Play Analysis

Visual Expression Assignment

The play takes place within two visually distinct but interrelated environments: the vibrant, luridly vivid garden once belonging to the now-deceased Sebastian, and the cool, highly constructed, and controlled precision of the house. Measures taken to force scientific exactness onto the savage, carnivorous jungle combine with the austerity and restraint of the building itself to address a major theme explored throughout various levels of the play: the struggle to formulate and maintain an artifice that masks and contains interior perversity. The setting is a metaphor for the priorities and characters of Mrs. Venable and Sebastian, mother and son.

It remains unclear to me whether the garden is meant to be fully outside the house, but because of this interconnectedness I want both aspects visible on the stage; as an embodiment of the omnipresent Sebastian, the garden should not be removed or separated from the place of action. It is quite clear from the first scene that he has overwhelmed and subsumed the lives of both his mother and his cousin Catharine, so the garden is barely contained and of a size to engulf human figures (eating and cannibalism being regular motifs as well). Williams provides a fair amount of description, so I worked with the visual image this conjured as I began reading. Further clues to costume, furniture, and the like are provided throughout the play, so I kept note of these and made a list of the adjectives and evocative phrases utilized throughout. For specifics of costume, architecture, texture, and color, I considered literary and artistic references Williams’s descriptions brought to mind, conducted some internet research, and considered the metaphorical potential of fabrics and styling.

In addition to the themes mentioned above, imagery relating to birds recurs in the text in various ways, so I attempted to reference that in both the setting and in my ideas for certain aspects of the lighting/projection. It also became apparent that Williams had made certain symbolic associations to particular colors, most especially that of white, so I worked within that specification as well. I’m not sure how much detail to go into in this description versus what I share in class tomorrow; I have a much longer explanation written up but I didn’t want to make you all read exactly what I planned to say. The one aspect sort of omitted from my presentation is sound, which doesn’t really lend itself to visual representation, but Williams also addresses this in his directions and it would serve as a significant component of the play’s makeup and feel.