I finished my ‘coffee-run’ props for my Night Vale intern cosplay today! I can’t wait til I can bring these bad boys out next month when I see them live at the Tampa Theatre! (These are inspired by epicukulelesolo’s own props!)
There was a moment when we were talking to the kids [about creating musicals], and they were asking a bunch of questions. And I think it seemed slightly distant, what it was that we did. So Lin began to do a little piece of one of the shows that we worked on… and the quiet that fell across the boys was so palpable. What I realized was happening was a moment of recognition that someone could choose to do that, that someone could feel powerful enough, or bold enough, to say ‘this is my story, and I choose to share it with you.‘
Mycroft’s anger is in response to Sherlock creating a theatrical performance, a lie to scare him. The mention of “pantomime” makes me think of false stories, and many metas have been written on the unreliability of series 4 in general, to not take it as face value: it’s a false story, all smoke and mirrors.
What if we take Mycroft’s words as both literal and symbolic, though? Sherlock Series 4 is both literal theatre and a constructed false story.
toxicsemicolon’s posts are mainly about Sherlock and the Theatre of the Absurd (to me, it’s like ‘what would happen if Sherlock suddenly made no sense, the point is there is no point! etc etc). And I was taking a screenwriting course, and something called Brecht and Epic Theatre was mentioned. I didn’t know what it was, but it sounded interesting, so I looked it up!
^This video really helped me start understanding it- I’m by no means an expert! This quote from it was particularly helpful:
“And we’re not meant to sit comfortably and predict what’s going to happen, because that’s not what this play is about. And I think the more they throw in things that are unexpected, the more that they shake you up when you feel like you know where this is going.”
Basically, I think Series 4 is showing what happens when the normal ‘rules’ of the story we’ve been watching no longer apply. Now, we’re in the land of (UNCONVENTIONAL) theatre, and reacting in similar ways to how the first audiences of the theatre of the absurd and epic theatre reacted: disorientation, confusion, resistance.
While not invented by Brecht, the Verfremdungseffekt, known in English as the “estrangement effect” or the “alienation effect,” was made popular by Brecht and is one of the most significant characteristics of Epic theatre. Brecht sought to “re-create the relationship between the actor and audience as dialectic” so that the audience would not longer “willingly suspend disbelief.” The Verfremdungseffekt makes the audience feel detached from the action of the play, so they do not become immersed in the fictional reality of the stage or become overly empathetic of the characters with the hope that Epic theatre will turn “the spectator into an observer” and arouse “his capacity for action, force[ing] him to take decisions.”
This is what The Final Problem is all about to me. We’re encouraged to no longer view this as a ‘normal’ episode, to pay attention to the discrepancies- for example, the glaring ‘missing 10 minutes’ of John’s therapy appointment, and him apparently being shot by a tranquilizer gun. (x) And, there’s the general dissonance in tone of the entire episode- things that would normally give us a poignant, emotional reaction such as the burning of 221B are handled poorly (see If you want to make me laugh OR cry then do one, not both!) This makes us resist our usual willingness to “suspend disbelief”, distances ourselves from emotionally investing like we usually would.
And, that turns out to be a good thing, because now, we shouldn’t be emotionally investing in these particular portrayals of our usually beloved characters. They are deliberate caricatures of themselves. Turns out, that’s also part of Epic Theatre, specifically the way the “alienation effect” is achieved:
Some of the ways the Verfremdungseffekt can be achieved is by having actors play multiple characters
This doesn’t happen quite literally in Sherlock- as in, say, Una playing both the role of Mrs Hudson and Norbury, or something like that. Rather, because our emotional investment has been removed, we are able to see the characters as stand ins for Something Else. For example, Mycroft is no longer ‘Mycroft’ but a stand-in for Mark, the writer watching his own creation crash and burn, and get high-jacked by The Final Problem story.
rearrange the set in full view of the audience
And yes, this one does quite literally happen. Our “set” of 221B is destroyed, and the audience gets to see it, “the stage”, re-made in front of their eyes:
And our own set designer of Sherlock, Arwel Wyn Jones, gets to have a cameo there- again drawing attention to the very fictionality of the show itself, its own set designer is doing work in front of our eyes that is usually reserved for off screen/on stage.
“break the fourth wall” by speaking to the audience.
Lighting can also be used to emulate the effect. For example, flooding the theatre with bright lights (not just the stage) and placing lighting equipment on stage can encourage the audience to understand that the production is merely a production instead of reality.
Such a moment happens in The Six Thatchers, where we see a camera in the right-hand corner of the screen as John confronts Mary:
A super young Aurelie Dupont when she was nominated Premiere danseuse in 1996.
And now she’s the artistic director of the company she lived in her whole life!
Her career has been gorgeous and she’s a truly inspiration for every dancer and woman ♡
LEA SALONGA TWEETED ME. LEA SALONGA.
THE REASON I STARTED MUSICAL THEATRE.
(also: important topic! People need to stop sending abuse to actors for not going to stage door after shows! You are paying for a show; you are not paying for a meet and greet!!)
Macbeth offers spectators no hierarchy or root causes of fear in the drama; it refuses to locate fear’s specific mode of generation or prioritize its possible sources. Fear is everywhere, and ubiquitously nowhere, in a play about being perpetually afraid but not knowing just what is so terrifying.
Allison Hobgood, “Fear-sickness in Macbeth,” Passionate Playgoing in Early Modern England
On a corner of a block stands a theater with a stage For twenty dollars audiences sit like mice in a cage Watching actors personify characters they are not Understanding metaphors and nuisances in plots
Except for this play the actors have vanished Craving an encore the audience is famished The actors have taken leave; the director walked out the door The orchestra section is empty for they will play no more
There is no phantom; there is no opera The sopranos can not sing the tenors concur The scripts are ripped, the actors have no direction; The villains have quit for they lack motivation
The curtains are burned, the stage lights are broken No money has been earned for the critics have spoken This play has no title nor scenery encased The props that were vital have now been misplaced
With a final curtain call the actors spread out They kneel with disgrace and quietly take bow Yet to this disaster I stand and applaud Because this play is by no means a tragedy or fraud
Acting is all about honesty and it always has been The best actors express feelings deep from within Only the best actors courageous and bold Can preserve under conditions outrageous and cold And we’re all actors in reality at the end of the day But some do it in front of a camera while others get paid And so to those actors who express feelings so blue I have nothing but respect to those with feelings so true
There is a flurry of laughter bubbling up, in chests and eyes. It is late, the dark long settled over the city and the candles have burned low but everyone is content. Joly leans heavily into Bossuet’s chest. Bahorel raises a mug in acknowledgement from beside Jehan. His arm blue with inky words.
“Sit down Grantaire.” shouts Combeferre over the rest, more than a little worried for the other’s intoxication levels in this show of…unique postivity.
Grantaire does, a great slump of heavy limbs.
From over the top of his stack of soon-to-be-distributed pamphlets, Enjolras winces. But though he refocusses on writing, the words, so unlike Grantaire’s usual protests, refuse to leave his head.
Softly he whispers, as if afraid of the other’s reaction, “Something they can never take away…”
The room is not silent. Not with so many of them drinking each other’s shoulders and arguing over food and politics. Yet despite that truth which he knows -knows far too well sometimes- Enjolras feels the air thicken. Feels the silence, a storm on the horizon.
(Usually he can only feel it when the flags fly)
(A call for revolution)
Grantaire lifts his head up from the table, dark curls askew in every which direction. His eyes burn into Enjolras.
Enjolras would have likened them to the depths of hell once, to an enemies. Hate always lingering, a place where good things vanish but now…
It makes his heartbeat quicken. It makes his blood pound in his ears.