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Is All The World A Stage? Stages, Props, Costumes …Directing The Ambience

In all types of theatre directors intentionally create the environment by artificially constructing the performance space or using what occurs naturally in creative ways.

Directors and Set Designers both create space and make clever use of the performance area available to the cast….

  • Space can be approached from many angles.
  • Artificial boundaries can be created either fictionally or actually
  • Capitalising on the unexpected is often to the Directors advantage as it will capture attention and keep the audience focused.
  • Lighting can further direct audience attention and amplify areas and characters that the director wishes to feature whilst diminishing focus on areas or actors that are not the focus of the script.
  • Not just the props but the movement of them can draw and hold attention
  • Sound can create intensity or evoke emotion such as sorrow or relief.
  • Silence can serve to amplify mood or act as a break to allow the audience to recollect their thoughts and to build further anticipation
  • Costume can create mood and direct focus but lack of costume can work well too. To clothe the cast in all black can be serviceable. It works particularly well if only one or two highly adorned characters are contrast against their stark appearance.
  • Sometimes ordinary people doing ordinary things in simple unaltered settings are sufficient to hold audience attention if the subject matter of the dialogue is especially extraordinary and sufficient to shock. An example of this would be a news reader reading the news in a bland fashion even though he is announcing World War III!

The style of theatre affects the level of intimacy that can be achieved.

Stages may be

  • small and intimate
  • in the round
  • large and formal with rowed seating
  • amphitheatres in nature
  • amphitheatres artificially constructed
  • sometimes they can be quite unusual (a platform in a tree perhaps could be the space from which a suicide monologue could be performed)
  • an opera house would allow for a much different performance of a script when compared to the way the same directions were interpreted for a school auditorium
  • theatre performed live will be a different production when compared to the same script preformed as a puppet show

Ambiance is partly dictated by the level of resources the director has access to but is also dependant on the kind of space available for the production.