The crucible is portrayed through use of realism and naturalism. To help put this theme into place Arthur Miller uses Visual, Aural and Spatial awareness and elements in the crucibles script. The actor, director and audience are crucial when putting these into place and incorporating them together. To covey a sense of realism through the visual, aural and spatial elements in the play the play needs to consist of actions and parts that would seem like real life and have no exceptions to it being performed on a stage.
Most visual, aural and spatial elements are either described in the stage directions or spoken within the dialogue of the script. The elements are central to describing the historical context, atmosphere, themes, genres and characters to the audience. Visual Element The impact of vision on the audience is great and the play would be bare and less easy to understand if there was nothing to set the scene or period. Costume and stage design are very important when illustrating this.
Costumes and set design are a great part of theatre; it may present the audience with a greater knowledge of a character or setting or make the time period of the piece better known. Within the crucible costume and set design helps the audience to understand the setting of each act and possibly the wealth of the people of Salem. In the crucible Arthur Miller makes very little reference towards costume and how characters are visually presented. This could be because he did not want the characters emotion and characteristics to be given away by what they wear. One of the few examples of reference to clothing could be, ‘
Arthur Miller describes the settings of each act and place quite thoroughly this is helpful for the actors when acting it out, throughout the whole of the first act Miller refers to the setting; where the objects are, and the use for them. He also illustrates the bedroom before the dialogue takes place; he tells the reader that it is a small upper bedroom in the home of Reverend Samuel Parris. He also describes the bedroom to have a narrow window, a burning candle, a chest, a chair and a small table. Miller also details the atmosphere in relation to the objects.
Throughout the costumes and stage design would be as close match to that of the time period as possible to create the sense of realism. As the play was set in the late 16th century the costumes and design should reflect this. An example of some of the garments typical of that day that are worn in the play could be; long dresses and bonnets for the women who are more wealthy, ragged dresses, aprons and shawls for the woman less wealthy and possibly the servants, buckled shoes and official looking suits for the men that appear in the court and are of a higher position, waist coats and layers for the farmers and other men.
With stage design the materials would be mostly wood and very little glass, plastic etc. If I where to put on a production of the crucible I would like to continue the theme of realism into the costume and design and I would stick to the time period as much as I could. Although if I where to take a different approach it could be effective to use simple pieces of costume and staging so that only a suggestion is made and more is left for the audience to imagine. Aural Element Arthur Miller uses a lot of sound and verbal expression in his work along with dialogue read by an actor.
Miller writes that there is the sound of singing from off stage. Although there are no sound effects the objects being moved and handled by John Proctor when he enters the room, make noise that gives the impression of a kitchen. John also makes an effort to be quiet so that it may become apparent that he is doing something that he does not want to get found doing. Towards the end of the second act the dialogue is much more frantic and there are many more people involved. It makes a nice contrast from the beginning when everything was much more contained and civil.
In the stage version of the Crucible the voice heard at the start is of a woman which is later found out to be John Proctors wife, Elizabeth Proctor. It is the assumed that she may be singing to children as the song is a lullaby. At the end of the second act there is a lot more movement which results in more objects being dislodged and making a noise. Sound effects are used throughout the play; the most significant could be that of the drum beat at the end which signifies the play coming to an end and a solemn finish.
Miller does not refer to music at all in the script and apart from the sombre music being played as the audience file into the auditorium there is no music in the version seen on stage. This creates a great feel of realism as it contrasts between real world, sitting down to watch a play, to the crucible and what is happening within the story. If I where to act the crucible I would use a limited amount of sound effects and no music. I would like to continue the theme of sound outside from the play.
For example the clinking of chains (as described in the script) heard from off stage to create a feel of a world around the stage. Spatial Element Although much of the spatial element of drama is closely related to visual, it is not all the same. To have clear and justified spatial awareness the actors need to be aware of what and when events take place and where about they will happen on the stage. Because of the theme of realism, throughout the play a 4th Wall is created blocking the audience from the actors so there is no link between the two.
There is no audience participation within the play so to compensate the characters onstage must react to each other with as much detail as possible. With our performance of the crucible we wanted to have a sense of tragedy and realism and at the same time we wanted it to be memorable and have some tableaux’s that catch the eye of the audience and stick in their minds. We looked at the play text as Author Miller writes a lot of stage direction and from these we where able to produce an outline of where the characters would move to and from and for what purpose.
We used the first act again to go by and act ourselves as there are many directions, but there is also a chance in the scene to expand on Millers notes and incorporate our own ideas. My main Concern when deciding on spatial awareness was to incorporate tragedy. We could come up with some ideas that portrayed this, for example the space between Elizabeth and John in the house scene; there was always literal space between them in this scene which also could be signified as the distance within their marriage.
We use these ideas and incorporate them into the acting. There are also a lot of other methods used in the crucible to deliver lines and to make characters in the play come across in specific ways. The most significant clue to the characters in the Crucible is the short texts that appear in different parts of the scripts concerning the different characters. Miller takes a short amount of time to explain about the background and characteristics. For example one line from an extract about Mr Hale is: ‘nearing forty, a tight skinned, eager-eyed, intellectual. Characteristics are also portrayed through the stage direction and dialogue.
In other performances of the Crucible and the scenes we devised we researched into Stanislavskys methods of realism acting techniques. One of the best ways of exploring this is to use improvisation so that the dialogue is completely real and not planned. Our interpretation of our scene varied and contrasted with some of the others in the way that it was performed, aurally, spatially and visually because of use of acting technique and the way in which we set the scene and identified the characters.