Although the play had many characters and a chorus, there was only 3 actors in whole performance. These 3 actors managed to multi-role play perfectly by using such simple ideas that made the audience recognise the characters they were playing easily. One of the most recognised and in my opinion, effective way they managed to change characters was by using scarves. It wasn’t a complicated fiddling about changing clothing, it was a simple scarf and a belt.
When the actors were being narrators or not performing, they wore these scarves in a different way each time to represent the character that they were playing. All of the costume changes were to the audience and sometimes they would tuck the scarf in their belt, to represent a strong character, like a hero. Other times they would be storytelling and wrapped the scarf around their heads to represent an old granny telling a old story. I thought this was highly effective and a creative way of adding to a character.
It made the transitions between characters simple and it only took minimal seconds to change the way they wore the scarves. As soon as they placed the scarf differently, the actors switched instantly and stepped into the shoes of the characters. It was clear that they didn’t need a big costume change for you to imagine the character because using the scarf was just effective enough. For me, it seemed like one of those ideas that you would think “why didn’t I think of that” because it was an unique way of changing character.
Another way the actors used multi-role play was by how they used their voice and positioned their stance and posture. Each actors voice or stance was never the same. The pitch, tone, volume and accent changed every time to represent the different character. No character was similar in voice which made it clear to the audience who they were playing. For example, the male performer (Jimmy Whiteaker) played a narrator while wearing his scarf around his head. His posture was bent over like he was old and frail and
his movement was slow and soft. His voice was in a welsh accent, which is a great story telling accent. His tone was soft but happy and uplifting and his facial expression was always in a smile with his eyes bright. Compared to his other character, Jason, this is a dramatic change. Jason’s posture was always strong and upright with his head held high and his nose in the air. His movement and gestures were sharp and without regret or thought.
And he spoke confidently, in a serious, bold tone and the pitch low and manly. Each actor changed all these qualities in their own way, to create a personality and traits for the character they were playing. Another way they used multi-role play was by using personal props. These props were very minimalistic but once again they were personal to the character they were playing. I thought all of the 3 actors did an amazing job of multi-role play and they have given me many ideas and inspired me to think more about my roles.
The set on the stage was very simple and minimalistic. This was definitely more of a quality to the performance than negative. It didn’t look over the top and it didn’t need to be. Splendid productions state on their website that “Splendid’s powerful cast of three will show how an ancient story can resonate through time, and how the simplest of theatrical ideas can have a devastating impact.” And this is exactly what they did, especially with the set. It was so simple yet creative at the same time and even though a rope was just placed in a square on the stage, once the actors stepped into that rope the whole atmosphere changed and thats what created such a devastating impact.
The set represented Greek Theatre. It represented the Unities that the play was all in one day, one place and one story. It made the audience concentrate on the actors and appreciate what they were doing and how much of creative thinking had been put into the performance. What I thought was most effective about the set was that the audience was used as part of the set. Multiple times the actors came into where the audience was watching, and they were still in character. Other times they would interact with the audience. But the fact was, they knew the audience was always going to be part of the set however, we didn’t.
And thats what I thought was so interesting and using the audience really involved them and kept them interacted but also added a lot of symbolism to the story. The main piece of set was a thick rope shaped in a large square centre stage. The rope was the most used part of the set because inside of it the were playing a character and playing the scene. Yet outside of the rope, they were telling the story and being narrators. The minimal set was most effective and was more effective then it would’ve been with complicated set because it forced the actors to be creative and imaginative by miming etc. As they didn’t rely on the set to do the job for them.
The actors used choral speaking which is when actors speak at the same time. They did this when they introduced “Ancient Greece”. This was very effective as they changed their voice style a lot throughout and added a lot of humor to it and gestures which gave the audience a break from the seriousness and intensity of the storyline, broke up the story and kept them interested in the performance. It was in unison perfectly and in my opinion it was important that they added humor as it brightened up the performance. The actors performed this very clearly and loud. The actions during the song made it more effective as it added character to the performance and made it more interesting.
Also, it involved the audience through laughter. Another reason it was effective was that it focused on the tragic elements of the story but these negative themes were not as harsh as they spoke boldly and humorously about it. The choral speaking had an interesting contrast between conversations and the formal narrative and without it I don’t think the performance would have been as enjoyable because it was clear the choral speaking had a great lasting impact on the audience.