“How Theatrical Skills were used at a particular moment to create a specific effect for the audience” On 17th December, I along with other students at SHSG saw the play ‘Nation’ at the National Theatre in London. ‘Nation’ was a romantic comedy with elements of adventure and thrill. Nation was performed in the Olivier Theatre, which was an arena; this was very useful throughout the play as it had a very large performance stage, which allowed the actors to make good use of space by spreading out.
In Act One, the sea storm created a very scary and tense atmosphere by using many techniques such as lighting, props and sound. These techniques were all used to create different effects but the same scary atmosphere. Lighting created a tense atmosphere for the audience by having the stage dim with hints of blue lights, which represented the sea. Then suddenly, by having flashes of bright lights shooting down at the stage created the effect of lightning and by them being unexpected and sudden scared the audience, which created a successful scary atmosphere. It was successful in creating a scary atmosphere as the key point in a scary atmosphere is trying to ‘scare’ the audience and in Nation the director achieved this. The director used the dark stage and beaming lights to represent a sea storm, he succeeded in doing this, as the audience were able to identify a storm.
The use of props was also very successful in creating a scary atmosphere and portraying the sea storm. The rope was used to show the outline of the ship; this idea was very simple but very effective. The rope allowed the cast to easily change from one scene to another, yet the audience were able to identify that it was representing a ship. The cast also helped to make the atmosphere thrilling as when they swayed in sync, to look like they were in a boat; it was very eerie to watch. This was because the cast looked very unstable and it was unclear whether all of them would manage to stay in the boat. The Director intended to create this thrilling atmosphere so the audience could empathise what it was like to have been in the current situation. This scene was set down stage so it was very intimidating to watch as it was going on in front of the audience.
Upstage there were three big electronic projecting screens which allowed the director to project images to help set the scene. During the sea storm there was video footage of men drowning with the colours blue and red surrounding them. This film automatically created a scary atmosphere as it allowed the audience to make a connection between this scene and the idea of death. Also when people are drowning they are completely helpless and are just waiting for death to impend on them, so here the director has created a sense of pity as the men are unable to do anything to save themselves or others. The director has also created a contrast in colours as blue is normally associated with the calmness of the sea and red is associated with death and danger.
Throughout this moment sounds of crashing waves and deadly screams were being played which built up the tension and led to audience anticipating whose screams they were. This was successful in creating a scary atmosphere as when the scene went on the music got louder, building up tension until everything came to a sudden climax, leaving the audience suspicious. Overall, this moment was very successful in using a variety of theatrical skills to create a scary atmosphere for the audience, especially the lighting as it was used to help the audience identify the time of day and the set.