BRECHT IN PRACTICE
Production Poster

The publicity poster for Closer depicts two wooden artists’ mannequins in a familiar pose: one offering the other a love token. Additional lines on the image, as if taken from a blueprint, serve to underline the deliberate nature of the scene. One further line, between the two mannequins’ heads, nods to the play’s title.

The poster was designed to suggest a couple of things:

  1. The use of mannequins instead of real human beings already proposes a certain interchangeability. That is, one may behave in certain ways, but they may not be ascribable to any one individual’s impulses or desires.
  2. The image is instantly recognizable to the extent that it is a visual cliché. Again, it articulates the idea that we often rely on pre-existing models for behaviour and don’t invent them anew every time we interact with others.

The poster was designed to put the production as a whole into a context that framed the actions, opinions and feelings of those on stage. That is, for all their protestations of individuality, they were in fact following modes of thought and action that preceded them. Their self-centredness was not new, and the audience was invited to look beyond the figures as individuals and also to see them as social types with an attendant lexicon of behaviours and attitudes. This was translated in the production itself as the actors were directed to break their actions and deliveries down into precise and deliberate performances. This compartmentalized approach to acting aspired to emphasize the ways in which the figures were less individual than they would like to think and were actually playing a series of social roles rather than ‘being themselves’.

To remind the audience of these connections, an image, like the one below for scene 5, was projected onto the screen at the back of the set to show a mannequin in the opening position of the scene in question.

 

 


BRECHT IN PRACTICE - Copyright 2017 © Prof. David Barnett | All Rights Reserved

David Barnett
Professor of Theatre
University of York

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