Exploring some of Cicely Berry’s voice and language exercises for a directing concept of Athol Fugard’s Sorrows and Rejoicings

Hofmeyr, Zoettje (2016-12)

Thesis (MDram)--Stellenbosch University, 2016.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The aim of this study is to explore how using voice practitioner and writer, Cicely Berry’s, exercises and language strategies on sound and text, could lead to finding a directing concept for the play Sorrows and Rejoicings by Athol Fugard. The expectation was to discover a layered and interesting interpretation of the text by using a more sound-based approach which relied less on visual aspects such as décor, scenery and lighting effects. The research consisted of both a production of the play with a student cast and this thesis, which articulates the full rehearsal process of working on the play with Cicely Berry’s ideas as a clear framework. A qualitative approach was used for the first part of the thesis which involves an overview and discussion of Berry’s career and work. Her various books on voice training and working with actors and directors are also referred to. Then a full Practice as Research approach was followed to find a coherent structure and concept for the production process and performance. Cicely Berry’s exercises were selected and adapted throughout the process by myself as director to explore this South African text and to encourage the actors to bring to the life the personal sound of the characters, as well as create their physical environment through using sound imaginatively. The production revealed that Berry’s many exercises and strategies allow a more open approach to the text and that, within the realism of the language, a poetic and heightened quality was found that led to exploring the characters and their emotional and physical landscapes in a deeper way. Improvisation on these exercises led to concrete ideas for stronger characterisation, active and imaginative use of voice, song, and chant to enhance the themes and atmosphere, a more open and fluid use of space and the essential aural and visual concept that worked well for the production. The centrality of Berry’s approach puts the text first and as a director one then also has the freedom to explore and improvise on the exercises as they are needed. It was found that one needs to use many of the exercises and to repeat some of them at different stages of rehearsals, in different ways, to fully benefit from them. As they are open-ended and not prescriptive in their potential outcomes these strategies are very useful for a director and actors in exploring a text, in order to find a creative interpretation that is stimulated by the words and images. In this way an awareness of the sound potential in language becomes more important than relying largely on visual aspects.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die doel van die studie is om ondersoek in te stel na hoe die stempraktisyn en skrywer, Cicely Berry, se oefeninge en taalstrategieë vir klank en teks kan lei tot ‘n regiekonsep vir die drama Sorrows and Rejoicings deur Athol Fugard. Die verwagting was om ‘n geskakeerde en interessante interpretasie van die teks te vind deur middel van ‘n meer klank-gebaseerde benadering wat in ‘n minder mate steun op visuele ondersteuning soos dekor, verhooginkleding en beligtingseffekte. Die navorsing bestaan uit ‘n opvoering van die drama met ‘n studenterolverdeling en hierdie tesis waarin die volledige repetisieproses van die drama beskryf word met Cicely Berry se idees as raamwerk. ’n Kwalitatiewe benadering wat ‘n oorsig van Berry se loopbaan en werk insluit, is in die eerste gedeelte van die tesis gevolg. Haar onderskeie boeke oor stemopleiding en werk met akteurs en regisseurs word onder andere na verwys. Daarna is ‘n volledige Praktyk as Navorsingsbenadering gevolg ten opsigte van die produksieproses en opvoering. ‘n Seleksie is gemaak uit Cicely Berry se oefeninge en dit is in die loop van die proses deur myself as regisseur aangepas om die Suid-Afrikaanse teks te verken en die akteurs aan te moedig om die persoonlike klank van die onderskeie karakters te verlewendig, asook om hulle fisieke omgewing te skep deur klank op ‘n verbeeldingryke wyse aan te wend. Die produksie het aan die lig gebring dat Berry se talle oefeninge en strategieë ’n vryer benadering tot die teks moontlik maak en dat daar in die realistiese kwaliteit van die taal ‘n poëtiese en verhoogde spraakkwaliteit gevind kan word wat lei tot die ontginning van die karakters en ‘n dieper verkenning van hulle emosionele en fisieke landskappe. ‘n Improvisatoriese benadering tot die oefeninge het tot konkrete idees vir sterker karakterisering, aktiewe en verbeeldingryke gebruik van die stem, sang en dreunsang om die temas en atmosfeer te verryk, ‘n vryer en vloeiender gebruik van die ruimte en die essensiële vokale en visuele konsep wat goed gewerk het vir die opvoering gelei. Die kern van Berry se benadering stel die teks eerste en die regisseur het dan die vryheid om die oefeninge te verken en daarop te improviser wanneer nodig. Die studie het bevind dat ‘n groot verskeidenheid van die oefeninge gebruik moet word en dat sommiges op verskillende stadia van die repetisieproses en op verskillende maniere herhaal moet word om die volle waarde daarvan te kan benut. Aangesien dit oopeinde-, onvoorskriftelike oefeninge ten opsigte van uitkomste is, is die oefeninge baie bruikbaar vir ‘n regisseur en akteurs wanneer ‘n teks verken word om ‘n kreatiewe interpretasie te vind wat gestimuleer word deur woorde en beelde. Sodoende word ‘n bewustheid van die taal se klankpotensiaal belangriker as om grootliks op visuele aspekte te steun.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/100289
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