Explore this interactive resource to refresh your memory of the MTC production, including practice questions to help you prepare for the VCE Theatre Studies examination.
ELEMENTS OF THEATRE COMPOSITION
Click the buttons in the interactive image below to explore examples of the elements of theatre composition in Cyrano. What other examples can you think of? Choose one element and write a concise paragraph describing how it was manipulated in the performance.
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Read the quotes from the cast and creative team below, then write a short response to each analysis question.
Share your responses with your teacher for feedback, and discuss other examples you could use with your peers. Always remember to consult VCAA documents when preparing for VCE exams.
Virginia Gay: 'The rhythm in the piece is so important. We need all of the actors present, with their brains switched on, and just drilling and drilling the lines so that we find the shape of things, find the rhythms that lead to a punch line or to a sudden revelation. There’s lots of moments in this show where somebody is pontificating, somebody’s getting bigger and bigger, or getting rhapsodic, and then that gets punctured. So we’re looking at how that builds too.'
1. How does Cyrano manipulate pace, timing and tempo to control the rhythm in the ‘nose jokes’ scene?
2. Analyse the impact rhythm has on the actor-audience relationship throughout the production of Cyrano.
Sarah Goodes: ‘At times we sit in a world where the ensemble debate which way the story will go, and these are balanced with the moments when we are inside the telling of the story.’
1. What role does the chorus play in making the production of Cyrano cohesive?
2. How does the balance of storytelling, versus characters debating how to tell the story, create a cohesive production?
Sarah Goodes: 'I have been working very closely with our music director, Xani Kolac to build the sonic world of Cyrano, and one of the main areas we have been focusing on is how to run into and out of songs. By contrasting rhythms of songs and scenes placed next to each other, you can achieve very clear shifts and turns. This production needs to feel as if it’s constantly in motion, so when the feather of momentum and emotion comes down you want to then blow it up into the air again, carefully balancing the mood and emotion of the play.'
1. How do songs contribute to an implied sense of motion within the production of Cyrano?
2. Discuss how the Roxanne’s roller-skating entrance uses motion in a symbolic way.
Holly Austin: 'My costume has really helped achieve this. Inspired by a turtle I use her hoody, beanie and backpack to retreat into when she is shamed or fearful, and as she becomes more courageous she slowly peels off layers of her costume. I’ve also been inspired by meerkats as sometimes it feels like the chorus are ducking a weaving their way through the drama of the show.'
Milo Hartill: 'In a lot of my embodiment of character I am taking up space with my body and voice, and taking on physical stances and positions of certainty and knowledge, often trying to win battles about the direction of the narrative, and what is required of the other characters to make this a story worth telling.'
1. How does 3 manipulate their costume to emphasise the characters emotion?
2. How does 1 manipulate their body to control the focus of their character’s truth?
Elizabeth Gadsby: 'The old theatre space is framed by a proscenium arch (perhaps once colourful, now painted … black) that has a hole smashed through one side of it. Conceptually this hole speaks to the rupture in our storytelling as theatres all across the globe went dark in response to the covid pandemic. There is a very clear onstage and offstage space delineated through this finish in the design.'
1. Discuss how the designer uses contrast to differentiate between the two storytelling worlds in the set design.
2. Analyse the contrast between the opening (ghost light, darkness) and closing (green tinsel picnic) scenes.
Robin Goldsworthy: 'The chorus is a really fascinating element in theatre. They can often be the lens through which the audience view the play. They can be all knowing, shape the story, be the voice of forewarning, but still get caught up in the narrative at times. They are simultaneously both inside and outside of the dramatic action.'
1. Discuss how the chorus manipulates space and energy to create variation within the performance.
2. Analyse how variation is used to shift dynamics within the balcony scene.
Click the buttons in the interactive image below to further investigate acting skills used by the cast to realise the characters in Cyrano.
Published on 29 June 2021