Directing Lysistrata

June 04, 2020 Pete G

Thoughts about directing

Lysistrata. Amanda Champion: My Director's Concept.

Lysistrata Director's Concept. Transformation of the play. I want to maintain the main themes and ideas of the play, however I have transformed it into an idea that the modern audience would be able to understand and relate to a period in their life. Therefore, my idea will focus on the Afghanistan war, and the almost 'forgotten’ stories of the mothers and wives, sisters and grandmothers that are at home, and their opinion of the war. Lysistrata provides the audience with women's viewpoints
and therefore I have kept that idea, and merely just changed the time period. This will also help to bring a different audience to the theatre, and also to the play. I have chosen to focus on the Afghan war, as it is a war that is currently occurring, so a current audience would be able to understand the storyline more, due to the amount of publicity that the war receives. I believe that this is an important message, so that people will understand the difficulty in Government to stand against the decision set out by the majority, and to show the power that women can achieve if they put their minds to it. My Production. My production is set in 2008, two years into the Afghan war. By this time, people were beginning to see the reality of the war, and that it was not coming to a close. At this point, protests had begun, and this is obviously one of the main themes in Lysistrata. Therefore, this will be particularly relevant to the audience, and will create a connection with them. My production will reference the war itself, in a non-direct way, through the use of a PowerPoint and props such as the placards that protestors used to try and stop the war. I will use the same language that was used in the original play, but i believe that these references, and the use of my asides will keep the audience up to date with what is happening in the play. Theatre Choice. For my production of Lysistrata, I have chosen a small theatre to cater to my selective audience. The theatre that I have chosen is the Finborough theatre, London. I have chosen this theatre because of its size, and as it is an intimate theatre, I believe that this will have a larger impact on the audience and a more personal performance. With a seating capacity of just 50, this will allow me to place the audience where I want them, without causing too much disruption. Casting and Characters. Protagonists: Michael Sheen
as Tony Blair/The Magistrate. The role of Tony Blair will be to take
on the same role that the Magistrate had in
the original production of Lysistrata. He will
argue with the women, and try to promote the war, which Tony
Blair was well known for doing. Sandra Bullock
as Linda Stern/Lysistrata. Linda Stern is a fictional Conservative
politician, who is fighting in the houses of
Parliament against the Afghan war. She manages to grab the attention of the wives
inside the houses of parliament by asking their husbands to abstain from sex until they pull the troops out of Afghanistan. She is a very attractive actress, and therefore her beauty would help to persuade the members of parliament and also to act as a tease for the men, to try and persuade them further that they cannot be without sex. Antagonists: The members of parliament will make up the chorus, and men will be on one side of the stage, and women, the other. They will sing in their sexes, and the songs will help to enforce their views. They will always remain on their sides, even when communicating with a member of the opposite sex. Katherine Parkinson
as Calonice: Good comic actress.
Strong minded.
Would work well with the
other characters. Kate Ashfield
as Myrrhine: Well recognised British actress.
Strong minded.
Could portray a feminist view well. They will remain on stage for the entire performance, and will not have a choral leader. This will show that they are a collective group, and that their views cannot differ, and this will represent the fact that many people believe that all politicians have the same views. At the end of the performance they will come
together to show that they have reached an agreement.
Although this hasn't yet happened in the Afghan war,
this will represent the hope that in the near future, the
government will pull the troops out of the area for good. This characters main purpose is to
promote the war to the rest of the
parliament, and to overrule everything that Linda says.
He does not have a relationship with the other characters, he merely controls the rest of the men, and leads them into arguments with the women. He does not take advice from anyone unless it ridicules the women completely. His motivations remain the same throughout the whole play, and even if he knows that he is wrong he will not back down or admit defeat. He has a very monotonal voice and likes to raise his voice when he was ridiculed by the women. His looks and facial expressions will show the audience that he is aware that he has made mistakes, but that he will not go out of his way to put these mistakes right. Choice of Set and Staging. As the theatre has a very limited capacity, it will allow me to
move them around within the theatre to certain positions. I will
split the audience into males and females and put them on the side of parliament that their sex is on. This will help to show the audience how much division the women would have felt, and also by separating them from their partners for just a short while, it may emphasise how much they take women for granted. Throughout the play, there will be a
slideshow of all of the bodies that have been flown
back to England and driven through Wotton Basset. This will
emphasise the sheer amount of casualties to the audience, and
to make them think about how the message of the original play can transcend through time into a time in their lives. Costume. Linda Stern:
A grey skirt suit to show her power and the smartness of her job with a white blouse, to show purity within her character. She will wear red shoes, however, to show her feisty nature, and how she likes to use her sexuality to get where she wants. Tony Blair:
A normal trouser suit, in black. He will also have a white shirt with a red tie to distinguish between him and the rest of the men. This shows power and also that he is in control, and in a smart environment. He will also wear a Rolex watch to show his wealth. Chorus:
The men will wear plain black
suits and plain black ties to show that they are 'collective' and that they are not important as individuals. The women will wear plain black skirt suits with white shirts, to once again give them a collective identity. Lighting. Throughout the play, the lighting will remain a simple white light over the whole cast. At some points, however the lighting state will change. For example, throughout the speech
where the Magistrate (Tony Blair) is mocking the woman,
and then they tie him up, a spotlight would swap between them
on opposite sides of the parliament, to show the status between them. As it would be quite fast paced, this would add an element of comedy to the piece. When Linda is talking about the men who have lost
their lives in the war, a red light will go onto Tony Blair,
to represent the blood that is on his hands as he was the one who decided to go to war in the first place, and many people blame him for the war in general, and for the deaths of their family members. Music. During the play, when each character has an aside, there will be a gunshot to highlight them talking away from the action, and also the symbolism of a gunshot relates back to the main narrative of the war. He is good at serious acting
and also looks slightly like Tony Blair.
As he is a famous face, the audience will be able to relate to him. Will have a high status throughout the play, and will have to be aggressive towards the woman in the play. Needs to be authorative, and to come across as cold to the audience. She is known for being a feisty actress
who has played many characters that are not afraid to speak their mind, and she can also be stern. This will help with her character, to show that she will fight for her cause and that she belongs in parliament as she is so strong willed. Her purpose is to fight against the chauvinistic male values that people see in parliament all of the time. It is always the males that seem to get their views across and as Tony Blair was such a powerful leader, she needs to be powerful in herself in order to show the women’s point of view of the whole nation. She will represent all of the mothers, wives, sisters and grandmothers of soldiers that are fighting in Afghanistan. She will be stern, yet seductive and persuasive in the way that she gets them to comply with her way of thinking. Her motivations remain well and truly unbeaten by the males, and this is shown in her triumphing , as at the end of the play she gets her own way, showing that the sex ban has worked. Her facial expressions will show her disgust at the way that the other members of the parliament disregard her views because she is a woman. This shows that it is still in the present day difficult for a woman to get her point across to parliament. Her vocals will also help to show her disgust as felt throughout the play. I will use songs such as U2 'Sunday bloody Sunday,
as these have lyrics to do with war and death, and this will once again help to enforce my overall message that war is pointless and should not cause people to suffer. These lyrics are:
"And the battle's just begun
There's many lost, but tell me who has won
The trench is dug within our hearts
And mothers, children, brothers, sisters torn apart" In the background of the play I will always
have a piece of music playing that will show class
in parliament, so it will involve violins and pianos when the situation is calm. When the action picks up, or an argument starts, this will get faster and faster to increase the pace of the scene, and to keep the audience’s attention. Rehearsal Techniques. Leading body parts:
This helps the actor to understand how the character would move in a room, and it also helps to develop vocal qualities. Miming the scene:
To understand the objective of the scene, the speech is taken away from the scene and the actors have to use movement and facial expressions to convey the emotions of their characters. Translation Improvisation:
The character uses their own phrases or
language to understand the play. However, as my adaptation is set in a modern day, it would not use the ancient Greek language in the original text. Building your character from the outside in:
Start by focusing on the tempo of the speech
and also the leading body parts. The movements then
become natural to how the character would move. Action vs. emotion:
The actors find the main theme of the
play and then go through scene by scene and find
their characters own objectives of the play, and then
they try and achieve these objectives. Live the life of the character:
One of Stanislavsky's techniques. This makes
them think, breathe, and move like the character.
They have to imagine what the character would wear,
how they got to where they were, and the smallest details, such as where they bought their clothes etc. Hot seating:
This can help to understand
the background of the character, and
what their feelings and intentions are towards
the other characters and the themes of the play.


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