Performing about certain issues, the themes of the

Performing Arts Report – Lorna Scott

Community theatre is theatre for the
community, performed by the community in order to educate as well as entertain
the community on certain subjects for certain audiences, e.g. safe sex for
teenagers or how to cross a road for little children. Community theatre is
usually performed in local community venues, for local community audiences. The
purpose of community theatre is to teach the local audience about certain
issues, the themes of the performance are focused primarily off of these
issues.

There were two particular people that had
an impact in community theatre Joan Littlewood and Augusto Boal, they had an
influence on modern day programmes, and for example Littlewoods kitchen sink
theatre influenced the performance style of EastEnders.

Joan Littlewood in the 1950’s and 1960’s
developed her own style of theatre, ‘Workshop Theatre’ (1945). The purpose and
focus of Joan Littlewoods theatre and themes were to make a mockery of bad
situations e.g. ‘Oh what a lovely war’ (1963) which was one of her most famous
productions, the productions were performed by armature working class people
who liked to perform but didn’t have a background in acting, performed for
local audiences in local venues. She wanted to help actors with poorer
backgrounds perform in front of audiences and help teach the audiences the
world isn’t really a great thing but the only way to get by in life is to make
it funny to cheer up people’s lives and make them happy even when bad things
were happening, therefore ‘make a mockery of bad situtuions’.9

Augusto Boal developed theatre of the
oppressed, the purpose and focus of this theatre was to get the audience
involved in the performance to change the theme from oppression to a good theme
which gives them power to make a difference in the story and hopefully teaches
them to make a change in the world, if they see oppression in the real world
they would remember the performance experience and the power they held and
change the situation in the real world, so they weren’t only changing
oppression in the venue but in the real world too. He wanted to have a good
impact on the world and to make people be better people to help rid the world
of oppression.

Pomegranate theatre is the venue
performing ‘Flashdance the musical’, the purpose of this performance is to
teach the audience to always chase their dreams and do what they love and don’t
let anything stop them, and if there is something getting in the way let it
help drive the ambition forward, this motivates people to do what they love.
They want to raise awareness of how to solve problems, overcome obstacles,
conquer love all while doing the things you love and aspire to do or be. The pomegranate’s
mission is to teach, motivate, help and entertain the audience watching. The
focus and themes of ‘Flashdance’ are mainly cultural issues about love,
ambition and strife. The performance’s audience is mainly for older children,
teenagers and young adults who will learn but also be entertained from
‘Flashdance’, about love, ambition and strife, however it is also a great tale
for the older generations as well about how to solve problems and live life to
the fullest, this engages the audience as it is aimed at them and gets them
thinking that they can do great things in life if they put their mind to it.
The pomegranate theatre is a community theatre venue that allows a range of
local people to perform and have fun in dance, drama, musical theatre as well
as performing in front of people on stage several times a year, they hold
workshops for people aged 7 – 30 and have many different groups for the more
experienced people. The pomegranate opens their arms to anyone no matter what
race, gender, age or disability, therefore anyone can join in and do what they
love, without getting judged for what they want to do in life. ‘Flashdance’
reviews have said ‘Flashdance The Musical takes all the best parts of a
well-loved movie and adds some extra magic, audiences up and down the country
will be left with what a
feeling when they are on their feet and begging for more’, (Greg
Stewart, 2017), the reviewer really likes the performance of ‘Flashdance’ and
gave it a 5 stars out of 5 and another review said ‘What a
feeling
Bein’s believin’
I can have it all
Now I’m dancing for my life’, (Gary Naylor, 2017), this was a quote taken from
the performance but used to sum up the reviewers thought on the performance,
Naylor though it was good but only gave it 3 stars out of 5. The purpose of
‘Flashdance the musical’ and ‘The Pomegranate Theatre’ are to create and
perform performances based on the style of Augusto Boal with his style of
‘Theatre of the Oppressed’, because the performance’s purpose is to focus on
the theme of someone solving and overcoming their problems, this is to teach
the audience to overcome obstacles and things always get better, this is what
Boal primarily focused on, turning a bad theme into a good theme in the
audiences life, and for them to do it for everyone else in the world, this
would hopefully help improve people’s behavior and lives.

Young Inspirations Theatre Arts Company is
a venue performing ‘Chess the musical’, the purpose of the performance is to
inform, educate, motivate and entertain the audience about the themes of chess,
love, relationships, unfair life and unhappy endings. They want to raise
awareness that even though life is unfair, there is usually a made up happy
ending that releases someone of their misery and makes them happy for a while,
but in the end it all ends badly, realistically. The issues involved in ‘Chess’
are primarily cultural issues for example, love and relationships. The focus is
on two main chess players who are in love but also play in international chess
tournaments, however one of them always wins but he realises playing chess is
the only thing that can make him happy as life is unfair and the one who he
loves is a spy, the themes are loss, power, love and deception. The audience is
mainly for adults as it is about love, deception and is quite upsetting, this
shows the truth in the world but in a happy but sad way of the chess player
finding out what makes him happy in life and full-fills his life but it’s sad
because he is alone and has no-one around him and their love was not meant to
be, getting the audience to feel for them but feel happy that they know what is
the one true love in their lives. ‘Chess the musical’ is not for the younger
generations as it is quite raunchy and not suitable for the younger people. Young
Inspirations Theatre Arts Company is a theatre venue that allows lots of local
people to come and sing and act for fun, they hold two different workshops, one
for 6 – 15 year olds, and then another for 16+, therefore each group can do
performances that are best suited to them and on matter how old they are they
can do something that love and have passion for. Young Inspirations Theatre
Arts Company is highly musical theatre based and has high standards for work,
however allows anyone to join, no matter who they are. Reviews thought ‘Chess
the musical’ was ‘Gift-Wrapped and Gorgeous’, (Daily Telegraph, 1986), the
Daily Telegraph thought the whole performance was intense and gripping and
worthy of a great review, another review said ‘Opening move is nearly a
winner’, (The Independent, 1986), The Independent thought the musical was
eye-catching and a really good musical to watch. ‘Chess the musical’ and ‘Young
Inspirations Theatre Arts Company’ purpose is to teach a lesson that happiness
can be different for everyone, the focus and theme is on two chess players but
one of the chess players can only find happiness through chess which is why he
is really good, the musical makes fun of his situation which is what Joan
Littlewood’s main purpose for the audience is and theme was in her style of
theatre to make it funny for the audience and make a mockery of a bad
situation, this was to tell a sad story but make it funny and show how stupid
the situation was, in the case of the musical it is to show how silly it is
that happiness can only be found in the chess players life is through the main
focus and theme of chess that runs throughout the performance. The performance
is in a ‘Kitchen Sink’ theatre style, because the performance is focused on two
people playing chess and follows their lives around but the style of theatre is
naturalistic (kitchen sink theatre), this enables the audience to feel sympathy
for the characters more as it gives a realistic atmosphere, and it also makes
them think about their lives and how to make their lives better and find their
own true happiness.

Harley Quin Productions is a venue that is
performing ‘Cymbeline’, the purpose of the performance is to teach, educate,
inform, and entertain the audience about the key themes and cultural issues:
‘love, jealousy, betrayal, courage, repentance and redemption’, (2017). The
focus in ‘Cymbeline’ is love and betrayal over marriage and family, which can
happen in real life. They want to raise awareness about deceit, trust and love,
they want to make aware that anyone can betray and families can disown their
own, and they want to show them how to cover come the problems and move on in
life. The focus in ‘Cymbeline’ is the protagonist called ‘Lachimo’ who wants to
seduce someone called ‘Imogen’ and in order to get to her he has to go on a
journey through many different themes ‘love, jealousy, betrayal, courage,
repentance and redemption’, so the focus is based around his journey to
happiness which is what Harley Quin Productions aims to get the audience to
feel and to aim to in life. The performance’s audience is for the older teens
and adults as it is very violent, and its aim is to teach people about life and
a guide to happiness through love and deceit, therefore it is not for the young
children as they may not understand but also as it is violent and uses bad
language. They have classes for the community to work in and perform for the
community, to get all the community involved and get people doing what they
love and enjoying their lives, which is what the performance is also all about,
finding happiness and using it to live a good life. They mainly focus on
Shakespeare plays but also do a lot of musical theatre shows which they are
known for as being quite unique. They accept any people that want to join,
experienced or not, any disabilities as they are flexible with people and
parts, everyone is equal, as they want everyone to do what they enjoy and
follow their dreams no matter who they are. Reviewers said the performance was
‘Bizarre romance comes straight from the heart’, (Michael Billington, 2016),
Billington said the performance is inventive and creative and works in theatre
when it usually doesn’t, he said the performance was good and worth watching
and gave it a 3 out of 5 stars. ‘Thrown-together enthusiasm’, (Clare Brennan,
2016), Brennan said the performance was good but only gave it 2 out of 5 stars,
she thought it was creative and busting with ideas but didn’t rate it highly.
The purpose of ‘Harley Quinn Productions’ and ‘Cymbeline’ are to teach the
audience about the theme of a journey to happiness, which is like Augusto
Boal’s theatre style of ‘Theatre of the Oppression’ but it’s focus is the
journey of the man’s life to get from oppressed to happy, so he can live a
better life, Augusto Boal wanted people to live better lives by helping people
go on a journey of the themes from an oppressed state to a happy state and help
improve the audiences lives, he wanted people to live and lead better lives but
also to help the helpless and change people for the better.

I think that all the three companies and
venues are different but similar in many different ways, The Pomegranate likes
to tackle cultural issues using the style of Augusto Boal, and they take a
story of oppression but during the performance the plot changes and the story
of oppression changes into a story of happiness, love and success, to make
people better and to help them live better lives and to help other people
living with oppression to live better lives. Whereas Young Inspirations Theatre
Arts Company likes to use the style of Joan Littlewood, where they make a
mockery of the situation about the love between the two rivals and that they
both pretend to live happy lives even though they really aren’t, to show life
isn’t always the best, but to live a good life you need to find what makes you
happy and use it to make your life better, but also to know life isn’t always
great and usually never ends well but one thing that you are passionate about
can make a world of difference in someone’s life. However, The Harley Quin
Productions likes to use both community arts influencers, they use Joan
Littlewood to make a mockery of the fact the protagonist has been disowned and
they have to go through a harrowing journey to find love and marriage, but they
also use Augusto Boal to change a bad situation into a good one, to teach
people to live better lives and help people live better lives, this again shows
people life isn’t great but with a sense of humour and a great passion you
don’t need everything or love to make you happy you just need a goal in life
and to take something bad and laugh about it as you only live once anyway.

These
are all types community theatre because they are teaching the local community
audience in a local community venue a lesson but entertaining them at the same
time, they focus and teach the audiences about certain themes and issues using
different types of theatre, ‘Theatre of the Oppression’ and ‘Kitchen Sink
Theatre’, developed by Augusto Boal and Joan Littlewood, there style are used
to teach people about stories of oppression and either making audiences
interact to change the situation for better or to make fun of the situation to
show how stupid the situation is, this will teach and entertain the audience
and make them better people because they will have learnt to go out and help
people effected by oppression, it will also make them look on the bright side
of life, and know that things could be worse but whatever the situation either
change it to make it better or if you can’t do that laugh about it and have fun
with your passion and goal in life.

 

Some techniques we could use in our
performance that they use are a plot twist to make the plot go from sad and bad
to a story of happiness and fun, to allow us to engage and educate the children
without them getting bored and so it will be easier for them to remember
because they will have enjoyed the performance, or we could use techniques like
audience co-operation to allow the children to participate and stay interested
in the performance the whole time, but it will help them remember what is good
and what is bad as the children will have been proactive in the performance.
These techniques will improve our performance and make it wacky and
entertaining for the children because they may get bored quickly so if they are
interacting in the story it will show they are making a difference and make
them feel happy about it, therefore they will remember it as they think they
have decided how the story ends.

In my career would love to be more
involved in kitchen sink theatre, as I feel that it is my preferred style of
theatre, however I may possibly come across forum theatre, invisible theatre
and image theatre, If I possibly came across the other types of theatre I would
be interested but not as much as if I had a job revolved around kitchen sink
theatre, they would be interesting as they are different to what I usually do
and perform but my favourite type of theatre is ‘Kitchen Sink Theatre’, as I am
used to it and it feels more intense or funny when performed because it can be
put into real life situations therefore seems more real and funny to the
audience as it makes it seem like it is happening in their life in front of
their eyes.

In my research I have talked about
community theatre, the purpose, (to teach and entertain local audiences of
certain issues and themes that occur within the local community), focus and
themes (which are based off of issues within the local community), of community
theatre, I have also talked about the fact community theatre is performed in
local community venues like ‘The Winding Wheel’, and performed for local
audiences, to get local people interested in theatre and make them learn new
things they will then know for real life situations but having fun so it
doesn’t feel like school.

I have learnt a lot about what community
theatre is and the purpose of community theatre, I have also learnt about the
focus, purpose and themes of Joan Littlewood and Augusto Boal’s work and what
style of theatre they have developed to help community theatre and help local
venues and audiences in the real world learn lessons but to also to show what
great impact they have on society and theatre over the years and the great
impact they will have in generations to come. 
      

                                                                                                                                                          
Bibliography

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Joan-Littlewood

http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/j/joan-littlewood-and-the-theatre-workshop/

Theater of the Oppressed

http://www.chesterfieldtheatres.co.uk/shows/flashdance-the-musical.aspx

http://yitc.yolasite.com/

http://www.guidetomusicaltheatre.com/shows_c/chess.htm

http://bettyloumusic.com/chessplot.htm

https://harlequinproductions.org/

https://www.broadwayworld.com/westend/article/BWW-Review-FLASHDANCE-THE-MUSICAL-New-Wimbledon-Theatre-20171004#

Review: Flashdance The Musical UK Tour

CHESS in London – the reviews

https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2016/may/11/cymbeline-review-rsc-royal-shakespeare-theatre

https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2016/may/15/cymbeline-rsc-review-melly-still

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