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GCSE DRAMA UNIT 2 BLOOD BROTHERS By Willy Russell AIMS: During the program of study, students will be introduced to: Explorative Strategies Marking The Moment; Still-image; Hotseating; Role-play The Drama Medium Movement; Voice; Costumes; Sound; Lighting; Set The Elements of Drama Plot; Characterisation; Forms; Climax & Anti-climax; Conventions. Drama Text and Live Performance ‘Blood Brothers’ script and visit to London West End Production. DURATION: 16 lessons, 6 assessed lessons, written lessons could be homework. LESSON 1: Discuss the genre of Musical Theatre. Discuss the way we accept that they do not look realistic but that we enjoy and accept them on stage. Explain that this is the style of Blood Brothers, unrealistic things happen but we accept them. Stress that Performance style does not always have to be realistic! Read the Introduction Pg 7 – 8. Read Act 1, Scenes 1 – 4. Discuss events and characters. Pupils block and rehearse a section of the opening scenes. Discuss what impact the opening of the play would have upon an audience. H/W: Role-on-the-wall for Mrs Johnstone. Inside the character outline write all the information they have learnt about the mother so far, on the outside write down everything that they have learnt about the mother’s circumstances. LESSON 2: Brainstorm expectations of ‘the perfect mother’. Compare the characters of Mrs Johnstone and Mrs Lyons from Scene 3. Read Act 1, scene 5. In pairs, pupils create voices for the two women, experimenting with different tones of voice to express different moods, attitudes and social backgrounds. Discuss more comparisons between the women. Divide the scene into 5 sections, indicating the progress and mood of the discussion, give each section a title reflecting this. Look at the status of the characters. On a scale of 1 – 10 (a high status character has a high number, a low status character a low number) give the two women a number reflecting their status in society. Now give each woman a number in each section to reflect the changing status of the characters. In pairs, reread the scene, positioning themselves to show by height the contrasts between the character’s status. Now create 5 still-images to represent the mood, events and status of each section. LESSON 3: Read Act 1, scenes 6 – 8. Imagine five years have now past. Improvise two scenes to show what you think life is like in The Johnstone’s and Lyon’s houses. Try to show the differences between the relationships between the mothers and children. Play the game Tag or Stuck in the Mud. Imagine an 8 year old that you know. Now play the game again as an 8 year old. Discuss the differences between children’s movement, energy, sound etc. and adults. H/W: Imagine you are directing an actor to play the role of an 8 year old. What advice would you give him/her? LESSON 4: (RESPONSE – ASSESSED) In small groups, role-play children playing a game of Cowboys and Indians, including firing a gun, riding a horse, a dramatic death etc. (using advice written in H/W) Read Act 2, scenes 1 –3 Introduce term ‘marking the moment’ Identify a significant moment by discussion, freezing the action, using captions, inner thoughts spoken aloud, using lighting to spotlight the moment etc. The moment will represent an understanding, an insight or evoke a feeling about the issue being explored. Work on the above scenes using a technique to ‘mark two moments’. Decide on why these are significant moments. How can they be marked? H/W Answer the following questions: 1) What do the 2 boys Mickey and Edward have in common? 2) How are they different? Give examples. 3) How might a director use costume to highlight their differences? 4) Mickey and Edward are twins. Why are there such differences between them? LESSON 5: Read Act 2, scenes 4 – 11. Discuss how the plot has developed and the structure of the play. What is the main storyline? How have the characters progressed? What is the purpose of a narrator? Look at the placing of scenes – is there any juxtaposition or comparison? How does the play show the passing of time? Compare the narrator’s speeches at the beginning of Act 2 (Page 28) with the closing of the Act (Page 48). What is the effect of the narrator’s speeches? LESSON 6: (RESPONSE – ASSESSED) Imagine 2 years have gone by without Eddie and Mickey having any contact. Improvise a scene where they meet up again – exaggerate the differences between them in their speech and movement. Read Act 3, scenes 1 & 2. Prepare questions to hotseat Eddie, Mickey and Linda. Hotseat 3 characters at a time. LESSON 7: Read Act 4, scenes 1 – 3. Look at the roles of Mickey and Eddie. What do their characters represent? Is Willy Russell trying to deliver a message about social structures through this play? How does he achieve this? Read the Information sheet concerning class difference in Blood Brothers. H/W: (Response written) Imagine you are Mickey, write a letter to Eddie at University discussing Linda and your feelings towards work. LESSON 8: Read Act 5. Discuss how the play ends on a climax. What affect does this have upon an audience? How could this climax be established on stage? (use of Drama Mediums) LESSON 9: (RESPONSE – WRITTEN PORTFOLIO). 1. Create a storyboard to show the main Plot of Blood Brothers. This should map key moments – not necessarily all scenes. Highlight on this the role of the Narrator. 2. Describe the two moments that you ‘marked’ in Act 2. Explain how and why you would ‘mark these moments’ on stage. 3. Imagine you are Mickey, write a letter to Eddie at University discussing Linda and your feelings towards work. 4. Explain how the use of Role play helped you understand Blood Brothers. LESSON 10 - 13: (DEVELOPMENT – ASSESSMENT 3 LESSONS) In groups, pupils should choose approx 3 key scenes. They must prepare these for a performance taking into consideration: Elements of Drama: Climax / Anti-climax (building and/or releasing tension in the drama and/or a sense of expectation) Characterisation (the means used to portray a role using vocal and physical skills) Conventions (using techniques such a slow motion, freeze frame, audience asides, establishing one part of the space as one location and a different part of the space as another.) The Drama Medium: The Use of Costumes The Use of Sound and/or music The use of lighting The use of set and/or props Things to consider: 1) Consider how you will arrange the set for the scenes. Do the scenes need different sets? Will you have scene changes or merely use different areas of the stage as different locations? Will you have a naturalistic, minimalist or symbolic set design? 2) Interpret the stage directions given by the playwright and decide if or how you will follow them. 3) Think about the appearance of the characters, especially the use of costumes. How will you show the difference in social class? 4) Consider the role of the characters in the scenes and how you would bring this out on stage. Decide on the tone, type of voice, accent and gestures that the characters should use. Identify any particularly important lines and decide how they should be spoken. Think of the overall impact of the scenes. 5) Determine any sound effects, special effects, extra props or music you would use – you must be able to explain why you have added these things (if you choose to do so) and how they add to your interpretation. LESSON 14. (DEVELOPMENT – WRITTEN PORTFOLIO) Which key scenes did you choose to develop from Blood Brothers? Explain why you chose these. (refer to climax and characterisation) Explain how The Drama Mediums helped you to develop these key scenes. (Costume, Sound, Lighting, Set & Props) LESSON 15. (EVALUATION OF THE THEATRE VISIT TO SEE BLOOD BROTHERS IN THE WEST END) Practical Evaluation (Assessed) Circle time discussion: Each student says: 1 thing they thought was excellent about the production. 1 thing they thought was poor about the performance. Group the pupils into groups of four. Nominate a scribe. Evaluate the Theatre visit by discussing the following questions: 1) What was the impact of the opening of the play? 2) What was the impact of the closing of the play? (HOW was this achieved?) 3) Make comments (good & bad) about: The Set The Costume The Lights The Acting The use of Narrator The Singing 4) What message did this production give the audience? 5) Evaluate how well you think the text was brought to life in the performance. Each group feeds back into a whole class discussion. LESSON 16. (EVALUATION – WRITTEN) Using your notes from the performance and the class discussion answer the following question: Evaluate the effectiveness of the West End performance of Blood Brothers. (Ensure you evaluate how effectively they have interpreted the script) BLOOD BROTHERS SOCIAL / CULTURAL / HISTORICAL CONTEXT Blood Brothers is set in sixties and seventies Liverpool. It reflects the period clearly with a poor working class and a wealthier middle class living side by side in the Liverpool suburbs. The Johnstone family is working class. Mrs Johnstone has rushed into an early marriage due to pregnancy. She is poorly educated and rather superstitious. Her house is a rented terraced home situated in a poor neighbourhood that she struggles to pay for. Conditions are basic and cramped. She rewards her children from catalogues that offer her clothes and toys on the ‘never never’, or hire purchase agreements, that means she can pay for her goods weekly. If she fails to make the regular payments, which happens frequently, the goods are repossessed. In the play Mrs Johnstone is resigned to the fact that she cannot always afford what she wants and that she will occasionally be visited by the bailiffs. This is the only way she is able to provide her children with the things she wants for them. Mrs Johnstone’s limited education means the work she can do is restricted to poorly paid jobs and so her horizons are limited. She is delighted when she is re-housed in Skelmersdale in a newly-built council house. Many of the slum houses in Liverpool and other big cities were demolished at this time and ‘new towns’ made up of council houses were built to replace them. Mrs Johnstone remarks in the song ‘Moving House’ that she will have a home with a parlour fit for the Pope to visit. She seems touchingly unaware that her new home is low budget and basic. Her upbringing has shaped her own horizons to the point that she is overjoyed about her new home. By contrast, Mrs Lyons belongs to the wealthier middle class. She is a housewife with no need to work since her husband can provide comfortably for the family. She lives in a large house, can afford a cleaner and has the time to enjoy a leisurely lifestyle. Their aspirations are wide-ranging. Children brought up in this setting are surrounded by books, expected to succeed in life and may attend public school. They would be expected to ‘marry well’ and to take up a prestigious and well- paid job.
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