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Brian Clark uses a number of techniques to dramatise the Euthanasia Debate in his play, "Who's Life is it Anyway".

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Brian Clark uses a number of techniques to dramatise the Euthanasia Debate in his play, "Who's Life is it Anyway". Euthanasia is the means by which a person has the freedom of choice over whether they live or die. In the play there are two main arguments concerning this issue. One argument saying that a patient has the right to make this decision of life and death and on which disagrees and says the patient should not have this choice. Two characters in the play represent the two central arguments. First of all there is Ken, Ken believes that he should have the right to choose to die, it is his life, he says that his whole life before his accident was sculpture, and now that he cannot sculpt because he is paralysed below his neck, he will never be able to sculpt again: 'I'm almost completely paralysed and always will be. I shall never be discharged by the hospital.' According to Ken his life is already over: 'Of course I want to live but as far as I am concerned, I'm dead already...I cannot accept this condition constitutes life in any real sense at all.' 'Any reasonable definition of life must include the idea of it being self-supporting.' Ken only wants the dignity in death: 'each man must make his own decision. And mine is to die quietly with as much dignity as I can muster'. Ken also argues that he is not asking his lawyer to make a choice over his life or death, just to represent his views to the hospital: 'I'm not asking you to make any decision about my life and death, merely that you represent me and my views to the hospital.' Ken argues that the real matter to be discussed is the indignity at not having a choice in the matter: 'The cruelty doesn't reside in saving someone or allowing them to die. ...read more.


We see the different opinions voiced through different stages up the medical hierarchy. Next Brian Clark uses lighting to dramatise his play. He can use lighting for many different purposes, he uses lighting to light up different parts of the stage to show different scenes. Ken is the centre of the stage and the light moves around him to different scenes in order to provoke the audience: '(Cross fade on sluice room.)' The lighting also reflects the themes of life and death, for example the lighting can make Ken look very alone in the world at times, with nobody around him, just empty wards. Perhaps the most dramatic display of lighting in the entire play is at the end, when Dr. Scott leaves Ken in his ward, and then the lights, 'snap out'. This represents the absolute finality of Ken's decision and brings to light the seriousness of his decision, he has decided to die. He knows how big a decision this is and once he has decided that it is what he wants he cannot change it. Once Ken has died, he is dead for good. The snapping out of the lights at the end reflect this finality. Brian Clark in a similar way to the medical hierarchy method uses different characters to represent a different view of Ken's predicament. Dr. Emerson as we have previously mentioned thinks Ken's life is precious and should be kept at any cost, no matter what Ken's wishes are. Dr. Scott also wants Ken to stay alive but values Ken's opinion and thoughts more than Dr. Emerson, she thinks ethically. Dr. Travers represents another view on Ken's problem, he sees it the same way as Dr. Emerson, and thinks of it as a mental patient wanting to commit suicide, and is happy to back up Dr. Emerson in a court of law, and also sees it as doing a favour for Dr. ...read more.


Clark has made Ken a sculptor, he has done this deliberately, Ken cannot live without his sculpting and machines cannot help to replace his former passion, he will never be able to do it again, this helps us to understand how and why Ken wants to die so much, he doesn't want his sculpture replaced with reading or anything else, he can't live without his sculpture. The play in the end has the characters and actors and audience emotionally involved. This serves to show us Ken's side of the argument, without this emotional involvement, for example. if the play was shown from the perspective of Dr. Emerson it would be very easy to dismiss Ken's argument and say that he should not be allowed to die full stop. At the end of the play we suddenly realise what Ken has been fighting for, as the lights snap out, we realise the finality of what Ken has done. He has made a rational decision but before that final moment, we do not realise the full impact of what he has been fighting for. He will no longer be there once he has won his case. Ken will cease to exist. This helps us to understand why some people are anti-euthanasia, and what grave consequences it has and why euthanasia is an extreme solution to take. The theatre offers many possibilities of visualising and dramatising this debate, the medical and legal jargon used in the two acts of the play, the physical space of the stage and the lighting in combination, the black comedy of Ken, the exits and entrances of different characters that are used as mouthpieces of different views on the debate. Issues are raised in the play as they could not be in prose. There is a suspension of disbelief, a contract between the playwright and the audience makes sure that the issues are well explored and continue to be in a 30 year-old debate. ?? ?? ?? ?? "How Does Brian Clark Use Theatre to Dramatise the Euthanasia Debate?" Patrick Bateman ...read more.

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