when-you-see-a-play

What you see when you see a play.

Continuing our occasional series on harvesting conversational topics from plays, today we want to highlight the visual elements that might catch your eye during a performance and grow into something to talk about afterwards.

A play on stage offers many things to look at, nearly all of which are chosen by the director and design team for each production. The set, costumes, lighting, and props you will see in a performance, for example, of Urinetown (part of Great Evening #7 in the current edition of Just the Ticket: An Insider’s Guide to Great Evenings Out in Washington, DC) would be different from what someone seeing the same play in another town would see. While the words spoken and sung would be the same, everything meant for the eye is invented anew in each production.

So, you can get a good conversation going with a question like “How did what you were seeing in the play fit with what you were hearing?” This kind of question gets people talking both about what caught their eyes and what they felt was most important or most striking about the overall play.

You could also get the ball rolling by pointing out something visual that particularly impressed you and asking your companions whether they noticed the same thing and how they felt about it. In the bar immediately afterward is a great time for this kind of discussion, because for most people, visual memory fades fairly quickly. We tend to remember what happened long after forgetting the details of what it looked like.

A lot of work, including sketches, plans, and models, goes into putting the visuals of the play in front of you, the audience. In the end, your experience is what determines whether that was work well spent, so take a little time to share with your friends how what you saw struck you, and if you feel inclined, let us know where the conversation went with a message to peteandsara@greateveningsout.com.

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