Language + Movement = Drama – Theatre Essay
Aristotle compiled a list of factors that he felt made good theatre. Two facets of theatre in which I am most interested is language and movement. I find message-driven plays most interesting, both the written words
and written pantomime. Sometimes, a little bit of language can really stand out and set the mood for an entire play. Within the first set of one act plays, two examples of movement and language stood out for me. Not only was the language important, but the movements the actors used in delivering the lines were important.
Jena Chambers directed two short one act plays. One contained an interesting group of country people with country logic and country accents. Katie Reynolds delivered a line that set the entire scene. While the three country people were fishing, Miss Reynolds stuck her finger in her mouth and held it in the breeze. She allowed her finger remain in the air, whirling. She said plainly, “The wind’s coming from off stage.” I loved it! She did it perfectly. Miss Reynolds showed us the extent of her character and the others’ logic, and she made me laugh. Without that line, we would have never known that the characters were also aware that they were full of bologna and not at a pond at all. They knew they were on the stage!
The last play of that night was directed by Angela Price. It contained two southern girls, in love, and a southern judge. The girls were played by Karen MacIntyre and Gabriella Lassitar; Nicholas Hilbourn played the judge. We soon found out that the girls were lesbians when Miss Lassitar delivered this line. She was talking about all the things they could do during their time together, and one of the things happened to be, “Naughty, bad-girl things.” Miss Lassitar said this line with desire; we heard it. We saw the desire in her “bedroom eyes.” They were squinty, and they looked blissful and satisfied. She also did an intricate movement with her mouth, which she created. It is called “suppling.” It is based on the open mouth sigh of ecstasy. Miss Lassitar puckered her lips and quivered her jaw. After the naughty, bad-girl line, she suppled. We knew that the naughty bad girl things she was talking about did not involve egging houses or toilet-papering yards; it involved hot, steamy lesbian sex.
The plots and mood of these two one acts were in contrast to each other. One was happy and light, the other was heavy and dark. The threads that linked them were the Aristotelian elements, language and movement. These elements (though used differently) set these one acts’ moods, and they made the audience react. Language and movement develop and make real the characters. They are vital in drama. They mean something for the characters, and they mean something for the plot. If a play is a vehicle, then language and movement are the engine.