How Stage Uses Story to Connect With AudiencesEssay

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¶ … Theater and Deep Human Communication

Theater critic Harold Cluman says that the "theater is deep human communication through the mask of fable." This means that fables or stories tell us messages about life and about ourselves. The message is deep in that it is not something that can be said simple. It is complex and needs to be said or communicated in a way that helps the complex message to get through to the audience without having the audience to get bored or confused. Theater helps that message to be entertaining for the audience but at the same time it helps that message to be informational, or like Charles Dickens says, to have "instruction," which is what he says in his novel David Copperfield. Dickens states that art, which is what theater is, should be entertaining and instructing (301). This helps to explain what Harold Cluman says about deep human communication. The theater is to tell us something and but it does not do so directly. It does so indirectly because that is the nature of the art, of the medium, which is the stage. Harold Cluman calls it the "mask of fable," but that is just a way of saying the play or drama or show. The fable is the story, and the story is the medium. Marshall Mcluhan says the message is the medium, and the medium is the message, and this helps to explain what Harold Cluman says too. The deep human communication cannot be separated from the fable or the fable from the communication because they are together for a reason. The communication cannot happen otherwise. This paper will explain and discus this idea using plays like The Phantom of the Opera.

Communication is also about connection, and in the shows that I watched for this class, they are about connection. The Phantom of the Opera for instance is a show about a man who wants to connect with a woman, but he cannot because he is like a "phantom" or a ghost. He is disfigured and must hide himself behind a mask and must lurk about the theater and do tricks to get what he wants. But this way of acting is frightening for everyone and defeats his purpose. But still he is acting out of a kind of love and trying to make a connection. He is trying to communicate what he feels through song and tell his story to the audience and show himself to the girl he loves. Like this the Phantom of the Opera is like what Marshal Mcluhan says and like what Harold Cluman says. The Phantom even wears a mask, like fable, and the mask partly helps us to understand his story, but it also makes that story hard to grasp for some (like the characters in the show who are afraid of the mask). This can be said about the audience as weel, because some persons in the audience are afraid of the fable, they do not like to connect with stories that have deep meanings that are hidden and unknown. The story and the show frighten them and they do not want to participate because they do not know what they are getting into or how they are supposed to feel or how to react. This is all part of the deep communication and the deep connection that happens when you see a work on stage, because behind that work like behind the mask is the people who work on the story and bring to life the characters and the actions and the meaning of the story. But even though the meaning is not on the surface and is hard to see unless you look behind the mask like that woman wants to do with the Phantom, then the deep communication and connection is hard to happen.

Also, The Glass Menagerie is about communication, except in this place the story is that there is too little communication. How do you in the audience feel about the level of communication in the play? In a way, you wonder what the playwright Tennessee Williams is trying to say. There are symbols in the play, like the glass unicorn. Its horn is broken off when Jim accidentally makes it fall. But Laura gives the unicorn to Jim and asks him to take it as a gift. She likes Jim but Jim is engaged to be married to a different girl. I think the gift is a present to Jim because Laura is thankful to Jim for dancing with her and being kind to her. She does not have anyone special in her life. In a way she is like the Phantomm. They both want to have love in their lives, but they cannot find way to do this because they are lonely and cut off from the world. Why is this so? This appears to be the fable, a loneliness in person cut off from the world without connection to the outside. Laura's brother Tom is some connection, but even he leaves at the end and goes away, like he is abandoning his sister and mother. What does it mean? This meaning is difficult to understand, because what it does is just make the audience feel sadness for these characters. They do not have much in their lives and there does not seem like there is any deep message that they have to give other than that they want some happiness or want to be loved, but this is difficult for some reason. That is like the fable of all these shows on the stage. There is something in the way of everyone getting what he wants. But this is like the conflict of the life, and the play is like the deep human communication of this conflict for the audience, saying don't be afraid if you are alone or if you are sad, because we are all like that and we all feel it. So the show in one way is an attempt to break out of this conflict, this loneliness, and to reach someone, anyone in the audience.

But what can the audience do back by way of correspondence? The audience can applause and does so in the end of the show if they like it, and at every show that I saw there was applause. But what else? This is the difficult part, because I think what the problem is that the audience does not know what else to do. But perhaps there is a sign in the symbols of the play. The unicorn loses its horn, what does this mean? It means that the magic is broken, the mask is come off. But Laura is okay with this, because she gives it to Jim as a thank you. The mask is off between these two and they understand one another and appreciate one another and there is a real kind of love between them now. This is what the theater does, it begins with the mask and tells the story through the mask, just like the Phantom begins with the mask. But the mask has to come off because we have to see the scars, and we have to see that the scars on the face are not bad, but it is the scars on the soul that can be bad and cause us to be deformed as Christine says in the show. Her kiss on the Phantom is what saves them all, because it is a kiss of love, just like Jim's kiss of Laura. Both kisses happen when the "mask" comes off, because in opening up and showing the true self there is a chance for true connection. It is a vulnerability. But it is part of what a deep communication is about and what a deep connection is about. There cannot be a communication without a vulnerability of there not being an answer. But not being afraid and doing the kind thing, the act of love, is what makes the communication special. The Phantom can now live without his mask, because he now has been healed in his soul, and Laura can live without her unicorn because she has been healed in her soul. And the audience can now go out into the world without the mask (the show) because it has been healed in its soul (hopefully). So the theater is like a way of touching the soul (through the mask) and making it better and whole again.

So how does this apply to Eugene Ionesco's Rhinoceros? This play is called the theater of the absurd, and it is difficult to make the communication in this play, but I feel it is also about the same thing, because isn't that what all plays and songs and stories are about, love? I think that in the end that is what they are about, because there is no other real subject, only that. So there may be a story where there is… [END OF PREVIEW]

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