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Important innovations made in Scene Fourteen, Act One.

Scene fourteen of Act One, of the play “Equus” by Peter Shaffer is the scene I have chosen to make some innovations in, to highlight certain aspects which I find crucial in the development and understanding of the play. In this scene, the themes of religion and spirituality and their importance in today’s society are deeply developed by the characters (Dysart, the psychiatrist; Frank, Alan’s father and Alan). Nevertheless, I think that they should be also represented by lights, sounds and images so that the perception of these themes by the audience is even clearer and more interesting.

Lights are a very important tool I want to work with, to capture the attention of the audience in specific parts of this scene. At the beginning of the scene, when Frank Strang comes into the square, he feels nervous and embarrassed. This is exactly the moment in which one clear spot of light should be focusing only on him, so that the audience is only worried about how he feels, therefore, they will be more interested in what is going to happen. As the scene progresses, Dysart, the psychiatrist, is having a conversation with Mr. Strang about Alan. Alan moves to the centre of the circle, now he is also taking part of the scene. Tension is increasing incredibly every second. On one side of the stage, we have Mr. Strang and Dysart; Alan, is in the middle. Here is where flashes of red light should appear over Mr. Strang and Dysart while they are talking, and an intense yellow light, to symbolize divinity and spirituality, just on top of Alan while he is talking. When Alan starts to beat himself (flagellation), the scene reaches a climax, and in this point, a brilliant white light should cover the whole stage and then, total darkness( a sort of blackout). After a pause, Frank, really embarrassed, continues with the conversation, dim lights are now focusing only on the two men, until Dysart is left alone, on stage.

Images are a source, which I find very important, to give a sort of backup to what is happening in a play. In this case, there is one image I would like to use and make a lot of emphasis on. This is, the image of the horse that Alan has hanging at the foot of his bed. I would like to have this same image ( a big and clear picture) coming down on the stage, right where Alan is, so that he can carry out all his worshipping focusing on this picture. This will clearly show the audience the “God” like appearance that a horse has for Alan, making this feeling very easy and clear to understand. This is going to help the actor who interprets Alan to act in a more realistic and credible way. The environment will be more intense with the presence of this picture due to the fact that Frank is going to feel even worse about what is happening, therefore a deeper sense of controversy is going to be formed between Alan, his father and the audience.

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Music and sounds are going to be my “key” sources to create a stronger impact in the audience in terms of how tension, in the atmosphere created by the characters, is increasing due to certain incidents. At the beginning of this scene, a soft music of drums (like heartbeats) should be played. As Frank enters the stage and starts talking with Dysart, the drums will get a bit louder and faster, tension is also increasing, the idea of suspense. Now, the sound of an echoing voice is incorporated to the sound of the drums, just when Alan gets on stage. This voice is coming nearer and the drums start beating even faster. One can also hear the sound of strong wind blowing, the voice turns to be many people singing together in different tones the same song (it is like a Gregorian chant). When the scene gets to a climax stage, the music is very intense, trying to create a balance between Alan’s actions and feelings. Pause, Alan goes back to bed, music gets softer, voices vanish, wind disappears, only the initial sound of drums is left. The drums are getting slower, until there is a steady calmed sound and only Dysart is left on stage.

All these arrangements together are meant to increase the tension in this scene so that it has a bigger impact in the audience. These innovations will help to create a more fantastic, but at the same time more credible interpretation of Alan’s beliefs and of Frank’s thoughts. Lights, images and sounds, will combine with the staging and performance, highlighting the importance of the actions and themes developed in this specific scene for the overall understanding and comprehension of this magnificent play.

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