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'Under Milk Wood' by Dylan Thomas

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English Coursework - 'Under Milk Wood' by Dylan Thomas How do we know that this play is written for radio? Dylan Thomas died at the age of 39, a year before the first broadcast of 'Under Milk Wood' in 1954. He was commissioned by the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) to write "A play for voices". This was the brief from the BBC. Instead of being spread over a long period of time like most modern dramas, 'Under Milk Wood' deals with one day in the life of a Welsh seaside village, which makes it fairly unusual in comparison with other modern dramas. Instead of just focussing on one or two characters and treating them as the main characters, Dylan Thomas deliberately gives us an overview of village life; this helps to make the play more interesting, especially as it deals with only one day. 'Under Milk Wood' was an instant hit and has become Dylan Thomas' most well known work. It has been recreated into a film and is often performed on stage. But in spite of that it remains still, a play for voices. In the play the 'first voice' acts as a guide for the listener, we cant see what is going on, so we need to be told what is happening and the first voice basically guides us through it. ...read more.


The first voice creates drama to add to the variety of the play. On screen this would be done using visual images and actions. The first voice tells us about it. "As they clutch and thrash and he bubbles away downhill, his patched pants falling". This fills us in with action, which we do need. The second voice is only really in the play because it is too much for one person to perform. The second voice is the first voice's helper, or assistant. It is a good thing if the person playing second voice has a contrasting voice because there needs to be a contrast between the two voices. Captain Cat, unlike the first and second voices is a character. He does help out the audience and acts as a parallel with them because we are blind, and so is he. Captain Cat is also an inhabitant of Llareggub, he knows all of the people living there like the back of his hand and so he is able to give us some inside information about them. "There goes Mrs Cherry, you can tell her by her trotters" and again, we are reminded that he is blind because he identifies people by the sound of their feet. ...read more.


There is no coincidence that her song and the children's song are next to each other, the moral side of the play next to the immoral side of the play. The songs are very simple and there is nothing complex or poetic about them, they contain simple rhythms and simple rhymes. It is the prose in the play which contains the poetry. There are a lot of Anglo-welsh speech patterns (Dylan Thomas did come from Swansea). This reflects the lilt and rhythms of everyday speech in any small South Wales village. There are many clues which tell us that this play is written for voices (for the radio) such as the three main commentators: First voice, Second voice and Captain Cat. None of these would be needed for a stage play because we would not need to be guided through the play. Then there are the frequent changes of scene and the number of characters and the variety of ways in which the story is presented, i.e. dialogue, narrators and songs. But most of all it is the number of poetic techniques in the language of the play that deliberately appeal to our sense of hearing such as alliteration and rhythm without which the play would not have been a success. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

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