2009 -- stagematrix.vtheatre.net

Fundamentals of Direction * THR331 * Directing: Laws, Rules, Principles * Topics : Stage Event = Subjective Time + Dramatic Space * amazon.com *

TOPICS: drama + comedy + postmodern + time + space + show + spectacle + audience + theory + public +
"Directing for Actors" ... It has now been understood and accepted that staging is not the mere physical uttering of a text with the appropriate intonation so that all can grasp the correct meaning; it is creating contexts of utterance in which the exchanged between verbal and nonverbal elements can take place. The utterance is always intended for an audience, with the result that mise en scene can no longer ignore the spectator and must even include him or her as the receptive pole in a circuit between the mise en scene produced by artists and the hypotheses of the spectators, artistically involved themselves in the mise en scene. (Aston and Savona:1991:121)
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Stage Directing Theory
Directing Theory: pre-text, text and super-text
If you didn't read pages on the floor plan, you must do it first. Also, the Stagematrix page! Recommended: Time and Space pages in Biomechanics (BM)!
Mise-en-scene for Actors


Directors' Forum

Use HAMLET directory! Print the text (segment of the scene of your choice) and keep it in your class notebook! Keep working on it! What Does Virtual Director Do?

How you have to direct Camera-Performer!

No, not the camera, but a SPECTATOR WITH THE CAMERA! (Watch "Man with Camera" by Vertov, the classic Soviet documentary propaganda of the twenties).

I hope you understand the difference. He is PERFORMING. You (and actors) can see it on the screen -- it's different every night. It's INTERACTION between the show and process of seeing it!

I block the action for actors -- they (and spectators) do the blocking for the cameras.


Does it mean that our virtual spectator behind his monitor is present already?

Oh, we are playing together!

He is cliking! I can hear it!

I want him to type his comments... and we will put the on the screen on our stage in real time! Bring this "chat-room" in the middle of the show, let have titles, let them the actors-directors-editors-spectators around the world have a fight! What a spectacle! What a show to watch! Better than "Jerry' Show"!

Mass scenes are the pleasure to choreograph (Peter Arnott's PUBLIC AND PERFORMANCE -- on Greek Chorus).

Goals of Blocking

1. To help the actors be seen and heard

2. to give emphasis

3. To use actors as a part of the creation of mooed and atmosphere

4. To insure that the dramatic action is realized

Mise-en-Scene (mise en scene):

The last point #4 is the most important

See Mise-en-Scene in Biomechanics!

Chronotope: Spacetime accoring to Aristotle -- Every sensible body is by its nature somewhere. (Physics,Book 3, 205a:10) + Time is the numeration of continuous movement. (Physics, Book 4, 223b:1) = Mise-en-Scene (organization of the show's chronotope into artistic message!


Floor plans: basic motion designs (square, cross, triangle). Acting Areas = combination of "9 squares" (procenium) and a "clock face" (arena) techniques. "0>" (male) and "0+" (female). "X" (crossing), "XDR" = a cross to down right.

"Blocking" ¨C where actors go on stage (64). Remember stage positions and body positions. Called "blocking" because early directors conveyed staging instructions by drawing a grid on stage floor and labeling each stage position, or "block."

Stage business: -- detailed handling of props, specific actions such as answering telephones or turning on a lamp.


Focus -- arrangement of stage picture so as to direct audience's attention to the appropriate character, object, or event.

If this were indeed the source, why doesn't the term exist in German? The German verb blockieren means to obstruct. I have never seen it used in the English theatrical sense.
Laurence Senelick

"Michael T. Evenden" wrote:

> My understanding has been that the term "blocking" refers back to Goethe's dividing the Weimar stage into a grid of squares ("blocks"--what we would now call up right, up left, etc.) and using them to plan his actors' stage positions and movement. But I can't cite a source to confirm that off the top > of my head--doubtlessly someone else on the list knows more definitely than I. Concurrently, I'd be interested to know what terms are used in other languages to describe the plan of actors' movement; the term I know the most use of in European languages is what we would translate as "choreography."
Michael Evenden
Associate Professor Kabuki-Style


Achieving focus:

By body position §§C the actor who is most "full front" will have the focus.
By stage area -- central areas have most focus.
By level -- actor on highest level.
By plane -- farthest downstage.
By triangulation -- actor at apex of a triangle.
By contrast -- actor who is apart from group (sitting, while rest of cast is standing).
By movement -- moving actor will have more focus

"I've been dwelling on Eisenstein because his theory and practice can serve as a foundation for our understanding of Meyerhold, Eisenstein's mentor.
Yet, Eisenstein's work, thanks to its preservation on film, will endure longer.
The special character of Meyerhold's theater lay in the fact that his dramaturgy was subordinated, as it were, to the individual moment. In this respect the process may be said to have begun with Stanislavsky. But the unity of Stanislavsky's theater was founded on the unity of man, that is, on the unity of character. Meyerhold's theater, on the other hand, was built on "attractions." His characters are not developed. They are nothing more than the yoking together of attractions. For example, one may ask whether the characterization of the mayor's wife [of Gogol's Inspector-General in Meyerhold's staging] is compatible with the general structure of the play. But such a question was never raised by the director." Shklovsky on Eisenstein

Dictionary of the Theatre by Pavis states:
Fr: mise en place; Ger.: szenisches Arrangement, Markierren; Sp.: planta de movimiento.

Here are some things to consider when blocking your actors in a play:

1. Let the script do most of the work for you. As a director, you may have plenty of ideas on changing the setting or the costumes or the dialogue, but leave the basic stage direction as intact as possible. You aren't trying to reinvent the wheel, just making sure your actors know where to stand and when to cross. Most scripts already contain enough staging information to allow you to form a rough idea of blocking. You should know when the characters are supposed to enter and exit, and what obstacles are in their way during their dialogue. Trust the script notes to paint the broadest strokes you will need to do basic blocking.

2. Avoid clutter- keep the audience in mind. A traditional proscenium stage should be viewed as a living painting. No artist would dare place all of his painting's elements on one side of the painting. Balance the stage movements so that the audience has a feeling of aesthetics. If a character has no interaction with others in the scene, move them to the opposite side of the stage for balance. If you have furniture on stage, avoid piling every actor on the couch center stage. You might set up more furniture on both sides of the stage to keep your actors from crowding each other. You might also consider building various levels to keep all actors in plain view. Build up different parts of the set, and when one actor moves to a different 'level', move another actor to replace them. If done subtly, the audience should not notice the continuous shift.

3. Allow the actors to improvise and contribute to the blocking process. During the rehearsal process, a director must be an benevolent dictator and democratic leader at the same time. There are some blocking directions that should be seen as immutable, such as exits, dramatic crosses and entrances. These movements need to be fixed and unchanged, so that lighting directors and other technical people can get a proper fix on actor positions. But some elements of blocking, such as internal monologues and staged arguments, can be modified through improvisation and actor input. You should listen carefully to your actors' ideas, even if you still veto them. Actors can get a feel for where their characters would want to move during a scene, so their input can be very useful indeed. During a conflict scene, you may feel that the couple would naturally move away from each other to get some emotional distance, whereas the actors involved may feel like moving in closer to increase the tension between them. Both actions seem reasonable, so see which movements improve the scene. Be prepared to adjust your original ideas accordingly- move other actors out of the scene or change the stage layout. [ Michael Pollick ]

What techniques can a director use to make one actor dominate the stage?

The character's relationship to the audience [Full front is the strongest position],
A character's height [The tallest actor will dominate a scene],
The character's focus, [The audience will look at the character, the other on stage characters are looking at],
Stage areas [The strongest area is down center],
Scenery [A character framed in a door way],
Costumes [A character in a bright costume],
Lights [A character isolated in a pool of light],
Movement [A character moving across the stage].

* Mise en Scene in FILM

Mise-en-scène From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mise-en-Scene: Film Style and Interpretation (Short Cuts S.) John Gibbs 190336406X mise-en-scene film directing *

acting areas and mise-en-scene: pomo.vtheatre.net -- Mamet (Oleanna) Theatre UAF Fall 2006

Two Functions: Show as a narrative (stories)

A. "Blocks" and blocking: textbook -- part 4. Style and part 6. Director and Space [ blocks of action -- constructing, "architecture of a show" ]

B. Blocking = stopping (directions -- focus)

"Director' Style"? Your way of staging!

Film Approach:

Collage and Montage

Directing Index * Part I * Part II * Part III * Part IV * Part V *
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... When an actor stands in the correct position (usually with regard to lighting) she/he is said to have Hit the Mark.
* the process of arranging actors and scenery on a stage for a theatrical production
*stage setting
*the physical setting of an action

Mise en scène: In film theory (film theory: film theory seeks to develop concise, systematic concepts that apply to the study of film/cinema, mise en scène [mizA~sEn] refers to everything that is to appear before the camera (camera: Equipment for taking photographs (usually consisting of a lightproof box with a lens at one end and light-sensitive film at the other)) and its arrangement – sets, props, actors (actors: A theatrical performer) , costumes, camera movements and performances. The term was coined by early French (French: The Romance language spoken in France and in countries colonized by France) film critic (film critic: more facts about this subject) s and means literally "put into the scene" or "setting in scene." In auteur theory (auteur theory: the auteur theory is a way of reading and appraising films through the imprint of an auteur, less creative director (director: Someone who supervises the actors and directs the action in the production of a show) s are sometimes disparagingly called "metteurs en scène".

[ glossary ]

Mise-en-scene is directing. The rest is teaching.
The Staging.... Or you may use the term "blocking" (as long as you understand that it's not only placing together "blocks" of action, but also BLOCKING unrestricted movements on stage). Yes, it's STOPPING the flow of time, too. Oh yes, you are an architect! You design the building, the city, the landscape for the action. And if you did it right, the rest will take care by itself -- your actors will find the natural way to REACT to environment. Remember, acting is re-ACTING. Do they have it, the walls, doors, windows, staircases, floors, up and down of the set to explore? Do they have a house to live in? Did you build the place for them to call "home" -- to have a planet for the show?

In order to learn the art (engineering) of mise-en-scene, you have to know the basics of the floor plan dynamics. Go to the Directing Page. The mise-en-scene is a heart of directing profession. I noticed that in directing classes I speak very cynical about actors as if they are a part of a set. And they are. "Acting properties" -- self-moving objects. As a disclaimer for my directors I say: "Place them, free them to do the acting." Yes, they ask for limitations, they need them to channel their energy, to be focused, to have DIRECTIONS for their emotions. What their freedom would be without directors tyranny? I say: "Look at the dictatorship of the text! The words are chosen and actors have to memorize them. Why? Because it's the best possible combination -- if you want to re-write them, write plays. If you want to act -- perform them. Director has to be even more radical, he deals with many languages".

All of them in directing class must have acting course first. They are shocked....

Good. They should know about the war between director and actors. The conflict means that the two have a mutual subject, common territory, something to decide together. Conflict is the essence of drama. Director fights with the playwright too, you know. If you accept this premise, you will avoid endless useless conversations and confrontations on the set. You will be prepared for a battle and you better be ready to win. What is your victory? When actor feels that it's his choice, his discovery, his act. Don't be too shy, you selected the text, you cast them, you arranged the set - you came in long before them, you should know what they are struggling with.

Understanding dramatic structure is only the first step. You are not a critic and not a playwright. You must have DIRECTOR'S MIND, reading the script. Do you know to see it with director's eye? Did you read Concepts & Conceptualization page at Film-North?

Film directors must pay even more attention to Mise-en-Scene, which includes not only primary motion (in front of camera), but also camera movement (secondary motion). You floor plan must also contain the lighting instruments positions.

Oh, there is another page for Scene Studies! 200X Aesthetics * The performance text is `all that is made visible or audible on stage' but is not perceived as a system of meaning or a system of signifying stage systems. It is a text that has not yet been "read", that has not yet been engaged with by the spectator in a process of meaning-making.

The mise en sceene is a more complex term, and is created by both production and reception. The term mise en scene is of course a French term, literally meaning 'the putting into the scene', or 'on stage'. It comes from Latin words missus in scaenam meaning 'the placement or sending onto the stage'. Patrice Pavis has described the mise en scene as "the utterance of the dramatic text in performance" [Pavis, 1992, 25] and the creation of context for this utterance. Of course he is talking here about theatre that has a 'dramatic text'.

The mise en scene is the performance text perceived as a system of signs working together to produce meaning. In other words, it involves the same three elements that any sign involves: signifier (the complex performance text), the signified (the open ended denotative and connotative meanings that are generated by the performance text) and the perceiver of the sign (the audience member).

While the performance exists as an object - even if a constantly shifting and tenuous one - the mise en scene only exists as it is received and reconstructed by the individual spectator. It is like electricity - it only exists when it is switched on. There can therefore be as many mises en scene as there are spectators.

The mise en scene is a network of relationships between different stage materials and is created by the artistic team - dramatist, director, designer, actor, musicians, technicians, and the relationship between all of this and the spectator through the process of reception.

Pavis makes the crucial statement that

"The utterance is always intended for an audience, with the result that mise en sc¨¨ne can no longer ignore the spectators and must even include them as the receptive pole in the circuit comprising the mise en sc¨¨ne produced by the artists and the mise en sc¨¨ne produced by the spectators" (Pavis p.38-9)
Pavis' use of the phrase 'the mise en scene produced by the artists' is potentially confusing, in that it calls attention to a more common use of the term mise en scene, meaning 'the staging and scenography' of the production, or even 'the performance text'. But his emphasis on dual agency (artists and audience) elucidates the essential role of the audience in the 'meaning creation' loop that is the mise en scene, which Pavis defines as "the bringing together or confrontation, in a given space and time, of different signifying systems, for an audience".

The 'fitting' of the act of reception and the production of the performance text creates the mise en scene.

It is for this reason that one cannot speak of the mise en scene as something solely produced by the artists. Similarly, in "The Death of the Author", Barthes emphatically asserts the role of the 'reader' in the 'unity' of 'text':

"a text is made of multiple writings, drawn from many cultures and entering into mutual relations dialogue, parody, contestation, but there is one place where this multiplicity is focused and that place is the reader and not ...­ the author'... a text's unity lies not in its origin but in its destination".
The transitory and elusive nature of the theatrical 'text' ('performance text') could be called its 'hazardous nature', for which "there is no other time than that of the enunciation". Researching performance is, as Pearson and Shanks argue, an archaeological project, because theatrical performance is 'the always already gone by'. The mise en scene is held together momentarily by acts of production and reception. At the end of that moment, the relationship falls back into nothing. The lights go out, the electricity is turned off, so to speak, and we go home.

In reality it is most difficult to distinguish between text and reader, or between the performance text and the mise en sc¨¨ne, precisely because in order to ascertain what constitutes the performance text one has engage in a reading of it in some way. Perhaps this is why Pavis' use of the terms 'performance', 'performance text' and mise en scene seem somewhat confused at times. http://www.sca.unimelb.edu.au/ths/public/B-Lect%206%20-%20mise%20en%20scene.htm

"The most terrible enemy of beauty is prettiness." (Meyerhold Speaks, 317)

Yes, I said many times that director is IMAGEMAKER, but think about functionality first. Image is the by-product of designing space and time for dramatic purposes. The play and your actor is all what you need to create the imagery. Director's imagination is nothing more that good "reading" of his material (script, actors, stage space). Don't ever think about the effects (or forms) without thinking about WHAT you want to comminicate!

"When I hear a director speaking... of letting a play speak for itself, my suspicions are aroused, because this is the hardest job of all. If you just let a play speak, it may not make a sound. If what you want is for the play to be heard, then you must conjure its sound from it. This demands many deliberate actions and the result may have great simplicity. However, setting out to 'be simple' can be quite negative, an easy evasion of the exacting steps to the simple answer."
Peter Brook, The Empty Space.

Focus Careful with this statement! If a director has no concept (vision, interpretation) the simplicity is nothing! Directors must have something to say on their own; this is why they produce plays. The very fact of selecting the play is the choice and chance nto express something new, something that never said before. Director and play is a marriage and the child of their union is the show.


In film directing class we study mise-en-scene for understanding of PRIMARY motion (in front of the camera). Spectator = camera. (see Mise-en-Scene Page in Biomechanics Directory)

Do the storyboard exerc. for your scene. Or at least for a monologue!

Now -- What is the difference between "blocking" and "mise-en-scene"? (Read Film Directing 101 pages)

The functions of floor plans? List them.


Select the scene from SHOWS directory and bring in class YOUR floor plan for the scene. Only for the first part of the class; the second part -- Hamlet only. Third -- your scenes for the finals (or the class project).


Mise-en-scene in BIOMX (biomechanics) acting directory.

All 21 points must be aknowledged (9 + 12 around). Not using is a statement. As long as the space established.

The meaning must be assigned. (Acting Areas)

Movement from one point to another is choreography (invisible) by director. [ Actors tend to move too chaotic and must be "blocked" from the "empty space" false freedom.





























Again, Metrics (Focus -- above, click)! Otherwise, go to the Part III: Stage (Chronotope) subdirectory.
Next: Film Directing
[ floor plans home excer. -- list of scenes ]

"While the performance exists as an object, the mise en scene only exists as it is received and reconstructed by the individual spectator. There can therefore be as many mise en scene as there are spectators.

In particular the mise en scene is 'the utterance of the dramatic text in performance' and the context that is created for the utterance. It is a network of relationships between different stage materials and is created by the artistic team - dramatist, director, designer, actor, musicians, technicians and through the process of reception by the spectator.

Mise en scene is not simply the staging of the dramatic text as a repetition in time and space of the written text. Nor is it a direct translation of the text into performance.

When we think about mise en scene we are thinking about the way in which an artistic team brings their creativity to a dramatic text. A theory of mise en scene holds that the actor does not have to carry out the stage directions as stipulated in the text; nor does the director need to faithfully adhere to the writer's intentions. Mise en scene is free to put into practice only some, or even none of the stage directions. Mise en scene is not the stage equivalent of the dramatic text because it employs different signifying systems such as the corporeal, visual, aural, proxemic and kinesic systems that do not exist in the dramatic text. Mise en scene exceeds what is stipulated in the text. And this is not just a process of filling in the narrative gaps - rather it is the employing of signifying systems which signify of their own accord and alter the relations between the written words and their meanings. Mise en scene is not a product - an object - so much as it is a process of creating the theatricality of the text.

The mise en scene of the same text can vary over time and place, that is to say the social and cultural context of the performance. Each mise en scene is a new reading of the dramatic text.

With every new mise en scene, the text is placed in a situation of enunciation according to the new Social Context of its reception, which allows or facilitates a new analysis of the text and so on, ad finitum. (30)

In the classical hierarchy of signs, the Plot was the dominant theatrical element, followed by Characters in Action ,Thought or Rhetoric, Language, Melody and lastly mise en scene. In classical poetics mise en scene is relegated to the 'wardrobe master's art', not the poets. The twentieth century has seen a rise in the importance of mise en scene which has paralleled the rise of the director and more recently, the recognition of the meaning-making function of the spectator. The rise in importance of mise en scene indicates a change in perspective, the desire to get away from the idea of a text based theatre, the logocentric theatre where the word is the central signifier and the mise en scene is the peripheral decoration." source *


* Blocking: The precise moment-by-moment movement and grouping of actors on stage.


SL Shakespeare Company, Hamlet Act 1 Scene 1 Storyboard from Ina on Vimeo.

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Mise-en-scène -- all material put before the camera to be filmed, and its placement within the frame
–French theater term for “what is put into the scene”: what is staged within the camera frame


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