Our devised work, Lizzie Borden, was based on a true story of how Lizzie was accused of the murders of her father, Andrew Borden, and her stepmother, Abbey Borden, in Massachusetts, USA.
I played the character Andrew Borden and from my research I discovered that Andrew was an elderly man who was greatly respected by his family and others who knew him. Andrew was a man of very high status and was a very successful businessman. As the father of Lizzie and Emma Borden, Andrew loved his daughters but his relationship with them both could possibly have been weakened due to the fact that Lizzie and Emma strongly disagreed with Andrews marriage to Abbey.
The style of drama we had to present Lizzie Borden in was a grotesque style which involved being very unrealistic and making our drama piece as abstract as possible. This was a really different style compared to Blue Remembered Hills which was the last piece of drama work we had studied which was a very naturalistic play rather than the physical theatre that Lizzie Borden was presented as.
As I had played a little girl called Angela in Blue Remembered Hills, playing Andrew in Lizzie Borden challenged me as an actor as everything was so much more exaggerated and very unrealistic at times. As I was used to playing Angela in Blue Remembered Hills, playing Andrew meant a totally different characterisation as well as a different physicality.
As Blue Remembered Hills was a scripted piece, objectives and super objectives were needed to provide a target for our characters or just generally for an overall target in a particular scene. Subtext was used as it helped to discover what the characters in Blue Remembered Hills may actually be thinking so it could help me react to different situations I may of come across during this drama piece.
The challenges that Blue Remembered Hills presented me with were things such as playing an 8 year old little girl and having to take into consideration the physicality of a small child. I found it quite difficult to take on the Cornish/Somerset accent that was requested in this drama piece, but I soon found it easy as I became more familiar with the play. As Angela was pursued as a very spoilt and used to getting her own way little girl, I found it quite interesting playing her as it gave me a chance to use my acting skills to my full potential and play a character that was the total opposite of myself.
Some new challenges that I was presented with whilst working on Lizzie Borden was the overall grotesque style we were asked to use. Every movement we made had to be as big as possible whilst making other movements robotic. This felt quite strange at times, which made me feel rather silly, as what we were doing was unusual to our everyday physicality. Our voices also had to change. Rather than keeping our normal English accents, we had to sustain a soft American accent. We also used distortion in our voices, which would usually fit in well with the grotesque style.
After acting in Blue Remembered Hills, the experience helped me to create my role in Lizzie Borden by having clear objectives in each scene so I could establish my characters aim for this scene, just like I had done in Blue Remembered Hills.
In class we researched physical theatre to help develop our roles for Lizzie Borden by watching Metamorphosis by Steven Berkoff. This gave me an understanding of what would be expected when we were asked to use a grotesque style in drama. We also worked on a few class exercises such as the Berkoff scale and the 7 states of tension which involved starting off very naturalistic and gradually turning very grotesque in our movements and in the tension exercise, ending up very tense.
By researching my character Andrew Borden for our drama piece Lizzie Borden, it helped me to characterise my character so I was able to sustain my role throughout Lizzie Borden. I also discovered from my research the type of clothes that men wore in the 1800’s. As I already knew that Andrew Borden was a well presented man, a suit, waistcoat, cigars and top hats were just the sort of clothes Andrew would of worn. The costume that I wore had to relate to the type of person Andrew was and also help with the way I used different drama techniques during my drama piece.
Whilst playing Andrew, I had to sustain an American accent, but I also deepened my voice slightly as I was playing a man. At times I also spoke quite slowly so that my voice would fit in with the parts of my drama piece where we had used grotesque movements.
I also walked with a very straight, stiff back that made me stand tall to show that Andrew was a man of high status. I often used blank expressions on my face as his wife Abbey was usually bossing Andrew around. As I felt that Andrew had often been torn between his two daughters and his wife, I felt that if I didn’t express Andrews feelings then it may leave the audience confused just how Andrew may have felt.
In one scene, I would always make Andrew look at Abbey as if Andrew always had to be reassured by Abbey that he was doing or saying everything she wanted.
During a dinner scene in Lizzie Borden, I made Andrew react in a disgusted way as he watched Abbey eat. How I portrayed Andrew in this scene showed that as a man of high status, Andrew felt that to earn his respect, he needed to act in a sensible manner.