The Chorus: developing approaches to traditional and modern work
The dramatic use of a chorus often invites associations with the theatre of Ancient Greece, and use of this particular stylistic device presents a great many challenges to the actors and director involved.
However, developing the necessary skills to present a chorus onstage successfully, and also reflect more modern, versatile uses of the chorus, can be a genuinely exciting and imaginative prospect. Chorus work requires the development of the most basic of acting skills: concentration, clarity, rehearsal and a willingness to become part of an ensemble. It teaches the importance of being part of a group on stage and not deliberately drawing attention to oneself. It encourages the imaginative use of movement on stage and a physical approach to bringing text to life; often involving long and complex speeches or narrations.
It also means that as an actor in a chorus, you have nowhere to hide. There is nothing worse than being the chorus member who is slightly out of time or is not confident on their cues and lines. A chorus can be separate from the action and comment on it, can narrate or provide exposition for the audience, or, as is often seen in Greek tragedy, can become a character in the action capable of interaction and reaction.
In more modern incarnations, a chorus can also provide a location or the thoughts of a central character. What a chorus must never be is dull, so words and events must be brought to life with imagination and clarity. This scheme requires students to use and consider synchronisation, repetition, mime, choric style delivery, direct audience address, justified allocation of lines in chorus speeches, casting decisions and some simple uses of physical theatre.
By the end of this scheme students will have developed drama skills in:
- Moving as a working choric ensemble and synchronisation
- Mime and actor-created sound effects
- Basic physical theatre skills, mime and tableau
- Direct audience address and narration
- Use of cues and timing
- Choral speaking
Number of Lessons: 3