The play that I watched for the response essay is “Machinal” by Sophie Treadwell. I watched the play at the Warehouse Theatre. The play is grouped under the genre of plays termed as expressionistic (Gale). Expressionism is a style of art (drama, painting, or music) in which writers or artists aim to express emotions and the inner world (Gale). The production of the play utilized production elements that aid in the expression of emotions to communicate the inner worlds of the different characters in “Machinal.” The different production elements used include movement on the stage, lights and colors, costumes, facial expression, body language, sound, sets on the stage, and acting. This paper aims to discuss how production elements like facial expression, body language, sound, and acting were used to express the emotions and the inner world of the characters in “Machinal.”
The use of facial expression communicated the emotions and the inner world of the different characters and enormously contributed to the success of the production. Facial expressions were used to convey fear, joy, delight, horror among other emotions. Immediately after marrying Jones whom she did not desire as a husband, the young woman exhibited facial expressions that communicated her confusion, fears, and remorse in the hotel scene. The facial expressions aided express her confused and conflicted inner world. In a different scene, the young woman was arguing with her mother in the kitchen, and she exhibited a facial expression that communicated her rage and anger. There was another scene where the young woman was in a disco singing to the Latino man whom she was having an affair with. The young woman’s face expressed her happiness and delight and that helped communicate to the audience how the Latino man fueled her lust for living. In the scene where the woman killed the husband whom she did not desire, her face expresses horror and fear. She expressed the horror also through screaming.
Body language also aided in the successful communication of the characters’ emotions and inner world. For example, in the scene where the young woman had a heated argument with her mother in the kitchen, the woman expressed body language like moving around, throwing her arms, and turning her faces. The body language communicated her anger, confusion, and inner conflict to the audience. In the scene where the woman was in a hotel with Jones after getting married, she used body language to communicate her dislike for Jones. She was crunching her body, and that conveyed her worry and apprehension. Her body communicated more in that scene than words could convey. Jones’ body language, on the other hand, conveyed her delight and comfort with the new marriage. Another example where body language helped communicate the inner world of the characters was in the scene where the young woman was dancing with the Latino man with whom she had developed an affair. Her dance movements communicated her delight and happiness with the man. In the court scene, the woman’s movement and body language communicated her sadness.
Another production element that was used by the production to express the emotions and inner experience of the characters was sound. Sound was not used in most of the scenes but in the few scenes where the same was used, and it enhanced the performance of the play. One example where sound was used was in the disco scene. Music was played in the background, and the young woman sang and danced along to please the lover whom she had an extra-marital affair with. The music that was played aided in the expression of love, passion, and joy between the two lovers. There was also an affair scene where music was performed in the background and the music further aided in the communication of the inner experiences of the two lovers. When the young woman killed her husband, she started screaming on the stage. The screaming communicated her horror to the audience. The screaming conveyed that the killing was not a cold-blooded act but one driven by negative emotions.
Acting greatly aided in the communication of the characters’ inner experiences. The actors had good chemistry between them, and that made the different scenes appear like real-life events. For example, in the scene where the young woman was arguing with her mother in the kitchen, both acted quite well that one would mistake the scene for a real-life incident. In the disco scene where the woman was singing and dancing to her Latino lover, high-level chemistry was involved by the two lovers and the scene appeared more realistic. The actor’s great acting skills aided in the expression of the characters’ inner world as their emotions were expressed naturally.
Overall, the production of the play used various production elements to communicate different messages to their audience. Expression of emotions and characters’ inner experiences was a vital goal of the production as the play belongs in the expressionism genre. The elements that were crucial to the expression of characters inner worlds and emotions are facial expressions, body language, sound, and acting. The different actors in the play had adequately mastered the use of such elements, and they used them quite naturally. Other elements that helped communicate other messages to the audience but were not quite crucial to the expression of emotions are movement on the stage, lights and colors, and costumes.
Gale, Cengage Learning. A Study Guide for Sophie Treadwell’s” Machinal”. Gale, Cengage Learning, 2016.