Doctor! Doctor!

I must admit I started off with the wrong idea for the Doctor’s characterisation. I took the character to be a comical ‘nerd’ or ‘geek’ who would be naturally awkward around others. But through the rehearsals this came to change. The character was to become more sinister and confident with his elaborate use of language.

Watching the film and continuous reading of the play started to change my mind about my first impressions of the Doctor. He uses aggressive language towards Woyzeck, and even speaks confidently to the Captain. He uses his knowledge to his strength, as no-one else seems to know what he is talking about with regards to the Latin words he uses. Rachel also noticed the more sinister side of the Doctor and so directed me to play him in a creepy and sinister way.

The character was then split into two due to the fact that there were not enough strong women parts in the play. I would be sharing the character with Amie. We looked at how their relationship would be and decided that they could be a husband and wife figure, both correcting and interrupting each other. We felt that this could continue on to Theatre Company where the two Doctor characters could end up having what the cast call a ‘Latin-off’ where each character would attempt to say the most and the longest Latin word.


Carry On Captain.

So, I’m playing the Captain in the shaving scene, which is a fun scene to play. As our opener for our fifteen minute Dramaturgy assessment, it is therefore important to get the characters right and set the tone for Woyzeck’s world. Victor Price tells us in the appendix to his translation of Woyzeck that in what many regard as the final manuscript:

The order of the scenes is puzzling. Woyzeck shaving the Captain, which many editors place at the beginning, comes fourth (2008, p.134.).

 This makes characterisation choices significantly varied. Depending on what scenes Buchner had placed before this one, you could play the Captain in many ways because the tone and feel of the piece would have been set already. As we have placed this scene first, however, this will be our ‘tone setter’.

It would be easy to over play the subtle humour in this scene and turn the Captain into a Captain Mainwaring (from BBC Comedy Dad’s Army) stereotype. This would not set the right overall tone for the play. Yes, there are funny moments in the play, but I think that the majority of these moments are based on relief theory. Michael Billig tells us in his book Laughter and Ridicule that;

Freud uses his relief theory to explain this type of laughter. If the theory attributes any motive to the adult audience, it is one of empathy (2005, p.170).

To me, the Captain is a man who is prone to distraction and rambling on about whatever seems to be in his head (It is this that put me in mind of the poem If by Rudyard Kipling, which I have discussed elsewhere on this blog). He is a man of some social standing; the clues are there in the text. For example, where he and Woyzeck discuss self control amongst the classes of their society. Therefore, I’ve given him an accent which I feel would suit him, and may be quite obvious and stereotypical anyway. Due to the distracted and self important nature of the character, I’ve allowed my delivery of lines to drift off, almost as if he’s going into a daydream, particularly when he talks about girls stockings!


Works cited:

Billig, Michael. (2005) Laughter and Ridicule. Towards a Social Critique of Humour. London: Sage.

Buchner, George (2008). Danton’s Death, Leonce and Lena, and Woyzeck. Translated and introduced by Victor Price. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Drum major

A drum major is the leader so to speak when a marching band or parade is on the move and was originally used as another method of communication duing a time of war by using short and precice rhythms and battle signals. Sometimes drum majors were even used to apply military punishment and justice with the use of many methods including whips and tasks. They are the front man and are dressed differently to the rest of the march, usually in an elaborate ornate patterned uniform so as to show a status of control.  As shown below:

I believe that this will be where I shall base the angry and self-rightious nature of the wartime character, he will seemingly see everyone else as ants scurrying before his mighty sense of self accoplishment and power. Since he is supposed to be a representative of military might I would present him as a man with almost no weakness in the production, this is because that is the image a man that would represent something as brutal as an army should be at any time.

“Even though Buchner deals with the theme of animals and animal nature, he reserves a traditionally “animalistic” portrayal for the Drum-Major. With his strutting, his plumed hat, and his chauvanistic attitude towards Marie, the Drum-Major seems like a rooster, interested in nothing more than copulating and propagating. He uses the words “breed” and “spawn” when referring to Marie, and also calls her a “hot bitch.” Society pens up sexuality so that when it emerges, as in the case of Marie and the Drum-Major’s affair, it is explosive.”

(gradesaver.1999-2011.Woyzeck article.

In the scenes not yet covered in this piece the character of the drum major will be shown as a man that is also very demanding not only in his violence but also in his sexual appetites, it would seem that to achieve his goal he would even wrench the character of Marie away from Woyzeck.

Woyzeck Character Development

On this part of the blog I will be describing the process that I have gone through to get my version of the character Woyzeck. Starting from my first initial ideas about how I could play the character, how those have developed and how I aim to develop them further.

At first when the play Woyzeck was described to me (before reading it), I had the idea that the character Woyzeck would have the characteristics of a twitchy nervous mental patient (similar to the kind Brad Pitt plays in Twelve Monkeys film) and having such character traits as fast head twitches and jolts, big wide eyes and lots of fidgeting. I had this first initial idea because the description of the character that was given to me described him as mentally unstable and somewhat scary.

After the first read through I understood more what Woyzeck had to go through, for instance; his wife cheats on him and doctors doing experiments on him. This gave me a much clearer idea of what Woyzeck would be like. I think he would be less likely to twitch and fidget, as this would show a sort of deranged person, but more likely to stand and stare off into space on a regular basis and loose all concentration.


Woyzeck (shaving scene)

I found this recording of a contemporised performance of Woyzeck. I think this is a great example of how NOT to do it. (Despite the terrible acting) I think that the Woyzeck tries to jump from being funny to being scared and jumpy, which does not work at all. It’s clear from this performance that the script is a very delicate thing. Also it’s clear that the audience perception is delicate if the actor’s intentions are not clear. Jumping from trying to be funny to trying to gain sympathy from the audience is not going to work. It plays too much with the audience and leaves them unaware of whether they should be laughing at or feeling sorry for Woyzeck.

I noticed after watching this Youtube video of how that theatre company tried to perform Woyzeck, that the character Woyzeck is fragile. Fragile in the sense of the audience interpretations of him, if it’s not made clear Woyzeck’s emotion then it will mess the whole performance up. I from this point made it my mission to ensure that the audience’s interpretation of Woyzeck is that he is being destroyed from the outside in. as hard as it is for me to not make things funny or to might light out of situations, I didn’t want to make Woyzeck funny. I’ve grown to truly understand the torture that Woyzeck is feeling and the only laughing the audience would be doing towards Woyzeck would be awkward laughing, because are not sure about how else to act.