As one of the outside events that we are required attend, I will share my critique that I did for my Theater 1030 class. I decided to go see the play A Lesson Before Dying at the beginning of this month the weekend before the shows ended. For English we required to attend four are outside events, I would to share my critique as my experience as I sat back and watched the performance. Everything I have said about this play is what I experienced as an audience member.
The play A Lesson Before Dying is something everyone should know about whether they read the book, watch the movie, or go see the play. I saw the play the other weekend with my cousin. Attending the theatrical performance in person allowed me to better understand the context of the story. In other words, the performers brought the book to life and that allowed me to better understand what the author has written. I think there is a message that the author wants us, or me, to learn after learning about his novel. To critique the actual play is to explain why I enjoyed seeing the play A Lesson Before Dying.
The plot of this story features the teacher Grant Wiggins. He is a school teacher and teachers on a plantation in Bayonne, Louisiana. He has the responsibility of teaching Jefferson to be a man before he dies. Miss Emma wants Grant to convince Jefferson that he is not a hog. Jefferson went to jail because he at a crime scene at the wrong time and got caught up in the middle of everything. As Jefferson gets visits from family and friends they convince him to find the injustice in the situation. Though he is in jail for no apparent reason, he is still on the death path. Grant and his girlfriend discuss their person problems and share thoughts and feelings between each other. Jefferson is given a journal to write in everyday. Though is not a very educated person, the teacher is able to communicate with Jefferson about what he has written in the journal. With encouraging words, Jefferson dies with a lesson that he has learned.
I would describe the dialogue throughout the performance as an important aspect in the way of being the text of the novel to live. For example, reading the novel with feelings is not the same as people acting it out. In other words, just reading the text a person will understand and analyze what is going on, but the dialogue of hearing what people during the time of the novel will bring a clearer imagine to the audience. I would describe the dialogue being balanced with the other elements. All of the characters, or actors, were not being too chatty. Throughout the play, there was dialogue interaction. I heard and seen every one interacting with each other. I find that there is nothing wrong with the words and actions between the words. The dialogue goes along the line of the text.
The actors did not really have a certain way of being our entertainment on stage. The actors acted like regular people doing their job, but with a passion. They got up there before the audience and did what they did. The movements of the actors brought the book to live as everything else. In saying this, the actors did not make the play boring, but they brought emotions, connection to the audience, and the using their bodies to speak. To point out as a good example, when Grant started to attack Jefferson, I could tell that he was mad. His body language allowed the audience to assume that he angry and is doing his best to take care of the responsibility of teaching a lesson before a man die. The relationship between Wiggins and his girlfriend reflected a modern relationship because of the drinking, discussion of problems, and the emotions between each other. They had a true relationship. I believe that they were in love and if the author continued to write the story, then they might have gotten married. Their relationship is similar to one of modern time. In some way the audience can relate how the relationship could be happen to any average person. There was plenty of effective body language to suppose the emotions of the actors at the right time. Everyone had a certain way of using their tone of voice so help the audience know the feelings of the characters rather than just talking in normal voice. For example, the sheriff would use his tone to create the sense that he is taking the situation as a joke and really does not care about anyone else that is in the story. The sheriff had the “I don’t care” attitude while the school teacher had a deep voice at times to show his seriousness.
The setting of the story took place during a different time period and the costumes reflected the time period. What I mean is that what the actors wore were looking a bit old, but then again, it fitted what you might see everyday people wear, especially elderly people. The set of the performance was basic and did not consist of big props or anything that took the meaning out of the story. In short the set was minimal. The scenes all took place like in the jailhouse (jail cell), and you had the lights to point out two different areas of the stage to create different scene of the story. Although the set was unique, it was different because you did not see the actually jail cell nor was it a movable stage to go from scene to scene. I think the set could have been a little better, but it did not totally affect the way the actors did a live show of the novel. In one corner of the stage, you had a desk that was used for the actor who played Grant to do the classroom scenes and the opposite side was the table for the scenes for Grant and his girlfriend. Besides pointing out those aspects of the entire play, the lights did set the mood. Each time the mood changed the lights got either dark or lighter. The lights were a necessary because without them I don’t think that just the tone of voice of the actors would provide great strength with the rest of the elements of the play. Overall, the play was good. It was a bit of what I expected, but it was very good to see the book come to live.
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