Performance and Stage Directions

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Date added: 17-09-16

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1. Dramatic techniques * Stage directions * Stage directions are used by Nowra to reveal the personality of the characters. The overconfidence and untrustworthy personality of Nick is highlighted in the first scene when they are travelling in the dark and Nick and Nowra accidently touch Lucy and are enjoying this. * Stage directions are also used to reveal the feelings of characters in certain situations. When Lucy and Nick leave, Lewis is left alone with Roy and the reader is told that Lewis feels betrayed. This is an effective technique because it reveals Lewis’s nervousness and lack of confidence as a director. Stage directions are also used to reveal the humour and action on the on stage performance. At the end of act one scene two, the audience is informed by Doug that there is a fire. Nowra uses stage directions to capture the chaos as the characters run of the stage trying to stop the fire and Cherry attacks Doug by throwing herself on him, her hands on his throat, choking him. * Foreshadowing * Foreshadowing is used by Nowra to create suspense in the play. When Lewis is told by Justin to keep a close eye on Doug, the audience anticipates that some complications may be caused in the play. However the audience is not disappointed because Doug eventually lights a fire in the toilet and burns down the theatre. * Nowra also foreshadows Lucy’s infidelity. When Lewis and Doug are discussing Nick, and the moratorium when Lewis tells Doug that Nick lives with him and Lucy, Doug asks “do you share her? ” Lewis is offended. At this point Nowra engages the audience as the think that Lucy is unfaithful, clearly foreshadowing her affair with Nick. * Humour * A great deal of humour comes in the play in the form of insults towards the directors. For example when Lewis defensively asserts Justin that “I am not a ward, I am director”. This creates a sense of humour because the educated audience would think that there is no difference between a director and a mad person. * Humour is created through the inappropriate comments and observations made by Doug. Doug criticises Roy’s decision to cast Henry in the play, “a hero who suffers from verbal diarrhoea”. The humour is created here because the audience has just witnessed Henry’s refusal to talk. * Characterisation 2. Key themes * Self growth and identity * The play not only focuses on the need for development of Lewis, but also suggests the need for personal growth of the other patients. This is evident in the scene where Henry continually asks what the purpose of the play is and is responded to by being told, “The point of this play is to bring people like Henry, out of their shells”. * In the earlier scenes Lewis is seen incapable of asserting himself amongst a group of people. It is Cherry who interferes between the fight of Dough and Roy and tells Lewis that “you have to be firm with them”. At the end of act one scene two Lewis comments on his own failings: “why can’t I ever say No? They are mad, its madness”. However Lewis learns how to assert himself amongst group of people and ensure that his vision is realised. Lewis transformation is complete when he tells Doug to “go burn a cat”. * Lewis’s perspective on the world, himself and others alters with his experience in directing the play. As he is separated from the outside world he starts to question his values and beliefs. This is evident is his shifting attitude towards the Vietnam War and the student protest movement. Early in the play Lewis shows support for Nick’s moratorium and offers to help on the day. But the audience sees this support vanish in act one, scene two, when Lewis is more interested in hearing dough talk than Nick’s interview. He admits to dough that Nick is a friend but he only has one problem that he likes the sound of his own voice. At the end of the play Lewis feels life is more meaningful and feels more in control of his life. * Lewis protects Doug in the future of the play when he agrees with Cherry that she started the fire. In the manner he shows trust and commitment towards these people which was not evident in the beginning of the play. * The nature of madness * Lucy is the first character to reveal her feelings about mental illness. The first scene when Roy tells Lewis that he is not a social worker but a patient, immediately after listening to this Lucy tells Lewis “I have to go”. This brief comment indicates to the reader that Lucy is not comfortable around mental patients. * Nowra suggests that mental illness does not mean that individuals need to me detached from the society. This is evident when Justin tells Lewis that “the first thing you’ll notice is that they are normal people”. This idea is further portrayed in a positive manner when Justin says “they are people who have done extraordinary things, thought extraordinary thoughts”. Justin uses an ambiguous illusion to describe madness, which initially confuses the reader and Lewis. “A madman is one who turns up at a fancy party dresses up in the Emperor’s clothes”. It is only at the end of the play when both Lewis and the reader understand Justin’s definition. The world is full of sane people who shroud themselves in illusion whether it be their clothes, profession or attitudes and beliefs and insane people are those who are actually free from this illusion and pretence. * Love and creativity in a war dominated world *
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