Juno And The Paycock Essay, Research Paper
A Directors production plan for Juno and the Paycock by Sean O Casey. In the production plan, you should explain your general approach to staging your chosen play, referring to any aspects of the play you consider significant. You may consider such aspects of staging as costume, set, lighting, make-up, props, acting methods, choice of venue, etc. Your answer must be supported by appropriate non-written material.
A director s production plan should integrate all elements of theatre so to put across the themes of the play through visual, technical and artistic methods. It is important the design concept fits fully with the production concept; one cannot exist without the other.
Sean O Casey s play Juno and the Paycock is set in the height of the civil war between the newly independent Irish Free State and the Republican Irregulars . The Boyle family is depicted as being very poor, living within a two- room tenancy tenement house.
My overall production plan would aim to show the failure of family life in an already dysfunctional family, the struggle of poverty and the political disillusionment felt through the failure of the nationalist independence movements and the partition of Ireland. O Casey follows the same line of writing as writers such as Ibsen; he writes about political and social, even controversial matters of the time, turns them into a play and performs them to a, then shocked, audience. By presenting the unspoken in society, I see a link between #Ibsen and O Casey. Ibsens A Dolls House tackled controversial themes of its time and was very political, just as O Caseys play I write about is. With this in mind, I am sure the mode of writing is naturalistic. Having decided this makes the design plan come together.
The detailed stage directions and setting also suggest the play falls under the category of realism or naturalism. With this description, you are able to envisage the room where all action takes place.
Although a rough guide, this plan follows the writer s directions. Because the design should reflect the thematic concerns, genres, period and atmosphere of the text, I would like the room to look like a stereotypical image of a poor working class family. This stereotypical image is one of dull colours and shabby furniture. The carpet should in a brown or dark blue, slightly patterned but very worn way. The wood of the units should vaguely match and be in dark mahogany so to look like they once could have been expensive, but they should be unvarnished and worn. The walls should be wall papered with a magnolia, flowered pattern. This shows the family still care about their house as the paper is bright but the tackiness and pattern should show they have little money for something subtler. The light emitted by the window should be limited the cretonne curtain covers the window and half of the bed beneath and should be dull and grey looking, and is held up by a piece of twine.
The play being set in the civil war in Ireland in 1922, I imagine the colours I have chosen reflect the depression felt by the families affected: the Boyles being a good example of this. Johnny has been affected through his war wound and his betrayal towards a fellow comrade. Mary, through a political stance involving labour beliefs and trade union strikes has changed, developed and therefore, been affected by the war. Captain represents a product of the slums . It is said that poverty breeds lack of work idleness and drunkenness. It breeds Dublin men with nothing to do but talk Captain is a perfect example of this! Juno is the strongest figure within the family as she is able to see what is going on around her and does not live in a fantasy world. She exists to survive and throughout the play, she is always working either for money (as Captain does not work) or for her children. The grey, dull and wornness of the room should show the depression and hopelessness felt throughout the play that ultimately contributes to its tragedy.
My overall objective within lighting is to enhance the moods that come and go within the plot, but remain naturalistic and subtle. In act one, the action takes place at noon. The light should seem to come from the window natural light. Because the ,ood ods quite depressing, I would like the stage to be visible to the audience, but seem dim and although lit, dull. This would suggest the weather outside was also bad, so to enhance further a depression in their life inside and outside of the family presented. I would like the audience to feel the room as cold not physically but within the atmosphere.
In act two, the Boyles have gone through a false change through their belief that they have inherited money from a dead relative. The room is full of ornaments bought with the newfound money but I do not believe they should be tasteful. They are said to be vulgar and adorning every possible place. The lights should be brighter but display the garishness of the room. The outside window should emit some light as the action takes place at 6pm. Table lights and the fireplace should emit light to show them as functional props and not just there for decoration.
Act three, the picture is darker. The fire, a lamp on the table and the votive candle beneath the Virgin Mary s picture, are the only sources of light. These should be made prominent. Mary is sitting next to the fire as if seeking emotional warmth as well and physical warmth and I feel this is important to the understanding of her character at this point of the play. She feels lonely and scared and very confused and seeks warmth in something that can give no verbal advice. The light under the picture burns even more redly than before. This seems symbolic as one of the plays themes is religion and it should therefore be made noticeable in some way.
As I have chosen a naturalistic setting so far, it would only fit to choose a stage that would reflect this naturalism. A Proscenium arch theatre would be my first choice, as it would seem as if all the action was framed and the audience were to watch and learn. The play demands a curtain to show the passing of time (as the curtain drops at the end of the third act only to rise again, showing a different scene within the same room) and a proscenium arch has a curtain as one of its specifications. Another advantage of choosing a proscenium arch theatre is that the play demands a fourth wall technique used and developed by Stanislavski (amongst others) in his book An Actor Prepares . This is an indirect form of communication and is achieved when performers act as though the world of the stage is a private is closed environment, as if there is no audience present. The fictitious fourth wall exists between the performers and the spectators and Stanislavski believed this helped the actors believe the roles they were playing and helped them focus their attention on each other rather than on the world outside. The walls of the room in Juno.. would join with the audience wall and create a room for the actors that the audience could look through.
Elements such as costume and make up I would leave to the actors themselves and this ties in with the acting style. I would like the actors to go through intensive rehearsals in which THEY develop their characters with only guidance from the director. Issues such a make-up and costume would develop from them as they would d then feel comfortable onstage and understand, having chosen them themselves, WHY they were relevant to the character they were playing. I would like the actors to develop using Stanislavskis System as it involves psychological development that I feel important to the characters. The use of t the magic if would help the actor develop and through this, the given circumstances would develop and be made concrete. These circumstances are what are for definite; things like:
+ The story of the play
+ Its facts, events, epoch, time and place of action
+ Conditions of life
+ The production, set, costume and props
+ Lighting and sound effects
These elements are evident through the script/text. By introducing my ideas to them, the actors should then be able to answer a question such as What if your characters family inherited a lot of money? using their already defined character.
it is necessary for the actor to develop to the highest degree of his imagination, a childlike naivet and truthfulness, an artistic sensitivity to truth and to the truthful in his soul and body
(Stanislavski, My Life In Art p.466)
The actor must believe and so gain a high, natural level of involvement. The imagination is the key to the success of a naturalistic play ads the actor must be able to fill the persons shoes fully and without hesitation. Another Stanislavski saying is:
If you speak any lines, or do anything, mechanically, without fully realising who you are, where you came from, why, what you want, where you are going, and what you will do when you get there, you will e acting without your imagination.
(Stanislavski, An Actor Prepares, P.53)
The reason I have chosen the play to be like this and the actors develop their own characters is because I see this play as being very involved in the sense that the psychological depth of the characters MAKES the character. Juno is a maternal woman who has to work to help the family survive. She herself says that if Johnny were to die, it would drive her mad. She is so strong as she has seen her children through bad times and nurtured them as a Mother does and naturally you would assume she would go mad if Johnny died. When he did, however, she was strong and held herself together. This type of strength can only be explored by the actors who are going to perform the play as the psychological depth felt by people varies and what the director may feel or have experienced, the actor may not have and vice-versa. The director should guide them to certain lines of thought but I would like to let them develop on their own.
In this essay, I hope I have shown how I would stage Sean O Caseys play and justified my reasons for doing so. I find the play to be deep in its psychological depth and the relevance of the Irish Civil war needs a lot of researching so to understand the background to the play and why the characters are how they are.
With a limited technical knowledge, that is growing slowly, I have shown how I would reflect the depression of this war through technical elements such as lighting, though only using base terms and description.
Juno, luckily, escapes the tragedy by leaving her husband and starting with the new generation; Mary s baby. This ending of her life is the only hopeful thing about this play. Captains ending saying that th whole worl s .in a terr ible state o chassis! is true in every sense, although he may be too drunk to even realise the truth in his statement. The character development and the relationships in this play is by far the most important element to the production.
O Casey, S Seven Plays: A Students Edition Macmillan 1985
Stanislavski An Actor Prepares
Stanislavski My Life In Art
Fortier, Mark Theory/Theatre: an introduction Routledge, 1997
Whitmore, Jon Directing Post-modern Theatre Michigan, 1994