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A static scene. That is, the actors do not move around or speak. They are blocked (positioned) in ways meant to communicate the relationships between the characters at that moment. The entire scene need not necessarily be a tableau; scenes can open or close with one, often held as the curtain rises or falls. Although usually scripted, a tableau might appear due to a director's decision.

Not to be confused with what you put playing cards on in most solitaire games.

See also Time Stands Still.

Examples of Tableau include:


Anime and Manga

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  "I'm getting sick of this. If you have any complaints, then watch the anime a thousand times over. [gets suddenly shocked] WHAT ANIME?! It's not even moving!!! {{[[[Stock Footage]] his pencil falls to the ground}}] Ah! It moved!!"

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Comedy

  • Steve Martin's "Death of Socrates" sketch opens with the characters posed to resemble the painting of the same name(also an example of Art Imitates Art).

Film

  • The film musical 1776 ends with a tableau that reproduces the famous painting of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
  • The Star Wars films all end with a dialogue-free tableau:

Live-Action TV

  • Stella: The first episode had the three principal characters form a tableau to greet the landlord.
  • Many shows and films have parodied The Last Supper" and its tableau:
    • That 70s Show
    • The Simpsons
    • M*A*S*H (film)
    • Mel Brooks' History of the World: Part I
    • The Cree playwright Tomson Highway does it towards the end of his first play, The Rez Sisters.

Theatre

  • The stage directions in Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest call for tableaus at the end of many scenes.
  • Tom Stoppard's play After Magritte opens with a surreal tableau, the meaning of which is explained in the opening dialogue, and ends on another.
  • Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine based the characters in Sunday in The Park With George on figures who appear in the paintings of Georges Seurat. At the end of the first act, they assume their respective positions in Seurat's "Sunday on the Grande Jatte."
  • Paul Fleischman's parodic one-act "ZAP" has over fifty blackouts in ninety minutes. Due to the nature of stage lights (even the fastest ones will still quickly fade rather than an immediate cut-to-black) and the progressive nature of insanity, the front-end of the play can be rife with tableaus.

Western Animation

  • A few episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars end with the characters dramatically posed, usually watching ships take off or land.
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