A written play can be staged in multiple ways by changing how the characters look, behave, and talk. On the other hand, the stage reflection can also attempt to communicate what the author originally intended with no alterations. This essay will compare and contrast the stage directions, dialogue, and initial interpretation of The Crucible first act and its stage performance.
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When initially comparing two versions of the play, the live performance follows the guidance of the script and sustains the narrative. However, when contrasted, some differences indicate the additional liberty that actors have taken to amplify the emotional context of some scenes. Thus, the first viewing of the video appears more psychologically intense, while reading the script shows more logical and gradual plot development.
Stage Directions: Comparison and Contrast
Stage directions reflect the characters’ description, and the way the performance follows or alters them significantly affects the narrative. For instance, when Mrs. Puttnam enters the stage, she is supposed to look like a “twisted soul of forty-five, a death-ridden woman, haunted by dreams” (Miller 1.33). However, the character in the video dresses identical to other females, and nothing indicates her sorrow (“The Crucible” 5:15). The lack of representation of stage directions results in the character not radiating desperation and misrepresents the message of the play.
However, in an instance of the first argument with supposedly sick Ruth, the script is followed precisely, showcasing no differences. Similar to Miller’s vision, Ruth “whimpers, suddenly springs off bed, rushes across room to window” on stage as well (Miller 1.87; “The Crucible” 10:04-11:13). The accurate portrayal of the author’s guidance helps to sustain the narrative in a consistent and believable way.
Dialogue: Similarities and Differences
Differences in the dialogue can contribute to the meaning of the interaction. For example, in one of the first exchanges between Parris and Betty, he tries to pressure her into confession by telling that her “cousin’s life” is at stakes (Miller 1.30). However, during a performance, the actor adds the line, “I have given you a home, child! I’ve put these clothes on your back!” (“The Crucible” 4:38-4:45). A change of script makes the conversation more intense and shows how Parris tries to use power to intimidate the girl.
Nonetheless, following the original dialogue is also important since it conveys the same emotions. In both the written form and on stage, Puttnam exclaims, “They were murdered, Mister Parris, and mark this proof! –mark it!” (Miller 1.61; “The Crucible” 7:16-7:32). Lack of adaptation helps to create the authentic mood of the character, which contributes to the consistency of the script.
Interpretation: Differences and Similarities in Perception
The third component is how interpretations and opinions might differ between the written and live play. The thoughts that the scene evokes is a more abstract, yet more influential aspect that can potentially change the plot. When Hale enters the stage, his appearance is interpreted differently from the script. Miller writes, “Mister Hale! Oh, it’s good to see you again,” and the following actions of Parris make the audience believe that characters feel relieved when the person of religion joins (1.195). However, during a performance, the actions, facial expressions, and tone of dialogue lead to the conclusion that the characters were interrupted, perhaps because the conversation was more heated than in the original text.
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In contrast, when the storytelling provokes similar interpretation, fewer alterations are made to the plotline. When Hale interrogates Betty, she is defensive, “I never sold myself! I’m a good girl,” which translates to the performance as an attempt to protect herself, which comes across as desperate and fake (Miller 1.308). Both script and stage interpretation bear the same connotation, making the story consistent.
In conclusion, both differences and similarities between The Crucible’s act and its on-stage portrayal have their goals. Precisely following the dialogue, stage directions, and leading to the same conclusions makes the audience experience the narrative close to the original intent of the author. However, creative alterations in the aforementioned areas also can create an additional layer of complexity with underlying meaning.
“The Crucible.” YouTube, uploaded by Play Love, 2016.
Miller, Arthur. The Crucible. Oxford University Press, 2019.