Does it remain possible to create six, female characters from a monologue written for a man? This is a challenge, which we took upon ourselves when working on Mark Ravenhills product. I will discuss further, how I worked through this task, when applying practitioners such as Bertolt Brecht and also Konstantin Stanislavski. When beginning to work on the text I was most apprehensive, this became evident early on in the rehearsal process, as we were challenging ourselves in creating convincing lifelike characters. An additional challenge that we came across was enabling the piece to look as though it had been written for a cast of six diverse females.
By dialogically teasing through the text, we began to create characters through the distribution of lines. Once we had all given a small number of lines, there began to be characters forming. I found that the process became a great deal easier, as the character ‘James’ is going through a thought process throughout the whole piece. “This is for the towers. This is for civilisation this is for all of us, you bastards… you don’t say that you don’t do that.” (Ravenhill, 2006, p.59) These two contradicting statements, which one character spoke, are James own thought waves. He is thinking aloud throughout, without processing what he is actually saying. Due to Mark Ravenhill writing this monologue in this way, we then are enabled to create two diverse characters from one, with ease.
Once our cast had established, who was saying which lines, we then felt that we had the beginning foundation to our character. However, we were still not any closer to creating individual characters, with their own personalities. A way in which our cast approached this task was deciding an appropriate practitioner to follow. Due to the type of piece that we had taken on, it only seemed right to use Bertolt Brecht’s methods. “He has to avoid presenting himself in such a way that someone calls out ‘what a lifelike portrayal of a chauffeur!’ He must not ‘cast a spell’ over anyone.” (Brecht, 1938, p.470)
By taking on Brecht’s methodology, we would then not have to necessarily bring depth into every character in my opinion. As then, the whole point of Product would not be to create a piece, where the characters and staging are esthetical pleasing but to concentrate on the political side of the piece. Brecht’s methods would work superbly, as Mark Ravenhill is an extremely political writer, as the piece itself Product is based upon terrorism and impractical the 9/11 bombings. Although the characters are discussing a plot, which includes terrorism, the political message of the whole piece, I believe is how ‘Hollywood’ glamorises everything. They can turn something as horrific as terrorism into a Hollywood movie, by romanticizing it with two diverse characters. “If you look at today's TV news, it's always oscillating between a real emotion and a Hollywood one. We do it ourselves: you find yourself telling a story of your life that's...