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Rolling the dice : an examination of principles for choreographing theatre in the round through the lens of Guys and Dolls
Abate, Cassandra Ann
Kalustian, PaulaHopkins, D.J.Nikkel, Laurinda
ix, 50 p. : ill.
Choreographing for theatre in the round presents many interesting challenges. However, little literature is devoted to the topic. When analyzing books on directing and choreography, information on the techniques for creating theatre in the round was limited to a sentence, a paragraph, or a few pages. The lack of information available inspired a closer inspection on the aspects of choreography unique to arena staging. This project will examine these challenges by exploring how the principles of creating choreography in the round differ from the established conventions for developing choreography on a proscenium stage. This analysis will be done through the lens of my experience with the musical Guys and Dolls. In April 2008, I choreographed a production of the musical Guys and Dolls at the University of Miami's Jerry Herman Ring Theatre. This well-received production was staged in the round with a cast of thirty-five performers. Then in June 2011, the same creative team assembled to present Guys and Dolls at the Connecticut Repertory Theatre's Nutmeg Summer Series. This incarnation of the musical, featuring many of the same actors, was adapted for a proscenium theatre, this time with a much smaller cast of twenty performers. This project report explores the techniques of creating choreography for theatre in the round by analyzing how the choreography for these two productions was adjusted to different stage configurations in order to visually create the most impact. The following chapters outline the techniques of choreographing for theatre in the round and how these techniques differ from those used to choreograph in proscenium by addressing various principles. Chapter 2 will define the different stage spaces of proscenium and theatre in the round and consider the advantages and challenges of each configuration. It will also give a history of the evolution of theatre in the round and establish a vocabulary for creating movement on an arena stage. Chapter 3 will examine formations, discussing how compositions such as a line, a circle, and a wedge must be altered for different performance spaces. The challenges of featuring a soloist and the question of symmetry versus asymmetry are also investigated. Chapter 4 analyzes movement patterns, including stage crosses, waves, advances, and traveling patterns. Additionally, it addresses the quantity and quality of transitions, how different stage orientations change the role of the audience, and the concept of opposition. Chapter 5 discusses the importance of choreography in telling the story. The history of the role of dance in the fully integrated musical and an investigation of how dance was used by choreographer Michael Kidd in the original production of Guys and Dolls is followed by a detailed analysis of how dance was used to further the plot when the Havana Sequence was choreographed in the round and how that storytelling choreography was adapted for the proscenium production. Chapter 6 examines how traditional techniques for staging a song in a proscenium theatre can be adjusted for an arena stage. It also considers the benefits and disadvantages of the two different stage spaces when creating physical comedy or vaudevillian bits. Chapter 7 reflects on the previous chapters to propose conclusions about the techniques for choreographing in the round and the importance of different stage spaces in the evolution of musical theatre.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 47)
Theatre, Television, and Film
Professional Studies and Fine Arts
Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) San Diego State University, 2012
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