Violet – A Musical by Jeanine Tesori and Brian Crawley Essay

Published: 2021-07-31 12:20:09
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For the professional play of my choice, I saw the musical, “Violet,” presented in Ford’s Theater by director Jeff Calhoun and an incredible team of stage artists and actors. I did not particularly enjoy the plotline of the play, but the acting was great. Since watching “Violet,” I have been reading my introduction to acting book, and kept in mind key concepts that author Bruce Miller specifically highlighted that characterizes “good” acting. I also kept in mind critiques and concepts I learned in class. Erin Driscoll played the main character of Violet and I specifically impressed that did not break the fourth wall once in two hours.
There musical was based on conflict after conflict. Soon after the main character Violet’s father died she makes a pilgrimage from North Carolina to Tulsa in order to “cure” herself. Violet has a huge scar on her face and believed she is very ugly because of the scar. She is travelling to Tulsa, via bus, in order to see a famous preacher to cure her ugliness. The conflict is something everyone in the audience can relate to because someway or another we are all obsessed with physical beauty. On her bus travels, Violet meets two soldiers traveling. One soldier is white, Montgomery, and the other solider, Flick, is black.
Though the ultimate conflict and Violet’s objective is to become beautiful there were many conflicts with in the conflict which kept the play very interesting. The play takes place in 1964, a time in the United States where there was great racism. One of the soldiers Violet befriends is black and the plot line covers many conflicts that arise due to the color of his skin. Being from a small town, Violet notices firsthand for the first time how horrible racism is especially in the south. Violet has a very strained relationship with her father, which is very evident in the play.
She believes it is her father’s fault that she is ugly. When Violet was 13, an ax that her father was using flew off the handle and hit her on the face which left her with the scar. She believes her father did this on purpose because if she was pretty she would have left her small town in North Carolina. Her father is simultaneously struggling with the pain he feels of his wife’s death years prior. Their relationship is filled with a lot of guilt on both sides. All people on the bus are dealing with some type of pain or another which is evident through the songs that they sing.
Another conflict with in the storyline, is both soldiers become smitten with Violet. It is evident to the audience that Montgomery, the white soldier, is just using her for sex while Flick, the black soldier, has very deep feelings for her. The theme of racism is broached upon again because Flick never makes moves on Violet because he fears society. In class, we discussed backstory. Within the play, there are flashbacks which highlight the backstory (I found the flashbacks to be very confusing until the end of the play).
Each character has lived his or her entire life until the start of the play. Erin Driscoll does a fabulous job in reminding us of Violet’s backstory. Instead of discussing pain, Erin is actually feeling the pain when discussing her relationship with her father or how she has been teased her whole life for being ugly. The pain she feels is evident in Erin’s entire demeanor. There is a huge change in her character from start to finish of the play. Her walk become lighter and her posture became significantly better at the end of the play when she accepts herself.
Throughout the musical, Erin switches between a naive, stubborn girl dealing with a great deal of shame to a confident, light hearted young woman. When Violet finally makes it to Tulsa she goes to see the preacher. However, she does not get the response she anticipated. The preacher was not a very good person and believes she is very vain because nothing is wrong with her. When the preacher leaves the stage Violet speaks to God and realizes that she is a stronger person than most people. Violet has an imaginary meeting with her father who tells her that she is stronger than he ever was.
She realizes that she sees with her heart and feels at peace with her father. For the first time, she believes her scar is not there and heads back to the bus station. Violet encounters the soldiers again where she waits for Montgomery (the white soldier). He is very rude when he tells her scar is still there and that he is going to Vietnam by choice, which hurts her because she thought he would stay in the US for her. Flick (the black soldier shows up) where he tells her she belongs with him and she realizes he’s the one for her regardless of his race.
Within the play, each actor had a great sense of space of the stage. The flashbacks did not work so well because I felt they were very confusing. The play took place in the south but Violet’s accent was too strong and at times hard to understand. However, each actors singing voice was incredible. A major problem with the play is that there is no scar on Violet’s face which led to confusion when she saw the preacher to see if he could cure her. I was confused as to whether the scar was gone or not. I think in the future make up artists should put a scar on Violet’s face.

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