to the death of his daughter with questions like
‘will you campaign to lessen careless driving?’ I found a new
understanding and sympathy for Brian seeing that he had lost
everything in his daughter’s death and understand now his frustration
at not being able to avenge her himself also his anger at Andy’s
refusal to accept responsibility. All of these strategies helped me
understand each character in more depth and understand the play and
its issues as well.
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