For our explorative piece of text we perused through a play known as ‘A rock in water’ by Winsome Pinnock. When I first found out we were going to be looked through the play itself is a non fiction documented life about a woman acknowledged as Claudia Jones; who dreams of being a dancer as a child, yet leads her life performing as a campaigner for people who had given up on fighting. It is a narrative play which is ‘cyclic’ as it has a cyclical structure and it seems to return to important themes throughout the acts.
This can create an impact because the themes become triggered in the audiences mind, making them remember these main concepts of the play. The first scene is an example of this, as it is the start of the ‘cyclic trend’; this scenes show the main character Claudia as a child with her mother, sitting waiting for the sun to rise, which is an important image of the play as it symbolises life and it creates a positive beginning to the play, causing the audience to assume the play is upbeat.
For this opening scene we carried out some forum theatre so we could break down the first scene and be able to develop staging and using techniques to create a piece of drama. For this scene Ope was in charge as director while Robyn took on the role of the young Claudia while khadeja played the mother. We started off by reading through the scene so we could begin generating ideas about the themes and the characters.
Ope gave khadeja the idea of standing to show she had more status than her daughter, this could show how the mother figure is considered more powerful than the child.
Robyn was then told to slouch a bit to present her as bored and tired, she displayed this by pretending to yawn and keeping her eyes half closed, this gave the impression that she was drained. Ope also took suggestions from the class. Another thing we explored was the diverse type of themes in the play. These were discussed throughout the class so we had a feel of what themes affected Claudia’s life.
Some of these included the role of status as this was a main theme of Claudia’s life as well, this interlinked with the racial differences back then in … hich could relate to a culture clash and the difficulties of being the less dominating sex, and how class can change people’s perception of a particular person and create segregation. Also imagery is a big theme as there are two types of constant imagery with strong links to the play, the bird and the sun are the main pieces of imagery because they resemble freedom and a sense of protection and care. (The spider diagram can be found in the appendices) One other thing that was discussed was the title of the play itself: ‘A Rock in Water’.
This was again discussed as a whole class because we wanted to try define the reason for this sentence being used as the play’s title. My first initial reaction was that it was based around conflicting sides; I referred to the sea when it appears to be violent and rough when it crashes against a strong object like rocks. When there’s a crash I used the term conflicting action to resemble not just a tide but peoples conflicting actions like in ‘A Rock in Water’. Others in the class considered the concept of the rock sinking into the water, this could represent a person being engulfed into society.
Others thought of this concept as a way to explain erosion and a pebble in thick mud. Also class members thought of the title as, “A stream trying to move a rock which was too strong”. Scenes 2 and 3 demonstrate a juxtaposition of themes as they are contrasting scenes. Scene 2 displays imagery in a bird representing freedom while scene 3 shows death of A close relation. Scene two introduces the character of Ben who is considered the closest friend Claudia will ever have.
Scene two was explored through forum theatre with Andrea taking on the role of Claudia while Ben was played by … e firstly did a read through so we could get to grips with the play. It was then decided to make Andrea appear secretive to begin with by shielding the bird in her hands so Ben couldn’t see; this displayed a sign of affection and a protective side of the character Claudia Jones. She showed her affection by constantly watching the bird and gently touching it. This presented Claudia as gentle and caring. … Playing Ben kept looking over to catch a peep of the bird and began to sulk when ‘he’ didn’t get his own way.
The fight towards the end is a powerful part of the scene as it shows the racial differences back then when Ben states ‘ well your too big, black and ugly to be a dancer’. This part links with scene three as it shows the bird dying; this could have a metaphorical meaning, as it also resembles the loos of freedom back then; which relates to the life of Claudia when she is imprisoned. Scene three demonstrates the difficulties back then for people who were considered ‘outcasts’ for being a different race. This scene shows how Claudia’s mother dies at work due to overworking so she can care for her family.
We read through this scene so we could fully understand it. This also shows how naive the child Claudia is as she believes that she can be a dancer, but the reality is that back then a person of her colour would be ‘ washing white woman’s filth’. One thing we did to understand the character Claudia a bit more was to establish words to describe her and then to produce a sound collage including these words. I will describe this in further detail in the Development phase. Claudia Jones was born on the 15th February 1915, in Belmont, Trinidad.
She was a feminist, political activist, Black Nationalist, journalist and communist in the US. One reason she is remembered here in the UK is for her contribution to the Notting Hill Carnival. When she was eight years of age she moved to Harlem, New York; her mother sadly died five years later. Claudia was struck down with TB (Tuberculosis) in 1932 because of the poor living conditions she had to endure for the rest of her life. She lived in New York for almost 30 years, becoming an active member of local Communist politics, and in 1941, at the age of 25.
She became the National Director of the YCL. By 1948 Jones had been elected to the National Committee of the Communist Party of the USA and become the editor of the column ‘Negro Affairs’ for the party’s paper the Daily Worker. Soon she had become an experienced public speaker on human and civil rights, giving speeches to increasingly large crowds. She travelled around the country to attend various political events, however soon her activities and rousing speeches began to attract the attention of the authorities.
This was at a time when the U. S. was experiencing the McCarthy witch-hunts and anti-communist hysteria, which is now known as McCarthyism. In total she was arrested and imprisoned four times by the U. S. government. In 1955 she was deported from the U. S. , and given asylum in England. In London during the late 1950s the cultural and social pressures were coming to a head. Racist gangs and supporters of Oswald Moseley’s White Defence League were leading attacks on members of the Afro-Caribbean community.
In May 1958 tensions reached a new high, which resulted in the Notting Hill race riots, and the murder of a young Antiguan man, Kelso Cochrane (by six white men who have never been charged). Claudia became very active in the campaigns to defend the Black community and involved herself in local politics, as well as joining the British Communist Party. She founded and edited The West Indian Gazette which was a strong vehicle for her ongoing campaign for equal opportunities for black people. She was embraced by the British Afro-Caribbean community, and become one of the most charismatic Black leaders of her day.
Claudia Jones lasting contribution in the UK is the Notting Hill Carnival. In 1959 she helped to launch Mardi-Gras celebrations, an annual showcase for Afro-Caribbean talent. These early events were held in halls and were epitomised by the slogan, ‘A people’s art is the genesis of their freedom’. These celebrations grow in popularity each year. Claudia Jones died on Christmas Eve 1964 aged just 49, due to a heart condition and tuberculosis. She died alone and broke, and it was around 48 hours before her body was discovered. She is buried in Highgate Cemetery next to Karl Marx.
The National Union of Journalists’ Black Members Council holds a prestigious annual Claudia Jones Memorial Lecture every October, during Black History Month, to honour Jones and celebrate her contribution to Black-British journalism. Development Phase: The sound college directed by Verity and Andrea, symbolises the fundamental designations that Claudia was given, these included political activist, daughter, journalist, friend, campaigner, communist, and many more. Verity and Andrea bequeathed us with a separate line from everyone to illustrate the differences between each one.
I was provided with the phrase ‘TB sufferer’; this exhibited her weak physical side however mentally she was a strong willed person. A numerous amount of people suggested that our formation should be presented as a heart because it displayed that everything she achieved and accomplished in life was from her heart. We introduced our piece by facing outwards while in the heart formation, we held a picture of Claudia Jones to the audience to show that this sound collage was about her. We then took it in turns to say our word out loud to create the sound.
When we said our word we then turned inwards to face the inside of her heart. This showed how the heart is a metaphorical symbol as it can signify many things. When we said our word we turned our picture of Claudia over to present the word printed in bold. I feel that it was an acceptable performance although it needed to be improved because I don’t believe that we deposited a lot of effort into it. Also we could have spoke at the same time to construct a collage rather than a word by word account of who she was.