The Woman In Black Theatre Essay

841 words (3 pages) Essay

1st Jan 1970 Film Studies Reference this

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The “Woman In Black” belongs to the gothic genre. The genre was created by Horace Walpole, He wrote “The Castle of Otranto” which was the very first gothic novel which was written in 1764. The Gothic genre normally includes Isolated Places, such as the house Arthur stays in, Supernatural creatures, Such as the ghost Woman in Black, Damsels in Distress such as Arthur at the end of the play when he has had enough of the haunting.

The woman in black is a terrifying gothic play. Stephen Mallatratt, the playwright achieves this by writing an effective mise-en-scene including setting, lighting, props, sound, the text, and stage directions for actors. These all merge together and create a “nerve shredding experience”.

A technique that Stephen Mallatratt uses to create a scary experience is lighting. For example, when the sound of the pony and trap was playing there was a black out. The black out made it daunting because no body knew what was happening and this created a lot of anxiety. The noise was very loud and it was threatening, the audience didn’t know what to do because you couldn’t see anything so you were put through the torment of being in the pitch black listening to a child cry. Another time when lighting was used to create a terrifying effect is when Jerome and Arthur were in the church at the funeral of Ms Drablow. The lighting was used to present a cross and a stained glass window. This was very Gothic, and creates an edgy atmosphere because the audience didn’t know if something was going to pop out, the only light was from the cross and window, which is very creepy.

The lighting is also used in a clever way. When the lights hit the curtain it exposed a whole Child’s playroom. It’s bloodcurdling to watch because until the lights where used, the audience couldn’t see the other room. The audience don’t know how it got there and what was going to happen.

Another technique used is Sound. Sound is used throughout the play, and it’s a major part in creating a “nerve shredding experience”. The sound is used for ghostly encounters or the curse of the child screaming when he’s drowning. Stephen Mallatratt also uses volume to make the sound scarier. When the child is drowning it starts off reasonably quiet and then it gets deafening, giving the effect the pony and trap is getting nearer, and then suddenly the child starts screaming. It makes other people scream because there’s a black out and a loud cry. The use of sound and lighting combined makes the play truly chilling to watch and hear.

Sound contributed to the gothic atmosphere because a lot of the time the noise was sudden. The audience do not expect to hear children cry or other spooky noises so it’s very scary to hear. Sound is used to create suspense by making the noises start at a quite level but then reaching a louder more nerve shattering sound, this happens when the pony and trap are moving, this also could represent distance, the further away the quieter the noise, the closer it is the louder the noise.

Stephen Mallatratt uses only 3 actors, the actor, Kips and the Woman in Black. I think Stephen Mallatratt uses only these 3 people because using more actors could take the tension they have already built up away. For example, when spider runs off and gets stuck in the mud and the actor goes to pull him out. During this the real Arthur Kipps is standing on stage explaining what’s happening while the actor is showing the actions. At the moment were the tension breaks, the real Arthur Kipps, changes from narrating to acting as Keckwick. In my opinion, if there was a change of actor the whole scene and all the tension they had created would be lost. The way they do this is nerve shredding because its so weird how the actors can just change the characters in short amount of time.

Stephen Mallatratt gets the actors to use different tones of voice, facial expression, coats, habits and many more to portray change of character. An example of when he portrays this is in the first scene when Arthur Kipps is acting as Tomes. Tomes has a sniff so when Arthur Kipps is acting as him he makes sure the sniff “occurred every twenty seconds”. This made the audience know that he was acting as a different character. This is effective because we know that it’s the same person but its intresting to see the ability of the actor when he/she changes there facial expressions, voices and other factors.

Overall I think Stephen Mallatratt did a good job at terrifying everyone within the theatre, the parts when everyone screamed where mainly because of the lighting and the sound. If there weren’t these two factors I doubt the play would have been as effective as it was. I personally enjoyed the play and how it affected me, I wasn’t expecting to be scared but I was which proves how the light and sound is effective.

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