Difference between the Ability of Location of a Film and of a Stage Play

        One major aspect of both films and plays is location. The use of location is an excellent way to help you follow the storyline throughout the show. However, the stage and the silver screen both present their own bags of problems and advantages when it comes to this imperative aspect. Whether it is a well rehearsed and blocked live version of a play, or a clipped, cut, and polished filmed version of a play location is key.

        Now let us take an in depth look at how location works in both of these excellent forms of presenting drama. Location on the stage is often times either static or very limited, meaning it does not move or change drastically. And yes, even those set design, which have been optimized to change to the locale needs with a very high budget still have their fair share of limitations. Besides, most often in theatre with the exception of Broadway–and even sometimes including Broadway--budget plays a very important role with how location will be dealt. Out of all of these limitations comes something good, believe it or not. This is where creativity becomes a large factor in the show. It gives the designers a chance to use their imaginations and create something that the audience will understand, but is at the same time cost and material efficient. For most of the stage versions of previously made movies we have seen on the big screen and the books we have read this semester, the set would probably be completely static due to limited location changes. This means that the set would either consist of walls that display a single large room, where all of the action will take place, or one large space with “imaginary” walls that separate the different rooms of a house. A good of example of this was this year’s production of Henrik Ibsen’s 1879 A Doll’s House here at Murray State University.

         In a film though, it is as easy as moving a camera to a different location, as was the case with the two 1973 film versions, directed by Joseph Losey, with all that Norwegian snow, and Patrick Garland respectively. Yes, I do know that I have just put it rather simply, and that the film makers also have to move their entire cast, crew, and equipment to wherever it is that the shot calls for. This can be very costly, as well as time-consuming, but most times when it comes to film budgets they are easily surpassed. Even though many times a film will be shot on location, it is not uncommon for the shot to be done in a studio somewhere in Los Angeles.

        To be fair the camera does have many more tricks than the stage when it comes to set design. For you see, when one is designing the set for the stage version of a play one has to take into account that one is designing for the view of the entire audience. It does not matter if one is sitting on the left side or the right side, the front or the back, all audience members--with a few exceptions--need to have an unobstructed, and in some sense equal view of the set. On the other hand, film makers have a film where the camera and set can be manipulated in almost any way in order to get the shot that is desired by the director.

        As you can see in this simple look at location differences--that barely skims the surface--of stage and film versions of plays there is a lot to be said on the subject.

Benjamin Hawkins