Around the World in 80 Days: theatrical conventions of the period

Around the World in 80 Days: theatrical conventions of the period

Section 1: Theatrical Conventions of the Period

  • “Around the World in 80 Days” is based on the novel by Jules Verne and embodies the theatrical conventions predominant during the 19th century, specifically melodrama and the adventure genre.

  • Melodrama, the primary convention, utilised exaggerated characters, sensational plot elements, and intense emotional expressions. These were used to invoke strong responses from the audience.

  • Application of the “aside” technique, where characters speak directly to the audience, breaking the fourth wall, was commonly used during this Victorian era of theater. This allowed for a more engaging storytelling experience.

  • This period also saw the use of ‘pantomime’, with over-the-top physical comedy, utilized to entertain audiences.

  • Spectacle was a dominant convention, involving elaborate and visually stunning sets and costumes. The novel’s world-trotting plot, moving from England to India, Hong Kong, America, and more, enhances the use of this convention.

  • Use of detailed facial expressions and dramatic body language (gestus) was crucial in conveying the narrative and emotions.

Section 2: Structure and Techniques

  • The story structure adhered to that of a typical ‘well-made play’, where the plot follows a clear linear progression with a clear beginning, middle, and end.

  • Soliloquies, often incorporated into plays of this time, provide an opportunity for characters like Phileas Fogg to reveal their internal thoughts and feelings to the audience.

  • Employing comic relief was also a common practice in theatrical presentations of this era. Characters such as Passepartout provide moments of lightheartedness that balance the gravity of the main plot.

  • Music and sound effects played a significant role in enhancing the dramatic elements and developing the narrative context.

Remember, understanding these conventions supports a thorough interpretation of “Around the World in 80 Days” and helps in the application of these principles in performance.