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Structure and Form of Mike Leigh's Abigail's Party

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Introduction

Abigail's Party by Mike Leigh Structure and Form Being a completely naturalistic play, Abigail's party pursues all of the rules of modern day naturalistic theatre to creating a 'Slice of life' on stage. It follows the structure of Aristotle's "Well made play": Exposition Development Resolution Exposition: is the introduction to the characters and the situation; development: the plot/characters develop, and the play continues and unfolds, revealing the characters for who they really are; resolution: the play deepens further; all loose ends tie together, leading to a denouement. Abigail's Party also obeys Aristotle's 'Three Unities" of Time, Place and Action. The unity of time, 'Stage time equals real time' (often a clock is placed as part of the set to reinforce this); the unity of place, the play in set in one place the whole time; the unity of action, there is continuous action where there are no jumps forward or backward in time. There is linear narrative where the play flows directly from beginning through to middle to end with no breaks, it doesn't have scenes like East, which is follows an episodic structure, where any scene could be moved elsewhere and still make sense, Abigail's Party has two acts where the second continues straight from the first act. ...read more.

Middle

o We used a range of exercises to explore and develop the plots and characters within naturalism. We did exercises like the emotional memory stimulus, to enable us to use our experience of feelings and incorporate them into the characters that we are exploring. The exercise consisted of us thinking of a memory that would bring about certain emotions, we can then think back to the memory, using it as a stimulus while acting to re-create these emotions. I used the memory of when my grandfather went into hospital to help me bring back that upset emotion. o To help us create our naturalistic characterisation, we used the "Magic If" activity, where we would create a hypothetical situation, for example - IF Beverly re-married a man with a child after Laurence's had died. This helps us develop our characters. I found this exercise beneficial as it showed me what would happen in certain situations, and also helped us explore the character of Abigail who we know very little about. o Another exercise that explored characterisation was the 'inner and outer monitor' - this exercise involved us playing a character who had lost something valuable that didn't belong to them, and didn't want to tell the truth to their friend about what had happened. ...read more.

Conclusion

o Another type of comedy used is satire. Satire is 'subtle mocking' where cultures, characters and times are mocked. Beverly's character most uses satire - "Can you take a bit of criticism Ang? ... that's a very pretty dress, now you see that pink ribbon? If you had chosen, Ang, a colour slightly nearer that pink...now I can see what you've done..." - Here Beverly is putting Angela down as a way of making herself feel superior, Beverly is mocking people of lower class and how they behave and their taste. o Black comedy is a style of comedy effectively used in Abigail's Party. Black comedy uses tragedy to create comedy, the characters interactions and reactions cause the audience to laugh at the tragedy, this can create mixed feelings, as the audience would feel bad laughing about something that is such a tragedy - Laurence's death. The way in which the characters react and talk to each other during Laurence's death makes us laugh, "Oh listen to that noise he's making Ang!", "do you think it'd be a good idea to dab a bit of brandy on his lips?" Angela Trupia. ...read more.

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