Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Unwritten Invisible Character in Every Story

The subject of this picture isn't what you see,
but the lens through which this is seen.
The other day in my Shakespeare class we watched a bunch of clips of the "To Be or Not to Be" soliloquy by Hamlet. We observed differences in how the directors or actors gave their own interpretation and what they were trying to say or get across. It made me think about how in every play or movie there is a person that the writer or director has in mind, but cannot directly influence like he does his actors. He has to influence this character through his actors, words, lighting etc. It is a person who is in every movie, who is in every play, who gets to see everything that the characters don't, and who that characters can't see. This unwritten invisible character is the viewer, the spectator of the spectacle.

No one writes a play just to have a bunch of people say lines and move around. The play is written for the audience. Everything that happens in a production is calculated to get an anticipated response out of the viewer. While we, as spectators, have no lines to memorize, or places to stand, there is a part for us to play. It isn't written down and rehearsed, but it is implied and anticipated for us to be taken in and to feel involved in the play or movie. 

When we watch a play production, like A Winters Tale, that I had the opportunity to view recently, the audience and viewers can interact with the actors, and can influence the production. by the responses we give, laughter or booing and so on. The actors can even interact with the audience, say hello to us, throw things at us, grab us and dance with  us, whatever. 

When we view a movie, we play an incredible character. A role that the director forces on the viewer. One that he tries to manipulate to feel certain things and think a certain way. We don't say anything, we can't influence the story in any way, but we are given the role of a powerful avatar that can be anywhere, that is invisible, sees everything, can hear thoughts, can hear music that isn't really there, won't die (what if someone made a movie where the viewer died?). The viewer can be right up in the face of a character (which in real life or a play production would be really awkward and would not produce the same effect) and really see the nuances of their facial expressions and hear the quiet whispers they speak. 

In every production we have a part to play, in a movie, a play, or a book even, we get to be a fly on the wall, we get to become someone else in a story that is not ours, and play a part that is written somewhere, but not on the script.


  1. Wow. You bring up some pretty powerful stuff there. It's interesting thinking of the differences between plays and movies here too, as in plays it is really the actors themselves who are able to influence us, but that role is moved to the director in movies. This director is the one who connects the actors to this unknown viewer. It makes me appreciate directors more...

  2. It also kind of makes me feel manipulated. How every scene and word or shot is calculated to make me feel a certain way, to think a certain thing. That's true, in plays the actors have a lot of power in the experience while a movie, the director can take his favorite shots, his favorite angles, and his favorite music for the experience. He plays a Movie God for a while making a little world.

  3. Maybe that's why some directors act all high and mighty, lol.