Tech Rehearsal.

Wednesday 2nd March we had our Tech Rehearsal ready for the Dramaturgy performance on Thursday evening.  Due to the nature of our performance our tech requirements are not anything spectacular or complicated.  For the shaving scene we turn out the main lights in the LPAC and just use the small lamp lights that are on either side of the auditorium, these give us enough light for the audience to see the actors but not too much that it kills any atmosphere created by Braden and Martyn.  The shaving scene has come a long way during the course of rehearsals and now looks really good and the little touch where Woyzeck keeps the shaving blade hovering dangerously close to the Captains throat gives a good indication of Woyzeck’s possible state of mind.

The next scene in the sequence is the Showman who invites the audience up the stairs.  Again for this scene all the main lights are off and the only lighting is the small lights on the stairs themselves.  In order to create a creepy atmosphere for the circus freaks to do their thing in we plan on putting blue and green gels over these lights.  This will not only give us some interesting coloured lighting but will also hopefully make the lights not quite so bright as they are because it really doesn’t fit with the dark and creepy theme we have for the performance as a whole.  The masks we have for the circus freaks look fantastic and with the coloured lights they should look even better.

The Drum Major scene is pretty straight forward all we need for this scene is all the main lights in the corridor turned out but we leave the lights on in the corridor where the loos are, to give enough light to be able to see the characters when they get down towards the lift. 

For the final two scenes the performance moves into Studio 2.  With this being inside the studio itself we can really go to town with light effects if we want to.  We are having some muslin curtains to mask out most of the studio to create a confined and clinical space.  We are using bright lights to create a clinical feel within the scene; we are also using spot lights on Woyzeck in order to isolate him from the rest of the world.  The two spots on Woyzeck are coloured blue and green; we are using these colours to help create a surreal and distorted world for Woyzeck himself to exist in.

I think on Thursday we need to have at least one run through before the performance.  As far as costume is concerned there is few things that I need to sort out in terms of fixing small pieces of costume, but everything else seems to be in order in that department.  I’m really looking forward to our performance so all that’s left for me to say is – BRING IT ON!!!!

Rachel 🙂

Woyzeck meets Dr Caligari.

The 1920 silent horror movie The Cabinet of Dr Caligari is widely regarded as the film that kick started the whole Horror genre and most certainly the Expressionist movement in German cinema.  It was written by the two young writers Hans Janowitz and Carl Mayer between them they came up with a script that was strongly influenced by their own experiences.  This film at the time was unique because most of the films that were being made at the time were mainly based on novels and stage plays rather than a script specifically created for film.  But what has this got to do with our production of Woyzeck I hear you cry.  Are you sitting comfortably?  Good, well I’ll explain….

The groups aim for the final production of Woyzeck is to create something that is un-nerving and quite scary.  The idea is, is that the audience will experience the events of the play from Woyzeck’s point of view.  To achieve this we want Woyzeck to be the only naturalistic character on the stage and the other characters and the world around him gets more mad and distorted as he descends into madness.  To achieve this I have looked at other productions that use slightly odd designs to create a strange and distorted world for the characters to exist in and The Cabinet of Dr Caligari is a brilliant example.

 Despite being written a bit over 80 years apart there are some striking similarities between Woyzeck and the good Doctor.  For instance both pieces deal with insanity – Dr Caligari dives into the realms of human insanity whereas Woyzeck is almost railroaded to insanity by those around him.  Woyzeck is subjected to constant abuse and humiliation by his superiors, who seem to enjoy taking advantage of his poor man status which in turn is one of the contributing factors that drive him to madness.  Woyzeck can be seen as being anti-authoritarian in that it makes a very strong case for the idea that the upper classes and those in power drive the poor and less fortunate down a path that is not of their choosing and from which there is no return.  One other but seemingly trivial similarity between Woyzeck and Dr Caligari is the presence of the fairground.  Trivial I know however it does seem to be the start of the problems experienced by the characters.  In Woyzeck it is the place where the Drum Major first notices Marie and so it escalates into something more serious.  Likewise in the world of Dr Caligari the travelling show brings with it something of a killing spree.  The arrival of the fair/ carnival could be symbolic in itself in that a carnival or The Feast of Fools (as it was known as in medieval times) is a time and place where normal rules are suspended and chaos reigns.  So in some respects this could be another way of the rich and powerful degrading the poor and weak because the poor have no morals or decency and at a carnival those two things defiantly went right out the window.  On the other hand of course it gave the rich every excuse to indulge in activities that are not decent or morally sound.

The aspects of the Dr Caligari film that are of specific interest to me as director is mainly the design of the film as a whole from the set to the stagy over the top acting style.  Whilst researching the film I found that the overall design is heavily influenced by the Expressionist movement and used lots of painted backcloths which were dominated by cubes and curves, even items of furniture weren’t safe from expressionist influences as it appeared very elongated to the point of almost being distorted beyond recognition.  Although we don’t plan on having too much set (at the moment) but what we do have I would very much like to have it in a similar style to Dr Caligari.  This along with the sound and lighting effects will have an unnerving and disorientating effect on the audience and help them see the story from Woyzeck’s point of view.  Dr Caligari uses a prologue and epilogue as a framing device for the story “Framing the story with a prologue and an epilogue made it a story told by a mad man.”  (   In this instance we could possibly use this technique to frame our production of Woyzeck.

Over the years Dr Caligari has influenced many film makers “Tim Burton used Cesare as a model for Edward Scissorhands – tall, thin, stark white face, racoon ringed eyes and skin tight black on black outfit” (John Bastian  Tim Burton is not the only person who has used the film as influences for their characters.  In the film Something Wicked This Way Comes it is suggested that Jonathon Pryce used Dr Caligari as a visual for his character Mr Dark.  The appearance of Dr Caligari is memorable to say the least – black and white make up, wild white hair and a very dark wardrobe make him frightening and at the same time quite ridiculous.  Whilst we don’t want Woyzeck to look like Dr Caligari or Cesare we could take some ideas from them in terms of costume for the other characters such as the Doctors.

There are lots of similarities between Woyzeck and Dr Caligari which most probably are accidental but interesting all the same.  There also appears to be lots of things we can use to help give our performance a different feel to what may have already been done before.


Reviews of other Woyzeck productions

When I’m directing a piece I like to have look around at reviews of various productions. There appears to have been rather a lot of productions of Woyzeck done over the years, these have provided me with a few ideas of what ought to be avoided. The following are notes made from reviews of two very different productions of Woyzeck:

Counting Squares production 2008, directed by Joshua Chase Gold. Review by Jason Fitzgerald 6/10/08

This production set Woyzeck as something like an American War Story buit with the play being somewhat anti-hero this concept really doesn’t suit it.

The characters insanity undermined the whole production.

Woyzecks state of mind is perhaps conveniently passed off as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which he suffers as a result of military action. However Buchner’s script doesn’t give any specific symptoms related to PTSD.

The Doctor character was used more as a comic interlude rather than providing ” Critical signposts on the road to Woyzeck’s self destruction” (Fitzgerald, 2008)

Woyzecks visions of the godless world he lives in a partly due to the ill treatment he receives from the upper classes or the Bourgeoisie as they were known as. This theme of everyday man being abused by supeiors is a theme still relevent today and will still probably be relevent for many years to come.

Cindy Pierre also reviewed the same production but wasn’t quite as brutal. She did provide some interesting points that are useful for our groups production and will give some things to consider even if they are only in terms of what to avoid doing!

The production used a chorus to represent Woyzecks maddness but they only really succeeded in distracting from the real issues.

Humour was inserted into what should have been very serious circumstances making it inappropriate.

Scenes where Woyzeck is performing menial tasks lost their ability to get the audience to understand Woyzeck’s plight.

The theme of the poor having no morals got lost amongst all the song and dance numbers.

The murder scene a damp squid due to bad staging.

review from

Icelandic company Vesturport put a circus act spin on their production which was described by Jason Best as ” hectic, often thrilling, sometimes even dazzling but as a whole curiously unsatisfying” (14/10/05)

In this production Woyzeck is not a soldier but a lowly factory worker who is frquently subjected to abuse and humiliation by his superiors. The Doctor takes a very sinister form and treats him as little more than a lab rat and throughout the course of the play conducts cruel and pointless experiments on him.

The physical feats used in the production though breathtaking were very distracting. In fact the physical aspects shoved Buchner’s original words into the background making the production far more impressive as a visual spectacle than effective as a serious drama.

Jason Best 14/10/05

These reviews have made it clear that there are many things that could potentially make for a production that doesn’t get across the seriousness of what is happening to Woyzeck. It would be very easy to get distracted from the drama aspect by trying to create something spectacular. Yes we want to do something that has the wow factor but we don’t want to over cook it so to speak. But this has provided the group plenty to think about.

Rehearsals W/C 14/02/11

So this week we have started rehearsing in earnest!!  With only a couple of weeks till the assessment we need to really kick on and get some work done.

Monday – We read through the scenes in the order that they are to be performed in.  This gave us a good feel for how the scenes ran one after another and gave us chance to brainstorm some ideas on how to make scene transitions feel smoother therefore not leaving the whole performance feeling somewhat dis-jointed.  We also had a chance to go down into the corridor on the first floor of the LPAC building to try and block the fight scene and the parade scene.  At this early stage we didn’t encounter any problems as such but we will have to take into account that audience will create something of an obstacle when it comes round to the performance.

Tuesday – We decided as a group to go on a bit of tour of the LPAC building to work out where exactly the scenes are going to be performed throughout the building.  Since we were out and about in the building we ran through the scenes in the locations we had in mind.  On the whole it worked out well but the noise of other people being around made it difficult to concentrate but on the positive side it became apparent that we would need to try and perform in the evening when there are fewer people around in general.

In Tuesday’s session we had a discussion with Darren (our genius tech guy) who helped us make sense of our ideas for staging the performance.  In terms of technical requirements we don’t need anything to fantastic as we are not staying in one location.  As a group we came up with some nice ideas for the Doctor/Students scene which will take place in Studio 2.  We want to use the lights to create an unnerving atmosphere for various parts of the scene.  Darren suggested that we could use curtains to block out parts of the studio to create a more confined and intense space, to do this we would want to use white curtains if possible to give the scene a more clinical feel.

At the end of the session we had an opportunity to show the other groups a part of our performance.  We decided to show the fight scene out in the corridor because we wanted to see how the scene might work with an audience to fight past.  It was helpful in that there was more bodies for Aaron to fight his way through but not helpful because everyone just moved out the way and there was only a hand-full of people in the audience.  I don’t think it’s going to cause to much of a problem but it is something we need to be aware of – it depends on how big an audience we get.

Thursday –  Today we rehearsed each scene in its location.  Amie and Kirsty were busy choreographing some movement pieces that will happen as Sally takes the audience up the stairs.  These characters are intended to represent circus freaks so Amie and Kirsty will be wearing masks that are quite distorted and a bit grotesque to fit in with our idea of Woyzeck being the only naturalistic character in a world that is going mad around him.  We spent a lot of time rehearsing the Doctor/Students scene and the Woyzeck/Marie scene (where he confronts her about her affair with the Drum Major) in Studio 2 during this session since we have not had chance to spend time in the Studio outside timetabled lessons.  Unfortunately we were unable to get Jimmy into his hatch above the studio because there was a show on in the LPAC theatre so it was a case of access denied!  In the Doctor/Student scene there is potential for some subtly comic moments and opportunities to play on certain lines, which will help to lighten the mood of a piece that is otherwise quite dark and scary.  We experimented with various Meyerhold inspired movements throughout the scene that will add to the strangeness of the world around Woyzeck.    Again at the end of the session we performed a five minute section of our work in progress, this time we performed the two scenes we had been rehearsing in the studio.  Without the lighting effects the scene looked a bit odd when the masked characters start touching Woyzeck feeling for his pulse.  It looked as though they were just randomly feeling him, but when the light effects are included then it will make much more sense.  The scene between Marie and Woyzeck already has a terrific sense of tension between the two of them which gives the ending of this particular piece some suspense.

Overall I felt the rehearsals went well this week.  We have managed to make sense of all the ideas we had as a group and put them into practice and see what works and what doesn’t.  We know have a clear idea on what we need to work on more and what we can just polish up as we get near to assessment day.

Bye for now

Rach x 🙂

Cast List.

Ok here we go the all important Cast List:

Woyzeck – Braden Guy

Captain – Martyn Horner-Glister

Andres – Jimmy Morehouse

Barker – Sally Nix

Drum Major – Aaron Brown

Sergeant – Martyn Horner-Glister

Marie – Kirsty Barnes

Margret – Amie Connor

Kathe – Sally Nix

Showman – Sally Nix

Doctor – Jimmy Morehouse & Amie Connor

Jew – Aaron Brown

The other minor parts will be cast as and when required during rehearsals.