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Spectacles in the Contemporary Theatre

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Introduction

If you’ve ever attended an opera or ballet, then you know that theatre performers often wear spectacles. However, it’s far more common to see this theatrical tool used in comedies than tragedies or dramas – and it’s also rarer to see spectacles used in contemporary productions than those set in the past. These differences can tell us something about how different stage directors view the spectacle – and what they hope to achieve with their productions of spectacles.

A Woman Sitting in the Movie Theater

What are Spectacles?

First off, let’s talk about what spectacles are. They are extraordinary visual effects, as The New York Times puts it. In other words, something that is usually not part of a product becomes one of its focal points. The spectacle is almost always associated with theatre or opera and can serve many different purposes within a show; however, they have become more commonplace over time and now often stand alone (with no theatrical performance going on). As discussed below, their common appearance in contemporary theatre may indicate increasing trends towards realism for directors and thus willing to make greater attempts at capturing life rather than artifice. Spectacles make up major parts of shows like Madagascar – seen by thousands at London's Royal Albert Hall – which used 250 cast members along with computer-generated imagery to tell a story focused on animals from an animated film. Another prime example would be Cirque du Soleil: anyone who has seen any of their shows will tell you there were things being done on stage during every single second that was unbelievable, such as acrobats flipping around gymnastically above your head!

Cartoon Movie Showing on Theater

How Do Spectacle Plays Function in Performance?

As more and more directors incorporate large-scale props into their work, it’s important to examine how these elements of performance impact our experience. When a director employs non-diegetic elements, (those things that aren’t part of what happens on stage and can be seen by everyone) does it affect us differently than diegetic elements? How do we see them differently? By examining spectacle performances as a whole, we gain insight into our reactions to non-diegetic props. Over time, spectacles have become increasingly common in theatre with new technology making it easier for directors to bring their visions to life; however, there are plenty of ways that these special effects change our experience when sitting in front of a stage. Spectacles help complete a set designer’s vision but also serve an additional purpose: they take up space which helps shape our understanding of everything else happening on stage. Once again: video games offer some very helpful insight into human perception. For example, if you place two dots side by side they look like one bigger dot while if you place them above each other they look like two smaller dots. Why is that? It all has to do with where your brain focuses its attention—if something takes up less visual space than something else we will focus less attention on it even if both items fall within our field of vision because they appear smaller to us.

What Does Theatre Gain from Spectacle?

Plays involving spectacle can make use of many different devices to create a theatrical experience. For example, large productions may make use of a wide variety of lighting and sound devices. A play can also employ costumes, sets, and props that are significant to increase audience awareness or enhance their interest. Plays that rely on spectacle are often considered more enjoyable than plays that lack it due to their immersive nature of engaging with large-scale events. Specters have been around for centuries and have had a positive impact on theatre performances since their inception. However, when spectacle becomes abused, it tends to lose its effect over time. It is important to find a balance between what should be shown and what should not be shown. This prevents theatres from losing viewers' interest through excessive information or by giving away major plot points. The visual elements used in production should enhance the story being told rather than detract from it. The audience will appreciate any additions made to better their understanding of any certain situation and will continue to see additional spectacles if they are done well enough without diminishing too much from the actual storyline. Through careful consideration of what elements work best within which plays, theatres ensure successful performance quality while providing memorable experiences for both actors and audiences alike. The overall environment helps draw people into buying tickets because they know they’ll get an entertaining show worth experiencing at least once during their lifetime. After all, every product has unique elements unique only to them such as costume changes or setting modifications.

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Group of People in the Theater

What Does Spectacle Lose from Theatre?

A theatre is a place of illusion and artifice. A careful balance must be maintained between reality and acting, for as soon as one steps foot into an auditorium, he/she has chosen to accept reality at face value. It is precisely at this juncture that spectacle begins to fade from performance, for if an audience believes what they see on stage, there is no longer any need for performances to be so meticulously crafted. The spectacle becomes something else entirely when it comes without such care. Is there merit within immediate? Or does immediate lose all sense of aesthetic appeal? When does immediacy stop being worth pursuing? How do we preserve its authenticity while maintaining its standards? These are questions that directors and playwrights ask themselves when creating new pieces every day. Indeed, these are questions that should be considered by audiences before going to watch a show, or even before writing off their favorite theatres as hopelessly unauthentic. For just because we have decided to ignore the curtain doesn’t mean we have decided to ignore our artistic impulses—it means only that we have learned not to listen too closely to them.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Ghulam Nabi Memon

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