Wednesday, February 18, 2009


One interesting point raised by the promenade production interview here, is the possibility of changing points of view for an audience. To that end, Miranda had great idea the other night. One thing we don't do in theater that much is play with Points of View. A lot of plays, for a lot of reasons (some good, some indifferent), maintain a unity of location from start to finish. In cinema, for a lot of reasons (some good, some bad), this almost never flies. Certainly, only a particular kind of art film would ever keep the same camera angle throughout the whole project. I bet there's a way to incorporate this for the good in theater.

The first act is the living room as we expect it. Couch faces front, ottomans in place, a coffee table, whatever. The kitchen is off stage left, the porch is off stage left. In the second act the room is at an angle. The Kitchen is now sharply down stage left, even through the audience. The door to the porch is now Up Right, anticipating an entrance and the couch faces mainly down right. It is as though the audience in now looking through the kitchen door at the living room.

Why don’t we do this, and what could we gain from it? I think it’s worth trying.


elhagemeyer said...

Benno - didn't we see a production at the Court Theatre a couple years back that did something similar? I can't recall what show it was that did it, or if I'm even remembering correctly, but I sense we've seen this tried before. My concern with what you're saying here is something I'm sure you would agree with - it couldn't be a gimmick. An attempt to shift perspective or angles would have to have reasonable ground in the text, and would need an aim beyond itself. And also, rather than changing viewing angles, isn't good blocking on a 3/4 stage enough? That said, I like the idea of breaking it up at the acts - especially if the play in question takes on a different tone or direction at the break. Shifting perspectives would heighten the effect.

Benedict Nelson said...

Interesting, I don't remember. And you're absolutely right that it couldn't be a gimmick. Of course a big problem with any of these sort of "big idea" choices is that they tend to sublimate the play rather than serve it, and there is almost never a substitute in my mind for simple and excellent productions. I wonder what show it would have been. It wasn't "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf," although that might be a good candidate.