Topic: Bolt’s use of theatrical elements makes the play A Man for All Seasons relevant to a modern audience. To what extent do you agree?
Depicting the real historical events of the 16th Century, Robert Bolt’s two-act play A Man for All Seasons was initially brought onto stage in the 1960s, and is still widely performed and studied today. The playwright, Bolt’s excellent manipulation of theatrical elements contributes a big part to the play’s lasting popularity; and it also enables the audience to effectively relate the play to the contemporary world. Bolt’s use of the Common Man is an important device linking the audience and the play; the modernised language he chooses to dominate the conversations on the stage encourages the audience to actively consider how events are portrayed. Bolt’s suggestion of lighting and sound effects enhances the critical ideas in the play; his arrangement for the costumes and props also assists the modern audience’s understanding of the play.
As a Brechtian alienation device, the Common Man is used to influence the understanding of a contemporary audience by directly addressing them. He reads, explains events, foreshadows things to come and transcends time and place as a character in the play as well as a commentator out of the play. His important role as historical exposition to the audience is evident as halfway through Act 1, when he acknowledges Wolsey’s fate and introduces Sir Thomas More as the new Chancellor to the audience; as well as when he accounts for the “two years” that has passed, and introduces the “Act of Supremacy” as Act 2 commences. The Common Man foreshadows More’s future dilemma at the start of the play, when he, as More’s steward, reveals to the audience that More “would give anything to anyone” and “that’s bad”, because one day when asked for “something he wants to keep”, More will be “out of practice”. By enlisting the Common Man’s opinions of More, which is directed communicated with the audience,...
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