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An Inspector Calls - Using the detailed opening stage directions and the introduction of Goole on page 11 as your starting point, discuss how a director might develop the use of settings and characterisation to bring out the plays key themes.

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Introduction

Leigh Mollison Coundon Court School GCSE English Assignment: 20th Century Drama Using the detailed opening stage directions and the introduction of Goole on page 11 as your starting point, discuss how a director might develop the use of settings and characterisation to bring out the plays key themes. The playwright's stage directions suggest Priestley's interpretations of the play. Priestley's emphasis is characterisation and this is shown within his stage directions. Priestley's stage directions are pescriptive and detailed. This shows that he is very concerned about the response and perceptions of his audience. Similarly, the directions for the entrance of Inspector Goole are quite specific. In this essay, I will examine Priestley's first set of stage directions, which advise the director's setting for Act One. The furniture should be chosen to appear, "solid", "substantial", and, "heavily comfortable", showing Arthur Birling's quality yet possibly vulgar and questionable taste and even views. Priestley's stage directions are so pescriptive he even mentions the lighting. Before the Inspector enters, the lighting is, "pink and intimate", suggesting a warm, pleasant atmosphere appropriate for a close family gathering. The light the suddenly changes to, "bright and hard", as the Inspector enters, suggesting in a visual metaphor, the brutal, uncompromising way Inspector Goole throws light on the familiys sordid secrets. However, if I were the director I would put the Inspector slightly in the shadows, to symbolise his mysterious character. ...read more.

Middle

She is extremely excitable and girly. Gerald is described as, "easy well-bred young man-about-town". He should be portrayed as self-satisfied and quite crafty. He would be an attractive man and appear to have great respect for Arthur Birling. To show this I would instruct the actor to be attentive to everything that Birling says. Eric is a young man, who is presented to have low confidence and low self-esteem from ubiquitous bullying from his father. He should be pale in the face and I would instruct the actor to make no eye contact with the other characters. Eric must be portrayed as reclusive, however when he does speak he is sharp and bitter. Finally, the detailed descriptions for Inspector Goole feature later in Act One. Priestley expresses the wish for a character of, "massiveness, solidity and purposefulness". To show this I would instruct the actor to always stand to show his superiority over the family. He should make a lot of meaningful eye contact. Goole is unfavourable and cool towards the family and is clearly spoken. He has no respect for class, which is shown, in his dress, which is, "a plain, darkish suit", which sets him apart from the Birling'. Goole projects a ghost-like presence, emphasised by his name, which has ghostly connotations. Although characterisation and setting are important variables within a play, they do not communicate the plays theme as well as the dialogue. ...read more.

Conclusion

During this Goole says, " Public men, Mr Birling have responsibilities as well as privileges". Goole is directly addressing Birling here, indicating he does not agree with Birling's views. Consequently, Goole should appear slightly supercilious and have an authoritative manner. He should also speak with sincerity, making eye contact with Birling. Finally, Goole's last speech includes the line, "And I tell you that the time will soon come when, if men will not learn that lesson, then they will be taught in fire and blood and anguish". Priestley's message of social responsibility is heard most clearly here than anywhere else within the play. To emphasis this Goole must speak with conviction. I would instruct the actor to speak the words, "fire and blood and anguish", looking at each member of the family as he says it. He must seem omnipotent. In conclusion, the play has been performed using four variables; characterisation, setting, dialogue and stage directions. The director can change these as they wish to communicate their own interpretations of the play and Priestley's views. As I have shown in this essay, Priestley's stage directions assist the development of the director's interpretations. Influential media is used to portray different moods and enigmatic juxtaposition of characters is vital. However, the play's success is judged by the audiences response to Priestleys message of social responsibility: if we do not look after the weak and the poor then society will sink, as the Titanic did. ...read more.

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