15 January 2018
As a second year Drama and English literature student I have had the opportunity to take part in the Making Performance module, where students not only perform a play in front of an audience but also contribute to direction and design.
This year the production is Mr Burns, a post-electric play by Anne Washburn, set shortly after an unknown apocalyptic event and focusing on a group of survivors bonding over "Cape Feare", an episode of The Simpsons. The play is divided into three acts with Act One focusing on the characters attempting to retell "Cape Feare".
Although performing a play about The Simpsons may seem easy, in fact there are considerable complexities. The play has proved to be quite challenging due to its complex nature. However this has allowed us to bond as a cast and produce an interpretation of the script which not only portrays the characters as written but also includes elements of our own personalities.
As second year students, a substantial amount of the creative planning is our responsibility, such as using our independent sessions for blocking new scenes, refining others and even creating promotional videos. Of course the director has the final say on all decisions made, but in contrast to the first year there are more opportunities to discuss ideas.
This module serves as a perfect example of how to act in a professional environment. You are expected to demonstrate your commitment through your ability to arrive at rehearsals on time, learn your lines by the set deadline and contribute to the rehearsal process, whether by providing feedback or assisting in making the programme. Everyone has something they can be doing to make the performance a success.
As someone who has been able to watch rehearsals from an audience's perspective, it has been incredible to watch a cast of people (who may not have known each other particularly well before rehearsals) start working together and develop friendships. As a result of becoming comfortable with each other the overall performance is improved, as the audience is able to see that the characters have genuine connections with each other, which enhances the performance.
My experience rehearsing and performing Mr Burns has been a positive one and I have learned many valuable skills as a result of this module which I can apply to everyday life and work. It is one of the only modules I have participated in which improves your ability to work independently and as part of a group.