A Mother's Voice - Staging Hints

 


 Mother's Voice

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The Plays

 

The Last Resort 
A Mother's Voice 
Bridges 
Jabberwocky 
Children of the Blitz 

 

Staging

A Mother's Voice  was originally performed as set out below - almost "in the round", with the audience on three sides. With the performers and the audience sharing the same space this certainly added to the atmosphere of the piece and the sense of involvement from everyone. It was also the best way of providing enough space for the dance sequences.

You could perform the play as a promenade piece or on a traverse stage. Although you can use a traditional proscenium arch approach, the greater distance between the performers and the audience will push the audience firmly into the role of observers and distance them from the action

 NB. Further comments follow below the diagram so make sure you scroll down!

Sketch plan of original staging for A Mother's Voice

We had hoped to light the cyclorama from behind and have the shapes of the shadows and whisperers outlined on it, listening and pressing in on the mother. This was abandoned as we simply did not have the time to make it work. I still think it would be a wonderful effect though. Of course if you do not have a cyc or gauze available then you can always have a simple screen of curtaining or even a painted backdrop

The "washing lines" were arranged across the stage at a high level, going  through pulleys at each end. These ends went down the walls and were tied off onto cleats - making sure there was sufficient excess rope so they could be let down for the washing scene. Thus for most of the show they were well out of the way and un-noticed by the audience. At the start of the washerwoman scene members of the cast not involved let down the ropes and tied them off at the right level. We found that weighting the centre point of each line came in useful here as the lines lacked sufficient weight in themselves to fall easily.

When Ernesto and Baptista enter the lines were then whisked up at the correct moment, revealing the lovers to each other and transforming themselves instantly into the bunting for the festival. It is a nice moment! At the end of the river of death scene the lines were released collapsing onto the floor of the performance space. These were rapidly cleared by the cast and taken off stage. Again - do this with a sense of style! They are symbolic of the loss of innocence of the mother as she finally comes to terms with her husband's death.

The stage layout allowed actors to enter the performance space from each of the four corners and for the cast to circulate effectively. In the scene where the mother seeks her daughter, the officials were placed in each corner with the mother walking around the back of the audience to move from one to the next. Meanwhile Baptista was placed blindfolded and bound on a chair in the centre of the space. The audience's attention is drawn each space in turn by the use of tightly focused lighting.