Community Theatre Report Morgan Clarke Within this report I

Community
Theatre Report

Morgan
Clarke

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Within this report I am going to consider and speak – in depth
about the issues and themes surrounding community theatre, I am going to choose
3 examples of local community theatre; then compare and contrast them with one
and other. I am also going to look closely at two practitioners in particular,
(Augusto Boal and Joan Littlewood) reviewing how their styles of theatre and
the techniques they have used, have influenced and continue to influence
community theatre today. Looking at how they approach theatre in different ways
and the impact it has on the overall performances they create.

We are currently focusing on community theatre on the course,
and reviewing the influences it has had over the years up to now, in current
theatre today. We are researching into both Boal’s and Littlewood’s approach to
community theatre and how they are contrasting in some ways with their ideas,
and how in other ways they are similar in their creativity – seeing how
community theatre first started.

Community theatre, is theatre demonstrated within the
community, for a purpose, e.g to portray a message or teach a lesson to people.
It can consist of a large range of themes; varying from children’s story/
lesson teaching (aimed at young people), to more intense and serious topics
like, rape, bullying, family issues, depression, etc. All topics being very
important within the community; often some of the topics explored tend to
usually be avoided due to being a ‘taboo’ subject and having a high level of
severity. These pieces of theatre can be performed in a range of places – they
are normally very accessible by all members of the public, so the entire
community have the opportunity to learn from and be a part of the project. The
more popular venues are schools, village halls, pubs, local theatres, all of
which allow locals to be involved. Another really popular use of space is
within the streets or open area, this means everyone can view the theatre and
it attracts a lot of attention – meaning more people are likely to remember /
take something away from the performance to remember in the future.

When experimenting with theatre for the community, the style
and themes of the piece need to be adapted depending on the target audience,
you have to take into consideration the audiences’ backgrounds and ages, and
cater to each particular audiences’ needs. A relevant example of this may be
for younger audiences’ language may be changed and adapted – to be simpler and
a less complex use of wording, to allow the performance to be easier to
understand. Furthermore the explicit language has to be completely ruled out
when performing to certain audiences’ as it can be offensive and inappropriate
to people, and can insult them, (which would be the opposite aim of community
theatre). Whereas a more mature audiences’ theatre piece may be a lot more in
depth or deal with more extreme topics and dialogue as it can be understood and
accepted by that particular audience.

Augusto Boal used a lot of intense feeling, raw emotion and
serious topics within his work to reach an audience and make them want to
change or adapt the scenario; and replace it for a more positive outcome. When
he did this he left the theatre’s audience to create the rest of the story – or
change the state of oppression. This is called Forum theatre. Forum theatre is
used so the community can ‘stop’ the theatre and suggest and alternative action
to take place. The reason forum theatre is used is because it can be difficult
to imagine what a character would do in certain scenarios, or what they may
say. By using this technique, Augusto wants to offer the ‘spec- actors’ an
alternative. It gives them the chance to think of how they would personally
adapt a production and gives the chance for it to be changed in a different way
every single time it is performed, ensuring it meets all spec – actors’ needs
and requirements.

To then contrast that style of theatre, Joan Littlewood,
another well known practitioner – experimented with community theatre in a
different way, a way that meant audiences had to be aware of her approach to
more serious topics, as she used her theatre to juxtapose the severity of
important topics – for example war, in her play of – ‘Oh what a lovely war’. The
war was a horrific and awful event in history and the play used, scenery, props
and atmosphere in a beautiful way to portray the war in a much brighter light
than it truly was, juxtaposing the idea of war and what it was like to the idea
people had of war and hadn’t actually seen it. People involved in the war may
have found it offensive as it wasn’t a true reflection of what they went
through, and was seen to make a mockery of the war.

Last year, theatre group (GCSE) created a piece of community
theatre to educate and inform young children of a top it was studying in
school, hope that’s the knowledge and understanding of the subject; this
subject was the Vikings. This was using attempt to take them back in time to
the town period of the Vikings-using this to give them more of a memorable,
real life experience of the Viking lifestyle. The venue with a small theatre
with around 150 seats, which worked well as it allowed the children to feel
like part of the story and more involved in the production, The production was
a mix of children’s theatre and factual/realism theatre, it was nearly all
based purely on the knowledge after the company had research what content of information
had to be added to me the audiences/children’s needs.

 

It is important to meet the children’s needs by keeping our
tension focus on the poor performance because they are very easily distracted
and can forget what is been taught all performed. One way of keeping children’s
attention to the production is by making sure to maintain a constant exciting
feel to the performance, this allows them to feel involved in the story making
them more likely To retain information and get involved in around them. This
means making sure performances featured a lot of audience participation and
interaction in the performance because this constantly gave the children in the
audience something to do and think about and made the character seem more
relatable. The school teacher set the brief for the company I made sure they
knew exactly what to do this allow them to work very specifically to that brief
and specification to allow them more of a chance of meeting every single target
need, which is the best possible outcome for a community performance.

 

Within the performance, the themes and issues which occurred
around the Viking times were picked up; issue surrounding marriage status and
wealth will all approach within the performance space. All of which are still a
major issue and theme in today society, That effect was still today just been
varied ways. I think this may have open the children’s eyes how life is
different now in comparison to then. You have used mainly based around 6 to 9
years of age, which may be a young age to comprehend some of the more complex
themes; but still make it clear and emphasise the change in community now which
will have been/was noted by a lot of the children. Another key feature which
the performance included was a lot of comical humour, this made children laugh
quite and meant that their brains remained a high level of focus on the
performance throughout and also meant they enjoyed it more so, which was
another key feature of keeping small children’s mind occupied. The performance
included some key facts and approach the subject in quite a light-hearted
manner. This is similar to Joan Littlewood’s style of theatre and related to
how her mind works professionally ( in some ways ) making a performance
numerous rather than completely dealing with the facts in a brutal way, this is
to create an alternative or more light-hearted viewpoint on the topic or
subject being explored, this can often be the reason why more people would like
to watch community theatre or can relate to it on a personal level.

 

When devising the performance; to meet needs, the performers
and community work Alongside each other to create the right content, often the
case is youth leaders or teaches work to write/make a brief in order to help
their performance understand the concept of the theatre piece needing to be
created. This is because following the brief and Performing the performance
with purpose is essential especially when community theatre is involved as it
gives the performance and aim and something to work with rather than being for
the pure enjoyment or creativity – ( of a cast or director etc )

 

The performance explores history and ways of life hundreds of
years ago, it aims to meet children aware of facts helping them to become more
knowledgeable. Your genes will hopefully take away the funny approach which
will help them remember the performance; allowing them to recall the
information taught -Joan’s technique works very effectively in the style of
theatre and means opinions and approaches to productions can be massively
explored in an interesting way, making this different to all other theatre!

 

Next time going to talk about another contrasting approach to
community theatre, this is my feet a company called, the crack parts, they are
a local group he is performing to me children aware of the Bible teaches. They
visit schools and local youth groups to teach the meaning of Christianity and
to build an understanding of what it means from a young age meaning children
can make their own opinion of what Christianity means to them. This is
important because in today’s society, opinions and personal views can often be
influenced by, social media, the news, other people and people of a higher
power…(these are only a few factors). So, giving children their own opinion /
their own chance to form a view they choose from a young age – this is a great
opportunity and is what community theatre promotes highly and is said to be all
about.

 

Another crucial part of community theatre is the venue. Venue
is important for this data company as they transport their performances to
different schools, local theatres and the public places in and around
Chesterfield to to raise as much awareness as possible about Christianity and
the understanding of the Bible. They also very them venues to make the theatre
more easily accessible for everyone, no matter what the circumstances, which
helps to make economic needs easier to meet to. This then helps the community
further because the economic needs play a big part in society today, due to
money being a growing and fast-paced moving issue, and is one of the main
holdbacks / setbacks of people’s future and personal life every day – an open
venue then allows the theatre and shows to be easily accessible meaning that
theatre shows no bounds and invites everyone to enjoy and experience it.

 

 

This group promote cultural diversity and teach children and
other people to stand up and stick by their personal beliefs. This has a
positive impact on society and the community because it makes everyone aware
and more excepting of each other-which promote community cohesion. I think
through the exploration of the varying styles of theatre; audience’s needs are
met, as the language used, the imagery and the topics covered are all
appropriate, informative and acceptable for all ages.

 

This again can be linked to Joan littlewood’s approach to
community theatre as it makes quite a severe and social topic into a more fun
and entertaining one; often turn almost into a light-hearted topic showing
Jones influence on community theatre lives to impact on theatre today too. This
is a positive thing because it is very important that theatre in general and in
particular community theatre continues to grow and improve as time goes on,
this gives more people opportunities to understand and appreciate what is
happening: not only around them, around the rest of the world, and with other
people in the community. Furthermore it gives all people, no matter: age, race,
size, ethnicity, language, appearance etc, the chance to have a passion and
share it together and allows all citizens a chance to be a part of the magic
that is ‘theatre’.

 

The last example of the three examples I will cover in this
report, is a particular community theatre show which is performed at a local
small theatre in Eckington, it was created to be able to meet all audiences
appropriate targets and is something used to bring the local society together
through entertainment. This example of community theatre I have chosen,
seamlessly shoehorns the technique of Augusto Boal into/throughout its
performance. The technique created by Boal is called ‘spec-actors’; this technique
gives the opportunity to change a sad and repressing situation, into a more
positive one or one with a better outcome. This technique gives each and every
audience member the chance to change the story for the best scenario and gives
each audience member their own personal voice-which is the aim and was Boal’s
original intention.

 

The performance choosing was Cindarella, although this may
seem like a strange choice, it is a story that allows a lot of change and can
have a lot more negative situations change and they better to meet the
audiences requirements; to give them the full opportunity to take part!

 

The performance promotes awareness and understanding of
others, the importance of confidence, relationships with family and people, and
the way to treat others (or how they should treat you), this is a topic that
all people should be aware of and should understand in great detail, as it
plays a huge role in each and everyone of us and in our lives every day. It’s
also a topic that can be seen as Tabou or unapproachable. Although this
performance includes these topics, they are approached in very light way and in
a subtle way so that they are not to difficult for audience members to deal
with and isn’t hard for anyone to understand, it also uses opposing topics
within the same performance too, which makes a positive contrast and explores a
range of things, feelings and emotions.

 

I think Boal’s Technique works really well in this
performance, because even though the oppression wasn’t glaringly obvious it allowed
the whole range of audience members to stop and alter the story to make a
better one with a more positive outcome. When this performance was performed;
every single time, the performance was stopped at a different point and changed
in a slightly varied way to make the performance different to its original.

To conclude and reflect upon the range of Community Arts
projects I have talked about – I would suggest the performance in which really
highlighted what community theatre was all about is the work which the
‘Crackpots’ do. I believe this because of the ambition and aim behind their
performing and the moral and lesson they are trying to teach. They do this in
such an effective and society friendly way – it somehow manages to cover all
aspects in which Community Arts should and brings entertainment too. These
targets include: being age appropriate, dealing with morals, being accessible
for all, teaching lessons about individuality and community cohesion – the list
goes on!

I do however believe the other two examples covered the
community arts targets well too, and feel as though they had just as much of a
good impact. I feel the ‘Crackpots’ really grasped what Community Theatre is
and took it to a very professional and high level.

Lastly, I think Community theatre is a fantastic way of
expressing Art and bringing the community together – with a purpose, and am
looking forward to being a part of a Community Arts performance very much!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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