Swan Lake

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  • Created by: Sarah
  • Created on: 24-05-14 15:40
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  • Swan Lake - Matthew Bourne, 1995
    • Themes
      • The Royal Family
        • When created in 1995 there was enormous interest in the Royal Family and young royals
        • References to duties of generic royal family member
          • Boat christening; a ribbon cutting etc
        • Research into King Ludwig II of Bavaria for character of the Prince
      • Papparazzi and the media
        • Connected to being a member of the modern Royal family
          • Being a focal point and the center of media interest
        • Prince shies away and shields himself from press that intrude in his life
      • Identity
        • Connects themes of royal family and media that can surround someone who is thrown into the spotlight
        • Bourne combined aspects of members of Royal families who were not complete people
        • We follow the Prince on a journey to find his true identity which later becomes a crisis as he is treated as though he has had a mental breakdown
      • Rejection
        • Prince is craving for affection - established early on in the Prologue
          • Mother refuses to comfort him after a nightmare - rejects his calls to be held
        • Absolute need for the relationship with the Swan
    • Characters
      • The Prince
        • A dreamer that retreats into a fantasy when life becomes too difficult for him
        • Facinated by swans since childhood - held a toy swan as a boy and took comfort from its softness and calmness but had nightmares about its wild, unpredictable nature
          • Bourne likens the Princes obsession with swans to Alan Strang's obsession with horses in the play Equus
        • As an adult he is weak and unstable - not suited to the Royal lifestyle
          • Finds constant attention of the press unbearable
        • He is gullible and impressionable and confuses what is reality and what is fantasy as a form of escapism
        • Relationship with mother is lacking in love - jealous of her younger lovers but it too weak to challenge them and her on their behaviour
      • The Swan/Stranger
        • This is the Odette/Odile character from Tchaikovsky's original
        • The Swan is a creature of the Prince's imagination
        • He is strong, beautiful, masculine, lyrical and sensual but also wild, dangerous and territorial
          • Leader of the Swan flock
        • No facial expressions for both characters as they are a human trait
          • Creates a blank canvas as it strips the human and leaves the animal
          • Eyes and movement are the only forms of communication between the Swan/Stranger and Prince
        • Stranger is the alter ego of the Swan
          • He is dark, mysterious and glamorous with no social graces and sneers at Royal etiquette
          • Fully aware of his sexual attractiveness and exploits it to the full - he is sly, cunning and manipulative and will always get his own way
      • The Queen
        • Middle aged but retains her beauty and allure - immensely proud of this
        • Has no husband so amuses herself with younger lovers
        • Disappointed by her son's weakness and finds him irritating and embarrassing and a constant reminder of her own mortality
          • She gives him nothing - no affection or love so he seeks it somewhere else
        • Outwardly she is cold and aloof with her son but with others she can be passionate and vivacious
      • Swans
        • All swans are played by men as Bourne felt that the musculature, strength and poise of male dancers reflected the swans' feral and rough nature
        • Elegant beauty often hides the true nature of the swans
          • Very sinister; highly protective; aggressive
        • Swans still act as a corps de ballet but within the group there is individuality
          • Bourne likes individuality within performers such as physique, height and own style
    • Set Design - Lez Brotherston
      • Designed for proscenium arch theaters
      • 4 large white columns stand left and right of the stage for the entire performance; a white breezeblock wall is upstage throughout the palace scenes
        • Entire structure or sections of it can be flown in and out when the action moves outside the palace
      • Vast amounts of white used suggests a cold, clinical environment that lacks warmth, colour and love
      • Act 1:Scene 3 - Opera house, stage within a stage done by flying set of a large, slightly askew proscenium arch with a royal box
        • Suggests the fakery of it
        • Painted backdrop of a Gothic castle bordered by trees is the setting for the pastiche ballet
      • Center of white wall can be raised; Prince's bed can be turned 180 degrees and pushed into the space in the wall
        • Back of the bed has a red cloth with a crown and represents a royal balcony
        • Bed disappears later on in Act 1 and a crown hangs down in the space and a red carpet is rolled out
      • Seedy club in Act 1:Scene 6 - pink ruche curtains are draped along the back; bar upstage right; podium upstage center; pink neon sign above the bar
        • Bar contains recognizable 60's and 70's characters
      • Act 2 - set in a park; bare-branched trees are upstage of the 4 pillars, cartoon like stretching out as though they are grasping; streetlight, park bench and bin are DSR; notice on light says 'Do not feed the birds'; full moon above scene
    • Costume Design - Lez Brotherston
      • Swans
        • Hair and upper body are covered in white make up; eyes are highlighted in black and there is a black triangle from the crown of head to bridge of nose
        • Wear deep-welted knee-length pantaloons; white fabric is slit to show the swans plumage; bare foot
          • Brotherston (costume designer) wanted to give them the feeling of a bird; Bourne was showing the aggressive and physical; wanted to keep them as bare as possible but no tights - classical idiom
      • The Queen
        • Black wig with white streaks either side pulled back into a chignon - air of sophistication
          • Sinister nod towards the Bride in The Bride of Frankenstein and Cruella De Ville
        • Style is very Christian Dior - long sleeved full length dressing gown, blood-red satin ball gown - striking, regal; 1950's Hollywood film star
      • Ballet costumes
        • Old Romantic period ballet style; Moth maiden in calf length tutu; Butterfly maidens in mid-thigh length yellow tutus and 2 in lacy black thigh length shorts
        • Wood cutter - green lederhosen, white billowing sleeved shirt, white tights, green boots, comedy moustache and whiskers
        • Trolls wear full head masks, mottled brown unitards, hairy pantaloons, codpiece with warty, spiky protrusions, all 3 wear long rubbery fingers
      • Seedy club scene
        • Act 1:Scene 6 - East End gangsters in dark glasses, tuxedos, highly polished black shoes; fan dancers in black bras, suspenders and stockings under short hot pink dresses with pink feather boas
    • Lighting - Rick Fisher
      • Atmospheric lighting makes it public and personal
      • Prologue - subdued creamy glow suggests a nightlight; blue-white light on Swan in the window makes it ghost-like, dreamy and distant; yellow glow cuts through when Queen enters as though door has been opened
      • Act 1 - golden glow on Prince as though dawn has just broken; whiter light when servants enter becoming more yellow-white and warmer
        • Queen and Prince in public view light is whiter colder and not safe and warm; flashing lights go off to show the press; darkness when subjects salute, white gloves glowing in the dark
          • Ballet has 2 follow spots for leads; pantomime lighting - greener when troll appears to support costume and show evil; when he is killed a warm yellow-white light returns
            • Princes quarters have a white-blue effect; shadows are cast - distorted, spooky and uneasy
              • Club scene - pinks and oranges for a seedy feel; street is dark and shadowy
      • Act 2 - white-blue lighting suggests cold early morning, moon provides only lighting; when prince gets lost in imagination light is blue; green is added on tree branches; yellow-white for duet
        • Swans disappear and leave Prince in purple haze with a touch of yellow to show dawn breaking
      • Act 3 - Searchlight effect used as catwalk - old movie premiers; ball has a yellowish glow for warmth,fun and happiness
        • Light almost cut when Prince dances with Stranger, shadows on one side of the wall - in Princes mind; Stranger leaves and lighting returns
          • Prince on floor DSC, guests surround him, in front of footlight, bright white-yellow light on guests around him - sinister and distorted
      • Act 4 - white-blue footlights on white wall, shadows warping perspectives and dimensions
        • Used again when Swans appear under Prince's bed; finale lighting blue and green, swirling effect makes it dreamlike; prologue lighting repeated

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