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Equus, Peter Schaffer

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Introduction

GCSE Drama Coursework: Equus The play "Equus" by Peter Schaffer investigates ideas of faith, passion, violence, and adolescent sexuality. Schaffer was inspired to write the play after hearing a true story; a crime involving a teenage boy's seemingly motiveless violence and injury to horses. Equus is a fictional account of what Schaffer believes could have happened before the incident, helping to explain the psychology and reasoning behind the boy's mysterious and disturbing crime. Equus follows closely the character of 17 - year-old boy Alan Strang, but also his psychiatrist, Martin Dysart. In this piece of writing, I plan to explain how we explored the play of Equus in a variety of different activities within our drama class. Response The play opens with Martin Dysart, the psychiatrist, performing a soliloquy that introduces the main themes of the play. Scene one is devoted entirely to this speech, which shows its importance and vitality. We learn much about Dysart from this speech. For example, the line "All reined up in old/language and old assumptions" illustrates how he feels trapped and frustrated in his life. In addition, he says, "I'm desperate" which shows his exhaustion and frustration. This Scene was particularly challenging to rehearse and perform for various reasons. ...read more.

Middle

This is the reason why he blinded the horses - so God could not witness him committing a sin. This fear puts Alan in a distraught state that follows on to the act of him blinding the horses in the final scene. The corresponding activity I participated in was "hot-seating" Alan about that night. We took it in turns to play Alan, and each did our best to answer questions about the night in character. Development Freeze Frames After reading the play we spit into groups of five. In these groups we decided which three points of the play were the most important; or had the biggest impact on the audience and had to present them as three 'freeze-frame' images. The first point we chose to depict was in Scene 3; Dysart has just met Alan and is asking him various questions. We showed this by having Alan on Dysart's 'couch' looking bewildered and confused. Our group also thought it would be a good idea to have three 'onlookers' looking in on them, wearing disgusted expressions. They represented Bennett, Thoroughgood, and the public who are mentioned in Act 1, Scene 2 - just before Hester reveals Alan's crime. The second idea that we chose was Alan's confusion about which parent he should listen to: his mother with her religious ideas, or his father who insisted on no television. ...read more.

Conclusion

I found Alan hard to relate to. Even though we worked very hard in class to understand why Alan committed the crime, I didn't fully understand until right at the very end - after the rehearsals. If I had had more time to prepare or learn Equus, I think it would have been easier because it was not until the very end of our work that I started to really understand it. Peer Evaluation One person in the group whose work really impressed me was Marc. I thought that Marc really connected with and understood Alan. He was really convincing and performed well in various activities. Even when he had to sing he did it with a lot of confidence and enthusiasm. Many of us would have been very embarrassed about having to do this - especially in front of peers. He really impressed me when we were doing the "hot-seating" activity. He had played Alan and we were asking him questions about the night of the 'act'. What impressed me was how, when asked a question he didn't know the answer to, he sang one of the tunes - because that's what Alan does in the play when Dysart questions him. Overall, I really enjoyed working on, and participating in activities about Equus. I thought that the play was fascinating and exciting, but also interesting and stimulating. ...read more.

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