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Unformatted text preview: BETA VERSION 'V J Theatrical Worlds ' Edited by Charlie Mitchell Theatrical Worlds Beta Version Orange Grove Texts Plus UF College of Fine Arts School of Theatre and Dance UNIVERSITY of FLORIDA UNIVERSITY PRESS OF FLORIDA Florida A8cM University, Tallahassee Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton Florida Gulf Coast University, Ft. Myers Florida International University, Miami Florida State University, Tallahassee New College of Florida, Sarasota University University University University University of Central Florida, Orlando of Florida, Gainesville of North Florida, Jacksonville of South Florida, Tampa of West Florida, Pensacola Theatrical Worlds Beta Version Edited by Charlie Mitchell University Press of Florida Gainesville · Tallahassee · Tampa · Boca Raton Pensacola · Orlando · Miami · Jacksonville · Ft. Myers · Sarasota Copyright 2014 by the University of Florida Board of Trustees on behalf of the University of Florida School of Theatre and Dance This work is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution-Noncom­ me rcial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit . You are free to electroni­ cally copy, distribute, and transmit this work if you attribute authorship. However, all printing rights are reserved by the University Press of Florida ( .com). Please contact UPF for information about how to obtain copies of the work for print distribution. You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work). For any reuse or distribution, you must make clear to others the license terms of this work. Any of the above conditions can be waived if you get permission from the University Press of Florida. Nothing in this license impairs or restricts the author's moral rights. Library of Congress Control Number: 2014903773 ISBN 978-1-61610-166-4 Orange Grove Texts Plus Orange Grove Texts Plus is an imprint of the University Press of Florida, which is the scholarly publishing agency for the State University System of Florida, com­ prising Florida A&M University, Florida Atlantic University, Florida Gulf Coast University, Florida International University, Florida State University, New College of Florida, University of Central Florida, University of Florida, University of North Florida, University of South Florida, and University of West Florida. University Press of Florida 15 Northwest 15th Street Gainesville, FL 32611-2079 orangegrovetexts.org Frontispiece: West 45th Street theatres in Manhattan. Contents Part One: Creating a World Mapping Reality: An Introduction to Theatre Charlie Mitchell arid Michelle Hayford Part Two: Theatrical Production Acting 49 Charlie Mitchell Directing 63 Kevin Browne Set Design so Mark E. Mallett Costume Design 113 Stacey Galloway Lighting Design 131 Kasendra Djuren Part Three: Special Topics Genre 153 Jim Davis The World of Shakespeare 1G8 Jeremy Fiebig The American Musical 204 Margaret R. Butler World Theatre 231 Michelle Hayjord Contributors 269 Part One Creating a World 1 Mapping Reality An Introduction to Theatre Charlie Mitchell and Michelle Hayford Nothing has as much potential as a stage. In all of its incarna­ tions, it is a world of imagination, limitless possibilities, and the site of passionate labor. Consider the following moments repeated countless times from antiquity to today. An audience has assembled, full of an­ ticipation, to witness a performance. The appointed time draws near. Perhaps these patrons are seeing this work for the first time. Maybe they have heard or read the opinions of others. It is possible that they have seen another version of the show created by other hands. Nevertheless, it is a certainty that this experience will be unique; every performance has a singular, organic nature —no two can be the same. Among the crowd, perhaps a playwright nervously sits, anxiously waiting to see what will become of his words. The director who shaped this production, once a powerful creative force, is now helplessness. Backstage, hidden from the curious eyes of the audience, actors fight with nerves. As they run their lines and movements in their heads, they adjust their costumes, or check on items they might use in the show. Some may have preshow rituals such as physical and vocal warm-ups. Others may simply enter a psycho­ logical state of preparation. All the hours of preparation will now be put to the test. Will the audience celebrate or reject what has been created? It is time to begin. The actors take their places. Suddenly a signal is given to the audience —the theatre darkens, music is heard, a curtain rises, or actors simply enter the performance space. This is the moment of creation. In the next moment, a new world will appear where none existed, crafted to say something about the nature of our existence. This world, in turn, is the product of many others, one of practitioners who 3 have shared their creativity in the service of this experience. If they have done their best, an everlasting impression will be made and lives may be changed forever. This book seeks to give insight into the people and processes that create theatre. Like any other world —be it horse racing, fashion, or polities —understanding its complexities helps you appreciate it on a deeper plane. The intent of this book is not to strip away the feeling of magic that can happen in the presence of theatre but to add an element of wonder for the artistry that makes it work. At the same time, you can better understand how theatre seeks to reveal truths about the human condition; explores issues of ethics, gender, ethnicity, class, sexuality, and spirituality; and exists as a representation of the culture at large. The benefits of studying theatre can be immense. Think of it as a structure that houses other domains of knowledge. It touches and has in­ fluenced disciplines such as languages and literature, psychology, music, science, law, journalism, and business. It enables you to cross cultural boundaries and bridge the distance that separates understanding. In the future, anthropologists will examine our contemporary theatre as a cul­ tural artifact in order to help them understand who we were, how we saw ourselves, and what we aspired to be. Studying theatre also adds a great deal to your overall cultural liter­ acy. Because it has had such a profound social presence in everyday life, understanding references to plays, playwrights, theatrical movements, and production practice helps you eommunieate with the past and pres­ ent. For example, look at how the theatre has permeated our language. Against a “backdrop” of anticipation, some could be viewed as “acting out,” taking “center stage” or “standing in the limelight” while people “work behind the scenes.” You can be accused of being “melodramatic,” “upstaging” the work of others, or forcing them to “wait in the wings.” And with a nod to the high-stakes struggle found on stage, you can even engage in a “theatre of war.” Of course, the best way to learn about and learn from theatre is to create it yourself; you do not have to pursue a professional career in the arts to gain its benefits. Employers have found that theatrical practice an­ swers the need for enhanced cognitive ability in the workplace. Analysis of texts, the interpersonal and collaborative skills gained in production, and the development of the creative mind gives students an advantage 4 C R EAT I N G A WORLD in whatever field they pursue. Theatre is a training ground for successful thinkers and doers. Basic Elements For all of the intricate ways that theatre produces meaning, its core ele­ ments are simple. Legendary British director Peter Brook puts it best in his book The Empty Space when he writes: “I can take any space and call it a bare stage. A man walks across this empty space whilst someone else is watching him, and this is all that is needed for an act of theatre to be engaged.” This space could be anything from a vintage Broadway theatre to a high school auditorium to a claimed space in a public park. All that is needed are boundaries, agreed upon by performer and audience. A variety of artists and other members of the theatrical community dedicate their time and efforts to supporting the creation of fully realized productions. However, nothing more is required than an actor, an audi­ ence, a space, and the intent to create a fictional world. The popularity of improvisational theatre reminds us that a script is not even mandatory. This type of performance also disproves the absolute need for a director, the person usually responsible for providing a single artistic vision for a production. That position, in its current incarnation, has been around for only a hundred years, a small span of time when you think about the lengthy history of the theatre. Prior to its creation, staging had been shared by actors, producers, and playwrights, usually with very little re­ hearsal by today’s standards. There are not even a requisite number of audience members for some­ thing to be called theatre. Take Ludwig II (1845-1886), the eeeentrie king of Bavaria, who took this idea to its logical extreme. Convinced he could not enjoy himself surrounded by others, he arranged more than two hun­ dred private viewings of operas by composer Richard Wagner and others. Unfortunately, this chronic shyness was later used by his enemies as a symptom of mental illness, and he was ousted from his throne. Today, you can still live like a king. Since 2009, the area known as Times Square, the epicenter of commercial theatre in the United States, has been the site of Theatre for One. A four-foot-by-eight-foot portable theatre booth is erected and for six days, only one person can enter at a time. Once a partition lifts, a five-to-ten-minute show is given by a single Mapping Reality 5 performer, a strange oasis from one of the most chaotic places on the planet. Fine Art and the Qualities of Theatre Theatre, along with music and dance, has been labeled a fine art as well as a performing art; it can be found in performing arts centers and taught in colleges and departments of fine art. But these terms lead to larger issues. By the twentieth century, educational programs had been broken down into classifications, all of which were historically tied to economic class. In many cultures of the ancient world, work was done by slaves. Conse­ quently, physical labor was imagined to be degrading and associated with a lack of nobility. The Romans, for example, called any activity where money changed hands the vulgar arts ( vulgares artes) or sordid arts (sordidaг artes), also translated as “dirty arts.” By the Middle Ages, the designation changed. The term mechanical arts was adopted to mean skilled activities aeeomplished by manual labor. In the seventeenth century, useful arts ap­ peared, and with the arrival of the machine age in the nineteenth century, it was replaced with industrial arts, a term still in use today. In the ancient world and beyond, proof of high status was having lei­ sure time to pursue self-improvement of the mind or to serve the public good. Therefore, philosophy, history, languages, math, and science were given the term liberal arts (“arts befitting a freeman”). Now the term simply means subjects separate from science and technology and implies an education that is not particularly specialized. Therefore “liberal,” in this sense, is not a political term and is not meant to contrast any “con­ servative” mode of thought. The "I think art describes the vacuum. Art describes what isn't there — the thing that needs to be said — the missing element of the current dialogue that is going on in the world." third branch, use­ separate from ful liberal, was term fine and given arts. the Coined eighteenth in century, the it was meant to include sculpture, music, John Patrick Shanley. playwright 6 painting, and poetry. Later, the performing arts were added along C R EAT I N G A WORLD with disciplines such as printmaking, photography, and collage. “Fine” was not intended to suggest art that was “acceptable” or “delicate” —it was supposed to classify artistic endeavors that were beautiful for their own sake and not compromised by serving any practical function. In other words, a craftsman could make a stunningly beautiful cabinet, but once it stored clothes, it ceased to be art. An architect could design a building that was a pleasure to behold, but since it provided shelter, his work was considered only useful. Clearly, the ex­ change of money and the association with leisure time has been "Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one.' abandoned as a divid­ ing line between fine and useful art. How­ ever, the remaining concept of beauty for its own sake leaves us Stella Adler, actor with a variety of con­ flicts, questions, and ambiguities. Many works eommunieate images or use material that we may not regard as beautiful. Still, we would not hesitate to label them as art. Theatre deals in conflict, sometimes using subject matter that can make some feel uncomfortable. Does it cease to be art when no pleasurable feeling is derived from it? Many would argue that even though the arts do not serve any domestic function, they can be extremely useful as a means of interpreting our world and spiritually nourishing our lives. Is that not useful? When does an object or perfor­ mance stop being artistic and start being art? Are there rules that must be satisfied or is it simply in the eye of the beholder? Does the quality of something determine if it qualifies as art? To ask and engage with these sorts of questions is to practice aesthetics, a branch of philosophy that deals with beauty and taste. A working definition of art that is elastic enough to bridge different mediums of expression has occupied us for centuries. The Greek phi­ losopher Plato called it an imitation of nature but for that same reason, condemned it as artificial, a copy of a copy, and believed actors should be banned from what he saw as an ideal republic. Many have tried to adopt the poet William Wordsworth’s definition of poetry for art in general — “the Mapping Reality 7 aesthetic ide** ^ creation Anisan " S Я į Ganius worth & j concepts '"._ 2 re-creation ij " * Ч reproaoction V f į means r unity i i il? 2 communication therapeutic g» Į sell justifying community l!ĮI social § * ! ____ artworld V “·»“* ÎSÏ b-«, (ft feeling <ρΐ«*«ο» purgative propagandistic 1J*„ others říš;“" applies M reality , Nature екрепепсе composition*!!? Włjl pleasure ^ aesthetically •Й ·" 1 worthwhile _ law θ Ç ^ •O] S leS IQ·! 1-2 ill о § This is a word cloud, a type of data visualization where more frequently used words become larger than others. It was created by comparing two dozen definitions of art from classical to modern sources. spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings” from “emotion recollected in tranquility.” Novelist Leo Tolstoy wrote that experiencing art was “re­ ceiving an expression of feeling” from the artist. Contemporary critics have also chimed in. Susanne Langer called art “the creation of forms symbolic of human feeling” and Ellen Dissanayake claimed that art is “a speeialness” that “is tacitly or overtly acknowl­ edged.” The frustration in creating a unifying theory of art has led some to claim that even the attempt is self-defeating. Playwright Oscar Wilde once lectured, “We want to create it, not to define it.” So what separates theatre from the other arts? What are the qualities particular to theatre that, collectively, make it unique? Theatre certainly deals in the imitation of human action. We can trace the origins of theat­ rical practice in the Western world to the citizens of the Greek city-state of Athens in the fifth century BCE. Theatre began with dithyrambs, a cho­ rus of fifty men with a leader who told stories about a fertility god named Dionysus "Artists are created, not made. To be an artist you just have to find your path, and there's no short-cuts to it. and nobody can really help you. and you've got to find it." tually, were 8 innovations made such as performers imitating individual charac­ ters. Peter Sellers, theatrical director through song and dance. Even­ In addition, the chorus was greatly re­ C R EAT I N G A WORLD duced and changed to represent the men or women of a city where a play took place. Presented at festivals, this form became what we know today as Greek tragedy. Sitting in the audience was Aristotle. The student of the philosopher Plato, he could be called our first drama critic. His collected notes form the basis for a treatise called Poetics (dated between 335 and 322 BCE), which described what he thought were the components of a good trag­ edy. He began by defining his subject, calling it “the imitation of an action that is good and also complete in itself and of some magnitude.” This could be interpreted as requiring that drama artfully depict the ac­ tions of someone; have a beginning, middle, and end; and be of an ap­ propriate length. Independently, an Indian critic named Bharata came to a similar conclusion in a text called the Natyashastra. Written some­ time between 300 BCE and 300 CE in a now-dead language called San­ skrit, he defined drama as “an imitation of people’s demeanor, attitudes, conditions, and joys and sorrows.” Here, both authors speak to a fundamental aspect of humanity. It is our nature to imitate the actions of others—psychological studies con­ firm that imitation is a major part of our social development. Mimicry strengthens the bond between parent and child. Newborns copy the fa­ cial movements of their parents. Toddlers learn to speak by imitating and sifting through the sounds they hear. When we observe an action, it has been shown that the neurons in our brain respond as if we were perform­ ing the same action. Our capacity for empathy is based on this hardwired ability. In acting classes, one of the most common exercises to get scene partners to connect emotionally is called mirroring. Actors are paired, facing each other, and one performs all of the physical movements of the other until they are told to switch leaders. Duplicating actions is the fastest way to get two people to reach synehronieity. Our skill in patterning behavior is also one of the reasons that actors —and the theatre in general —have often been greeted with sus­ picion throughout history. Even though psychologists have established that children as young as twelve months can recognize the concept of pretense, there has always been a belief that viewing or participating in fictional worlds can warp our moral core, regardless of age. In Г999, two teenagers entered Columbine High School in Colorado and killed twelve students and a teacher before ending their own lives. Soon after, many tried to tie their violent behavior to the playing of video games. Mapping Reality 9 This type of role playing was seen as tantamount to being trained to point and shoot weapons. A lawsuit was brought against gaming companies, but in the end, a judge decided that “there is social utility in expressive and imaginative forms of entertainment, even if they contain violence.” When California tried to ban selling violent video games to children in 2orr, the Supreme Court overturned the law, finding it a violation of free speech. This leads us to how an imitation-based definition of theatre is lacking. Simply to watch the actions of others would brand too much of everyday life as theatre. However, imitation in the sense of representing a fictional or real person creates a better dividing line between performance and an action that is performative. In the brief but effective words of critic Erie Bentley, “A impersonates В while С looks on.” A sporting event or a fashion show has performers and an audience, but these “actors” are not pretending to be someone else...
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