The theme of our Devised Drama was childhood. Our aim was to tell a story with our drama from a child’s point of view. Some of our group played children and some adults. We fitted adult characters around the child characters. The play ended up with 3 adult characters and 1 teenager and 1 child.
The play “Spoonface Steinberg” was written by Lee Hall. It is a modern play written in 1997 and set in Northern England. The play is a monologue and was first performed on radio then stage and television. The main character is Spoonface Steinberg who is a 7-year-old Autistic child dying of cancer. Her Mother (Mam), Father, Doctor Bernstein and Mrs Spud are the important people in her life and she tells us about them.
Spoonface is an unusual character because she is autistic. Autism is a brain disorder that you are born with. It affects the way you communicate and relate to the people around you. Even with Autism Spoonface is intellectual in some ways. She has the power to understand people’s emotions and she is also exceptionally good with numbers.
There are some strong links between the child in my group’s devised drama and the character Spoonface Steinberg, one would be that the play is written from a child’s perspective looking out on the world. There is also a strong use of childish language in both pieces this is most probably because the characters are of the same age. Both plays are set in modern day England. The characters emotions vary in each play sometimes they are happy and sometimes they are extremely upset, such as: in our piece the child Daisy (Gemma Burt) gets upset over the thought of her parents splitting up. In Spoonface Steinberg, Spoonface gets upset over the thought of Doctor Bernstein’s grandmother in a concentration camp. Both have to deal with harsh realities from the adult world.
The main differences between the two pieces are, I think to do with the way they resolve, the situations and the differences in the characters mental states. Also I think they are different because some of the scenes in our play are hidden from the child such as the “park bench” scene whereas in Spoonface Steinberg all the scenes resolve around the child. Our play is not a monologue and each character is developed through interaction with others on stage.
I think that the best staging for Spoonface Steinberg would be a well-lit large stage with 3 main areas. The Hospital, Spoonface’s house in particularly her bedroom and her Lounge/Living room. I suggest that these should be used, as they are the most important places in the play. There aren’t any scenes outside of the hospital or Spoonfaces house.
An important moment in Spoonface Steinberg that I think could be performed effectively is the scene where Spoonface goes into the Radiation therapy machine. I think it would be interesting to perform as you could have Spoonface lying down on a machine wearing a hospital gown. You could have several lights centred on her to suggest the machine is on and working and the sound effect of a machine making a noise like a photocopier does to suggest the radiation. The lights could travel the length of her body before she sits up.
An important moment in our devised piece that was performed well is the party scene as there is happy music lights on all the actors placing banners etc on the walls and people being jolly. There is just the opposite as the lights close onto the 3 characters in the middle of the stage (Mum, Daughter and Father) The surprise party leads to a argument which is the total reverse to the nature of the build up to the party.
In our piece we managed to keep the child as the main focus by basing the play around her. In the scene where Daisy is thinking about the death of her mother we use an extract from Spoonface Steinberg were she tries to puzzle out what death is. We used this extract to show that the child is remembering all the good things about her mother and then all the good things about life and how it just goes on day after day.
In conclusion I can see why writers such as Lee Hall use child characters to base their play about as they bring a whole new perspective to the play with their innocence, imagination and humour. From doing the Devised piece I can see that basing the play around a child character could help in bringing a new meaning to a performance. The audience is let into a unique and private world.