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Imagine you are Directing a production of "An Inspector Calls". Explain how you would Direct it to bring out the Themes and Issues that Priestley explores.

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Introduction

An Inspector Calls Imagine you are Directing a production of "An Inspector Calls". Explain how you would Direct it to bring out the Themes and Issues that Priestley explores. "An Inspector Calls" is a play that is unusual in the fact that the setting of it never changes, with the 3 act play all set in the Birling's dining room. It starts off with the Birling family in the company of Gerald Croft, son of Sir George and Lady Croft, sitting at the table celebrating Sheila Birling's engagement to Gerald. All seems to be going well until the Inspector arrives on the scene and informs the family of a young women's suicide earlier that evening. One by one the characters are interviewed by the Inspector and some how he draws information out of them, which subsequently leads to each of them to have a role in the events that led to the young women's suicide. As a political and social thinker, J B Priestley was a patriotic socialist, convinced of the need for social change to benefit the poor so in this play he intended to explore themes of fate, morality and social responsibility to make his audiences think. "An Inspector Calls" can be seen as a sort of 'time play' set in 1912 for an audience of 1945, enabling Priestley to make use of hindsight as a powerful tool of dramatic irony. At first glance the play seems to be a straightforward detective thriller but as the involvement of each character becomes clearer it develops as a unique form of a 'whodunit', still remaining a highly effective thriller right up to the end of the play. For the opening scene, I would have all the characters sitting down around the table with Mr Birling sitting at the head of the table, as he is the head of the family, allowing him to see everyone, and Mrs Birling sitting at the other end of the table, facing her husband. ...read more.

Middle

To emphasise on the entrance of the Inspector, one of the 'cranks' Birling was talking about, I would have the sharp ring to be loud and echoing to show that his arrival is a crucial point in the play. As he enters I would have a spotlight on the Inspector to show his importance and to create suspense in the audience. It seems odd that the characters do not pick up on the unusual name of the Inspector, Goole, although Birling says that he has not heard of him before. Being an obvious pun on 'ghoul', the audience would immediately pick up on his name and take it as a sign of the unusual things to come in the play, instantly thinking about who or what he is. Creating an impression of 'massiveness, solidity and purposefulness' the characters feel bit wary of the Inspector. Although they are surprised at his sudden appearance in the middle of their celebration, Birling doesn't really think much of his arrival "It may be something about a warrant" and even jokes about it being for anything important with Gerald, "Unless Eric's been up to something". As Gerald says this I would have him glancing at Eric with a smile and then nodding confidently over at Birling. Meanwhile Eric should look uncomfortable, giving away looks of his nervousness as he quickly glances at his father and Gerald, unaware that they haven't noticed how tense and jumpy he has suddenly become. This gives the audience an idea that Eric has definitely been up to something which will be revealed later on. As the Inspector informs them of Eva, "burnt her inside out, of course", I would have him say it slowly and calmly, looking straight at Birling, to observe his reaction. Like many of his methods of questioning, this method of speaking weightily and looking hard at the person he addresses seems to be a rather unusual thing to do, compared to what other police officers do. ...read more.

Conclusion

The way Priestley ends the play is very cleverly done to leave the audience thinking about it long after it finished. It leaves them guessing who or what the Inspector was and the messages he tried to teach them about social responsibility. Though they are happy the Inspector was a fake and are ready to carry on as normal, the family and Gerald suddenly become very tense with 'a moment's complete silence' as Birling puts the telephone down. As he tells his family what has happened Birling 'looks in a panic-stricken fashion' and his family should be waiting apprehensively to hear what he has to say. When Birling tells them "a girl has just died" I would have his family and Gerald look shocked and taken aback, and for a moment all the characters stand frozen. Just as Mr Birling finishes there should be a sudden noise with the characters looking guiltily at each other and the curtains immediately fall. This leaves questions in the minds of the audience as to who the Inspector was and whether or not the story of Eva Smith is true. This effective ending makes people think about the play and the moral issues behind it long after they have seen it. In conclusion Priestley ingeniously brings up some important moral and social issues all in this one play without forcing his own views on his audience, instead letting people know and making them think about what he is trying to teach them. He uses the character of Mr Birling to represent all those things he stands against to emphasise the theme of the upper class taking advantage of their social inferiors. Also in this play he shows that we are all responsible for each other through our actions. Although the events used are from the past, the play still remains to be a popular play for the modern audience because the themes and issues Priestley explores are still quite relevant to life today. 1 ...read more.

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