A Silent Comedy

Made by Azer, Sarah Bien, Everi and Ricardo Tucker

In this project we attempt to create a comedic piece without speaking words.

Created: November 17th, 2015

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Product

Our project is a live silent-movie-type performance that relies on digitally-drawn graphics and dramatic background music to tell a story. In our play, Azer draws on a tablet behind the scenes such that her drawing is shown on a screen behind the actors. The live actors, Ricardo and Everi, pretend to be the ones drawing on the screen. Ricardo is "drawing" a nice picture and Everi comes along and attempts to ruin it by adding ugly things to it. This leads to a fight between the two. The background music conveys the transitions from fun to mischief to dramatic fighting.
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Final MA Audio and Choreo
Sarah B - https://youtu.be/aBb-kmgqJUk
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Intention

Our aim was to use the skills that each of us brought to the group to create a comedic performance. This is why we chose to have Azer display her drawings on the screen while other team members did the acting.


Furthermore, because we were given a restriction that our performance must be "unspoken with words," we created a piece that is reminiscent of a silent movie. Thus, Ricardo and Everi's goal as actors was to convey emotions through exaggerated expressions and actions. Sarah's goal as the sound designer was to create background music that would convey the emotions present in the story. 

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Context

When researching media performance, we came across this piece: http://www.wimp.com/bend-reality/. This piece is similar to our performance in a few ways. First, it features choreographed fighting which is a big part of our work. It also involves live interaction with graphics that the performers do not control. This is similar to the way that Azer controls the drawings that Ricardo and Everi only pretend to work on; the dancers in the link above appear to be controlling the light behind them although they really are not, much like how our actors do not actually control the art in our scene. Finally, both pieces use music to convey the mood.

Our project is also similar to silent movies in that it uses music instead of words to convey emotion.


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Process

Challenges encountered include trying to get the acting to synchronize with the drawing, although we weren't able to get proper opportunities to do a practice run. We had two practice sessions, but the classroom was never available when all of us could meet, and therefore we made do in classrooms where the projector was too far up for the actors to reach, and the second time without a screen at all but with just a whiteboard to draw on. 

Because of the short time we had to prepare together, we could not work in tandem very well either - hence we could not do many iterations with the audio to have it fit the original skit, and had to change our skit to fit the prepared audio instead. A common problem we had was trying to get the the skit to be long enough so that the audio would not continue on when we were already out of acting material.

We also lacked a cable to connect the laptop to the screen, which limited our preparation opportunities.

It seems we will just have to make do with what little preparation time we had and hope for the best on presentation day.

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Collaboration

For this project we aimed to put each group member's specific skills to use. Azer was put in charge of the digital backdrop since she has experience drawing. Ricardo and Everi took on roles as live performers. Sarah was unable to be present for the performance, but was still able to contribute by becoming the sound designer. Thus, she watched an early rehearsal and came up with background music that would enhance the story. 

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Reflection

There really was not enough time to do a full dry run of this project. Despite the extended time given to us, the real problem was trying to find common times we could all meet together and agree on a course of action - not to mention, brainstorming an idea that everyone was up for. It is unfortunate also that so many deadlines for our other commitments were due earlier in the week that made doing collaborative work a bit more difficult than usual. 

Difficult to say what else we could have done to make the process easier on us. Since the project is so collaborative, it is hard to imagine a better way we could have parallelized our workflow. Perhaps we could have been more efficient if we had come up with a project idea earlier, but all in all the performance went alright despite having had no full practice runs with all the equipment available.

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Attribution

http://www.wimp.com/bend-reality/

Reference any sources or materials used in the documentation or composition. 

Music Sources:

Apple Music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aOJRgerHA34

Epic Fighting Music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9s_9W531ZLU


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In this project we attempt to create a comedic piece without speaking words.