This post follows on from thoughts I’ve been having recently, that were especially brought into focus during a lecture with Michael Walling at college on Saturday (see previous post).
The images that theatre creates are one of its most powerful and lingering aspects. Of the hundreds of productions I’ve seen most conjure up an image when I recall them. In fact few bring to mind text or dialogue.
I received a copy of the Original London Cast Recording of Miss Saigon for my recent birthday, I saw this in the West End in the mid nineties and had forgotten how great the score was. Yet two images from that production have remained crystal clear, since seeing it all those years ago ; the scene with all the Ho Chi Minh placards/red flags and the final tableau/image of the death.
What other images come to mind when I consider the theatre I’ve seen??
- The RSC did a production of Richard II at the Roundhouse a few years ago, as Richard II stands on stage, sand pours down on his head during his last speech, (which is long), and it’s linked to a line of monologue that is also etched on my mind “I’ve wasted time, now time wastes me”, seeing Richard II literally seeing the sands of time pass before him in his prison cell, is one of the most spectacular and moving theatrical images I’ve seen.
- Pepe Bou who places himself in a giant bubble at the end of a show of his at the London International Mime Festival a few years ago
- The chandelier flying over your heads in Phantom
- The recreation of George Seurat’s painting with the cast at the end of the first half of Sunday in the Park with George – one of the few times I’ve cried in the theatre
- Nora leaving Torvald at the end of A Doll’s House
- The two characters at the end of Honour simply seated and talking about the end of their marriage
- Beasts instant transformation into the Prince in the Disney version of Beauty and the Beast
- The lead female dancer of the Moscow Ballet pirouetted so many times that I lost count, with unimaginable grace and elegance
- The vicar in Donkey’s Years, putting his coat over his head and singing “I’m a naughty nun”
The list could go on, but Theatre is a visual and existential art form. The texts are important, but are only part of the overall piece. As I’m reading my plays for college I’m trying to conjure up my own imaginings of what they’d look like, and the images that strike me. As I’m focusing on the Theatre of the Absurd at present, with their distrust of language, it’s no surprise that the imagery is key to my understanding of theatre at present, but looking back I suppose it always has been, I’ve just not been as aware as I am now.