A Comparative Study between Shakers and Picnic on a Battlefield

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A Comparative Study between

Shakers and Picnic on a Battlefield

        For my GCSE comparative study, I shall be comparing two plays – ‘Shakers’ and ‘Picnic on a Battlefield’. During this comparison I shall be exploring both play’s period, society, culture and style. The play which I performed for my GCSE scripted performance was Shakers by John Godber and Jane Thornton.

        Written for four female actors, Shakers tackles the issues surrounding living and working in a male-dominated society during the 1980’s. The majority of the play is set is a cocktail bar and it stars four waitresses who switch from role to role, playing the many characters that come into shakers. Carol, Adele, Nicki and Mel are all young women with high hopes and dreams of achieving their aspirations in order to leave their strenuous, lowly paid, laborious bar work jobs and find success in non-working class careers.

        Picnic on a Battlefield, written by French playwright Eugene Franklin, was set in 1914 – during the time of the First World War. The play features four main characters, two parents, their son and a foreign soldier (the nationality of this foreigner was not specified). The two parents travel to visit their son, who at the time was serving as a British soldier on a battlefield, bringing with them a picnic for the three of them to eat. During this time a foreign soldier is caught by the British solider and the play then develops to show how the three Brits react to the finding of this prisoner.

        Despite both plays being written during the twentieth century, there is about seventy-five years difference between the times in which there were set. Although this time appears to be insignificant, taking into account the social and technological changes that have taken place during 1914 and the late eighties, the difference between the periods of the two plays is quite considerable. Both plays are specific to their time period and it could not be justified being set at a different time as they both make obvious suggestions as to when the play was set. It is easier to figure out when Picnic on a Battlefield was set because there are a lot more hints than in Shakers – the fact that Picnic on a Battlefield was set during a war which the British partook in narrows the possible date, in which the play was set, down a little. As with Shakers, we need to make assumptions, i.e. in the ‘Chelsea Girl’ scene a conversation takes place as to how the two girls liked the Duran Duran.

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Carol: Have you heard this music? Chuffin’ hell.

Adele: Duran Duran; it’s great

This pop group was most popular during the eighties and therefore this is a factor which indicates that Shakers was set at this time. Also, many conversations that take place during the course of the play include the issue of high unemployment – this was a matter of great concern during the 1980’s.

        During performance not only would the set suggest two separate time periods, but the costume which was worn would to. As with our play, Shakers, where the girls would be dressed in ...

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