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Unit 2: Theatre Text in Performance - Solos and Duologues

Teachers will now be well acquainted with choosing a play for Unit 2 Section B of the Edexcel Drama & Theatre Studies practical examinations. What is new from September 2008 are the individual skills in section A. This is similar to Speech & Drama examinations where the students present a solo or duologue. All of these examinations require the student to consider the whole play and to know exactly where and how their chosen piece fits into the play. The following plays, which were all premiered in 2007, have been read and reviewed specifically with this unit in mind. They are also highly suitable modern pieces for the senior grades of Speech & Drama examinations. Nick Hern Books have also kindly donated them as the prizes to be given to the first eight readers who send a year's subscription to Word Matters*.

How To Curse Ian McHugh Cast: Nick, William and Miranda. All aged 17. A contemporary play with strong language and some very emotionally charged scenes. With references to literature, and an obsession to create a storm, such as the one in The Tempest these three intelligent teenagers explore their powers and sexuality. There are excellent duologues, between William and Nick and Miranda and both of the boys. Unravelling the ribbon Mary Kelly & Maureen White Cast: Rose 34, Lyndsey 11, Lola 50 Despite being about breast cancer, this is a funny and often touching play. The three women all have long solo speeches which could easily be used outside the play. One lovely (but short) duologue between Rosie and Lyndsey, where the playwrights suggest that the scene is worked from different areas of the stage, thus isolating the characters from each other, which creates its own form of realism.

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Free Outgoing Anupama Chandraskhar Cast: Malni 38, Sharon 16, Ramesh 47, Nirmala 50, Santhosh 40, Kokila 30, Usha. Humorous, sad, but contemporary and touching many cultures, this is very much a play about today's generation gap. Malini's daughter, Deepa, has been caught having sex with her boyfriend in a classroom at their school. Deepa, whom the story revolves around, never appears, but she is always present in the play where her actions have affected everyone. There are several excellent duologues between the mother and her son as well as the mother and a male friend. The head teacher (female) also has some good duologues with the mother. Happy Now Lucinda Coxon Cast: Kitty, Michael, Johnny, Miles, Bea, Carl, June. A play about contemporary life, premiered at The National Theatre, revived and currently running. It was reviewed as one of the best new plays in 2007. The language used is accessible and contemporary as Kitty struggles to juggle family life, work and her marriage. Painful and comic, the play brings in all the problems which occur when both parents working whilst they are bringing up the children and watching their own parents grow old. There are some excellent fast moving duologues, very true to life - like the one between Kitty and her mother June, or between Kitty and her husband Johnny, or between Kitty and Carl. 3 Sisters on Hope Street Diane Samuels & Tracy-Ann Oberman Cast: Arnold, Debbie, Gertie, May, Rita, Mordechai, Vince, Teddy, Solomom, Dr.Nathan, Auntie Beil. For lovers of Chekhov and of Diane Samuels' plays here is a real treat. Taking its theme from Three Sisters the play is set in Liverpool between 1946 and 1948. It has the same elements of humour, pathos and inevitable sadness as the Chekhov original and it would be an interesting exercise to work on both plays simultaneously considering the changes to period, style and cultures. There are some wonderful duologues which are unfortunately interrupted by a third actor, but some clever cutting could turn these into usable duologues. However, in Act 3 Debbie and Gertie have a reasonably sized duologue. There are some solos, which have the odd one line interruption which could be cut. These are characters to get into, a period to discover and a play to be treasured. It would also make an interesting play for Section B with some judicious cutting and role changing.

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Cariad Sophie Stanton Cast: Blodwen, Jayne, Emily (9) A play about how our minds can play tricks with our memories. Two women in their thirties, meet again as adults having known one another in childhood. Whilst Blodwen chatters on about the times they had together, Jayne questions where these memories are coming from. There are several excellent duologues, some at cross purposes. Solos, which are usually Blodwen's, are very funny, but the humour would definitely be heightened by using a Welsh accent. Vernon God Little DBC Pierre Adapted by Tanya Ronder Cast of 54 which can be played by 9 actors. A note at the beginning of the play suggests that most of the roles are of interchangeable gender, which has its own appeal for the drama teacher. For those readers who are unfamiliar with this Booker prize winning book, the story is of fifteen year old Vernon Little whose best friend has just massacred sixteen of their classmates. Fast talking and often very funny, most sixth formers will enjoy the teen-speak dialogue. Duologues abound in this text and a few solos too and with the author's permission to change the gender of roles, there is unlimited scope for choosing suitable pieces. Sexual Neurosis of our Parents Lukas Barfuss Translated by Neil Blackadder Cast: Dora, Mother, Father, Boss, Doctor, Woman, The Fine Gentleman When first offered this play by the publishers, they pointed out that despite its provocative title, it would be good for years 12 and 13. They are right - but with some reservations. There are elements of Find Me in this play, though in this case there is no indication of what is actually wrong with Dora. She is released from taking tranquillisers, which she has been on throughout puberty. Her parents are not prepared for her sexual awakening - but then are any parents really prepared for their children to grow up? The play covers this sometimes uncomfortable subject well with short snappy scenes and does include some swearing. But there is more to the play than just sexual awakening, Dora's innocence and trust in people points to the dangers of being overprotected. There are several good solos and duologues in this very contemporary play.

All plays are available from: Nick Hern Books, The Glasshouse, 49a Goldhawk Road, London W12 8QP Tel: 020 8749 4953 [email protected] mon.co.uk

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