Approaches to the written paper
In your exam you will need to show you can give advice to actors, directors [director: The person who supervises the drama and instructs actors ] and designers which should be able to work on stage.
Look at this typical exam question about acting.
The example deals with a character from the play Death of a Salesman but you can adapt the information to fit the play you are studying.
As an actor how would you communicate the role of Linda to an audience in this section? In your answer, you should refer to character motivation, performance ideas on voice, movement and gesture and interaction with other characters.
Break your answer into sections to help you cover all the areas.
Linda's main motivation in this section is her grief at her husband's death. She is also shocked and bewildered that no-one has come to his funeral. Throughout their married life Willy has led her to believe he is very popular and successful and today she realises the truth. There is also a sense of disbelief that he is dead and her final speech shows that, in her mind, he is very much alive. When Linda says her first line, “Why didn't anyone come?” the tone of her voice would sound surprised and hurt. The tone of bewilderment should carry on into her next speech and she might even give a little laugh when she says, “He was even finished in the dentist” to show the irony of the situation. Her tone should sound quite dreamy when she says, “He was wonderful with his hands” and the pace could be quite slow as she reminisces about their past.
In her final speech there is a questioning tone as she tries to come to terms with what Willy has done. The volume at the beginning of the speech could be quiet and controlled but, as the speech continues and Linda breaks down, her voice could become louder. Her voice would also be broken up by the sobbing. I think she would shout the final, “We're free....We're free” almost as if she wants Willy to hear this news wherever he is. Because the play is set in America the actress must use an American accent.
At the beginning of the scene the actor would be very still and her focal point should be the grave. Her hands could be clenched together to show her desperation. Even when she speaks eg “Why didn't anybody come?” she should remain very still - this would give the impression that she’s locked in her grief and it would also help to emphasise her isolation. When the others are leaving, I think the actress would turn her head slightly to acknowledge Charlie, perhaps putting her hand on his to reassure him and to acknowledge his concern. In Linda's final speech the actress’s movement should contrast with the stillness. Although the play states she sits, she could kneel at the grave. Linda's movement becomes far more animated. She could smooth the grave tenderly to show her love and care for Willy but, as she begins sobbing, her body would convulse to show she can no longer hold in the grief.
On the final words “We’re free.....We're free” she might raise her head to the sky or turn her head to look at the house. She should leave the stage heavily supported by Biff as this would emphasise that she is near breaking point with grief. Because Linda is locked in her own world there is very little interaction with other characters in this scene. Her key interaction is with the grave which symbolises Willy. Although she is asking questions it's to no-one in particular. I would position the other actors behind Linda to emphasise her isolation. Once again it is in her final speech that most of the interaction takes place because, even though Willy is dead, she interacts and talks to him as she always did. The final interaction is with her son Biff. Perhaps the fact that she leans on him offers her some hope for the future.
This answer would score high marks because:
Activity: Watch the following video clip. Think about how the actors in the scene use voice, movement and interaction to communicate meaning to an audience.