18th century performance conditions

Essay add: 11-07-2016, 18:30   /   Views: 234

18th Century performance conditions
1700 -1800
Theatre of the time
 Playhouses open
 Side and stage boxes used in theatres
 Audience as important as actors- there to be seen
 Elaborate scenery used- flats and painted backdrops
 Use of candle light, audience are still lit so the actors can address them directly
 Special effects: flying scenery, trapdoors, moving panoramas to give illusion of travelling
 Fashionable clothes of the day as costume- long coats, knee breaches and wigs
 Actresses used instead of boys
 De Loutherbourg (Drury Lane’s scene designer in 1772) began to experiment with placing coloured silks in front of oil lamps to alter the colour of his sets on stage. More importantly he also designed complex and elaborate sets for individual plays. He was one of the first to see design as an integral part of a theatre production. De Loutherbourg ’s painted sets broke away from the symmetrical design neo- classical theatre to achieve a more naturalistic effect.

The acting style in tragedy during the first half of the 18th century was formal. The actors assumed poses and declaimed their lines in a sort of sing-song manner. They dressed in modern fashionable clothes for most plays, and there was fierce rivalry between actresses as to who had the finest dress

David Garrick
1740s
o Garrick changed the whole style of acting. He rejected the fashion for declamation, where actors would strike a pose and speak their lines formally. Garrick preferred a more easy, natural manner of speech and movement. The effect was a more subtle, less mannered style of acting and a move towards realism. More emotional
o cut a lot of dialogue and added modernised versions of his expressions
o Reduced running time to 3 hours
o Did not kill of Gertrude and Laertes
o Cut Claudius’ prayer scene so Hamlet did not have to wrestle with conscience
o Stylised start with ghost:
“On the first appearance of the ghost, such a figure of concentration was never seen. He stood fixed in mute astonishment, and the audience saw him growing paler and paler. After an interval of suspense, he spoke in a low trembling accent, and uttered his questions with the greatest difficulty.”
o He allegedly had a special wig that made Hamlet’s hair stand on end . This he used to dramatic effect in the scene where the ghost of Hamlet’s father appears. such was the force of Garrick’s performance in the scene where Hamlet meets his father’s ghost that audiences were filled will absolute terror.

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