Hard to Swallow Drama Exam Evaluation

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‘Hard to Swallow’ is an adaptation of an award winning book (and film) “Catherine” which is written by Maureen Dunbar. The book is based upon her daughter’s battle with anorexia and her families struggle in coping and adapting their lifestyle to the illness. Although I knew the main symptoms and effects of anorexia well, the play helped me to see the illness in a different light. The characters in the play were easy to relate to as it was a typical family household, so it was easy for me to see the anorexia take its toll on (not just Catherine) but the whole family and saw how each character coped with the anorexia in different ways. As we worked in groups to recreate the ‘Section 2: Christmas ’73 – The Dunbar Household’ scene, we decided to use one thought track per character to make the scene more effective. I played the character of Anna and my thought track was: “Catherine is such an attention seeker!”, I chose to say this because of Anna and her portrayal in the play as someone who doesn’t show any sympathy towards Catherine and her illness, as she does let her feelings get the best of her at times, an example of this is when she says to Catherine that her “obsession is ruining all our lives!” I wanted to show Anna’s resentment even before Catherine’s illness is around, simply because she is the younger sister and craves for attention that she wouldn’t receive as the youngest in the house. From my knowledge, Anna is the youngest so I made her voice high pitched. I said the thought in a very bratty tone and her words came out very bitchy and envious at the same time. I was trying to shown Anna’s jealousy of Catherine yet her indifference and childishness through her voice. This taught me that even though Christmas is a fun and family orientated event, Anna is stubborn and is not willing to change her resentful and insensitive feelings towards Catherine and her illness, hence her telling Catherine that “I can’t stand you when you’re like this! I hate being your sister!”. Lara was playing the role of Catherine in this scene, her thought track was “Our Father who hath in heaven, hallowed be thy name”. This line was chosen because we were trying to focus on one of the traits Catherine had to before her illness, which was her religious beliefs, which slowly fades as the play goes on. Catherine is the main character of the play, had to have an outstanding thought track. Her thought track was spoken out finally and right before the climax, which was perfect for the timing as it was seconds before the climax and did not break the tension at all due to the seriousness of it. Lara’s voice was extremely calm and serene; her overall demeanour was a very classy one through her voice, making a simple prayer sound so sophisticated, this was to keep the tension locked into the scene to make the climax more effective. Her tone was extremely formal and mature, even though the scene takes place during Christmas, in the Dunbar household and is a relaxed occasion. This taught me that Catherine has a strong belief in God which is a theme throughout the whole play, this is shown as she is serious during a relaxed occasion. During this mime sequence we also added a climax, we achieved this by starting off the scene at a normal pace by moving steadily and using relaxed movements, as the scene went on building towards the climax we quickened our pace, going faster and exaggerated and repeated our actions to create the tension and construct the climax. We made certain gestures more prominent during the scene to also create tension. Whilst we were ‘eating the Christmas dinner’ was exaggerated and was performed at a quicker pace. So when I asked Catherine to pull the cracker, we both stood up and then Catherine’s thought track which came across very biblical (and was a contrasting tone to the scene) and did not break the tension, as we all unfroze we pulled the crackers, whilst pulling we fell back in different corners of the stage and dispersed...
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