William Shakespeare and Bernard Shaw were both dramatists who were trying to make the world a better place. Will Shakespeare did this by allowing his imagination to transform the Globe. The audience contained therein had their imaginations filled with new possibilities, new hopes of a world free from contaminations of greed and aggression. Bernard Shaw did this by confronting the hard nosed world of big business with a vision of its rottenness and with the defiance of some of those who were its chief victims, for example Mrs Warren.
The Sydney Theatre Company production of Mrs Warren’s Profession which I saw last night presented a powerful condemnation of the power brokers of the world and showed real sympathy and understanding for the likes of Mrs Warren who is caught between two worlds. The conflict between her and her daughter Vivie in the closing scenes is one of the best pieces of theatre I have seen in a long time. There is no easy conclusion to this confrontation, both Vivie and Mrs Warren are to be pitied. At the end of the play one has a strong sense that Shaw is wanting his audience to take a good long hard look at themselves, at their values, at the sustainability of their materialism. I do think this is a play which still has a current message to our society.
In The Tempest Shakespeare’s universal mythological language about what is needed to bring a change in human relations also still has a haunting power. The Masque -which we explored in tutorials- embodies and expresses the way that art of all kinds can influence the way we see each other and the way we see the beauty and the grace of the world around us.
For this week’s topics (for either Shaw or The Tempest), take a character from either play and write a short speech in which the character explains what they are doing in the play itself. Make it into a kind of monologue and try to use the kind of language that the character actually uses in the play. If you attempt this I guarantee it will help to deepen your understanding of the play itself. Good luck. See you all at the gallery next week.