Download – Theatrical Production Part 3 I. Part Three

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Part 3 – Theatrical Production
I. Part Three – Theatrical Production
A. In Parts One and Two we have looked at the theatre from theoretical and historical points
of view in an attempt to understand the nature of theatre and the wide varieties of
theatrical experience
B. Part Three is an overview of the varied processes involved in the creation of a production
1. Primary focus is on typical procedures, with important variations noted
2. Topics explored are:
a. Types of theatrical space and how they influence production
b. Collaborative production design
c. The work of playwrights, dramaturgs, producers, directors, actors and
Chapter 11 – Theatrical Space and Production Design
REVOLVES (turntable stage)
I. The physical space in which a performance occurs is a crucial element
in the theatrical experience
A. Theatrical space can be organized in several ways, each with potentialities and
II. The Influence of Theatrical Space
A. The characteristics of the theatrical space influence both audience response and the way
production elements are used
1. Degree of formality influences expectations of production aesthetics
B. Size (overall scale) influences what can be seen and heard
1. Large spaces may make it difficult for all to see and hear everything
2. Small, intimate spaces permit greater subtlety and greater detail
C. Arrangement (configuration) defines the physical relationship of the performer to the
audience and determines how production elements will be used
1. Proscenium Arch Stage
a. Audience on one side
2. Thrust Stage
a. Audience on 2 or 3 sides
3. Arena Stage
a. Completely surrounded by audience
4. Flexible Space
a. No defined rules about audience/actor relationship, variable
III. Proscenium Arch Stage
A. This is probably the most familiar type for American audiences
1. A raised platform framed by proscenium arch
2. Audience on one side
3. An apron or forestage and/or orchestra pit is typical
4. Auditorium seating is usually raked upwards toward the back of room
a. Larger theatres may have balconies
5. The stage is designed to be seen from the front only
a. This affects the director’s use of actors
b. It also affects the actor’s bodily positions
6. This arrangement affords scene design great flexibility, provided that large scenery
does not obstruct the audience’s view of the action
7. Lighting typically provides dimension only as perceived from the auditorium
B. Many proscenium arch stages have:
1. A front curtain
2. Wings (the offstage space on either side of the stage)
3. A fly system, and they may have other complex scene shifting machinery
C. The audience is farther away from the action and scenery than in other configurations
1. Less detail is required for costumes (because these may be seen only from a
considerable distance)
2. Less detail is required for scenery (because it may only be viewed from one side)
IV. Thrust Stage
A. Audience on 2 or 3 sides
1. The stage is often a raised platform
2. A more intimate relationship with the audience typically exists
3. Design, acting and staging needs to project in three directions
B. Restricted scenery
1. May have no fly system except for lighting
2. Scenery elements are generally shifted by hand
3. Some stages have raising and lowering capabilities
V. Arena Stage
A. There is often no raised platform – open space at floor level
1. Some stages have raising and lowering capabilities
2. May not have permanently installed seats to allow for greater flexibility
B. Greater detail and expressiveness is required in all production elements
1. Very restricted scenery to insure optimal sightlines for audience on all sides
2. Generally no fly system – except perhaps for lighting
3. The scene designer must suggest locale, period, mood and style with a few touches
C. Scene changes are made in full view or semi-darkness, usually by hand
1. Vomitoria (passageways that run under the seating to the acting area – used as
entrances and exits)
2. Special demands are placed on the director’s staging and the production’s design
VI. Flexible Space
A. No defined rules about audience/actor relationship; the arrangement is variable
1. Sometimes there is no fixed seating or stage – intermingling of audience and actors
B. Black Box
BOX – Theatre Architecture
Jo Mielziner advocates theatre interiors that specifically designate those areas that are for the
audience and those that are for the performance
Laszlo Moholy-Nagy advocates “a kind of stage that will no longer permit audience to be silent
Marvin Carlson conclude, “Never before in history has a public had available for its
consideration” so many diverse “physical spaces in which theatre today may be presented”
C. A flexible space may be indoor or outdoor
1. An intermingling arrangement of audience and performers may enlist multiple focus
2. Distinctions between performers and audience may not always be distinct
D. Some people reject using a specialized theatre building altogether
1. Found Space – a building or area not specially designated for performance
a. Since 1960 many have adapted a production to fit existing areas, or altered
existing areas to fit the needs of the production
b. This reminds us that theatre does not require a permanent structure
c. A found space may contribute significantly to the mood, or to associations the
audience may make between the space (its location, normal function, etc.) and
the performance within it
Auxiliary Spaces
A. Spaces in addition to the performance space that include audience and theatrical
personnel facilities
B. Many theatres do not have all of their facilities on-site
1. These theatres may need off-site facilities for construction, storage or rehearsal
BOX – Theatre Facilities and Auxiliary Spaces
Scene shop and Property room
Costume shop and Costume storage
Light shop and Lighting storage
Control booths
Rehearsal rooms, Dressing rooms and Greenroom
Business offices
Collaborative Production Design
A. Director, actors and designers select and shape aural and visual signs to arouse a set of
desired audience responses
1. Results can seldom be fully controlled, as audiences ultimately respond as they wish
B. The audience typically perceives a production’s overall design through only two senses:
hearing and seeing
1. Aural
a. Sound design
b. Actor’s voices
2. Visual
a. Scenery
b. Costumes
c. Lighting
d. Actor’s placement and
C. The elements and principles of design provide the primary means that various theatre
artists use to create meanings. They are manifest in every moment
1. The visual elements of design serve as building blocks for design and directing
a. Line, shape, space, color, texture and ornamentation
2. The principles of design help the designers use the visual elements effectively
a. Harmony, balance, variety, proportion, rhythm, emphasis
D. Preparing a theatrical production involves the combined efforts of many artists
1. A common interpretation or goal is usually required
2. Communication and collaboration may be based on the playscript or the
interpretative focus that will guide the creative choices
E. Most designers begin their preparations by familiarizing themselves with the play
1. They may note their emotional reactions and specific images evoked by the script
2. They may note their understanding of the script as a total structure
a. Action
b. Characters
c. Themes
d. Language
3. They may also note the specific requirements of the play and its overall style
BOX – Julie Taymor and Coordinated Production Design
Taymor’s ability to coordinate successfully the various aspects of production design may be
credited to a number of factors:
Training in movement and dance
Highly developed skills in the visual arts
Considerable experience in conceiving and developing new pieces
Extensive work with masks and puppets
Taymor quickly established a reputation as an outstanding creative visual artist
She has received numerous awards for her work as both a designer and a director
Follow link to Lion King video
F. Designers may also utilize information from other sources
1. The specific styles of architecture, furnishings, clothing, etc., of the time period in
which the play is set
2. The manners and customs of the time period in which the play is set
3. The stage setting and costuming conventions for which the play was originally written
or that were in use during the time period in which the play is set
4. The quality of light and sound found in various locations indicated in the play
5. The political and social context out of which the play emerged
G. The designers and director meet to discuss the play and its interpretational focus
1. The process of collaboration is unique to each group and situation
a. Effective collaboration requires communication, respect and trust
H. The designers may require other information before they begin work:
1. The type of stage
2. Any special demands of the director
3. Budget and time constraints
4. Available equipment and personnel
I. Although each visual and aural element is capable of projecting a message and evoking
a response, they are seldom wholly separated from each other
1. A theatrical production is a group creation