This part of the course, “Voice Training”, has been one of my favourite parts so far. I have always enjoyed getting my characters to speak but never before explored the different ways of doing this. Part 4 has now given me more confidence to do this and I hope that my assignment demonstrates this.
In preparation, I initially considered the various situations that children could find themselves being forced into by their peers. I felt quite an affinity towards the subject of bullying. I experienced it myself for much of my childhood from peers and teachers, and it was lovely to have the chance to empower one of my characters to fight their corner, something that I never did sadly.
Situations that came to mind ranged from playing practical jokes on the elderly; going down a well and a rope snapping; breaking into a derelict house; stealing from somewhere; setting up a booby trap that backfires; eating, drinking or smoking something that they shouldn’t.
I considered writing about a past experience of a best friend running away with me from school but it brought back too many difficult memories; I realised then that I was happy to draw on how the bullying made me feel but not what actually happened. This was a really valuable thing to conclude and really helped me to continue planning this piece of work.
Once I settled on the scenario, I wanted to explore feelings and motives of my characters; how would they be feeling whilst being bullied and doing the bullying? I outlined a long list of feelings for both characters and in doing so, this helped to shape visually in my mind what they both looked like. This lead quite naturally to my characterisation sheets.
The child being bullied would feel a real mixture of emotions. They would feel belittled, powerless, vulnerable, tearful, silenced, frightened, angry, isolated, alone, panicky, weak, out-of-control. They would also want revenge, get their own back, but perhaps not feel able to which would heighten the other emotions being experienced.
In contrast, the dominant child doing the bullying would feel powerful, bossy, nasty, spiteful, egotistical, selfish, mean, cruel, vindictive, snide, sarcastic, evil, clever, popular, intimidating, in control, impressive. They would have a self-inflated opinion about themselves, be incredibly selfish; it would all be a complete front for their own insecurities, however.
The last thing I wanted to work into this assignment was symbolism somehow. I decided that the football would be great because it was the commonality between everyone that was being coerced into the situation. It also links with Johnnie quite directly; it gets “kicked around”, much like Johnnie does verbally. It gets forced over a fence by Pete, just as Johnnie does. And finally, it ends up getting forgotten in the height of the drama, much like Pete’s bullying towards Johnnie – he becomes so frightened and shocked at what is going on that Pete can only stand by and watch.