The staging of plays varies greatly in complexity, beauty and visual effect from one play to another. Writers sometimes focus their ideas rather on the characters' speech and acting than on creating a unique and refined staging technique. Both Henrik Ibsen in A Doll's House and Arthur Miller in Death of A Salesman lay a great importance on the staging of their ideas by creating a whole "entire" world with music, sounds and lighting in a well defined location which can contribute to emphasizing the protagonists' struggles and desires. Yet seventy years later the publishing and first representation of these works from 1879 for Ibsen's to 1949 for Millers' and we can ask ourselves if Ibsen was limited by the techniques of his day, perhaps less evolved. The following analysis will thus endeavor to explore how different or similar both writers' approach to staging are, to ask ourselves finally how staging can affect an audience's reception and response to a play seen in the theater.
[...] Music also makes its way in Ibsen's approach to staging his ideas with a piano present in the living room on which Torvald and Rank play the Tarantella, an energetic and strong music. The dance according to this music was originally performed by the victims of the supposedly poisonous spider, which perfectly corresponds to Nora's struggle, believing she is poisoned by her crime and that at the same time, she is poisoning her children, with Helmer's declaration of atmosphere of lies contaminates and poisons every corner of the home”. [...]
[...] The audience's emotions are further mobilized with the music turning into soft pulsation of a single cello string”. At the term of this analysis, it appears clearly that both Ibsen and Miller are masters of staging, using a large array of techniques to set a particular mood and atmosphere through lighting, sounds, music and objects. This is essential in helping the audience understand the full extent of the writers' message as well as the issues raised by the plays, but staging [...]
[...] In Death of A Salesman the very opening stage directions also set a particular mood and atmosphere “Towering angular shapes” surrounded the Lomans' little house, imprisoning it in a sense which clearly reflects Willy's sense of being trapped in his deluded beliefs of success. The “angry orange glow” sets an aggressive mood, perhaps foreshadowing Willy's final sacrifice in his suicide. Miller perfectly masters lighting, setting a blue light to symbolize the present while a green light symbolic of leaves covers the house when we are drawn into Willy's imagination and reminiscences of the past. [...]
[...] A certain number of props in the staging of Death of A Salesman help to establish a certain number of tensions at work in the play. The three chairs disposed in the kitchen while four people are present possibly foreshadow Happy's exclusion and Willy and Linda's ignorance of him. Biff's sporting trophies over the parents bed show of his prior sporting success, this star which can really “never fade away” in Willy's heart. The fridge is a sign of Willy's “constant race with the junkyard”, for ironically he too is a victim of sales talk and has bought the fridge because it had the “largest advertisements”. [...]
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