All the Kings Men
All the Kings Men follows the final years of the life of a man named Willie Stark through the eyes of Jack, a friend. The story of Willie is based upon true events of Huey P. Long’s rising and abrupt end as governor of Louisiana in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s. The main concept behind All the Kings Men is to show how even good-hearted men like Willie Stark can be corrupted when granted power. The concept was successfully passed to the audience through the use of stage and sound.
The three-sided thrust stage setup helped the audience become a part of the play and feel Willie’s power as he ascended and descended from the throne of governor of Louisiana. Being a part of the play is important in the sense that the audience no longer feels like they are watching a play, but instead ...view middle of the document...
After Willie becomes governor, he is most commonly seen on the highest tier giving speeches to the people or the second to highest tier intimidating common citizens in his office. The higher tiers are used to convey the sense of power and authority. During this time is when Willie becomes corrupt and uses his power to bully others into doing his dirty work. The only other times that Stark is seen on the ground floor is in times of weakness such as cheating on his wife, his son’s accident, and his assassination.
Sounds in theatre are commonly used to attract the audience’s attention to a specific place on set, to set a mood through song, to help imagery, etc. Throughout the play, song was used in a unique way. It was a direct insight into the inner workings of Willie’s mind. Before Willie became governor, jolly songs of Louisiana were sung to show how much he cared about his state and the people. As Stark’s power over the state became more prevalent, the songs became more about him through the eyes of the people and less about the state. They also became more foreboding. The use of song is a perfect way to foreshadow and let the audience know what to feel and expect during a particular scene without spoiling what is to come.
Willie’s corruption and reign as governor came to an abrupt end when he was assassinated by gunshot in one of the final scenes. The reality of this comes primarily through the aforementioned production choices. The piercing sound of the gunshot immediately attracted all attention towards the scene where he lay dying on the ground floor. Without the use of sound and stage, this particular scene would not have the desired affect and would have failed miserably. It was a perfect conclusion to Willie Stark’s corruption in the sense that the story started and ended with him being nothing more than a humbled man.