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Stagecraft — the handling of stage space, lighting, music, and other stage elements — is an important way for playwrights to convey ideas and feelings. Examine how two playwrights in your OIB program use stagecraft in this way.

Dissertation : Stagecraft — the handling of stage space, lighting, music, and other stage elements — is an important way for playwrights to convey ideas and feelings. Examine how two playwrights in your OIB program use stagecraft in this way.. Recherche parmi 272 000+ dissertations

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English Literature Essay - Stagecraft

Stagecraft — the handling of stage space, lighting, music, and other stage elements — is an important way for playwrights to convey ideas and feelings. Examine how two playwrights in your OIB program use stagecraft in this way.

Robert Edmond Jones said “A stage setting is not a background ; it is an environment”. Stagecraft is a very significant tool for playwrights to convey ideas and feelings for the audience. Stagecraft is the handling of stage space, lighting, music, and other stage elements. Tennessee Williams uses what he calls ‘Plastic Theatre’; the set is fully interactive and transparent and gives the impression of blurred lines between fantasy and reality. Similarly, Shakespeare seems to write a play within the play using multiple stage techniques. For example, music is used in The Tempest to show difference in status whereas in A Streetcar Named Desire, music is used to add tension and are associated with characters. On stage, Shakespeare uses character placements and props to show control and manipulation in the same way that Tennessee Williams uses props to show lack of control. The blurring of boundaries between fantasy and reality is shown in both plays using asides in The Tempest and light in A Streetcar Named Desire.

Firstly, music in The Tempest is used to show difference in both social and moral status. The songs that are associated with characters with noble hearts are sweet and light, like Ariel’s song about how the king died. This song, in Act I, Scene II, describes death in a majestic and enchanting way: “Full fathom five thy father lies; Of his bones are coral made” Ariel is often accompanied by songs as she travels around the island executing Prospero’s instructions, it is clear that Ariel is as sweet as the songs she sings. In a similar way, all of the noble characters speak primarily in verse like Prospero, Miranda, Alonso and Ferdinand. Whereas all less “high class” characters like Trinculo and Stephano speak in prose, all except Caliban. Caliban is a very interesting character as he is frequently called a “monster” but he has the education to articulatory curse Prospero in Act I, Scene II, “Cursed be I that did so! All the charms ; Of Sycorax, toads, beetles, bats, light on you!”. This scene illustrates Caliban’s knowledge of the language and his eloquence even as a slave.

In Act II, Scene I, we see the difference in nobility when Ariel enters singing a song to make everyone fall asleep. However, Alonso and Sebastian do not fall asleep like the others. “Everyone sleeps except Alonso, Sebastian, and Antonio.” (Alonso falls asleep straight after). They do not fall asleep as they lack sensitivity to the song, this is because although they are noble by birth, they are noble minded.

Furthermore, in Act II, Scene II, Stephano enters the scene drinking alcohol and gets drunk with Caliban and Trinculo. Stephano sings rude and vulgar songs about a prostitute “She loved not the savor of tar nor of pitch ; Yet a tailor might scratch her where'er she did itch ; Then to sea, boys, and let her go hang ; This is a scurvy tune too. But here’s my comfort.” This shows even more the difference in status between the supposed noblemen and Ariel, Prospero’s slave.

In short, Shakespeare uses music to show difference in social status and moral nobility.

In the same way as The Tempest, Tennessee Williams associates music with characters, places and moments in his play. The Varsouviana music reminds Blanche of Allan’s death because the last time she saw her husband, they danced to that music. The polka music has implicit undertones of sexual misconduct by her husband’s potential homophobia. This can be seen in scene 6 where Blanche tells Mitch about the night her husband died saying: “He'd stuck the revolver into his mouth, and fired- [...] It was because [...] I'd suddenly said-- “I saw! I know! You disgust me…””. In this quote, we can clearly see she feels guilty about what happened. The Varsouviana is also an important symbol for her loss of innocence: her husband killed himself in front of her. She is traumatised by her past and is haunted by the music whenever she is under stress or emotionally fragile. The music is going on in her head which shows the emotional trauma she is going through. The music increases its presence as the play continues, illustrating Blanche’s gradual loss of control and loss of emotional stability. In scene 11, the polka depicts Blanche's descent into fantasy, the Varsouviana starts to play as she enters going on about how Shep Huntleigh is coming to get her: “The Varsouviana rises audibly as Blanche enters the bedroom. [...] Blanche - Is it the gentleman I was expecting from Dallas?”. She is delusional about Shep coming to pick her up and at that moment, the Varsouviana is playing in the back.

Furthermore, the play takes place in New Orleans: a cosmopolitan setting, spiritual home of blues music. At that time, this music would have been heard throughout New Orleans. The blues piano is also associated with Stanley, as it always plays when he dominates the scene. In Scene 10, as Stanley is taking advantage of Blanche: “he [Stanley] weaves between Blanche and the outer door. The barely audible blue piano begins to drum up louder. The sound of it turns into the roar of an approaching locomotive.” As Stanley is approaching her, the blue piano plays louder and louder, as if Blanche associates him and danger with the blue piano. Moreover, in the last scene, the last thing we hear is the blues piano playing: “the swelling music of the blue piano” and then Steve says: “This game is seven-card stud.” As if to say that this whole play was a game of poker, full of deception, bluff and that only one can leave with all the money. This shows that Stanley has won against Blanche. Music is used by Williams as a way to show the audience how Blanche herself is haunted by her traumas, and how characters act around each other, in the tension of the music.

The music creates tension throughout the play between Stanley and Blanche and reaches a denouement at the end to signify Stanley's victory over Blanche.

Music reflects the tensions and moods of the recurrent characters in the play. For example Ariel is associated with soft music and the blue piano is related to Stanley’s arrival on scene. In addition, music also is used to illustrate tension in the texts. In A Streetcar Named Desire, the Varsouviana reminds Blanche of her past and brings a lot of unease on scene. In The Tempest, Ariel’s song in Act V, Scene I, before she is freed, brings suspense to the scene.

Secondly, the manipulation and control of Prospero is

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