In one of the first workshops we initially produced a brainstorm of ideas as to why people may be institutionalised. Below I have listed a selection of illnesses which were brainstormed. Medication non-compliance: Not following treatment and/or not taking medications as prescribed. Cognitive impairment: Defined as unusually poor mental function, associated with confusion, forgetfulness and difficulty Depression:
A psychiatric disorder showing symptoms such as persistent feelings of hopelessness, dejection, poor concentration, lack of energy, inability to sleep, and, sometimes, suicidal tendencies Incontinence:
Often used to refer to a lacking in moderation or self-control, especially related to sexual desire. Everyone worked in pairs where one of us had been put into the institution by the other. Holly and I worked together, we decided I would be the character in the institution and I was then hot-seated. I decided I was a thirty-five year old woman who had been left by her husband and as a result of this, tragically suffering from depression. As a pose to helping me herself, Holly carelessly decided it was best to leave me in an institution, not knowing this sudden change in surroundings, faces and routine would in fact provoke my illness, leaving me worse than before.
When brainstorming ideas as to why people may be institutionalised, depression seemed an obvious and popular idea. This influenced my reasons for rendering my character depressed. After we were hot-seated our teacher asked us questions about the characters we had created, I found the hot-seating helped tremendously when trying to understand and form my character, thus making it easier to answer questions about her. As I was able to understand my character through the hot-seating, I found I was able to form a deeper connection with her; I believed this would significantly help my portrayal when acting her character.
We then created a duologue. This helped me further develop my character as it allowed me to see how she reacted when left face-to-face with Holly, through improvisation. It was clear from our character's opposing behavior towards one another that our relationship had been damaged due to the institution. Not only had my condition worsened but Holly's cold nature penetrated the already bad atmosphere between us making everything more awkward.Holly visits the institution to see if my condition has improved. This is the first time in two years she has visited and my hostile behavior towards her shows I am affected by her lack of visits.
When she enters my room I am sitting in the corner, dribbling, rocking and the lights are off; she is horrified my depression has worsened and tries to leave immediately. Quickly I get up and run to the door, barricading it. I ask her why she put me here and left me for two years, followed by my monologue. In reply to this Holly performs her monologue explaining my depression was affecting her and everyone around me. Furiously, Holly pushes me aside and runs out of door, I am left crying on the floor in a ball, screaming and shouting 'why did you do this to me', scene cuts here.
I found the final performance ran successfully, Holly and I remembered our lines and our stage directions; this, I thought, played a big part in the overall success of our performance. I believe my character came across well to the audience as the general feedback was positive- this showed the audience was able to identify with and understand my character's feelings and difficulties.
Although the majority of the performance went well I, however, believe there is always room for improvement.
Holly and I could have incorporated a flash back at the beginning of the scene, showing the audience the day I was put into the institution. I think this may have furthered the audience's understanding of my character and make the fact my condition had not improved clearer. This would not have only benefited the audience, but myself. By developing the scene in this way, I would have been able to also develop my character further on a whole, learning more about her.