Saturday, September 14, 2019

Actual production Essay

The costumes worn by most other characters were further emphasis of the puritan simplicity and attitude that the actors on stage exhibited. â€Å"I felt it was incredibly important that the costumes weren’t too mimsy. Quite often an approach to this play is to go down the puritanical route which is very clean, quite anal and tightly corseted.†. A prime example of this was Elizabeth Proctor, who wore a very plain and tradition grey dress; which in her part was very effective considering the plain and simple manner in which she was presented. Another interesting fact was that both Proctor and Giles were dressed in leather working garments unlike the rest of the onstage characters. This seemed to create a subtle effect that seemed to single them out from everyone else, which was very successful given that both of them shared the common attribute of being two of primary characters who possessed the ‘moral authority’ of the storyline (the other one being Rebecca). One aspect of this production that I genuinely loved was the sheer emphasis of the ‘dramatic irony’ in the storyline. The prime example of this was at the very end of Act One, where the suspicion had reached a maximum and the time had come to try to get to the bottom of things and the interrogation began â€Å"(grasping Abigail) Abigail, it may be that your cousin is dying. Did you call the devil last night?† (p35). This part was the first area which added fuel to the ‘dramatic irony factor’. While Hale was saying these words, he seemed to grasp Abigail in a somewhat ridiculous fashion; as if he was implying something that was almost sexual. Abigail was always presented in this play as a flirtatious character with the typical characteristics of a temptress. â€Å"Give me a word John. A soft word (her concentrated desire destroys his smile)† (p17). However, despite her success in enticing the characters on stage, she was not in any way sexually attractive to any members of the audience. This instantly caused the members of the audience to feel frustrated and ridiculed by the actions of the characters, hence – instantly creating a disapproving impression of Abigail. Most importantly however, it served the function of creating a disagreement between the main characters and the audience and thus distances the spectators from the stage. This in addition to the use of setting mentioned earlier made the audience feel like the ones on the outside. By making us feel like the outsiders, we were almost able to see through the inside. Since generally, outsiders are able to perceive and see through what insiders are too blind and unable to see. Therefore, we all knew exactly what was going on behind the twisted and evil plots of Abigail, while the characters on stage cannot. Ironically enough, this is exactly what Arthur Miller wanted. As mentioned before, we were seeing through his eyes and metaphorically, this was like him seeing through the inhumane regime of McCarthyism while the common citizens of the US were unable to comprehend such things. After the unusual gestures that Hale used, Tituba soon entered the scene. Suddenly, it seemed almost out of nowhere, Abigail appeared to just randomly accuse Tituba of the crimes she herself had probably been guilty of. â€Å"She made me do it! She made Betty do it!† (p35). Even though this type of reaction towards Tituba’s entrance to the scene was already in the stage directions, it was enhanced further by the way Abigail was acted by Sinà ¯Ã‚ ¿Ã‚ ½ad Matthews. While she spoke those words, she seemed to choke and stutter through her speech. The audience, who already formed a negative impression of Abigail were obviously highly suspicious of what she was doing and at this point, I felt that she simply was making it up as she went along. I was personally very surprised by the tremendously over exaggerated manner that the actors responded. It created a sense of frustration for the audience when Hale suddenly responded to Abigail’s accusations in the exaggerated way that he did â€Å"Woman, have you enlisted these children for the devil?† (p36). Because Hale was presented so dramatically, it was irritating to see just how gullible and foolish he and other members of the town were. As the scene progressed, the time eventually came where Tituba ‘confessed’ to the charges of witchcraft that were inflicted upon her. â€Å"He say Mr Parris must be kill! Mr Parris no goodly man, and he bid me rise out of my bed and cut your throat!† (p38). As a 21st century audience, we were instantly aware that there was no way that Tituba was telling the truth. While she confessed, Tituba was presented as a frenzied, out-of-control type of character. The way that she overstated her speech made the audience feel that this was like an anticlimax to the huge build-up beforehand (i.e. the constant persuasion Hale used). Once again, Hale’s gullible reaction created a very frustrating feeling for the members of the audience. Eventually, the two ended up on stage in a ridiculous pose that made the audience cringe in disbelief. As ludicrous as the acting was, it created a very positive effect in highlighting the sheer dramatic irony of the play and this was definitely one of the best features of the book that this production managed to achieve. This however also created a somewhat negative effect. Since the dramatic irony was emphasised in a less serious tone, the following event lost the frightening factor to it that Arthur Miller may have wanted to portray. â€Å"I know that its paranoid centre is still pumping out the same darkly attractive warning that it did in the fifties†. I must admit, while reading the text in the very last lines of the first Act â€Å"I saw George Jacobs with the devil, I saw Goody Howe with the devil†¦ etc† (p39-40), I genuinely found the text quite frightening considering how gullible everyone in Salem seemed to be; the idea of all these people possibly being hanged was chilling. However in the actual production of the play, Betty, Abigail and the rest of the cast moved forward towards the front of the platform while it was being pulled back. Their hands were raised in the air while they continued to speak the names of those they accused and they were eventually blanked out from the stage, which appeared almost comedic. On the other hand, the whole striking fear effect is probably not as applicable to the modern day audience as it may have been to an audience of 1953. Arthur Miller’s primary intention for using the fear factor was to relate it to idea that McCarthyism was something to be afraid of. Yet in 2004, McCarthyism is no longer as significant, hence the fear factor within the play was probably eradicated in order to strengthen the effects of other factors.

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