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Moving on stage

Posted by deepakmorris on November 18, 2013 at 11:10 AM

Movement brings a scene alive in theatre! 

In movies, camera angles and shots can make sedentary scenes, such as people gathered around a hospital bed talking to a patient, quite alive with trolley shots, over the shoulder shots, zoom ins, zoom outs, etc.

Live Theatre doesn't have that luxury so teachers and starting directors often wonder how movement can be added in a scene. It's a difficult thing but with a little effort and stagecraft, movement can be added even into the most sedentary scene.

Here are some steps to help add movement to a scene:

  1. Learn the parts of the stage: There can be no substitute to learning the parts of the stage in order to tell actors where to be when they say a line. The stage has nine parts of the acting area itself, plus other parts such as the proscenium arch, the apron, etc. Click here to learn the parts of the stage.
  2. Decide what is where on stage: Read the script, then carve out the stage space to decide what is where. If the scene is set in a graveyard, decide on the location of each grave and tombstone. The more real you make it in your mind, the more real it becomes for the actors and, ultimately, the audience.
  3. Use actions marked in the script: Very often, the playwright puts stage directions in the script itself, if not overtly at least in indicative form, e.g. Looks closely at the headstone. Once you have established where the grave is, looking closely at the headstone easily allows the actor to move to the headstone to examine it.
  4. Give everyone something to do: Let's say it's a scene featuring a shopkeeper and a customer. It need not be static. The shopkeeper can wipe his counter (hopefully, you, as director, have carved out the stage space and told actors where the counter, shelves, etc. are). Or he can take objects from the showcases, rearrange them, polish them, etc. The customer can examine the store and objects in it. This helps immensely when one character is taking centre stage and the other has to bide his time before he speaks. Wiping the counter, rearranging merchandise and other things gives the other actor something to do while adding valuable movement in the scene. Examining the store and it's merchandise gives the customer something to do while the shopkeeper speaks.
  5. Look for conflict: Conflict is an integral part of a scene. Someone wants something and someone else wants to prevent him from achieving it. So, using the shopkeeper and customer metaphor, it can be very easy to add movement by having the shopkeeper bark at the customer, forcing him to jump back several steps. Conversely, the customer may bark at the shopkeeper, adding not only movement but further comic elements with glass showcases crashing all around.
With just a bit of imagination, you can add action to just about any scene on stage.

Categories: theatre, drama, performance

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