Hansel and Gretel: theatrical conventions of the period

Hansel and Gretel: theatrical conventions of the period

Theatrical Conventions: Genre

  • Hansel and Gretel is often considered to be part of the Fairytale Theatre genre, which incorporates conventions such as fantastical elements, moral lessons, and the dichotomy of good versus evil.

  • The use of dramatic irony was a common convention, particularly as the audience is often more aware of the villain’s plans than the characters themselves.

  • The inclusion of a moral lesson or message at the conclusion of the play was a common trope, typically delivered in the form of a monologue or as part of the closing scene.

Theatrical Conventions: Performance Techniques

  • Stylized performance techniques were often used in the presentation of the story, including exaggerated actions, vocal expressivity, and use of mime to portray certain moments.

  • The use of direct address was another key convention, with characters often breaking the fourth wall to speak directly to the audience, adding to the interactive nature of Fairytale Theatre.

  • The theatrical convention of transformation was frequently employed, like humble children coming out triumphant by outsmarting an intimidating foe, reflecting the underdog theme found universally in fairy tales.

Theatrical Conventions: Characterization and Scenic Elements

  • Characters are usually clearly defined as ‘good’ or ‘evil’, often with distinctive costume or physical attributes to help signify their intention. This clarity in characterization helps to remove complexity and sharpen the focus on the plot and moral lesson.

  • Set and scenic elements often leaned towards the symbolic or representational rather than the realistic. For example, the sweet decorations of the witch’s house can be seen as a symbol of temptation.

Theatrical Conventions: Sound, Lighting, and Suspense

  • As part of Victorian Melodrama origins, the story of Hansel and Gretel often uses music and sound effects not just as background ambiance, but as an integral part of the narrative, like denoting an entrance of the witch.

  • The dramatic use of suspense, anticipation, and heightened emotion was enforced with lighting and sound changes. This was created to captivate the audiences and keep them engaged until the very end.

Remember, these conventions can shape your understanding, interpretation, and delivery of any Hansel and Gretel performance.