Theatre Exploration - Streetcar and 4.48 Psychosis

Topics: Mind, Natural language, Thought Pages: 3 (2342 words) Published: October 29, 2014

Whether witnessing a performance or reading the text of a play, we rely on the dialogue to enable us to create an image of characters in a text, to decide whether we like or dislike them and to try to understand them and their actions. Two levels of language are used in A Streetcar Named Desire - the words spoken by the characters in the play and the text of the stage directions. The nuances of speech set the characters in their social class context and show the differences of social status and education as well as of character personality. In the play the very marked differences between Stanley and Blanche are stressed by Stanley's non-grammatical, slangy speech compared against Blanche's poetic, smoothly, upper-class spoken language. She also constantly reminds Stanley that she was a teacher of English. When playing the character of Blanche it was important to consider her delivery of language. At times there is a lyrical quality in her words, emphasising their emotional content. Stella also speaks correct English, as she is from the same social roots as Blanche but uses a matter-of-fact, mostly unemotional tone, except when she speaks of her love for her husband. Mitch, like Stanley, non-grammatical in the way he speaks: his efforts at speaking properly are spoilt by grammatical slip-ups such as "I perspire", never "I sweat (page 52, scene 6). He cannot follow or match Blanche's flights of fancy, and is acutely aware of this. The language of this text relates to the historical and cultural context of the play, (New Orleans, 1940’s) using abbreviations, and the American language. The language of the characters is dissimilar to what it would be in the modern times. For example; men were more powerful than women at this time and this is shown by the way Stanley talks to the women, and how he reacts when Stella tells him what to do. Stanley refers himself as ‘King of the home’ and speaks to Stella in a degrading manner. During an early workshop we explored...
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