AQA A Level Drama Play Guide: The Glass Menagerie

AQA A Level Drama Contents Introduction 4 What is assessed 4 How to use this book 5 Section 1: How to explore a play for A Level Drama and Theatre 6 How you will be assessed 6 What does a director do? 8 What do performers do? 10 What do designers do? 11 What is context? 13 How to explore a scene 15 Section 2: Set play: The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams 16 Section 3: Writing skills for your exam 118 What to expect in your Component 1 exam 118 Troubleshooting common problems 119 Making a plan 122 Checking your work 126 Sample practice questions 130 Final preparations 131 Bibliography 132 Glossary 134 Acknowledgements 136 Synopsis 16 Character studies 20 Relationships between characters 26 Character revision 27 Context: Tennessee Williams 28 Historical context 29 Cultural context 31 Social context 35 Genre 40 Form and structure 41 Style, language and conventions 42 Researching context, genre and style 43 Practical rehearsal exercises for exploring context 44 Applying contextual detail to your performance 46 Applying contextual detail to your design 46 Scene studies 50 How to annotate your script 60 Noting your rehearsal discoveries 62 Acting choices 63 Character interpretations 74 Directing 75 The director’s concept or vision 76 Stage space 80 Blocking 84 Relationships and interactions 87 Using tension in the play 88 Creating mood and atmosphere 90 Conventions of the genre 92 Set design 94 Costume and make-up design 102 Sound and lighting design 106 21st-century interpretations and how they were received 111 Having an effect on your audience 113 Creating a cohesive concept: acting, directing, design 115 Extending your creativity 116 Checking your preparation 117 Copyright: Sample material

4 AQA A-Level Drama: Section A AQA A Level Drama Introduction This book is designed to guide you through all the elements of your AQA A Level Drama and Theatre Component 1, Section B exam, when your set text is The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams. For this section of the exam, you will answer all sections of a question that will ask you to think practically as a designer, performer or director about The Glass Menagerie. The question will be based on a speci ed extract from the play. Topics you might be asked about include: how you would direct performers to achieve a certain effect as a performer, how you would provoke a particular response from the audience as a designer, how you would contribute to the play’s moods or themes. In all cases, you will be expected to make reference to the 20th- or 21st-century social, cultural and/or historical context of the play. Your production and performance choices should be appropriate for the play as a whole. 5 Alina Cojocaru as Laura, with Edvin Revazov as Tennessee (Hamburg State Opera in a ballet version by John Neumeier, 2019) Tip It is important to remember that this is a Drama and Theatre exam, not an English Literature one. You will need to use the vocabulary of drama rather than literature and be thinking of how a production might look and sound on a stage in front of an audience. What is assessed Knowledge and understanding of drama and theatre A set play from List B. In order to prepare fully for this exam, you must have a clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities of performers, designers and directors and how they might use their practical skills to interpret a text. You should be con dent in using the correct theatre terminology and in being able to analyse the speci c skills needed to achieve your desired effects as a theatre maker. Copyright: Sample material

5 Introduction Introduction How to use this book This book is organised into three key sections: 1 how to explore a text for A level Drama and Theatre, with vocabulary-building elements on acting, directing and design 2 an extended exploration of the play The Glass Menagerie, with a synopsis, character and scene studies and contextual and practical explorations 3 targeted exam preparation to improve writing and test-taking skills, including sample questions, candidate-style answers, troubleshooting for common problems and practice at planning an exam response. At the end of the book there is also a bibliography with suggested books, websites and videos for further reading and research, and a glossary to help you develop and revise your drama vocabulary. 5 Curtain call at the 47th Street Theatre in New York, 2015: Doug Harris, Saundra Santiago, Richard Prioleau and Olivia Washington Additional features of the book Key terms: De nitions of important vocabulary to help you to understand and express how drama works. These are also collected at the back of the book in the glossary. Tasks: Activities to develop your learning, including rehearsal techniques, character and context explorations, writing tasks and research. Why this is important: Explanations of how certain tasks will help to develop your skills and prepare for speci c requirements of the exam. Tips: Notes on productions and advice on how to approach and improve your work and avoid common errors. Theatre maker insights: Comments from professional theatre makers about how they approach their work, to inspire and provide ideas. Downloadable worksheets: Activity sheets, such as grids and mind maps, which can be downloaded from the Illuminate website at Sample questions and responses: Questions for you to practise with and examples of candidate-style answers. Look here: Other places in the book to nd additional information on a given topic. Copyright: Sample material

6 AQA A Level Drama How to explore a play for A Level Drama and Theatre SECTION 1 How you will be assessed You will be assessed on your analysis of the choices that create meaning when a text is performed. These include the areas of: When approaching a chosen play, you will be aware of its genre – for example if it is a comedy, tragedy, farce or epic theatre – and its style – whether it is naturalistic or highly stylised, for example, and whether it is modern or postmodern. You will know its form and structure, such as the number of scenes or acts and when its climax occurs. The language of the play could be contemporary and informal, or it might be heightened and poetic, or anything in between. You will explore how the language conveys meaning and emotion to the audience. You will interpret the play’s stage directions and think about which staging con guration would be best to create visual impact. You will consider how the characters might be portrayed through the actors’ skills, including their voices and movements. Throughout, you will be arriving at practical solutions for the challenges of the text in order to make it interesting, meaningful and involving for your audience. In order to produce Drama and Theatre work at the appropriate standard for A Level success, you need to have a clear understanding of what directors, performers and designers do, as well as how to explore scenes and their context. Theatre maker insight Jessica Edwards, director ‘For me, form is always as important as content, because we’re making theatre, and physical bodies are important because we’re all in a space together.’ Key terms Genre: A category of drama, such as comedy, kitchen sink drama, musical comedy or tragedy. Style: The way in which something is performed, for example with realistic detail or exaggerated, abstract or unrealistic. Abstract: Art that is not realistic or literally representative of external reality, but is based on shapes, forms, textures and so on. Naturalistic: Lifelike, believable, realistic. Stylised: Not realistic; done in a particular manner that perhaps emphasises one element of a play or production. Postmodern: A late 20th-century philosophical and artistic movement that challenged common assumptions about art and reality. In drama, it emphasises the lack of objective truth and refuses to supply neat answers to the audience. Climax: The most intense moment in a play, for example the greatest danger or complication often shortly before the resolution. Stage directions: Information in a playscript that is not conveyed in the dialogue. This might include descriptions of the characters, their movements, and the setting, sound effects and lighting. Staging con guration: The arrangement of the stage space and audience, such as traverse, thrust or in the round. Genre Form and structure Character construction Language Style Stage directions Copyright: Sample material

7 The terms naturalism and realism are often used interchangeably, and there is some blurring between the two. In terms of theatre, both styles are a rejection of the arti ce of the melodramas and drawing-room plays of the 19th century. One argument about the differences is that realistic drama creates a believable impression of society, including a focus on characters, such as those from the working class, who previously were seldom featured. Naturalistic drama shares the use of realistic dialogue and settings, but is more likely to seek an underlying cause for behaviour or a greater use of symbolism. You will often nd that a play is described as both naturalistic and realistic, as there is not always a common agreement about these de nitions or the distinction between them.. Task Think of a play you have read, studied or seen, and make notes on the headings in ‘How you will be assessed’ on the previous page. Can you identify its genre, for example? Do you know its structure? What do you recall about how the characters were portrayed? Look here See more about tragedy on page 41. Key terms Melodrama: An exaggeratedly dramatic piece that aims to excite the emotions of the audience. Symbolism: When something represents something more important than just itself, such as a character representing all women, the colour green representing nature, or a throne presenting a kingdom or power. Gesture: A movement such as nodding, pointing or shrugging, which suggests a certain meaning. Task Look at each production photograph below and try to identify the style and genre. Consider if the play looks naturalistic or stylised, period or contemporary, comic or dramatic, and so on. What production elements do you think would have a particular impact on the audience, such as the lighting, costume or set design, or the actors’ gestures or expressions? How to explore a play for A Level Drama and Theatre 5Loving v. Virginia 5Living on Love 4A Great Wilderness Copyright: Sample material

AQA A-Level Drama Play Guide: The Glass Menagerie 8 What does a director do? Creative choices Directors are at the helm of a production, making decisions about the intentions of the playwright and the production, the casting and how the play will be staged. The director will arrive at a concept for the play, which will take into account its genre and style. They will lead rehearsals, in which they give the actors notes and guide the play’s blocking. The director will collaborate with the designers and actors to establish the atmosphere of the play and create moments of impact, for example provoking laughter, tension or excitement in the audience. Staging One key role of the director is to consider positioning and spatial relationships on stage. This includes how near or far actors are from each other and the audience. Important moments, such as entrances and exits, will need to be determined, as well as signi cant dramatic moments, such as when a character makes a plot-developing decision or receives an important piece of news. Directors will develop their own aesthetic as to what is visually appealing to them. One major choice is whether or not the fourth wall is observed (as it is for most naturalistic drama), or if it will be broken by having, for example, characters speak directly to the audience. The director will also consider how the actors use the set, when they sit or stand, whether they access different levels on stage and how and where they enter and exit. The staging con guration will also affect the actors’ movements and how the audience experiences the play, including how close to the action and intimate it feels to them. The director will also work with the designers to create particular moods and transitions. Theatre maker insight Howard Sherman, executive director of the American Theatre Wing ‘The play begins with the words of the playwright. The production begins with the director.’ Theatre maker insight Harold Clurman in Directors on Directing ‘The function of the stage director is to translate a play text into stage terms: to make the play as written, clear, interesting, enjoyable, by means of living actors, sounds, colours, movement.’ Theatre maker insight Chelsea Walker, director ‘It’s our job to guide the whole audience experience – if it’s an old play, why do it now? What’s an audience’s bridge into it? What do I want to say about the world with this play? What’s at the very heart of this play? It’s also our job to create the entire world of the play and to bring everyone onto the same page.’ Theatre maker insight Joseph Hancock in the Old Vic ‘Introduction to Directing’ workshop ‘Directing is about telling a story… It’s about giving something to the audience and you want them to think something back. Every director is going to make an audience think a different thing.’ Tip For more ideas about directing, visit the Old Vic Schools Club ‘Introduction to Directing’ workshop (oldvictheatre. com/join-in/education-hub/workshops/ introduction-to-directing). Key terms Intention: What is hoped to be achieved by the play and its production, such as a particular message, mood or exploration. Concept: A vision or main idea for a production. Elements such as performances, staging, lighting and costumes should all work towards this united concept. Rehearsal: A session in which a play is learned, explored, practised and made ready for an audience. Notes: Guidance from the director on how to develop or improve a performance, often given during rehearsals or after a run of a scene or play. Blocking: The movements of the actors; when and where they move and in what proximity (how near or far) to each other and the audience. Atmosphere: The tone or mood of a scene, such as eerie, celebratory or tense. Fourth wall: An imaginary wall between the audience and the actors on stage, allowing for the impression that the characters are fully immersed in their own world and unaware of the audience. Aesthetic: Artistic taste. For example, a minimalist or realistic aesthetic. Look here For an in-depth look at blocking, see pages 84–86, and for staging, see pages 80–82. Copyright: Sample material

9 5 In a theatre in the round, the actors enter and exit through the audience. Task Below are some effects a director wants to achieve in a production. Make a list of practical staging choices required for these effects. Consider where on stage the actors might be, their posture, relationship to the audience and any other movements or reactions. Why this is important You must be able to justify the choices you make and understand how your choices will affect the audience. Theatre maker insight Katie Mitchell in The Director’s Craft ‘Remember that you are reading the play in order to come up with concrete tasks for the actors. So you need to practise translating your intellectual understanding of the material into speci c tasks for the actors to execute. If you talk to the actors using the language of literary criticism or abstract ideas they will struggle to respond to your instructions precisely and, as a result, their work will be vague.’ How to explore a play for A Level Drama and Theatre Tip Remember that it is part of the director’s responsibility to coordinate and oversee the work of the actors and designers. If you wish to create a shocking moment on stage, think about how you could direct the actors and work with the designers to create this moment. When X enters the party scene, I want to make it clear that she is the centre of attention and no one can take their eyes off her. A At this key moment, when X goes to break the valuable vase, I want to build the suspense before it is hurled to the ground. D In this argument, which has quickly escalated, I want to emphasise that the husband is shocked by his wife’s admission, but doesn’t want her to know how much it has hurt him. C I need to nd a way of showing that Y feels cut off from their other three family members who are on stage. B When Y interrupts the ght, I want his power and the fear of his presence to be obvious in the actions of everyone in the city square. E Copyright: Sample material

AQA A-Level Drama Play Guide: The Glass Menagerie 10 What do performers do? In his book, The Art of the Actor, 19th-century French actor Constant Coquelin describes an actor as an artist, whose materials are the equivalent of a painter’s canvas and brushes or a musician’s musical instrument: ‘his own face, his body, his life is the material of his art; the thing he works and moulds to draw out from it his creation.’ Actors must have an understanding of their own inner life, voice and physicality as well as the play, its context and style. Portraying a role Actors are responsible for inhabiting the roles in which they have been cast. They will research and rehearse their roles, learn their lines and blocking and, using their physical and vocal skills, create and interpret their character. Their character may have motivations that drive their actions and obstacles that block them, which they will attempt to overcome. The actor will know any subtexts that lurk beneath the lines of the play. Through their stage interactions, they may form a rapport with the other actors and the audience, and they will help to create the world of the play. Consider the pace of movements and the use of pause. To surprise an audience, for example, you might use a very sudden action; to create suspense you might have a pause, where the audience has time to wonder about what might occur. Task Think of a performance you have seen in which there was an important interaction, such as a ght or a love scene (for example when Romeo and Juliet rst meet). • How did the actors establish their relationship and make the interactions clear and interesting? • Try to recall the pace of the scene, the pitch and volume of the actors’ voices and their use of gesture and expression. • Were the characters close or far apart? Did they make eye contact or touch? Did their movements mirror each other or were they different? Write a paragraph describing the effect of these choices. Why this is important You might be asked to write about a character’s interactions and spatial relationships and will need to know the correct terminology for analysing these. Theatre maker insight Peter Brook in There Are No Secrets ‘For an actor’s intentions to be perfectly clear, with intellectual alertness, true feeling and a balanced and tuned body, the three elements – thought, emotion, body – must be in perfect harmony. Only then can he ful l the requirement to be more intense within a shorter space of time than when he is at home.’ Theatre maker insight Chelsea Walker, director, on a decision that had a strong impact on the audience ‘At the end of A Streetcar Named Desire, Stanley goes to touch Stella, who is in oods of tears after Blanche has been taken away. In the nal beat of our production, he reached towards her, and she ercely jolted her shoulder away, rejecting him. Tennessee Williams didn’t give Stella a line at the end of the play, but I wanted it to end with her having the nal word: a protest.’ Key terms Motivation: What a character wants, the driving force behind their actions. Obstacle: Something that prevents a character from achieving a goal. This might be external, like an enemy working against them, or circumstances such as poverty or oppression, or internal, such as their own fear or indecision. Subtext: The deeper meaning beneath the lines. Interaction: Reactions and give and take between characters. Rapport: A connection or sympathetic reaction. Pace: The speed at which something is done, such as slowly or quickly. Relationship: How characters are related to another character, such as a family group, romantic pair, colleagues, antagonists or servant and master. Pitch: How high or low a sound is. Minimalist: A pared-down approach that uses only a few items, colours or shapes. Scale: The size of something, for example, how large a piece of scenery is. Transpose: Move a text originally set in one context to another, usually to make the play more relevant or interesting to the audience. Tip This insight from Chelsea Walker is an excellent example of how a director’s or performer’s interpretation can go beyond the playwright’s stage directions. Copyright: Sample material

11 What do designers do? Design covers many elements, including: These all contribute to the play’s narrative and atmosphere. A designer makes decisions based on the period and genre, style, staging con guration and the concept and intentions for the play. They may also need to re ect on the practical limitations of their budget and what can realistically be achieved. Together with the director and other designers, they will consider whether the design is to be, for example, naturalistic, with an abundance of realistic detail; stylised, with heightened or unrealistic features; minimalist, with only a few key features; or a combination of some of these. They will be aware of the importance of the scale, colour and texture of a set. When designing a period play, they will probably research authentic details to include or, on the other hand, they may update or transpose their design to another period or location. How to explore a play for A Level Drama and Theatre Theatre maker insight Caitlin Smith Rapoport, lighting designer ‘For me, lighting design begins with dramaturgy; researching the play, and the time and place in which it is set. I’m looking for clues in the script about where we are in time and space, if it’s day or night, are there lighting elements that I know we will need – like a lit re, a lamp or a ashlight. I’m also reading for how the world of the play feels, what is going on, whose perspective the story is told from, and what each scene is about at its core. My rst priority is always to serve the story. Lighting design is a mode of storytelling through composition. It is architectural, musical, pictorial, and emotional. Light can tell you time of day, where you are, how hot or cold it is. Light can direct your eye to what is important in a moment, change the mood, create ease or tension.’ Theatre maker insight Rosanna Vize, theatre designer ‘I think the director–designer relationship is key to any production, but especially so when reviving classics. It is our job to nd new relevance in a well-trodden text; to make it sing to a modern audience. As a designer I like to search for the emotional core of a text and explore ways that we can help draw out these ideas, visually, physically. With the director, I am designing the event of the production.’ PROPS MAKE-UP SETS SOUND COSTUMES LIGHTING Exploring ideas A designer will carefully read a script, determining its practical demands, such as the action, characters and time period. Costume and set designers might make mood boards to collect and develop their ideas, and create early sketches to present to the director. They might begin sourcing fabrics and furniture. Sound designers will discover sound effects that are demanded by the script, including motivated sounds, like doorbells or pistol shots, but will also think about environmental sounds, which establish the location, or musical underscores or abstract sounds. Lighting designers will explore how lighting might enhance the location of the play and the appearance of the characters, create atmosphere and highlight key moments. Key terms Dramaturgy: The study of a play in order to reveal its context, characters and themes, as well as looking at its dramatic construction and stagecraft. Mood board: A collection of images and materials to inspire and develop ideas. Motivated sound: A sound effect required by the script. Environmental sound: A sound that establishes a location, such as bird song or traf c. Underscore: Music played under a scene. Copyright: Sample material

Look here On page 101 there is more guidance on using sketches to support your set design responses. Theatre maker insight Alison Chitty, So You Want to be a Theatre Designer? ‘Designers work from original material, be it written, composed, devised or improvised. Together with the director we interpret the material and design a physical world that frames the action and holds the performers. We must be artists, sculptors, painters and architects. We must be collaborators and negotiators, practical, determined, always keeping a sense of humour.’ Tip In your notebook, get into the habit of making regular sketches to convey your design ideas. Task A For visual design, it is important to be able to show your ideas in sketch form. Choose one of the images on the right and make a quick sketch of a costume and/or the setting. Write brief annotations of its key features, such as colour or fabrics. B Recall a play you have seen in performance and do the same. AQA A-Level Drama Play Guide: The Glass Menagerie 12 Task A Study the production photographs below of three 20th- and 21st-century plays. Write about the set, costume, prop and lighting design elements, describing their colour, shape, size, texture, scale and so on. B Select the design element that appeals to you most and explain why. 4Top Girls, Aldwych Theatre, 2002 6The Bridges of Madison County, Williamstown Festival Theatre, 2013 6The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Gielgud Theatre, 2014 Why this is important Examiners will usually expect to see sketches to support your visual ideas. Copyright: Sample material

13 What is context? The context of a play is what was happening either when the play was written or when it is set. This can involve its location, social conventions, political movements and historical events, as well as the time period. Context is often broken down into: Social contexts, for example: • the role of women and gender issues • religion and beliefs • poverty, health, housing, employment • cases of injustice; social movements • technological developments, such as inventions and transport • education. Cultural contexts, for example: • theatrical conventions • artistic movements, including literature, music, visual art and architecture • popular tastes • production styles • fashions. Historical contexts, for example: • political and civil movements • wars and their effects • ruling classes and power struggles • the effects of past events on the present. How to explore a play for A Level Drama and Theatre Theatre maker insight Rosanna Vize, designer ‘The rst part of my design process is almost always talking. I enjoy long, winding, circular conversations. These usually begin with the text, but quickly veer off into a sharing of our own experiences. This allows us to process the piece through empathy rather than cold analysis. I nd this leads to an unlocking of something more base level, primal or human which will ultimately inform the shape of a design.’ Tip For more understanding and examples of scenic and set design, the ‘Working in Theatre’ videos produced by American Theatre Wing are an excellent resource ( working-in-the-theatre/scenic-design/). Tip Awareness of the playwright’s intentions for writing the play may be important to your understanding of it, but do not include a lengthy biography of the playwright in your exam answer. Understanding how context influences a play When writing about a play, you need to demonstrate an understanding of how the context in uences your choices of directing, acting or designing. All of the plays in List B are set in the 20th or early 21st centuries, so you might be aware of, for example, the typical role of women during this period, how they dress and how they might be expected to move and speak, as well as the theatrical conventions of the time. If, as a designer, you are creating a 20th-century residence in the USA, you will have researched its architecture and what items might be in the house. You will not be expected to list dates or discuss unrelated historical or political events, but your understanding of the context will in uence your practical decisions about the play. Task Imagine that you are exploring the context of a play written in the past year. What were the major contextual features you might look for? What were the main social, cultural and political events that affected people’s lives? Copyright: Sample material

AQA A-Level Drama Play Guide: The Glass Menagerie 14 20th-century UK and US history Task Below is a timeline showing some key 20th-century events. Highlight anything that might affect your understanding of and concept for The Glass Menagerie. 1901 Queen Victoria dies, end of the Victorian era 1914–1918 First World War 1926 John Logie Baird demonstrates the rst television 1929 Wall Street crash, Great Depression in USA 1936–1952 Reign of King George VI 1936–1939 Spanish Civil War 1939–1945 Second World War 1947 Indian independence after 200 years of British rule 1948 Start of the Windrush large-scale immigration from the Caribbean 1952 Reign of Elizabeth II begins 1955–1975 Vietnam War 1950s–1960s US civil rights movement 1960s–1970s Women’s rights movement 1979 Margaret Thatcher becomes Britain’s rst female prime minister 1989 Tim Berners-Lee invents the worldwide web Key figures Constantin Stanislavski: 1863–1938, Russian theatre practitioner best known for creating exercises that encourage believable and naturalistic performances. Anton Chekhov: 1860–1904, Russian playwright known for naturalistic plays such as The Seagull and Uncle Vanya. Bertolt Brecht: 1898–1956, German theatre maker known for epic political plays like The Caucasian Chalk Circle and Mother Courage. Antonin Artaud: 1896–1948, French writer and theatre maker known for surreal, challenging, experimental work. Key terms Method acting: A technique that involves an actor deeply identifying with the character they are playing; using exercises to draw out a believable performance. Episodic: With a series of loosely connected scenes. Theatrical movements in the 20th and 21st centuries Realism From the late 19th century through to the 21st century, realism and naturalism have been popular forms in theatre. In uenced by Constantin Stanislavski, notable for his work in creating believable productions of the plays of Anton Chekhov and others, realism was found in kitchen sink dramas and the socially aware work of 20th-century playwrights like Arthur Miller. Method acting became popular in the 1950s, where actors might put themselves in extreme physical or emotional situations to identify with a character. Expressionism This drama uses exaggerated theatrical elements to create heightened feelings and ideas. It began in Germany in the early 20th century and in uenced theatre internationally, particularly US playwrights such as Eugene O’Neill. Expressionistic dramas are often episodic and use lighting and sound in a striking way. Sets may be unrealistic and have distorted or exaggerated features. The goal is often to reveal a truth that realistic representations may disguise. Epic theatre This political theatre uses a variety of techniques to engage an audience’s interest. These include the ‘alienation’ effect, which highlights the arti ciality of the theatre; multi-roling; breaking the fourth wall; and changing scenery in front of Copyright: Sample material

15 the audience. Other common features are the use of one or more narrators, storytelling techniques, songs and comedy. The most famous practitioner associated with this form is the German writer and director, Bertolt Brecht. The objective is to make the audience think about a certain issue. Experimental theatre This type of rule-breaking and often challenging theatre began in the late 19th century, with symbolist works like Ubu Roi by Alfred Jarry, and was later in uenced by the writer and director Antonin Artaud. By the mid-20th century, many companies had rejected traditional narrative and dramatic structures, often in favour of a combination of dance, music and video. Experimental theatre pushes the boundaries of conventional theatre spaces, for example by creating promenade or site-speci c works. How to explore a scene In this part of the exam, you will be given an extract from the play and be asked to write about it in three sections: from the perspective of a performer, director and designer. Ideally, you should work in detail on a number of scenes in this way. To avoid answers that are just theoretical, try to engage in as much ‘on your feet’ practical work as you can. Some ideas for exploring a scene include: writing character biographies creating a pre-scene that shows what happened shortly before this scene breaking the scene into ‘beats’ or ‘units’, showing when the mood, situation, setting or intentions change discovering the main actions of the scene choosing key lines to explore for meaning, subtext and emphasis creating a mood board with research and design ideas for the scene charting the characters’ movements taking turns to direct the scene with different objectives and concepts pursuing characters’ objectives and noting other characters’ reactions sketching the set and costumes experimenting with characters’ use of the set trying different staging con gurations. Your research and rehearsal discoveries will enrich your understanding of how the play could be performed. Keep detailed notes about, for example: characters’ movements, vocal changes and facial expressions costume and set changes key lines changes in atmosphere the scene’s relationship to the play’s context and themes the scene’s importance in the structure of the play. Why this is important You need to have an in-depth and coherent interpretation of several scenes. Practical explorations will add depth to the understanding in your written responses. Tip In your exam, you will not write about the rehearsal techniques you have used or the research you have undertaken, but about the nal performance that this work has helped you to discover. Tip It is as important to note how a character reacts when listening as it is how they deliver a line. Key terms Beat: A section of a play that is usually de ned by when a character’s objectives or situation change. Beats are not de ned in the script, but discovered by the actor and director. Unit: A term used to break a play into smaller parts. A new unit is usually introduced when a character changes their actions. It is sometimes used interchangeably with ‘beats’. Look here On page 62, and online, you will nd grids to help you note your rehearsal room discoveries. Look here On pages 50–59 are suggestions of how to explore ve key scenes of The Glass Menagerie. Task Thinking either of your set play or another play you know well, consider if and how any of the theatrical movements here might apply to it. Remember that a play could be in uenced by more than one type of theatre. How to explore a play for A Level Drama and Theatre Copyright: Sample material