Monday, July 13, 2009

Oedipus Rex Essay

While from reading Arnott I got the impression that the way Greek theatre was performed was very effective in the past, I would make many changes to the performance if I were the director of the play. The main thing that I did not like was that there were only three actors on the stage, playing all the characters in the play (not including the chorus). I think this is an interesting way to perform a play, but in the present day I do not think that people would appreciate so few actors. People have been spoiled by the abundance of actors and special effects that are in plays, movies, and other forms of entertainment. They expect to see something easily, and not have to use their imagination as much as I think the Greeks had to when they watched plays. I think that the chorus used in the theatre of ancient Greece was a form of special effects, in that they narrated the story with more color than the three actors could portray, by their both singing and speaking the story in different ways. I personally would prefer a more modern form of performance, with more than three actors, and possibly with a different type of chorus.

I think that my play would resemble the most recent version of “Romeo and Juliet”, directed by Baz Luhrman, in that it would be very colorful, and would maintain some of the original forms of the performance mixed with more modern aspects. I thought that this was an excellent idea, and it would show the audience aspects of how Greek theatre was performed while not completely changing what they are used to seeing in these modern times. To me, this manner of performance grabs the attention of the audience more easily, and makes the play somewhat more interesting and exciting for everyone involved. This way, the audience would be able to learn how Greek plays were performed, and get the feel of actually seeing one, while still being entertained by what they are accustomed to. The audience would be forced to actually think about what they are seeing, since they would be distinguishing between two different ways of performing. I think that this would make a more memorable play since it would be so different from what is usually seen.

The scene that I would choose to remake would be when Oedipus has just realized that he has killed his own father, and is explaining this to Iocaste. From page 40 to 45, Oedipus explains to Iocaste why he believes that he is the king’s murderer, and Iocaste tries to comfort him and change his mind. I think this is a good scene because it is powerful and very important as a type of turning point in the story. At this point in the play, many different ideas of being blind are brought together, from the actually blind Teiresias from the previous scene to the figuratively “blind” Oedipus presently beginning to see what he has been so blind to throughout the beginning of the play, to Iocaste’s attempted to, in a way, blind Oedipus from discovering the truth about what he has done and who he really is. This scene offers room for many different ways of portraying the emotions of the characters, especially of Oedipus and Iocaste.

My version of the performance for this particular point in the play would be very different from those of ancient Greece; however, there are certain aspects from the Greek way of performing that I think would keep the original tone of the play intact. For example, I would definitely keep the stage outdoors. I think that this was an excellent way to keep nature in the Greek plays. Although this did present problems, since the actors would have to “enter, small dots in a huge theatre, and secure attention by their own unaided efforts,” (Arnott, 6), I think that keeping the play outside would maintain the feel of ancient Greek plays, even though many other aspects of it would be changed. While one would imagine that the same problem of attracting attention would arise in my play, I think that it would be generally easy to maintain the attention of the audience because they would be expecting some sort of obvious warning that the play is about to begin. However, I would choose to have the play at dusk, with a few lights in case it gets took dark. I chose this time of day because it is relaxing, and would be a good way for people to “wind down” from their busy days. I think at this time it would be slightly easier to secure the attention of the audience for these reasons. One of the main changes I would make to my play would be the number of actors that I would use. I would not maintain the Greek customs in this department. I think that it would be much more effective if there was an actor for each character. However, this does not make much of a difference for this particular scene because there are only three characters in it: Oedipus, Iocaste, and Choragos. For the casting, I would choose characters who, in my mind, look like what I imagined the characters to look like while reading the book. I pictured Oedipus and Choragos to be handsome, large, and strong men. Iocaste would be slightly more difficult to cast, since she would have to look not only like a mother, but also like a woman who can attract a younger Oedipus’ attention. However, I think that this problem could possibly be remedied by some sort of a veil added to the costume of Iocaste. If this would not work, I would just have to find a woman who looks the part, which I do not think would be very difficult with the makeup artists today.

For the costumes, I would use many bright colors. Not only would this make it easier for the audience to see the characters, but it would also make it easier to catch their attention, since people respond to bright colors. While I think that masks were a useful performance tool during the time of Greek theatre, I would not use them, because I believe that it would take something away from the emotions that the actors are expressing. Facial expressions can be very potent forms of communicating, and if the actors’ faces are covered, there would only be one expression portrayed throughout the play, even though body language might make up for some of the expressions that the characters might be lacking.

Finally, I do not think that I would have the chorus in my play that the ancient Greeks had in theirs. I don’t like the idea of singing narrators, because it begins to feel like a musical, which I wouldn’t want in my remake of Oedipus. Instead, I would have one person as the narrator, who would perform the same way the chorus did, but not in the singing form. I think that so many more emotions can be expressed through the narrator’s speech than if he were singing. The narrator would be on the scene throughout the entire play, as if he were another member of the audience when he wasn’t speaking. I think this would make the play not only more interesting, but also would make it easier for the audience to relate to the characters and understand the play more than they would if they were watching the play without any narration. When I first started reading the play, I was a little lost, so I think that this would help very much, and make the play stronger. Overall, I think that this play would be fairly different from the performances in Greece, but there would still be certain aspects that would remain the same, keeping the purpose and ideas of the Greeks intact throughout the play.

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