Theatre & Spectacle

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“Theatre seems to rely on spectacle.” With reference to ONE Shakespearean tragedy or romance and ONE work of modern drama, discuss the extent to which spectacle is significant in EACH play.

The spectacle in theatre involves all of the aspects of visual elements of the production of a play; the scenery, costumes, and special effects in a production which are utilized by the playwright to create the world and atmosphere of the play for the audience`s eye. It also refers to the shaping of dramatic material, setting, or costumes in a specific manner. Each play will have its own unique and distinctive behaviors, dress, and language of the characters. In William Shakespeare’s Othello and Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night, spectacle was relied upon to a lesser and greater extent respectively. This is because while Othello, was built around its complicated plot and the twisted machinations of one character, Iago; the other, Long Day’s Journey… was mainly dependent on its dysfunctional cast of characters for its audience appeal.

The spectacle of race is one of the main visual elements that can be found in Othello as there is the continuous emphasis on the otherness of its protagonist. According to the critic James R. Aubrey “when Shakespeare was writing Othello, his attraction to Cinthio's narrative about a black Moor in Venice may have [stemmed] from his playwright's recognition that Othello's skin color would give him a "marketable," spectacular charge on the stage.” Shakespeare knew that this character whose appearance marked him as Other, as having originated somewhere beyond the boundaries of the familiar would have attracted a curious audience. Although blacks had appeared on stage in earlier English plays, such roles were still extraordinary in 1604, when Othello was probably first performed.

From the opening scene of the play therefore references to Othello show him to be an exotic character. He is not once mentioned by name,...
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