"The Foreigner," told the story of an English man named Charlie and his friend Froggy who came to a hostel in Georgia. Froggy challenges Charlie to act as if he is a "foreigner" who doesn't know how to speak English for the entire time he stays in the hostel. The play takes the audience on the journey of Charlie trying to portray a "foreigner" and showcases the obstacles he encounters along the way. Moreover, all of the characters were central to the storyline, but the main character was Charlie.
I liked and was most interested in Owen and Ellard because Owen's character development was unique in that I didn't expect him to be as complex as he was. As far as Ellard is concerned, I liked him and was interested in him because he had to try much harder than the others to fit society's mold of how an individual should behave. On the contrary, I didn't like Froggy because it was very hard to understand who he was as an individual and what his true personality was. To me, he seemed as if he was somewhat artificial in the way he acted when he was around others.
Furthermore, during the course of the play, the actors were effective in portraying their respective characters and they were believable when portraying them. Some of the actors even used certain dialects and accents to help them convey who their character was, to the audience. An example of this would be that Charlie had to utilize an accent in order to pretend like he did not know any English. Additionally, the actor who played Ellard had to pretend to be "slow" and not as intelligent as the other characters. In terms of which characters I relate to, I relate to Catherine the most because of the fact that we are both very feminine and we both are hopeless romantics. I also related to Ellard in that others treat him as though he is not as important or capable because of his cognitive disability, and I too have experienced what it is like to be treated differently.
Further, as it relates to the director of this play, he intended to give the audience a night of fun and entertainment with comic relief. He also wanted to convey the message that people should be themselves. The director was successful in conveying this because the audience was laughing throughout the play and afterward were heard saying that this was "one of the best plays they have ever seen". The audience also understood the message about remaining true to yourself.
The play is set in a hostel in Tilghman County, Georgia around the 1960s. This was shown through the use of a log cabin, older-style furniture, and furnishings such as the swinging doors to the kitchen, which is not at all common in modern households. The scenery showed that the play took place in Georgia specifically through the Southern food and sweet tea that the characters often ate and drank, the pictures of fish that were hung around the hostel, and the old, rusty screen door which one would typically only encounter in the South.
The scenery also conveyed information about the characters. For instance, by Betty almost always being in the kitchen, it indicated that she is a caregiver who conforms to gender roles. Furthermore, the scenery showcased the particular situation in which the play was set, by showing the audience that the characters were in a cabin in the countryside. Moreover, the layout of the cabin clearly illustrates that the setting was a hostel and not someone's home. As was previously mentioned, the play's specific setting was in Georgia. The backdrop of grass and an empty field helped to clearly convey this. Overall, the scenery was appropriate in that it helped the audience to understand the setting and connect to the story.
In regards to the lighting design, the lamp that was in the middle of the table illustrates that this play was set in the past, as most people do not have this nowadays. In addition, the flipping of the power switch on the lamp indicated whether it was daytime or nighttime. This was also signified by the lights above the stage either casting a "warm" glow or a dim glow. Also, Ellipsoidal reflector spotlights, which according to the textbook: Theatre Experience 11th edition written by Edwin Wilson, Ellipsoidal reflector spotlights are "…the most widely used the conventional fixture." (Wilson, 320) were used to highlight the important characters in each scene.
Other characters were still visible, but less emphasized. In particular, lighting was used to show the frightening situation of the Ku Klux Klan arriving by using dark, red lights. Further, the lighting showed the mood throughout the play as well. For most of the play, the lighting was warm and welcoming. However, for the scene with the Ku Klux Klan, dark red and blue lights were used to depict a darker mood. As it concerns the actors, they were properly lit, with the important characters being spotlighted, but the others were still visible.
When it comes to costume design, it showed that the time period in which the play was taking place was around the 1960s. This is clearly exemplified by the fact that Betty wore an old, worn apron. The costume design also showed place, since Ellard was dressed in overalls and Catherine was in a Southern belle-type dress, both of which indicate the setting is in the South. Additionally, the style of the costumes showed that the play was set in a time period of around the 1960s. Further, the style of the costumes was very Southern and casual, which contrasted with Charlie, who was very well dressed. The costumes that each character wore, certainly showcased their personalities.
This is evidenced by Catherine's pink clothing which showed that she was very feminine. Betty, on the other hand, was in worn clothing, which illustrated that she was a hard-working Southern woman. Ellard was wearing overalls with one strap undone, which indicated that was cognitively "slow". Froggy's camouflage clothing showed that he was in the service. Moreover, Owen had tattoos and a muscle shirt, which showed that he was tough. Catherine's husband, the minister, was a figure of authority which was indicated through the fact that he always had his hair slicked back. Generally speaking, the costumes showed conflict by showing which characters were in the same "group" (those who wore the Southern and casual clothing) and who was the outsider (Charlie).
In terms of the sound design element of this production, old-fashioned music that was played before the show began, "told" the audience that the play was based in the past. Specifically, the old-time country that was played before, during intermission, as well as after the performance, conveyed that the play was set in the South. To add to that, this type of music illustrated that most of the characters were Southerners. As far as sound effects are concerned, the slamming of the screen door, the car engine revving, and the tires squealing made the Ku Klux Klan scene more frightening.
The Foreigner which was written by Larry Shue was written on January 1, 1984. The play was written to encourage audience members to be to who they are. Overall, the audience was very receptive to the production and it seemed as if they were thoroughly enjoying themselves. This completely aligned with my reaction in that all of my fellow audience members and I were laughing for the majority of the production. In addition, the audience was somewhat diverse in that it was comprised of several families as well as several elderly couples. The event was being presented to students who are a part of the Rollins College theatre department, however, it wasn't being presented for any particular type of group.
I feel that this production exceeded my standard of good theatre. Furthermore, the production that I attended I believe faithfully represented the play's original meaning of being true to who you are as an individual. To conclude, the actors as well as everyone who took part in this production, effectively conveyed that message that one should be to who they are, to the audience.