Tableaux, noises and silences
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Tableaux, noises and silences book
This chapter is something of a miscellany. Noises and silences might seem to make a pair; but in terms of theatrical technique they are very different, since one is usually momentary and the other prolonged. Tableaux have something in common with both, since like a silence they petrify an emotional state in expressive immobility, and like a noise they begin with an instantaneously notable impact. By tableaux I mean (rather loosely) those places where there is not only a lack of dramatic movement, but also some or all of the visual constituents of a scene are held still for a longer or shorter time in a combination which captures or epitomizes a particular state of affairs. This kind of ‘freezing’ will sometimes come about when a sudden interruption catches the characters on stage ‘red-handed’, so to speak, so that they hold the pose they had reached at the crucial moment. But the most common circumstances involve a deliberately arranged set-piece, for example at the beginning of a play or at some ritual event, or at the Greek theatre’s special type of revelation-scene-the ekkyklema (see p. 12). And there are other less conventional ways in which the dramatist may sum up a stage in the sequence of the play so as to create a pictorial impression which will remain as a kind of after-image.