Mise en Scene
In the theater industry, the term mise-en-scene is generally used to refer to the various objects that comprise the design of a scene and their placement on a stage. The French translation of the term, placing on stage, suggests that mise-en-scene only refers to these physical elements of the production. However, it can also be used to refer to the process of storyboarding to chart the play visually as a whole or the visual imagery created through creative direction, among other components. It is a broad term, encompassing a variety of elements that add to the overall complexity and production of the play, and if done correctly, can be the defining elements of a finished piece.
In addition to set design, lighting is a key component in mise-en-scene. Where lights are placed on the stage, how much light is on a character at any given time, and the color of those lights all convey different meanings to the viewer. Similarly, the use of space – whether things are crowded in a small area or whether characters have a great deal of empty space between them – can also be symbolic in a production. Costuming, hair, and makeup are all important components of a play, but these are often secondary to other elements. There are exceptions to this, however, especially when one considers shows like “The Lion King” on Broadway. Finally, when considering mise-en-scene for a film rather than a play, the type of film used can also convey additional meaning. A black and white film, for example, is interpreted far differently than one in color. Taken together, these various elements make up a finished dramatic piece; each one plays an instrumental role in conveying the vision of those responsible for the show’s production.