Hell week for the Diary of Anne Frank was definitely a challenge, especially with being a stage manager. When we had started out the week, I still hadn’t had any of my light cues written down. Luckily I had sort of memorized the light positions and could stumble my way through the transitions. I’m not saying that any of the actors were entitled, but I definitely think they’re unaware of all of the work that gets put into the show that’s not on stage. When we had to do a cue-to-cue run-through of the show to establish and formally write down all of the lighting and sound cues, the actors weren’t really used to it and were trying really hard not to show their boredom or any annoyance. There were sometimes when we didn’t have a certain prop or cue and we’d be two days from opening and I wasn’t sure how we were going to make it or fix it but somehow it all came together in the end. There was even a moment in the play where a very important prop was left off stage (Peter’s coat with his Jewish star on it) and our actors were able to completely glide over the moment like it was no big deal. When I was planning on not acting this semester and stage managing instead, I thought it was going to be easier because I wasn’t dealing with memorization, but I now have much more respect for stage managers because the work is an entirely different kind.
In Vandevelde’s article, he describes how common it is nowadays for artists to become separated from art. He mentions how many artists are emphasizing their ideas rather than their actual pieces of artwork. He talks about how art has started to become dictated more so by institutions rather than the artists. He claims how populism is a large part of the arts nowadays and that it should not be because it’s not trying to do anything new or be innovative. Vandevelde believes that the only way to overcome this dilemma is by ensuring a charter for stage artists (ensuring payment), making artists work with and even form their own institutions, and that artists need to realize that they have no ownership or authority over these institutions and must work in tandem.
I definitely found this article very interesting because it wasn’t something I was very aware of. I know that this article was written and based of the theatre scene in Belgium, but I can still see how it applies to the US and the rest of the world. From my research into theatre history from both this course and in my other classes, theatre was how artists could make a critique of society or to share new and innovative ideas. It’s so common nowadays for people to make theatre purely for the audience relationship and reaction, which I understand and I don’t deny that it isn’t an important part, but I think so many people nowadays forget that theatre is just for entertainment. It’s a vessel for sharing new ideas. I think it’s important that an audience comes away from a theatre piece curious and thoughtful rather than entertained.
Theatre can be seen as a sub category of the arts under performing arts as a spectacle. Imagination can be defined as the faculty or action of forming new ideas, or images or concepts of external objects not present to the senses or the ability of the mind to be creative or resourceful. Both of imagination's definitions involve creativity and the ability to make an understanding of something without necessarily knowing how or why.
Previously in our TOK class, we had a lengthy discussion, which lasted over a multitude of classes, about art as a way of knowing and what exactly makes it a way of knowing. In each of our ideas or concepts that we thought of or that were brought up in the discussion all related somehow to creativity, which I think inadvertently is related to imagination. I think this idea can also be applied to theatre as well. For most pieces of theatre whether they are fictional or based off of true story, the writer and director require some sense of imagination when it comes to the writing of the script, the creation of the characters, and the how they chose to develop the story itself.
If there was no imagination in theatre, whether it's in the creating process, during the spectacle, or even in conversation, it would make theatre so easy. It would be so easy to the point where everybody would be doing it, and it would no longer be considered an art really, losing its special value.
I think that the social function of theatre is to shed light on things that society is not aware of. Sometimes this means, that theatre is used to reflect society; that it shows elements of people's lives or actions that the make that they can often oversee or miss. Sometimes, theatre is meant to emphasize things that are occurring in other countries or other social structures; that events are taking place, that we are unaware of and after seeing the piece of theatre will be more aware of those types of situations not only in other countries, but within their own lives. Sometimes, theatre even portrays things that don’t even occur in real life, but rather depict things that might occur in our dreams or the elements of our memories that or mind will manipulate. I think that even if a director or actor or any theatre practitioner isn’t necessarily intending to produce these ideas, they can still be formulated through their process or realized by their audience.
To my understanding, a theatre theorist, is someone who has discovered or created a new way of acting or a new way of depicting theatre. Sometimes a theorist has written their own plays, but usually their ideas and concepts can be applied to other pieces. A theatre theorist could have come up with entirely different ideas and concepts or could have elaborated and changed previous theories.
One of the theorists that has peaked my interest is that of Samuel Beckett. He was often associated with the "theatre of the absurd" which was also linked to existentialism. His plays were often based on the idea that everything is bound to end in one way or another, so why do anything extraordinary. His plays dealt a lot with fate and how each character wasn't really making their own decisions but rather their decisions had already been chosen by a different power. His plays were often described as tragicomedies or dark comedies.
Another theorist who I find interesting is that of Antonin Artaud, better known for his "theatre of cruelty". Encyclopedia Britannica describes his theatre as "communion between actor and audience in a magic exorcism; gestures, sounds, unusual scenery, and lighting combine to form a language, superior to words, that can be used to subvert thought and logic and to shock the spectator into seeing the baseness of his world." Artaud often described how his theatre wasn't necessarily meant to be cruel, but rather brutally honest to most accurately create a reality that included such tragedies as violence and tragedies.
The final theatre theorist I have found only recently is that of Stella Adler, who is commonly known for her adaptation of Stanislavsky's acting method. She believed that drawing upon memories to find emotions was "sick and schizophrenic". Instead of searching for emotions in the passed, she looked more into the characters of plays themselves; instead of making the character her own, she would become the character. She believed that forming a character was done through extensive study of the script along with both her mind and body as tools for producing the character.
When looking at some of the newer examples of the Director's Notebooks that were submitted to the IB, it was obvious that they included a lot ore details that I had previously been aware of. I already knew that my first draft of my Director's Notebook wasn't the best, but after looking at the submitted examples, it sort of gave me the push that I needed to revise and perfect my Director's notebook. Some of the elements that I knew I really needed to add to, and just generally beef up, were my intended impact, the context, design of characters, and development scenes. For the context I'm going to research more on the gender roles that were apparent during the Great Depression to further understand the family dynamics of the Wingfields. For character design, I'm going to look for more inspiration specifically for costume because I had already come up with their own characteristics and color schemes. To aid with how I would direct two scenes, I'm going to try an idea that I saw in one of the example Director's Notebooks where a student actually included pictures of a script that they annotated to give a physical representation of the scene development. Lastly for my intended impact, I'm not sure exactly what I'm going to do to strengthen it and will probably be the last part I do so I can make sure that I fill in any missing information or ideas that I might have left out in other areas.
From personal experience, I definitely had to try thinking in a different state of mind, because I haven’t grown up in the Midwest, in the 40’s, in a poor unfortunate family. I constantly felt tied to each of the characters and just felt so bad for what they were going through and what issues they had to deal with. It’s always different reading a play for a second time knowing what the ending will be, so I looked for different telling signs that led up to Tom leaving.
Analysis of the text
1) The Glass Menagerie is the story of a broken family who doesn’t know how to properly care for each other resulting in the destruction of multiple relationships.
2) The Glass Menagerie is about each person’s needs and how they must learn how to prioritize their needs over others.
− Amanda Wingfield
− Tom Wingfield
− Laura Wingfield
− Jim O’Connor
− Mr. Wingfield
− Wingfield apartment in St. Louis
− Tom’s Monologues
• Facts, deductions, questions
− Fact: Amanda is Tom and Laura’s mother
− Fact: Laura and Tom went to school with Jim
− Deduction: Laura is crippled and very shy
− Fact: Tom works at a shoe warehouse and wants to be a poet
− Fact: Amanda, a southern belle, used to be a debutant and was married to Mr. Wingfield
− Deduction: Amanda resents her children and wants to be young again
− Fact: Mr. Wingfield left his family
− Fact: Tom is the provider of the family
− Deduction: Tom wants to leave his family
− Question: Why did Mr. Wingfield leave?
− Question: What other experiences has Tom faced, leading him to want to leave his family?
- Question: Is Laura really crippled?
• Central Ideas
− A memory play based on instances and not direct events; the idea that our mind sees only what we want to see or can remember
− How much a traumatic situation can affect one’s being and those they love. How we can only care for others so much until it’s so physically and emotionally taxing that we can take it no longer.
• Genre, style
− Memory play, drama, told in a series of flashbacks
Scene I: The scene in which the characters are established and what their relationships with each other are.
Scene II: The scene in which Amanda decides that the only way for Laura to be successful is by marrying to a wealthy successful man.
Scene III: The scene in which Tom fights and with Amanda and leaves.
Scene IV: The scene in which Tom returns back home and we see how Amanda is desperate to keep Tom from leaving the same way his father did.
Scene V: The scene in which Tom finds a gentleman caller for Laura from his mother’s request.
Scene VI: The scene in which the dinner party occurs and when Laura learns that the gentleman caller is her high school crush, Jim.
Scene VII: The scene in which Jim and Laura reminisce over their high school years and they kiss, Jim realizing what he’s done leaves soon after remembering that he is engaged. Amanda accuses of Tom of knowing of Jim’s engagement being the last straw causing the Tom to leave Laura and Amanda for good.
For me, The Glass Menagerie is about family conflict and how it affects a person’s actions and decisions and their view of their family. I think it was written in order to examine familial priorities through the representation of Tennessee William’s life.
a) Most of Tennessee William’s plays were based on personal experiences and his unhappy childhood. His father was an alcoholic. Williams won many prizes for his writing during his high school years. Williams attended University of Missouri where he was later pulled out by his father and forced to work at a shoe company. His distain for the job led him to write even more. He left the job and eventually went on to Washington University and then University of Iowa where he received a degree in English.
b) Set in the 1940’s in St. Louis. St. Louis was recovering from the Great Depression with large unemployment rates as well as experience vast racism because of WWII. One of the biggest producers of ammunition for WWII was in St. Louis. St. Louis experienced an extreme sense of rationing. Many protests for civil rights took place, some succeeding. Many advancements in architecture were made. The population was on a slow decline. This period of the time was known as ‘Urban Decline and Renewal’.
d) The Glass Menagerie was one of Tennessee Williams’ first big plays that went to Broadway and was loved by many. Many say that it’s easy to see the personal connection that Williams has with his plays.
e) It’s a memory play based on Williams’ life and his own experiences with his family. The play portrays the anger and hurt that Williams felt due to his family’s actions. It shows Williams’ resentment towards his family and how one makes rather significant decisions regarding their family.
f) Tom Wingfield – somewhat of a drunk, his way of coping with his family
Laura Wingfield – an outcast, described as peculiar, also said to be crippled but we don’t know if this fact is true or if it was an idea imbedded into her mind by her mother in order to keep her from leaving
Amanda Wingfield – used to being the young, popular girl, wanting to relive her youth, desperate
g) 1940’s in the Wingfield’s apartment in St. Louis
h) Drama, memory-play
j) Different types of music used during distinct situation, for example “the glass menagerie music”, different visuals projected whether it be phrases or pictures regarding the scene at hand
Plays I’ve Read