A symbol is when a statement or idea is represented with an image rather than spoken or written words. We looked at how symbols can be used in sketches to help the audience to understand what is going on with minimal dialogue. This helps plays and performances to go faster and more fluidly if the actors do not need to continuously explain little ideas that come up throughout the storyline of the play.
In class one thing we did to practice using symbols was to pick a few symbols (ex: a heart, a sword, a clock) and to put them on pieces of paper and use them in a small sketch. This was to help us practice how a symbol could be used to explain things without us having to do it in the performance ourselves.
From this activity we learned about how for example a clock, can be used to show how time changes or that a period of time has elapsed rather than someone having to say that to an audience.
Symbols are very important especially in things like live theatre. For example, in Wicked, Glinda gives Elphaba a hat that she finds hideous, but Elphaba takes it to be a token of friendship. Glinda ends up feeling bad about giving Elphaba the ugly hat, and she actually becomes her friend. Later in the play, when Elphaba goes her own way, we understand how the hat she wears, although to her it is a gift from her friend, to us, because Elphaba becomes an image of ‘evil’ in the wizard of oz, the hat also becomes an image of evil, because we know that it is a witch that usually wears it.