Directing Strategies for Closer
As noted here , an orthodox Brechtian approach, directing the Fabel of each scene, was not available, as the scenes themselves said little about the politics of the play itself. Brecht, however, doesn’t fall if discovering the scenes’ Fabel proves unproductive.
Inductive rehearsal allows directors to examine the progression of a scene, line by line, to tease out social details as exposed in the relationships on stage. The process, however, has to proceed from a clear sense of who is acting and what is at stake. Establishing the social contexts of the figures was an important starting point as it offered the scenes additional material to the speeches themselves. This then served as a basis for rehearsal aimed at experimenting with the different meanings of the lines when viewed from a social perspective.
Rehearsal was thus focused on how social position affected the action. The results were not, however, inevitable. That is, the figures’ social position doesn’t lead to a definite way of behaving, as everyone has a range of choices as to how to respond to something. That is, being at the top or bottom of the social pile doesn’t mean that one always succeeds or fails, respectively. Instead, an acknowledgement of social position can enhance the realism of a scene by locating decisions or actions in their concrete social context. Consequently, the social becomes a focus and invites the audience to consider that frame as a contributory influence on the action itself.
Here are some examples of how a sensitivity to the social stakes of a scene can affect performance:
Alice had previously mistaken Larry for a waiter, confusing a middle-class dermatologist with a working-class server. Alice then put on her posh accent to satirize the way the exhibition turned suffering and loneliness into something beautiful to look at. Larry then joined in by playing Alice’s game. Larry thus ridiculed the event that was showing his partner’s work. Larry thus presents himself as a social hypocrite – happy to mock proceedings to win favour from Alice, while, later in the scene, revealing his desire to please Anna’s socially superior parents. Suffice it to say, there is no direction in the text for either to affect a posh accent.
Direction also emphasized a Brechtian focus on process, a topic discussed here.