Hansel and Gretel: development of pace and rhythm

Hansel and Gretel: development of pace and rhythm

Understanding Pace and Rhythm in ‘Hansel and Gretel’

  • The pace and rhythm of ‘Hansel and Gretel’ fluctuates throughout the play, echoing the emotional highs and lows experienced by the characters.
  • The mischievous and light-hearted beginnings of the play are reflected through a quick, energetic pace that symbolises the children’s innocent playfulness.
  • The parents’ decision to abandon the children manifests as a slower pace and rhythm, creating a sense of dread and foreboding.
  • Once the children are lost in the woods, the rhythm becomes unpredictable and erratic, mirroring their fear and confusion.

Role of Pace and Rhythm in Character Interactions

  • In the scenes involving the witch, the pace is often frenzied and chaotic, symbolising the danger and fear associated with her character.
  • The slow pace of the scenes where the children are captive in the witch’s house reflects their hopelessness and despair.
  • When the children begin to devise a plan to escape, the pace quickens again, highlighting their excitement and growing confidence.

Impact of Pace and Rhythm on Plot Development

  • The climax of the play - the children’s escape and the witch’s defeat - has the fastest pace and rhythm, creating a sense of urgency and intensity.
  • After their successful escape, the play returns to a moderate and steady pace, symbolising a return to safety and familiarity, ending on an uplifting and joyous note.

Integrating Pace and Rhythm in Performance

  • In their roles, performers must be able to adapt their delivery according to these variations in pace and rhythm. This involves carefully timing their dialogue, movements and reactions.
  • Revision should focus not just on understanding these shifts in pace and rhythm, but how to articulate them effectively in performance terms. Pointer: look for the many hints in the text which indicate possible changes in pace and rhythm.

Impact of Directorial Choices on Pace and Rhythm

  • Pay attention to directorial choices in professional productions. How can they manipulate pace and rhythm to highlight important moments or to evoke desired feelings from the audience?
  • Consider how aspects such as lighting, music, set design and costumes can also contribute to the pacing and rhythm of the play. For example, a sudden change in lighting or dramatic music can signal a change in pace.