TRIFLES by Susan Glaspell
The play Trifles by Susan Campbell is an extraordinary play directed by Richard Krimmel. This was revealed by a captivating performance at the LSU theatre on 9 July 2007. The genre of the play is a feminist drama. The expectations of a feminist drama include the fact that the main characters are women and the themes and the issues inherent in the play are women related. The play, Trifles, has managed to revolve the action around women characters. This is because it features women characters such as Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters. Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters have had the opportunity to interact with the victim’s wife and have sympathized with her situation. It is through this interaction that they have managed to find out the motives behind why Minnie killed the husband. The play in this regard has been successful sine it portrays the different viewpoints between men and women. While men tried to use logic and evidence to solve a murder, they failed. Women were intuitive and they succeeded.
The theatrical convention used in the play includes the things that are done on the stage that contribute to the overall performance of style. The play is set in the early 19th century. This has been revealed by the manner of dressing in the characters that has enhanced the authenticity of the play. The set on stage also portrayed an early 20th century setting. The lighting on the stage is bright enough such that all action can be viewed clearly. The play evolves around Minnie Wright, the murderer. However, Minnie is never seen on stage. Most would expect to see the person who is being investigated on stage but instead, Susan Glaspell preferred to have this character hidden. The play can be considered to have used realism to approach its subject. This is because it is depicting the reality of the playwright, Susan Glaspell. The social realities at that time are that women were ignored and were thought of as persons incapable of doing anything meaningful. This is the reason why the male investigators decide to look for evidence elsewhere and ignore the fact that the person in the house with Mr. Wright, Minnie, could have killed him. In this sense, we can regard the play a form of social realism.
In producing the play, the director intentioned to remain true to the purpose of the play, which was to draw a distinction between men and women. The play is made to voice the issues that women go through such as domestic violence. This intent has been achieved effectively through the characters of Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale who proved that they were able to help solve a murder that was proving difficult by understanding that Mrs. Wright led a difficult life under the tyranny of her husband. The reality at the time was that women were looked down upon, and Susan Glaspell hoped to change this and the director has managed to do the same.
One performance that feels important character that I believe stood out was the police officer investigating the death of Mr. Wright. The sheriff dismisses the women and head up the stairs to look for clues for the death of Mr. Wright. The interesting thing with that is that while the women’s views were though of as trifling, they were the ones who end up solving the case. The sheriff is a figure of male defiance and chauvinistic tendencies that have suppressed the voice of women much like how Mr. Wright was abusive to the wife. Throughout the play, the audience was deeply engrossed in the events unfolding in the play. The silence was a testament of the deep concentration in the audience. The play was very compelling and there were times one would find it easy to forget that that they are watching a play and think that they are watching real event. The moment after the police officers leave the kitchen to find evidence upstairs, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters reveal clues to that point the murder on Mrs. Wright. The events unfolding in this scene leaves one in a state of expectation where one can not wait to find out what more can be linked to the Mrs. Wright and why she did it.
Greek Tragedy: Oedipus Rex
The play Oedipus Rex is an amazing play written by the Greek playwright Sophocles and it was directed by Douglas Campbell at the Stratford Festival Theatre, Ontario, Canada from July 31 to October 11 1997. The set was plain and undecorated and this helped to bring the characters in the actors. The play’s genre was tragedy. In a Greek tragedy, it is expected that one of the characters will experience some form of calamity or disaster and more often than not, the character is pitied and the audience sympathizes with the situation. It is also expected that the one who befalls tragedy or calamity is the protagonist. In this play, tragedy can be seen in various parts for example the audience developed poignant connection with the tragic hero, as they feared what may befall him. The audience feels pity for him when he gorges out his eyes and his wife commits suicide. Oedipus is the protagonist in this play as he suffers after killing his father and marrying his mother. It is also tragic how an exceptional human being succumbs to an unanticipated downfall. Therefore, the expectations of a tragic genre were clearly brought out by both the director and the characters of the play.
The theatrical conventions used in this production are inclusive of the stage setting, the costumes and the characters of the actors in bringing out an outstanding performance. The acting was superbly executed especially considering the play done in mime. The costumes of the actors were eye-catching. The actors’ faces were well masked to create the effect of an illusion. This also made the audience feel like they were watching life-size puppets on stage. The gloves with exceedingly long fingers that the actors each wore accentuated their gestures throughout the performance. The director also kept the set simple to bring attention to the actors. The script of the play stayed true to the original and the execution of each character was nothing less than exquisite. The production is not considered a pure form of realism since there are instances of exaggerations for example according to societal standards, it is forbidden to marry your mother. Oedipus marries his mother after killing his father and they have two children. This is contrary to many cultural beliefs in the world.
The purpose of Greek tragedy is to evoke catharsis where the audience feels pity and fear regarding the events unfolding in the play. According to this production, the audience feels pity for Oedipus after he kills his father and marries his mother. It is also pitiful when his mother (wife) commits suicide and when Oedipus gorges out his eyes. The feeling of fear comes out in the audience when they start to wonder if such things can happen to them in real life. The director of the play was successful in realizing the possibility of the play through touching scenes and costumes.
In this production, the messenger and the chorus brought out Oedipus’ actions and this effectively moved the audience. The messenger speech was the emotional high of the whole production to the point of instigating tears in the most stoical members of the audience. Messenger speeches should not be taken for granted as they can be used to move the audience especially if professionally done, as was the case in this production. This, to me, was the most gripping point of the whole production. The emotions of the audience were carefully carried throughout the performance. Emotions ran high when Oedipus was gorging out his eyes as the audience feared for his and their lives. It was unbelievable when Oedipus killed his father and went ahead to marry and have children with his own father. In addition, the messenger speech served its purpose of making the audience cry. Nevertheless, the director should have paid ore attention to the rest of the scenes in order to make them as touching as the messenger speech. Overall, the performance was executed with high professionalism.