Friday, February 22, 2008

Stage Directions

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve seen a fair amount of theatre, and one thing I’ve began to distinguish is how some plays have small moments of action that seem relatively pointless & very hard to successfully direct. For example some moments involve certain characters walking across the stage as they are being spoken about by the characters in the forefront of the action. Every time I see this movement, it never quite seems to work. The actor wandering across stage always looks quite random & somewhat loose & non integral to the action. It can often be a distraction to the audience, and comes across as a lazy tool to introduce & affirm a particular characters name.

The Lyrics’ current performance of Brecht’s ‘Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui’ does just this all too often. Apart from being dramatically transferred from 1940’s Chicago to somewhere in Africa, the performance often felt clumsy, squeezing 20+ characters into 8 actors. Perhaps Brecht’s fascination with Shakespeare was the determining factor in his generosity when writing roles. Another recent Lyric play was the complete opposite in this respect. An adaptation of Kafka’s ‘Metamorphosis’ turned the stage into a two storey house filled with a wealth of props for the characters to use that didn’t make their presence on stage a pointless affair. The resultant, a far more tight & engrossing performance.


rashbre said...

Hmm. Brecht taking Hitler, crossing with Al Capone and playing with a Shakespearean twist is already quite clever. Adding an African state to that must be quite a lot of re-engineering.

I'd be interested to see this, but have a sneaking suspicion that I'll still prefer the Brechtian domain of the play.

Gill said...

I don't suppose its much fun for the actor doing the wandering either, they probably feel lost.