The Horrors of War and Survival

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Elements of distinctively visual such as photographs, voiceovers and stage directions are used throughout the play The Shoe-Horn Sonata by John Misto to evoke the audience’s emotions by recreating the lives of two female Japanese prisoners of war. The use of distinctively visual allows the composer to take his audience past the “tip of the iceberg”, and expose them to the visuals of the characters’ experiences.

Throughout the play, the horrors of war and survival are constantly raised to convey potent visual imagery to the audience, by telling the experiences of Bridie and Sheila while they were in prisoner of war camps.

The horrors of war can be seen constantly during the play; whether it is photographs depicting famished soldiers to the lack of hygiene and respect afforded to the prisoners, ultimately taking away the basic human rights of prisoners.

The horrors of war are clearly presented by photos being projected; “photos of some women POW’s – emaciated, haggard, impoverished.” The photograph shown is a powerful visual which leaves little room for imagination regarding how the POW were treated, and also had their basic rights as humans stripped. This image is then reinforced later in the play by “…hundreds of women who could barely stand up, dragging their children behind them. Our legs all wobbly from beri beri…” These two striking images allow the audience to imagine what the conditions must have felt like; almost as if they were there at the scene, watching the events unfold live and thus giving “life” to the characters’ experiences.

Voiceovers throughout the course of the play also have a profound effect on the imagery presented throughout when used to highlight the horrors of war. The voiceover sequence which occurs when Bridie is beaten by a Japanese soldier is a good example of such instances “[v/o, very calmly] It’s alright dear.
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