Duplicitous Multiplicity

Here’s the thing about symbolic stagecraft, and really all artistic symbolism:

When pinpointing the possible symbolic meaning of specific stagecraft decisions, whatever meaning chosen to be highlighted isn’t necessarily the sole meaning residing in that stagecraft.

Because layered stagings contain multitudes of interpretable meaning.

For some cases in point, let’s stick with yesterday’s Camp Siegfried:

I detailed one thematic resonance of the staged physical activities, and here’s another: there’s definitely implicit commentary in how this Nazi camp attempts to promote “growth” in their youth. Does manual labor really facilitate maturation, or is it self-interested exploitation by the callous-free hands of the callous higher-ups?

AND, how does this corporeal exertion intersect with Aryan notions of conventional masculinity? Need I mention that half the cast lacks testosterone?

Or how about the set’s obviously fake mountain, backdropped by…no backdrop; the back wall is stripped of all design ornamentation, laying bare the real architectural bones of the theater. Yet again, it’s imagery as a miasmic combination of performative truth and illusory artifice (or is it illusory truth and performative artifice? Truthful illusion and artificial performance? Artificial truth and illusory performance?).

And then there’s the tree overhanging both the stage AND the audience, further blurring the traditional divisions between the “performance” space and our “real” space (also: tree —> how far does the apple fall from the tree —> the kids are the apple, their family’s Naziism is the tree, and their interactions figuratively and literally unfold under said tree).

All of this performance-reality blurring inhibits the audience from becoming fully immersed in seamless dramatic naturalism; the production always feels like a production — and not a window into reality — by constantly leaning into its own non-believable theatricality, perhaps partially to avoid convincingly platforming the disdainful ideologies discussed?

One more crucial note: symbolic stagecraft is not solely about the symbolism; stagecraft is a storytelling mechanism, capable of achieving aims separate from symbolic takeaways.

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