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The Symbolism of Visual Imagery in The Raven

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Summary:

The Raven portrays the story of an unnamed narrator who is unattended in his residence on an icy December evening. As he is about to fall asleep, he hears a soft hammering at his door, but decides to overlook it. He says that he has read in the hope of mitigating his unhappiness over Lenore, his beloved, who has died. Though he tries to convince himself that nothing is there, his worry and curiosity overwhelm him. He eventually opens his door, speaking “Lenore” into the twilight. When he hears knocking at his window, he also opens that and a Raven flies inside his room. The narrator asks the Raven’s name and is shocked to hear it answer “Nevermore.” He murmurs to himself that the Raven will presumably abandon him just as his family and companions did, to which the Raven replies once more “Nevermore.” The narrator then seats himself straight before the Raven, trying to fathom what it means by “Nevermore.” Swiftly, the narrator realises that angels sent by God have provoked the air to become scented and opaque. Uneasy, he asks the Raven if the angels are a symbol that heaven will soothe him of his unhappiness, to which the Raven tells, again, “Nevermore.” With the same reaction, the Raven repudiates the narrator’s wish that he might see Lenore again in heaven, and his intense demand for the Raven to leave him solitary. Ultimately, the narrator notifies us that the Raven will live eternally in its shadow and has continued to rest atop his chamber door (LitCharts, 2019).

Introduction:

“Is all that we see or seem but a dream within a dream?” As an artistic director, I wanted to create a dramatic treatment by exploring Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven as I believed the script would entertain and challenge a contemporary audience about the connections between past and present. I will achieve this by using the visual and physical conventions of Cinematic Theatre to shape dramatic action. The skillful management of the elements of drama and combination of the dramatic languages will create dramatic action. I will create dramatic action by using the elements of drama and conventions of style/s to create dramatic meaning. To make the performance eclectic/contemporary/post-modern I will create total theatre activity that will attract the masses. The overall objective for the production and why this would make the play is that beside Poe’s goals connected to tension, he had specific intentions regarding the prosody and metrical structure of The Raven. The play is a lyrical study of pain and loss; scrutinising man’s connection with death, specifically the effect of a loved one’s death on those left behind. The progression of the speaker’s grief throughout The Raven is seen and though it is not considered biographical, the speaker’s feelings of grief are incredibly vivid and affecting (CourseHero, 2019). The character roles in The Raven are as follows:

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  • One
  • Two
  • Three
  • Four
  • Five
  • Shudders

Ultimately, this play, performed in the Perugia auditorium, will engage the audience’s attention and draw them in through the utilisation of Cinematic Theatre techniques such as; montage, interactive element, symbolic, actual place and the mind/s eye. The play will be of great significance, as it will showcase and justify the dramatic elements of role, relationship, situation, and tension. The visual and physical conventions of Cinematic theatre shape the dramatic action and convey the significant themes and depict characters of the play script. My management of the elements of drama and combination of the dramatic languages will insightfully create dramatic action and convey my intended meaning and purpose.

The Raven shifts sequentially through the situation it recounts, stanza by stanza. The narrator wishes for dawn but at the current time all he can do is mope over his lifeless love, “the lost Lenore,” and sense the palpable terror of the situation. The play scrutinises woe as a tension between the demand to recall and yearning to forget through the narrator continuing to ask questions though he recognises the solutions he will discover. The moods of The Raven are macabre, wistful, weird and uncanniness. The sad mood is set by the solitude of the narrator and the gloom of the scenes. The words “dreary”, “weary”, “grim”, “ghastly”, “evil” and “ominous” help submit and render the moods of inactivity and darkness. Frequent predilections to the company of the raven prolongs the mood produced and progresses throughout the play. Through the character of the raven, which gains human-like attributes, The Raven plays with language. The service of lyrical and obsolete language seems relevant, since the play is about a man wasting most of his time with publications of “forgotten lore”. Poe implies that the death of a woman is more touching than that of man. Cinematic sequences are classified by the three primary doctrines of cinematic theatre that will be used to signal where actors interact with the screen, foreground location and linking scenes.

  • Scene: This indicates when the projection is being used during a live stage scene
  • Transition: This indicates where a passage is being used between stage scene
  • Interaction: This indicates where a stage element within a scene interacts with a screen element

Target Audience:

The target audience for The Raven is people who can’t relinquish, but also those who attempt to neglect their past. The didactic statement (central message) for the target audience is that we are all haunted by the wisdom of dying and notably our own mortality.

Performance Technologies:

The sets and props in The Raven are as follows:

  • Chair
  • Table
  • Risers
  • Candle
  • Large black choir books

The costumes in The Raven are as follows:

  • Black Jacket
  • Black Shirt
  • Black Pants
  • Black Boots
  • Black Gloves

All the actors will be wearing a black jacket, shirt, pants, boots and gloves with the shudders and horror animations being projected on the three screens of Perugia. The set design will include a chair placed centre stage and a table placed downstage left. The performance technologies utilised in The Raven will be lighting, audio/visual components (music, cinematic backdrop), set design and costume/makeup. Stark white lighting will be used with ominous and baroque chamber music playing in certain scenes. I will use stark white lighting with ominous and baroque chamber music to create an artistic effect in the performance that will illuminate the truth.

Montage:

A montage will be created through using video or photography and will synergise with the sound of beating wings and The Alan Parsons Project song, The Raven as it suits the context or mood of the scene. This scene uses a number of dramatic and cinematic conventions. In The Raven, a montage of imagery will be cut together to music to effectively introduce the play. These images will be manipulated to create a stark and dynamic look that reflects the symbolic nature of the scene about to take place (Markwell Presents, 2009).

Interactive Element:

A visual and narrative element that interacted directly with the stage action. Interaction between stage and visual elements will require careful planning and rehearsal to synchronise the action especially when using pre-recorded visual sequences. Interactive screen characters will be used to add to the dramatic action and create dialogue between characters that cannot be achieved through conventional means. To create this moment, the actors playing The Shudders will be filmed as a group of motionless figures representing the scene as they bow their heads and say their lines; leaving gaps for the stage actors to fill (Markwell Presents, 2009).

Symbolic:

Symbolic transitions will be used in this non-realism-based work where visual imagery and mood will be the focus, rather than narrative. It is important in symbolic transitions to consider the power of simple, symbolic imagery and how this could further emphasise the themes and message of The Raven. I decided to use movie genres; such as horror, to transition between the scenes and mirror the nature of the relationships by focusing on the key themes. I interpreted the story through the horror genre, where we see the Shudders moving slowly and menacing. Using animation, I heightened the terror in the scene by including clips from a horror genre animation (Markwell Presents, 2009).

Actual Place:

Actual place will be used to reference the real location in which this scene took place. The scale of the image complemented the design, projection size and the colour of the projected imagery, will be consistent with the lights being turned off and on. In the production, a large projection screen will be situated upstage to establish the location. The quality of the video will be designed to have a realistic appearance (Markwell Presents, 2009).

The Mind/s Eye:

The human ability for visual perception, imagination, visualisation, and one’s ability to “see” things in the mind will be utilised in Section 2 where 5, looking off, states “surely that is something at my window lattice; let me see then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore, let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore”. This point of view allowed the audience to get inside the character’s mind and see an interpretation of what the character is visualising, imaging, hearing, and thinking (Markwell Presents, 2009).

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