The Effective Play

Sometimes back I used to be a freelance actor in a local theater. I was therefore involved in several dramatic productions both as part of the crew and also as an actor. During this time, theater performance was a popular concept in the neighborhood and people always flocked the theaters during the weekends and in midweek rehearsals just to have a glimpse of the performances that took place in the venues. It was during this time that I obtain one of the most valuable experiences in theater and performance, experiences that I believe have now become part of me. One of the major lessons learned is the nature of drama and how popular directors influence the stage, the actors and all the other players in the theater to make the play efficient. This paper is a reflection of the experience and what I learned about making a play great and effective.

From my experience, the effectiveness of play is based on the effective selection of the props to use. Writing a play requires that one is frequent if not a resident visitor of the theaters and plays. This does not only help the playwright to choose the most effective props for the play and different settings but also assist in making the playwright aware of the limitations and strengths of all the props such as chairs, images, and other accompaniments. The props are selected as part of the main play. Although not included in the scripts, the props are part of the play and indicate how well the playwright understand the situation and the setting of the play. Accordingly, the props are used to design the setting which then contributes to the exact meaning and theme of the play. Effective selection of the props leads to the effective preparation of the setting and hence effective play.

Secondly, an effective play is dependent on the type and arrangement of the theater. The playwright, as well as the technical crew, must come together and immerse themselves in the medium of the play. This means that they must assume the positions of the viewers and the audience and ensure that the theater selected to show the play has enough space for the play to display all the necessary details of the actors and the stage. In addition, the lightings and sounds of the theater must be taken into consideration. There is a reason why some theaters remain fully booked while others are always vacant. Playwright and his or her crew must identify a theater that does not reduce the effectiveness of the play but rather support the themes in the play to come out even better and clearer.

During the preparations for a play, the communication between the stage management, the directors, and the actors must be effective for the success of play. Play will become great if the crew and the actors work together to ensure that all that the playwright has in mind is brought out in the action. This is the most important objective for rehearsals. During rehearsals, the persons involved in the play come together and stage the play as it would be with a live audience. This helps them to accustom with the props, the stage and also with one another. Communications and the language to use is clarified and practiced during this stage to ensure that there are no hitches during the actual staging of the play. A play that is well written and also provided in a good stage and with a wonderful audience may be spoilt by lack of effective communication between the cast and the crew. An effective play must, therefore, entail a lot of practice and rehearsal to ensure that the flow becomes as natural as possible and that there are no vacuums in the action.

The actors are the tools that the playwright uses to bring out the thematic concepts of play. Having good and effective writers is an important step towards achieving success in writing and preparing for a play. This requires that the actors are first auditioned and assigned roles. However, the most important aim of auditioning is not to select the best characters but also to understand and know the characters, their strengths and weaknesses and their personalities. More often than not, scripts of play have been manipulated to suit an actor in one way or another. The play managers must, therefore, understand their actors and be able to provide them with roles, primary or assigned, that are in line with their abilities, special talents, and personalities. When a play entails an adequate understanding of the actors, the flow always becomes natural and effective. When, however, the actors are not well understood, some roles become forced, and the effectiveness of the play is lost in the process.

Besides characterization and setting control, an effective play must also comprise of effective action. During the training and rehearsals, it is common to find instances when the director criticizes the facial expressions used by the actors. Facial expressions and non-verbal cues are not part of the scripts but contribute a big deal in the effectiveness of the action. In some popular plays, it is a common occurrence to find scenes where very little talking happens but still the scenes remain communicating and very effective. Such level of effectiveness is achieved through well managed and practiced action. The directors and the crew must be able, therefore, to identify the effective action level for each of the scenes and apply this to their play.

The effectiveness of play requires a multi-level collaboration of all the experts involved in the play. Each part of the play beginning with the inception of the idea behind the play, to the playwright and the selection of the actors and through to the actual play must be effective. Such level of effectiveness is achieved with adequate levels of collaboration, consultation, and discussion. In addition, having a professional relationship and understanding one another assist in ensuring effectiveness at all levels. This allows the actors to get to stage with the whole concept in mind and without interpersonal distractions that are likely to affect the play. Lastly, no play can be effective without the presence of vigorous practice rehearsals and meticulous management of the action onstage and offstage.

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