Friday, 18 October 2013

Unit 1 part A - arts practice

Bertolt Brecht's use of masks in theatre

Brecht (1898-1956) was one of the most influential twentieth century playwrights. Brecht's approach to theatre was unusual for its time. He believed that theatre should not attempt to portray real life but instead to represent life. Over a period of a few years Brecht developed Epic Theatre which was a theatre style which produced distance between performers and the audience viewed a performance in an objective way. Brecht's aim was to prevent the audience from becoming attached to characters so that they would focus better on the storyline. The audience were constantly reminded that the actors were not the characters by getting the actors to use techniques such as breaking the fourth wall where the actor would speak directly to the audience. Actors would also come out of character to update the audience on what was about to happen, and would often deliver their lines in the third person.

The use of half masks were common in Brecht's performances as a method of preventing the audience from feeling empathy for the characters. Their presence reflected his acting style themes which focused on separation, alienation and social change.

History of masks in theatre

The Ancient Greeks used masks in theatre as a way to worship and depict mythological gods. They used exaggerated and over large masks which were fitted around the actor's mouth and aided him to project his voice. It was the Ancient Greeks who set a route for the making and use of theatrical masks. The easily recognisable comedy tragedy masks that still represent theatre today originated with the Ancient Greeks.

During the middle ages of 12th and 13th centuries in the time of the mystery plays masks were used in performances to exaggerate a character. As mystery plays were frequently written by church priests and focused on getting a message across to the public about the wickedness of sin and the ways to redemption the masks were usually grotesque depictions of Satan and his workers. They were usually made out of papier mache and were highly detailed.

In 15th century Venice during the height of the renaissance period Commedia dell Arte was created as an art form and consisted of improvised comedy which included characters wearing extremely ridiculous and grotesque masks. Half masks were used by actors performing Commedia dell Arte whose main themes revolved around fear of life, death and everything.

Unit 1 part A - arts practice

My main art form -

These are some examples of my current art form.  I like to use a variety of  different styles in my illustrations.

My new art form - 

These are some mask designs I created for when I attended the felt masks workshop

My new arts style - 

These are the finished masks.  They were created with felt and I used two of the sketches above as inspiration.

Unit 1 part B - the wider arts sector

When I started the Gold Arts Award I was unsure if I wanted to pursue art or drama as a career.  I hoped that doing this award would help me to decide and also give me an in depth look at both the career paths.  I visited two colleges - Manchester College and Stockport College.  I was shown what students do in the art and design courses and also examples of work from the students.  I was also shown around the drama departments and saw samples of the students work.  I saw one video of a performance that some students had put on in one college and then saw a live performance from students at the other.  I found that I was impressed by the drama department at one college but not as impressed by its art department.  I also found that at  the other college I was impressed by their art department but not their drama department.  This made my choice of college a lot easier.  I found that the artwork I saw did not seem to give the students  much room to expand or experiment.  I also found that the art styles used were all so similar it was hard to tell one student's work from another.   I decided to pursue drama as I did not like the idea of my art being restricted and controlled.  I decided to continue spending my free time drawing what I want, enjoying it and improving my styles in my own way.  I applied to Manchester College to study drama on the Acting BTEC level 2 course. I had an interview and an unexpected audition but  luckily I already had a monologue prepared from my drama GCSE course.  I found that the interview was very strict and it made me realise that there would be no room for slacking on the course.  I started the one year course in September at the age of 15 because they accepted me onto the course a year early. I plan to go on and do the Drama BTEC level 3 next September and then my aim is to attend RADA or another drama school.

As well as studying the BTEC level 2 I am attending other classes which are relevant to a drama career. Once a week I attend Urban Stage drama classes for children aged 12-16. We are in the process of rehearsing for a production of Animal Farm by George Orwell which we will be performing next Easter.

I have also started attending latin and ballroom classes for adults once a week with Heather Durose Dance. I am enjoying learning jive, tango and waltz but I find the samba and cha cha cha very hard. I definitely prefer ballroom dances. The dance classes are hopefully going to give me a better chance of getting parts in productions in later years as it is definitely a useful skill to add to my CV.

I also attended a second willow weaving course where I made a vulture. I found this a lot easier the second time and think I improved my skills greatly because I was able to use the skills that I had learnt in the previous workshop.  I had already researched plague masks and found them useful in designing my willow weave vulture.

I am constantly improving my art and design skills with online tutorials.  Here are a few tutorials I have found very useful.

The information on the course that I am currently doing can be found here

The information on the course I am starting in September 2014  can be found here

The information for the degree course I am working towards can be found here