Question- Find a historical person from the 1920s who would have influenced my character ‘Fay’?
She was a campaigner for women’s rights and a pioneer in the field of family planning.
In 1918 she published a book called ‘Married Love’ the book became extremely popular within society resulting in 2000 copies sold within a fortnight. After her first book was published thousands of women within the UK wrote to her asking for advice. She later published a book called ‘Wise Parenthood’.
In 1921 she opened a family planning clinic in North London, the first one to open within the United Kingdom. It offered a free service to married women and also gathered information about the contraceptive pill. By 1930 many other services like this one also opened.
How did this influence Fay?
Fay is a young lady who is starting to become independent and she also has her first boyfriend which would lead to her wanting to experiment with her partner etc. Maria Stopes has influenced Fay and all of the other girls studying at MME Doubennets finishing school because the ladies now have reassurance which they have never had before. By this I mean they now have someone/services available to support them regarding issues with Birth Control, family planning and relationship counselling.
The 1920’s was the golden age for night clubbing, in 1921 a law came into impact called ‘The War Time Liscening act’ which basically means it was allowed for alcohol to be legally served until 12.30 am as long as it was served with food. However most clubs did ignore this. Also at one of the most popular clubs in London called ‘The Trocadero’ there was an competition where basically the best dressed female would win an outfit designed by Paul Poiret (Whos actually mentioned in the Boyfriend script). Paul Poiret was known as the best French costumier in the 20th century. All sorts of people with different ethnicity, culture and class would attend these night clubs.
How does this affect my character ‘Fay’ within the boyfriend?
This would influence all of the young girls who are staying at MME Doubennet’s finishing school. This been because most of the students are actually from London so when they do go home they will more than likely go out with there friends., only if there parents allow them bearing in mind. However they may have friends back at home that go out all of the time which would then lead to them finding out what its like and possibly influencing them to try going out. Also as clubs started to become into fashion so did boys, outrageous behaviour and fashion. An example of this linking to the boyfriends script would be Fay says ” Mine too and rather daring too” when she says this shes actually referring to the dress she will be wearing to the party.
Thinking on a larger scale I also believe MME Doubennet may also be affected due to nightclubs coming into fashion. This been because most females in the 1920s started to go out on a regular basis which resulted in them meeting gentlemen and starting there own families. Therefore MME Doubennet would more than likely loose out on buisness as young ladies in London would start making families of there own at much younger ages.
The Boyfriend is a musical by Sandy Wilson, Which opened in London in 1954.The production ran for 2,078 performances, making it the-longest running musical in West End and Broadway history. Throughout the rehearsal Process I will be posting important facts and information that I have learnt throughout. This will benefit me as I will be able to reflect on the rehearsal process in the future.
The boyfriend is set in the early 1920’s in France/Niece, its about a group of young British girls who attend a finishing school in France, Madame Dubonnet is the head of the school who teaches the group girls on how to become well respected ladies. In the 1920s a lot changed within society for example it was the golden age for nightclubbing which lead to icons for example ladies wanted boyfriends, more male attention in order to look cool (I will discuss this in more detail in my next post). The lead character Polly is the only girl within the finishing school who doesn’t have a boyfriend therefore she invents one but later gets caught out my mademe dubonnet. As the story develops Polly actually ends up falling in love with a delivery boy called ‘Tony’ however conflict occurs because of ‘Conscious’ (Polly’s father) who has actually warned her explaining that she must keep away from males as they would only be using her for her fathers fortune. Throughout our production of ‘The Boyfriend’ I will be playing the character of ‘Fay’, who is one of the females within the school.
Below is a character profile:
Age- 17- early 20s
where is she from- England
She is an only child therefore she is used to getting her own way.
From a very wealthy background
She has a boyfriend
Confident, Mature, likes to have fun however she is focussed but sometimes can get easily distracted ands also is rather daring( links in with the line ‘So is mine and rather daring too’.
I will continue to add to this character profile as I will get more of an understanding on my character ‘Fay’ as time develops.
When I came to the Arden I came with a habit this being ‘movement of the jaw’ by this I mean I was moving my jaw more than necessary whilst singing. Gavin told me my jaw had too much tension and this is why I had this habit. He provided me with many exercises to overcome this. (https://ardenrjones.wordpress.com/2014/11/12/29914-singing-lesson/) As time has developed I have identified that this has become much more controlled. Throughout the year we have also worked on breath control as this was also something that I struggled with, especially throughout the assessment chord ‘ (i)’ee’, (Ay), (Or) ‘O’ and (Ar)’. Gavin suggested a range of techniques to help me develop this and the capacity of breath my lungs can inhale. Breath control is efficient for a singer to create a clear, projected sound, which is controlled mainly by the diaphragm. (https://ardenrjones.wordpress.com/2014/11/17/6-10-14/) As time has developed this has improved however I will continue to work on this by using the exercises I have been provided with. One technique that I have always struggled with is ‘diction’, I tend to not pronounce my words correctly which sometimes can be misleading from the listeners perspective. Gavin introduced me to the technique of focusing on the vowels in a phrase which will then lead to the consonants been pronounced correctly. (https://ardenrjones.wordpress.com/2015/02/04/020215-singing-lesson/) It’s important that the audience understands every word a musical theatre performer sings in order for them to be able to understand the story that is being communicated. As time has progressed I have identified that my overall diction has improved and this is due to regularly performing this exercise. I will continue to use this in the future as it’s extremely beneficial not just for singing but for speaking in general. Over the year I have asked Gavin many questions including what kind of repertoire would suit my vocals. I personally would identify myself as a ‘belter’ who has a mixed range and a good blend meaning a smooth transition from chest to head voice, Gavin agreed with this. (https://ardenrjones.wordpress.com/2014/11/20/rehearsal-process/) After listening to the ideas he suggested I decided to use ‘Maybe I like it this way’ as one of my chosen songs for the assessment. In my opinion this was a perfect suggestion as I had never heard of it before and it suited my vocals, I also liked the message being communicated throughout the song. Before I started at the Arden I didn’t believe in myself enough when it came to singing and this is still obvious today. I do believe in myself to an extent however it takes a while for this to be obvious. Gavin identified this as sometimes I back away from ‘belting notes’ throughout my repertoire, he is not the only one that has identified this. Belting requires the correct placement in order to support the voice without creating strain. The placement includes the soft palate been risen, less breath pressure, a dropped jaw and overall the sound been placed forward. Many people don’t succeed when it comes to belting due to fear. ‘Releasing that fear and tension is one of the main keys to successful belting’. (Kristina Seleshanko 2002) Fear and overall confidence is the problem that is preventing me from belting correctly. However when this happens I’ll go away and work on it in my own time until I believe the sound I am creating is strong enough. Gavin has explained the importantcy of believing in yourself and taking risks throughout this industry, and I thoroughly agree with what he says. I think I have a good personal rehearsal regime as I rehearse three times a week in a comfortable environment. I don’t have set times as I never know what my week may consist of however I make sure I find time. I start my rehearsal by reading over notes from my previous lesson, carrying out a 10 minute vocal warm up using exercises we have used in lessons. I then sing through what needs to be worked on, whilst doing this I record myself so I can identify the progress and it also enables me to identify my weaknesses which makes my word press logs easier. Rehearsal time varies every week as there is always something new to work on. Throughout the year I believe I have shown a positive attitude to learning, attendance and independent work. I understand that there is still improvement to be made which I am determined to do. Overall I think I have progressed throughout the year as I am now capable of performing new techniques and new repertoires that I have learnt also my overall knowledge has increased.
Today I had my last singing lesson before the assessment which is on the 1.05.15. We treated the lesson as if it was the actual assessment, we did this so I can get used to the atmosphere and also so I’m mentally prepared as well as checking that my repertoires and exercises are at a suitable, performance lesson. In my opinion the lesson was successful as I managed to perform the assessment criteria to a suitable level however I did make a few mistakes, below is a list of the feedback I received:
ee-aw – This went really well as I belted the whole phrase whilst been extremely supported and open.
Scale- This is the exercise that I have struggled on throughout the whole rehearsal process. Today I identified that I have been adding an extra phrase to the chords which explains why I haven’t had enough breath to perform the whole exercise. In the lesson today I performed these chords to a much higher standard compared to past rehearsals, however my voice did keep breaking whilst coming down the sale and this was because I wasn’t supported or lifted correctly, in the descending chords my break is obvious. Gavin said I should find my transition passage and practise the whole phrase slowly and smoothly to prevent my voice cracking in the assessment. In my opinion this exercise is something I’m worried about.
Study- I performed the study to a suitable standard remembering to add dynamics however I need to be careful on the descending phrases as in some cases my pitch wasn’t perfect.
I don’t know how to love him- This was performed to a great performance level, Gavin said that my expression was good and that there was no problem with my vocals throughout.
What it means to be a friend- Yet again the higher belt is something that I am still struggling on, I had the correct placement but on the descending phrase ‘even there and he’ I kept dropping my placement which resulted in the sound not been as strong therefore Gavin told me to keep thinking up even though I am singing a much lower note, this should result in my placement been in the correct place which will then lead to the sound I create been strong.
Maybe I like it this way- This was performed to a good standard however Gavin told me to not emphasise the lyrics ‘loves me’ at the end of the song as it makes the phrase sound forced.
As you can identify the weaknesses and mistakes which I made are things that I have posted as targets in my previous WordPress logs. All I can do is keep rehearsing and fingers crossed the assessment will be successful! I need to remain positive and not to worry about my weaknesses. Working up to the assessment I will continue to rehearse once a day as I would like to overcome my weaknesses to get a great grade on Friday!
This evening I decided to rehearse the assessment chords and my chosen songs first of all in a rehearsal condition and then in an assessment condition in front of my family. Due to not singing much over the holidays and not exactly having fantastic vocal health. I found it difficult to sing however after carrying out a 20 minute vocal warm up, I soon picked it back up. When I was rehearsing I came to the conclusion that I still need to work on my breath control. I found it difficult to hold my breath and exhale the correct amount af breath to do the ‘ee.ay,or,ar’ vocal scale. I remembered to breathe in the letter of the first vowel this being ‘e’ but I still couldn’t grasp it. I think this may be due to thinking too much. I will continue to improve my overall breath control by using the hissing exercise which I have previously discussed in a post as well as continuing to go over this exercise. In my opinion ‘I don’t know how to love him’ is ready to be performed, I have blocked it and I am also confident with the lyrics, tune, dynamics and overall performance. I would also say this also applies for ‘Maybe I like it this way’. This evening I spent 1 hour working on my final repertoire ‘What it means to be a friend’ I worked on adding an accent as Gavin suggested it. I have decided to go with a child, American sound. I also blocked it, by this I mean I added movement and I thought deep into what message I will be trying to communicate and how. I decided to go with the message of explaining what it means to be a friend. In regardless to blocking I have decided to pretend I am writing a journal and im writing down my thoughts and opinions on what a true friend is. After doing this I performed the whole assessment to my family. Honestly in went good, however my family picked out two things which I need to work on. These being the assessment chords ‘ee,ay,or,ar’ they said it was obvious in my face that I wasn’t confident with it and that I was also running out of breath. And they also said in the song ‘What it means to be a friend’ I need to be more confident on the lyric ‘there’ the belty section. When they gave me my feedback I agreed with everything they had said because when I was performing these two things especially I knew I went off key or didn’t look confident. I am determined to overcome these weaknesses as I would like to do well throughout the actual assessment on the 1st May. All I can do to overcome these weaknesses is to keep working on them.
I have continued to work on my assessment repertoire and vocal exercises. Overall I feel like I am much stronger prepared compared to what I was in my lesson. I have most of all been working on my overall breath control. I have done this by using the exercise Gavin told me to use which is to, breath in for 3 then hiss for 3 and double it up each time. I have also timed myself on how long I can hiss for from just a normal breath which is 16.83 seconds and that is when I start by inhaling the sound of the first vowel. Therefore I am more than capable of performing the ‘e, ah, ar, or’ assessment chords without a problem because I can hold my breath for longer than the phrase. In order for me to perform these chords successfully in my assessment I need to remember to breath in the shape of the first vowel as this will get my prepared for the first phrase as well as having my soft palate risen in the correct shape. I also need to remember to speed up the pace of the whole phrase this way ill be much more supported throughout the whole phrase as ill have enough breath and finally I need to remember to look confident, even if I do feel as though im running out of breath. From developing my breath control it will also show and help me throughout my chosen repertoire. I honestly feel as though ‘Maybe I like it this way’ and I don’t know how to love him’ will be successful performances, I think this way because I feel 100% confident with both and I have also blocked these scenes now so I will be able to show the emotion as well as having good vocal technique. However I am worried about my final chosen piece which is ‘ What it means to be a friend’ this is because I don’t feel like I have had enough vocal training on this song in comparison to my other repertoires. Im also worrying about this because im finding it difficult to show characterisation and blocking. I do have a few ideas but in all honesty it’s putting my ideas to practice. And finally im worrying about this because Gavin said I should put an American accent on throughout my performance as it will show characterisation better and it will also help my vocal technique as ill have the correct placement. I need to find myself the correct determination to spend at least 1 hour on this so I can work on the things im worrying about. I have also created my programme notes and sent all the vocal teachers my wordpress URL so I am much more organised and prepared than what I was in my last lesson. I will continue to work on my assessment set over the holidays.
Monday’s lesson was very intense in my opinion. We decided to run it as if it was a mock assessment, I found this very difficult and uncomfortable as I wasn’t prepared. However I think it was beneficial because I am now aware on what I need to work on and how it will be on the actual assessment. We started the mock assessment by going through the assessment chords. The ‘I’ ‘aw’ chords in my opinion went well but in order to improve I need to remember to keep open and not to short-change the second note ‘aw’. I will do this by remaining open and not restricting the sound. The ‘ee’ay’or’ar’ scale didn’t go very well, I visually showed on my face that I wasn’t confident with this exercise and I also visually expressed when I was running out of breath. Gavin said I need to speed up the tempo in order for me to be able to do it in one breath. I will develop my breath control by using the hissing exercise. The song study also went ok however I forgot to sing the higher octave on the first ‘love’ after I made this mistake I immediately realised. In my opinion I think I will be ok with the assessment exercises however I need to go through them in my own time until I feel 110% confident with them.
We then moved on to my chosen repertoire:
I don’t know how to love him.
I started with ‘I don’t know how to love him’. I was worried about performing this to Gavin as I hadn’t yet had the chance to show him what I had been working on over the week, last week Gavin told me to go away and think of how I could make each chorus different, which I had done but because it was a mock assessment I couldn’t clarify if what I had done was acceptable. I sung this song very well in the mock assessment however Gavin wasn’t too sure about what I had done to make the choruses different. This was because I had added a riff to the second chorus, he said tutors in my assessment could argue that a riff is not acceptable in the style of this song. Therefore we have agreed that I will sing both choruses the same but with different emotion. In the mock assessment I showed no characterisation and I was aware of this but because I was in such a shock as I wasn’t expecting my lesson to be this way, I found it extremely difficult to connect to the lyrics and my character. I have already started to work on making the chorus emotionally different as well as deciding on blocking.
What it means to be a friend.
Yet again I showed hardly any characterisation and this was due to the same reason. I think I sang this piece well however I still feel as if there is corrections to be made. Throughout the mock assessment I noticed that my lyric memory wasn’t as strong for this piece compared to my other two. I knew I was making the mistakes but Gavin didn’t identify this, I think I covered it well but I know its essential for me to go away and double check and I am confident with the lyrics. At the end of performing this repertoire Gavin said I should add an American accent as it would show my characterisation as 13 the musical is based In America but also he believes if I use an American accent it will make the vocals sound much stronger but also it would be easier for me to reach some of the notes as I would already have the correct, nasally placement. In my opinion this song is not as strong as the others and I also don’t feel as confident with it, I think this might be because this song Is originally performed by a 13 year old girl. I’m finding it difficult to find the correct emotion and thrive, I know when I find these feelings my overall performance will be much stronger. I will go away and work on the American accent, focussing mainly on how Americans pronounce there vowels as well as blocking and lyric memory.
Maybe I like it this way.
In my opinion I think this chosen rep is the most strongest, this been because I enjoy performing it and I also feel as though I can easily connect with the lyrics and emotion behind it. However in the mock assessment I didn’t show any emotion, I believe this was due to the same reason as the other two. In relation to my vocals, I believe they were strong however at times I wasn’t supported enough. For example on the high belt, in order for me to have the correct placement and support I need to make sure my larynx is low as well as my soft palate being risen. I performed this song is acting through song a few months ago and I didn’t have a problem with either the emotion or the vocals therefore I know that I am more than capable of supporting myself to create a strong, powerful sound.
Overall I think I dealt well with the mock assessment considering I wasn’t expecting it, I think it was beneficial to me because I am now aware of what needs serious work over the Easter break. I have already started to work on blocking ideas for all of my chosen rep, below is an image of what I have come up with so far:
I believe if I continue to rehearse on a regular basis and remember to add emotion I will be better prepared for the assessment!
I have thought of a way I could sing the choruses differently, in this post I have attached two videos showing how I will be singing the first chorus and then the second. I have decided to make a crescendo on the second chorus as I believe it will show more emotion as well as showing contrasting,stronger vocal ability:
Below is how I will be singing the first chorus:
Below is how I will be singing the second chorus:
I will speak to Gavin in my next lesson to see if this idea is acceptable and if not what I could do to make both choruses contrasting!
I only have 2 more lessons before the assessment approaches, it’s important that I use my lessons to improve things that I am not too sure about in order for me to be able to reach the best possible grade. Today was a very productive lesson, we managed to do a lot of things in a short amount of time. We started the lesson by discussing what I think needs to be worked on, in this discussion I mentioned what I feel confident about and what could do with extra work. This is listed below:
Song study- Recap so I can put it to one side as I do feel confident with this.
‘I (ee) ow’ assessment chords- I think this doesn’t need any more work as I now feel confident.
‘e,ay,or,ar’ assessment chords- I think next week I should focus on this as I don’t feel as confident with this compared to the other chords.
Regarding my chosen repertoire (listed below) I think it’s essential to go through them all and analyse what I could add or work on to make my pieces much stronger and enjoyable.
Maybe I like it this way
What it means to be a friend
I don’t know how to love him
First of all we worked on the song study, I have been rehearsing this for months therefore I felt confident with this however when I originally got taught this Gavin didn’t clearly explain that the middle section on the lyrics ‘love’ were both sung in a higher octave. I thought it was just the last time of singing this lyric that was sung in a higher octave. Below is an attachment on how it should sound and how I was singing It originally. Also when singing the lyric ‘Love’ I need to remain open and think of singing ‘ah’ instead of ‘o’ this will make my diction sound much stronger. I also got told to work on the dynamics. I do feel confident with this, I’ll just have to rehearse it until I get used to singing the correct dynamics and the correct octave.
I don’t know how to love him:
We sung through this and then discussed what I could add to make it sound more interesting. We came to the conclusion that I should make the choruses (I never thought I’d come to this, what’s it all about…) sound different as it is repeated twice, I need to think what I could do to make it sound strong but effective, when I have made this decision I will post it on here. Also Gavin said I could add more dynamics to show my characters emotions, especially on the last verse, the lyrics ‘yet if he said he loved me’ especially. When singing these lyrics I need to act scared, my character is describing how she would feel if Jesus turned round and said he loved her. I could show this emotion by not singing these lyrics as loud and as clear compared to others throughout the song.
Maybe I like it this way:
This was a success and it doesn’t need much work, however I need to make sure my diction is clear at all times for instance on the lyrics ‘if I could change’ I need to remember to make the ‘f’ a long vowel. If I do this it makes the song sound much stronger but it also makes the key change sound clearer and more confident.
What it means to be a friend:
We didn’t get chance to sing through the whole song however I asked Gavin to go through the belty section with me which I have discussed on previous posts. I wanted to confirm that I still had the correct nasally placement, which after a few attempts I managed to do. Next week I will be performing this to Gavin but I need to remember to not ‘hide’ on the belty sections and go for it like I do with my other chosen repertoire.
I am feeling confident about the upcoming assessment, there is a few things I need to rehearse in order for my songs and overall performance be the best I can possibly do, I need to remember to be confident and put 110% effort in!!