How to Write a Play or Production Response Paper (2020)
(Adapted from – Resource: Hank Maine website and
Austin Peay State University, 3 April 2012; revised 27 January 2015, and other resources)
Observe, describe, analyze, interpret, evaluate
This assignment will help you improve your observation skills and descriptive and analytic writing.
Through vivid descriptions and thoughtful discussion of the work, you will develop your aesthetic
judgment, and expand your critical and creative thinking skills.
It is wise to arrive early enough to read the program before the show begins. Observe the play with an
open mind. Notice the supporting elements, scenery, lighting, costumes, sound, and projection.
Recognize that your imagination is limitless. What you see is neither right nor wrong, but valued as your
own perception.
Bring a pen or pencil and list words and phrases that capture the energy, mood, story or design of the
piece you have just seen. Record images as they occur to you, use action verbs, adjectives and
metaphors. This is the raw material that you will use to write your paper so capture as many images as
possible. Avoid overused adjectives: nice, good, wonderful, beautiful and avoid hyperbole: the worst,
the best, the most.
Be accurate. Check the program for the correct spelling of director’s, designers’, actors’, and composers’
names. The title of a play is underlined or in italics. Use your theatre design vocabulary correctly. You
have attended a production of a play, a musical, an opera. Language, spelling and grammar are
important, and count toward your grade. Be sure to proof read your paper before handing it in. Reading
your paper aloud can help you find errors, and having a friend proofread is also helpful.
Essay Outline
Introduction paragraph
I. Give title, playwright, and type of play, or production. Give date of production, place, and name of
performing group. Theme of play (main subject matter or message of the work). What is the creator’s
intention? What does this work have to say about people, relationships, human nature, the world? Was
the piece entertaining? What did it make you think about?
II. Atmosphere and mood – What is the visual style of the production? What is the genre or type of play?
(Tell how it was expressed in the scenery, lighting, and sound effects.)
III. Design and Technical evaluation
A. Setting/Scenic design – describe the environment. Was it effective? Who was the designer?
How were design elements used?
B. Lighting – describe the lighting. What was the mood created? Was it effective? Who was the
designer? How were design elements used? Were there interesting or important lighting moments?
What was the rhythm of the lighting?
C. Costumes – describe the style of costumes. Did the costumes help you to understand who the
characters were? How were design elements used? How did the designer use the fabrics chosen?
D. Sound design – describe the sound design. Was it effective in helping to tell the story of the
play and creating the mood and environment? How were design elements used?
E. Projection design – describe the projection design. Was it effective in helping to tell the story
of the play and creating the mood and environment? How were design elements used?
IV. Directorial evaluation
A. Did the stage stay comfortably balanced?
B. Did all aspects of the production communicate the same concept or feeling or
were some aspects distracting?
C. Did this production interpret the script to your satisfaction?
D. Was the director’s concept true to what you think the playwright intended?
E. Were any aspects of the production confusing?
V. Conclusion and Personal opinion (You may discuss any aspect of the performance you wish, but give
reasons to justify and explain your beliefs and opinions.) End your paper with a concluding paragraph
summarizing and evaluating the concert. Make sure your descriptions support your interpretations and
•Imparting information
– text, images giving
location, time
•Creating visual compositions
•Setting the scene
•Serving as scenery
•Establishing mood and atmosphere
•Creating focus
•Creating rhythm
•Adding visual texture and modeling form
•Supporting the visual style
•Projections always related to lighting
but now overlapping into scenery
•Flexible, dynamic, adaptable,
Art of the Projection
–all the skills of a good
collaborator-become familiar with all of the design venue
•Visual artist
–aware of the elements of design and principles of composition
•technology driven area –Knowledgeable–technology, equipment, software,lighting – Math, physics
–to understand the aspects of light and what the equipment can do
•Flexible –changes during techs
• Stay current
-Large format slides
–pani projectors
•Digital display devices–LCD Liquid crystal display & panels
•DLP –Digital light processing
•LED –Light emitting Diode
–walls, curtains, screens panels
•Holographic projection systems
•Front projections –projected from the front onto screen, scenery,
•Rear projections –projected from the rear onto a scrim or
semitransparent surface made for rear projections
•Top projections –projected on to the stage floor from above
•Video projections –moving image
Controllable qualities of
Relating to the image
•Image creating and editing
•Image resolution
•Image Size
•Projection mapping
•The Visual Language of clothes
•Costume design –what it is and what it does
•The process of design and Interpreting the story
•Collaboration and production
The Functions of Costume
•“The audience must be able to immediately recognize the character.”
•“Costumes are so much more than the clothes a character wears; they reveal the nature of each
character embodying the psychological, social, and emotional condition of the character at a particular
moment in time.”
•The costumes flow from the information in the script
•characters change over the course of a play and the costumes change accordingly
•Costumes indicate story information as well as character information
To express emotion and enhance the moodCostume Designers use:
•style (realistic, fantasy, stylized)
•design elements (color, texture, shape)
•symbolism (poetic, iconic, dramatic)
Understanding the design qualities of FABRIC
•Will it do what you have designed?
•COLOR -vibrant, pale
•PATTERN -plain or print, scale
•TEXTURE -rough, shiny
•WEIGHT -how does it move?
•HAND -how easy is it to work with
FOURControllable Qualities of Light
•Intensity and brightness–Intensity and mood associated with brightness of the space
–illumination is measured in footcandles
•Color–affects mood–Filter, Gel
•Distribution–Form and direction–angle of beams and shadow
•Movement–Changes in the light form moment to moment
–Transitions between moments, looks, cues
–Followspots, moving lights
Color of Light
•Color onstage is the result of the color of light and of the object resulting in the reflected impression in the eye
•We see yellow/green better than blue/red
•Color affects mood
•Natural light is white but affected by time of day, weather, atmospheric conditions
•Warm colors associated with comedies
•Cool associated with tragedies
•Color mixing
–Primary colors of light are red, blue
Storytelling and Mood
Sound can:
•establish locale
•establish time of day or night, year
•establish weather conditions
•link scenes
•evoke atmosphere
•create emotional stimulus
•support story with needed sound
Color onstage
•Designers use color to express emotion in an immediate way
•Of costumes–Pigment, hue –tint, shade, intensity, saturation–Symbolism and meaning
•Of skin –actor’s
•Of light–Interaction costume vs lighting
Important color terms for designers
•Hue–pure color, pigment
•Value(tints or shades)
•Intensity(also vividness, saturated)
Colors of things and of light
•Color of pigment
–Primaries red, yellow, blue = black
–Subtractive color
•Color of light
–Primaries red, blue, green = white
–Additive colorReally color is a property of light and how our eyes see objects
The Wast
The Wasp

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