Discuss the acting in a play or the staging in a play – Little orphan Annie by Thomas Meehan
The Play I am going to discuss is Annie. This was an amateur musical production performed at the Gladstone Theatre in Port Sunlight 18th-21st September. This was based on the book; “Little Orphan Annie” by Thomas Meehan. The play was directed and produced by Julia Whitehead. The play was about an orphan named Annie who escapes the orphanage run my gin soaked tyrant Miss Hannigan. Annie learns to live a happy life in which she is loved despite Miss Hannigan’s plans to stop her. I am going to discuss the stage and props in this play.
When the curtains open onto a proscenium arch stage with added thrust, the stage seems empty apart from five beds and a stool. On the thrust, propped walls make Miss Hannigan’s office in which holds a stool, table and box. The stage can only be watched end on. The back curtain is dirty green and plain making the orphanage walls. Actors bring on blankets at the start used to keep them warm but the prop then changes into cloth to scrub the floor. The beds are made up of sheets which we don’t realise until the beds disappear with the laundry. For the first three acts the stage stays the same.
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When the story changes and the actors are in the back streets of New York in shantytowns the thrust is blacked out and the backcloth is rolled down into a grey cloth with painted walls on. The stool is again used for a seat and a fake fire is brought on. The actors use the ground for their seats making the stage seam empty again. Throughout the act more actors enter the stage with props mainly boxes to sit on.
When the act ends the backcloth doesn’t change and only a few props are taken off leaving the boxes.
The next scene is outside the orphanage. The same backcloth shows they are outside. The thrust is still blacked out and the boxes are taken off in this scene as mail. The stage looks empty again.
Then there is a blackout throughout the stage. The orchestra played while the stage was arranged for the next scene, which was in a rich, modern home. When the lights came on, a wooden prop wall, painted white with modern designs hid the backcloth. There were paintings held up by people in the wings and there was a table in the centre. The table is on wheels. The fact that the backcloth changed from dirty green to neatly painted white showed the audience they entered a rich house. As actors came on they brought buckets and mops with them. The props brought on were placed on the table. In the song and dance Annie was placed on the table with the props and pushed off at the end of the song. This enabled the table and props to be taken off without a blackout. The people in the wings holding the pictures moved out of eyesight and the wooden board making the walls was put face down on the floor to make a platform.
Then the stage was blacked out and only the thrust was lit. This made the hallway to Miss Hannigan’s office. The curtains are then closed for the interval.
When the curtains opened, the stage and Miss Hannigan’s office were lit. The thrust was blackened and a black transparent cloth came down at the start of the thrust. This gave the impression that the two different parts of the stage were in different buildings. There was a plain white backcloth to show that the actors were in a recording studio. On the stage the platform was used as a stage for an actor. Chairs had been brought on and a microphone was on the platform. The props in Miss Hannigan’s office remained the same throughout the play except for a radio brought on by an actor.
At the end of the act the actors took the chairs with them as they left the stage and the actor on the platform took the microphone on his departure. The backcloth rose while the platform was lifted back into its original place as the walls to the modern house.
The thrust was blackened and the black cloth was raised. The people in the wings holding the pictures came back into eyesight and the table was rolled back on. Out of all the acts this was the easiest set to move on and off. Actors bringing props on took them back off with them and props left on after the scene ended were taken off in the blackout or in the next scene.
At the end of this scene the wooden wall was pushed upstage and a plain black backcloth came down to hide it. The table was pushed off and once again the people in the wings holding pictures moved out of eyesight. The actors left their props, which, were then removed, from the stage in the blackout.
When the finale started the backcloth for the orphanage came down. There were no props. The thrust was lit and the actors from the orphanage including Miss Hannigan took a bow. They then stepped to the side. The orphanage backcloth is raised and the New York backcloth is lowered. The thrust is blackened. The actors from the New York scene come on to an empty stage and take their bow. They then step to the side.