ON TITLES

Usually, in an acting class, at some point — inevitably- we will reach the moment of assigning scenes. Without a doubt, the teacher will ask the students to read the play, they will suggest multiple readings, in fact, will explain or try to explain the importance of multiple readings, and if they are worth their salt, will avoid psychobabble like the plague!

It is unfortunate, but on nearly every occasion, as the scenes are being assigned, “you get this scene from [title of play]” in every single case, the teacher will never point out to the student one of the most essential elements of the work they are being assigned with.

The title of the play.

Image.

The scientific, philosophical kind, the type that describes any phenomena one part at a time- isolating every element- examining or/and explaining every component to define it! [For example, dictionary definitions.]

But there is a second type of communication, which is not concerned with every element; instead, it concerns itself with the totality of those elements! Less precise indeed, but it belongs to the domain of art!

Titles belong to the second type of communication!

Again the first type specifies

The second type evokes

And it is usually in the form of images! The author, in a sense, tasks the reader with an image that illuminates the subject!

Ghosts (Ibsen) the dead will hover over the living. No literal ghosts in the play, but who needs them!

Oleanna (oleana) (Mamet), the title refers to a utopia that was conceived by ole Bull.

The image or the information that the title has (something that the author had to think extensively about ) tells a lot. If you know nothing of seagulls, maybe you should. A title and its wording are usually very carefully chosen. Cat on a hot tin roof contains a very, very successful image.

So if the title contains an image don’t ignore it… it might be the key to the play.

Copyright 2022 Kimon Fioretos, All Rights Reserved.

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