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muppetish's avatar

What are your favourite stage directions?

Asked by muppetish (14021points) April 13th, 2011

Thanks to the wonderful professors at my university, I have been bitten by the drama bug and have been consuming plays. Last quarter, we read Tamburlaine the Great by Christopher Marlowe which has one of the most graphic (not to mention peculiar) stage directions that I have ever come across: ”[He brains himself against the cage.]

Of course another stand out that comes to mind is this infamous gem from William Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale: ”Exit, pursued by a bear”.

My favourite stage directions are from James M. Barrie’s Peter Pan; or, the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up during the incredibly moving “Do you believe in faeries?” scene, such as:

(TINK has to tell her tale, in one long ungrammatical sentence.)

(He rises and throws out his arms he knows not to whom, perhaps to the boys and girls of whom he is not one.)

And of course, my absolute favourite:

Many clap, some don’t, a few hiss.

Do you have a favourite stage direction from a play or musical?

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6 Answers

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

You mentioned mine: “Exit, pursued by a bear.”

Cruiser's avatar

“Exit….stage left”

gailcalled's avatar

Not original but funny enough to warrant its own play;

“Enter, laughing”

The famous operatic tenor, Leo Slezak, is remembered for his ad lib in a performance of Lohengrin.

Slezak is supposed to be carried offstage by a swan boat. Unfortunately, it didn’t arrive at the cue. Slezak sang, in German, “When does the next swan boat leave?”

Blueroses's avatar

There’s the classic
Bottom enters, wearing the head of an ass

funnier in some translations as “looking like an ass”

fundevogel's avatar

Eh, my plays don’t have such gems. This is the best I could find in Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead.

“A somewhat oedipal embrace”

“Hamlet leaves, dragging the body”

“Hamlet appears from behind the umbrella”

“Beneath the re-tilted umbrella, reclining in a deck-chair, wrapped in a rug, reading a book, possibly smoking, sits Hamlet”

@muppetish You’re making me reconsider my Marlowe ban, which is something considering how much I loathed Doctor Faustus.

Gundark's avatar

I always like the Shakespeare plays that boil down complicated, messy, drawn-out things to their bare essence. As in:

(He dies)

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