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Drama

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Submitted By vinnu
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Aspects of Theatre When I first walked into the Jones Playhouse Theater, I expected the lobby space to be a lot more spacious but instead it radiated a feeling of claustrophobia due to the hundreds of people attending the show. The lobby area was comprised of woody material such as the columns holding up the roof and the benches available for the audience to wait on till the show started. The floor in the lobby space had a glossy, smooth finish to it and the wood on the side of the staircases and windows gave the place a very modern look. I felt that the lobby space did not quite correlate with the play because The Illusion was set in the 17th century and the lobby space seemed very rich and modern. There was no aspect of the lobby space that translated onto the main stage of the theater. The only thing that was production-specific in the lobby was the biography of the actors involved in The Illusion. It gave the audience a sense of who the actors were (background and education) and also how they looked like without the make-up their roles required. This allows the audience to put a face to all the actors while watching the play; it sort of personalizes it since we know a little bit about them. I wish the crew of The Illusion decorated the lobby space so they can create the ambience of the 17th century before we even set foot in the theater. This helps bring the audience to the right frame of mind by reminding them that they are watching a historical play. The theater space in the Jones Theater was a thrust stage. The audience was present on three sides of the stage. The space inside the theater was quite small which made the actor-audience relationship very intimate. These small, intimate spaces permitted the audience to view the actors, set design and lighting in greater detail and also permitted the actors to use subtle expressions during the play which was clearly visible to the audience. Thus, the actors did not ‘overact’, did not exaggerate their expressions or emotions just so the audience can see it. Having a thrust stage made it easier for the actors to get their feelings across. I was seated on the right most side of the theater but in the front row where the actors can clearly see me. I was seated right next to the stage where I could clearly see the stage and actors in great detail. I was able to capture their subtle expressions and movements during the play. The exits on the left side of the stage were visible to me so I could see who was coming onto the stage before the audience on the other two sides could. I also could see the expressions and movements of Pridamant of Avignon, Alcandre and The Amanuensis when they were sitting in front of the stage while they were watching the illusions on stage. The most striking thing was that there were many lights used throughout the play and not one blinded me for a second. The closeness of the actors and audience was also striking because I’ve never been so close to the actors before in a play and being able to capture their feelings was incredible and intimate. It bewilders me that the size of a theater can change a person’s perspective of the play. I think Adraste was the character who effectively captured the world of the play (17th century) and the role of a French prince. During the play, Adraste has a vehement desire to marry Isabelle because of her eternal beauty and her rank in society. A prince needs a princess of the same rank. He continuously pursues Isabelle to seek her approval for marriage but she refuses to marry him because she is in love with Clindor. Like any other 17th century man, he shows his dominance by marginalizing Isabelle because she dented his ego. He says that he doesn’t care if she doesn’t love him, she is going to be his wife and she has no say in the matter. He says that he has made a deal with her father and she would be his future bride. He also had a chique (French for ‘cool’) personality because whenever he entered the stage, he sprayed mint into his mouth and announced his presence with his singing. Adraste perfectly represented the upper class of France because he gets what he desires and no one can stop him from getting it. That is the attitude and vibe he sent across during the play. Apart from the role the character played, Adraste’s costume also portrayed the time frame that he was from really well. He wore a bright blue costume; it looked like it was silk material which immediately made him seem very wealthy. He also wore a hat with a bird feather attached to it which was a classic Renaissance French touch to his costume. He was also given a sword which was perfect for his character because all Frenchmen solved matters by participating in a duel which he did at the end of the play. Another character that captured the essence of 17th century was Geronte, the father of Isabelle. Geronte is an irate man, just like any father with a disobedient daughter. This character also marginalized females because he believes that his daughter has no say in marriage and she must marry the prince. I thought the staging of the characters was quite exquisite especially when Geronte shows his anger towards Isabelle. Geronte was standing on top of a raised platform while Isabelle was crying in front of him. The father seemed a lot bigger than the daughter which showed the dominance he had over his subservient daughter. Geronte was also wearing this bright colored robe and a spotlight was shone on him while Isabelle was wearing dull colors. This was briefly discussed in class by Christopher (set designer) and Emily (lighting). The color of Geronte’s costume and the light that was on him convinced the audience that he was a dominant man and why Isabelle was so scared of him. I was baffled by the ending of the play. I did not know how to react to it. I didn’t quite understand why Matamore wanted to reach the moon and what him going to the moon have to do with his love failure with Isabelle. At the end of the play, I sympathized with Isabelle because Clindor had affairs with Prince Florilame’s wife and also she gives up all her wealth to her cunning maid just so she can successfully run away with Clindor and away from her father. In the end, Isabelle gives up everything for a disloyal lover who is murdered by Prince Florilame. She doesn’t end up with anything but sorrow. I also hated the maid’s character because she was a conniving, little woman. She was the mastermind behind the plot of the play. She procured all of Isabelle’s wealth just so she can laugh at Clindor for leaving her for Isabelle and her wealth. The play did not intellectually stimulate me but emotionally affected me by bringing on pity and hatred towards Isabelle and her maid. The theme I extracted from The Illusion was that life is a theater. Everyone goes through the cycles of love: heartbreak, deception and finally procuring it. The director, Andrew McGinn, exploits this idea by intertwining the real life of Calisto/Clindor and the role he plays. The cave could be a metaphor for the theatre and its spectators. Pridamant and Alcandre would be the spectators and the illusions would be the theatre. It was overall a good play, just confusing at times. This play is relevant to the Drama students of University of Washington because The Illusion uses many stock characters that were famous back in the 17th century. The young lovers (Clindor and Isabelle), a comic servant (maid) and an erudite old man (Geronte) were stock characters that were used in the play. Enculturation could also be a reason, the process in which we learn about a culture. Many UW students probably have not seen a play in real life and this would be a great opportunity to do so and maybe learn a thing or two about the culture the play was set in.

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