AQA A Level Drama Play Guide: The Glass Menagerie

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