Characters in action

Joan of arc

19. The Maid of Orléans, a fearless French heroine

ASTRID POLLARD

17. School captain, recently returned from a prolonged absence . . .

not okay but probably pretending she is.

HADLEY BERGER

17. An outcast renegade, whip-smart and fiercely intelligent.

SIENNA SASQUATCH

17. Astrid’s best friend, super supportive and super sassy.

THE OUTCASTS

School misfits

DEIDRE POLLARD

Early 50s.

Astrid’s Mother.

Former celebrity chef turned stay-at-home alcoholic

MS BEAUFORT

Mid-40s. School principal, not to be crossed.

MISS DUNKIRK

Early 30s. History teacher, loves history/ hates kids.

MR MANCELLO

Mid-30s. Science teacher, wears loud Hawaiian print shirts.

Image Analysis Activity: Scene 3

Before reading the text, analyse the photo above that captures an on-stage moment from Scene 3.

Work with a partner to discuss the following:

  • Describe what you see in the stage picture.
  • What do you think is happening in this moment?
  • How do the actors’ body language and facial expressions convey this?
  • What might the relationship between these two characters be? Why?

PRACTICAL ACTIVITY | Scene 3

Consider how place and space can be manipulated to convey the tension of relationships when staging this scene.

  1. Read the scene with a partner first. Identify the shifts in mood and consider how you might mark these shifts through interaction, vocal tone and use of space.
  2. Setting: Configure the chairs to make an interesting version of a train that considers sight lines for the audience. Play with angles and leave some spare chairs set up to allow for movement throughout. Play around with the starting positions of the two girls. Create a dynamic opening stage picture and determine the initial interaction before the opening line of the scene is delivered. This will help to establish place, relationship and mood.
  3. Work through the scene, shaping action that shows the development of character tension and relationship. While you should aim to not be too static, also keep it realistic as they are on a train. Use interesting gesture to show their sense of character and find their similarities and differences through clear action choices.
  4. Layer in sound effects to assist in building the sense of place and movement.
  5. Polish and present!

Download Script Extract

IMAGE ANALYSIS ACTIVITY | Spot the difference

The featured images above are of consecutive moments from the staged production. The first image was taken at the end of the Prologue, and the next was captured seconds later and marked the beginning of Scene 1.

Study the two images carefully and consider the following questions:

  • What is different about image 1 and image 2?
  • What is the same?
  • Image 1 represents the battlefield. Analyse the physicality and facial expressions of the actors. What might be happening?
  • How is mood manipulated through lighting in image 1?
  • Image 2 is set in the classroom. The sound of a bell and a lighting change marked this shift in time and place. Analyse the changes in the actors’ physicality and facial expressions. What responses or reactions can you read from this? What might be happening in this moment?
  • How did the lighting change and how do you think this affects the mood and tension of the dramatic action in this moment?

PRACTICAL ACTIVITY | Scene 8

In Scene 1 Miss Dunkirk sets the students an oral history assignment on Joan of Arc. Student oral presentations subsequently interject a number of scenes throughout the play.

In groups of three, workshop characterisations for Students 1, 2 or 3 (shown in the images) and explore the staging possibilities as you polish your scene for performance.

  • Aim to create distinct characters with well-defined personalities, drawing clues from the language choice and context of the speech.
  • Each character has a different perspective about Joan.
  • Use your performance skills to make clear physical and vocal choices to convey your character’s attitude and personality to the audience.
  • Rehearse individually to develop your character’s portrayal and line delivery and then rehearse together to shape the dramatic action.

 Spotlighted moments

The stage directions in the play suggest these are spotlighted moments. The spotlight draws dramatic focus as each student starts their speech, and then the spotlight remains on them throughout, suggesting that the students are visible even when they are not speaking their dialogue.  The separate student orals are therefore spliced together, creating a montage effect that assists in conveying the compression of time and reflects the non-naturalistic playing style.

 Tips

Explore different staging approaches. Play with stage business and dynamic stillness to keep your character active and engaging in their off-focus moments without stealing focus. Keep cues sharp and manipulate tempo and timing to sustain the rhythm of the text.

  • Demonstrate and apply individual performance skills in the ensemble to present dramatic action through text and non-text-based making activities

Download script extract

2018 Copyright Brisbane Girls Grammar School
This resource was written by Mrs Katrina Riveros with video by Mr Brad Jennings.