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Mise en Scene

In the theater industry, the term mise-en-scene is generally used to refer to the various objects that comprise the design of a scene and their placement on a stage. The French translation of the term, placing on stage, suggests that mise-en-scene only refers to these physical elements of the production. Mise en SceneHowever, it can also be used to refer to the process of storyboarding to chart the play visually as a whole or the visual imagery created through creative direction, among other components. It is a broad term, encompassing a variety of elements that add to the overall complexity and production of the play, and if done correctly, can be the defining elements of a finished piece.

In addition to set design, lighting is a key component in mise-en-scene. Where lights are placed on the stage, how much light is on a character at any given time, and the color of those lights all convey different meanings to the viewer. Similarly, the use of space – whether things are crowded in a small area or whether characters have a great deal of empty space between them – can also be symbolic in a production. Costuming, hair, and makeup are all important components of a play, but these are often secondary to other elements. There are exceptions to this, however, especially when one considers shows like “The Lion King” on Broadway. Finally, when considering mise-en-scene for a film rather than a play, the type of film used can also convey additional meaning. A black and white film, for example, is interpreted far differently than one in color. Taken together, these various elements make up a finished dramatic piece; each one plays an instrumental role in conveying the vision of those responsible for the show’s production.

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