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How would you direct An Inspector Calls to ensure that it is still relevant today?

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How would you direct An Inspector Calls to ensure that it is still relevant today? J.B Priestly wrote An Inspector Calls in 1945, but he set it in the year of 1912, and throughout the play there are several prominent ideas. Over the years, the way in which Priestly has presented these thoughts, while still relevant, may not be as effective as they were several decades ago. As time has changed, so has the way in which society views them - even if the ideas are identical. So how would the play be directed in order to make it relevant to current times? The main theme must be identified at the outset to first be able to update the play so that is still relevant. Priestly has deliberately set his play in 1912 to emphasise on the differences and his themes between the society at that present time (1945), and in the past. The consequences of the events in those 33 years led to huge changes in society. For example, in 1912 the class and gender boundaries ensured that things wouldn't change, but the event of two world wars caused a large upheaval to society, breaking down the class boundaries, and for women to gain a more valued place in society. ...read more.


The different members of the Birling family would still have made a significant impact to the girl; with ultimately all of them being responsible for what Eva Smith eventually does to herself. The stage production of An Inspector Calls, directed by Ian Macneil, started with a darkened scene, akin to a World War II setting, with children finding an old radio from pre-World War I, and discovering themselves in the world of "An Inspector Calls". Directing this as a play, I wouldn't bother with the need to be transported to a different time or place, as the setting has changed so that it's now in the modern times. The stage would first be set at a garden party, and when the Inspector arrives: a storm begins and as such; they move indoors. This would reflect what effect the Inspector will have on the family, to turn it from a peaceful happy environment, to one that is fraught with darkness and unhappiness. The weather would progressively change to imitate the atmosphere that is being experienced within the family. The attitudes of each of the characters would also remain the same, as in; the older generation have the opinion that they are not responsible for what Eva Smith did, do not admit to any fault of their own, and are very rigid in their thoughts and opinions of others, especially those of a lower class. ...read more.


Throughout the play, several other ideas also appear. And these are the class wars, and the capitalism versus labour. These appear through what the characters say, for example Birling near the beginning, which, not only does it show the idea of capitalism versus labour, but also once more foreshadows war. Birling: and I tell you, by that time you'll be living in a world that'll have forgotten all these Capital versus Labour agitations and all these silly little war scares. These ideas are still valid and very much relevant today, however, compared to how they were seen when it was written, I believe a more pertinent issue which is closer to people's hearts and minds today would be better suited for the play. An issue such as terrorism and immigrants from other countries would have the same effect as Priestly intended when he originally wrote it. As such Eva Smith could be cast as a young, Polish female, who came to Britain to seek a secure future. The point of making the play more relevant to today's world is so that Priestley's original message can still be easily conveyed to the present generation. The theme of a collective responsibility is still there: but just shown in different circumstances and with a dissimilar portrayal of the world around Eva Smith's death. Edward Tan English Coursework 7/6/07 ...read more.

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This question is quite tricky to answer and needs to be planned before writing. The answer needs to show detailed understanding of the themes and characters in the original, and exactly how those themes will be conveyed and how it is updated and what the effect would be on the play. The attention to the setting and staging is good, but not sufficiently developed or linked closely enough to the plot of the modern adaptation.

Marked by teacher Melissa Thompson 30/03/2013

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