From animated film to theatrical spectacle : a semiotic analysis of the scenography and recreation of Beauty and the Beast (1994) and The Lion King (1997)
This dissertation aims to analyse the re-creation and transformation of animated films into theatrical spectacles, by examining two Walt Disney animations and productions as case studies: Beauty and the Beast (1991 & 1994) and The Lion King (1994 & 1997), designed by Stanley Meyer (Beauty and the Beast ) and Julie Taymor (The Lion King ), respectively. Through a semiotic analysis of the productions viewed in the Monte-Teatro in Johannesburg (Beauty and the Beast ) and the Lyceum in London (The Lion King ), the scenographic choices of the designers are examined to ascertain the ways in which the re-creation and transformation from animation to theatre occurs. A study of the different styles is conducted, as the case studies were visually different from each other, and from their animated counterparts. Each case study contributes to an understanding of the process whereby an animated film can be transformed and re-created for the theatre. An investigation into The Walt Disney Company, from its inception to its present day theatrical productions, is undertaken to illustrate how The Walt Disney Company has become an influential force in the international performance industry. Responses by reviewers are used to demonstrate how The Walt Disney Company was influenced to alter the conceptual approach for its subsequent theatrical production. To aid in the analysis of the scenographic designs, the theoretical writings of Martin Esslin (1987) and Keir Elam (1980) are consulted to develop an understanding of how designs are integral to the reception of any production. Developments of scenography are explored from Aristotle who states that theatre does not need any spectacle (design) to portray the poetry of the performance, to Sternfeld’s analysis of megamusicals which illustrates the spectacular designs that have become integral to the development of certain productions, and genres. Using Wickstrom’s article on The Lion King an examination of how the commodities produce meaning from the production is undertaken. This dissertation provides insight into the development of scenographic designs and the recreation and transformation of specific elements from animated film to theatrical spectacle through an appropriation of theories about transposing theatre into film (Egil Tornqvist, 2009). This, in conjunction with Guy Debord’s theories (1995) on the society of the spectacle, aids in the analysis of the spectacle/scenography.