An Inspector calls - A letter to Mr.smith from Mr J B Priestly.

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English Coursework: An Inspector Calls

Dear Mr Smith,

        I was very pleased to hear that you wish to produce a version of An Inspector Calls in Dover. Below is some advice to help to accurately represent my ideas.

        As you know from the stage directions in my play, I have a very strong vision of how my play should be set. At the beginning I’m very adamant that the scene must look cosy so as to make the audience more involved and understanding of the time setting of the play. The entrance of the parlour maid is very important also and this key part should not be forgotten about. This is so the audience can understand that this is obviously a wealthy family if they have a parlour maid. Also, the lack of interaction between the family and the maid reflects the fact that people did not think much of their domestic servants at this time in life. The opening scene sets the tone for the rest of the play and I hope you can recreate the atmosphere of the opening. You could make the atmosphere tenser by advising the characters to use very overwrought facial expressions and movements. You could also use atmospheric music as the audience are waiting for the play to start. This will make them suspicious of the things to come and they will start to prefigure that something bad or mysterious is going to happen. As well as the music, the lighting should be quite dull and focus in on specific characters. For example, when the Inspector starts to question Sheila a spotlight should be focused on her as soon as she says “When was this?” This should happen because it will focus the attention on Sheila who is, as it states in the stage directions, agitated. When the light does not need to be focused in on one particular person, the lighting should be dull and depressive because there has been a death. The stage setting can be however you like, but I would suggest that you look at my stage design because I have used Edwardian Furniture and it is lay out in a very “middle-class” way.

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        In this play the Inspector is a way for me to highlight some of the more important contextual issues of the day such as politics, the role of women in this time period and the relationship between masters and servants. For example, when the inspector arrives, Edna, the parlour-maid, enters and addresses Birling by Sir, yet no one else within the family does. This indicates that she is below him in class because he does not correct her. Also when the door bell rings, instead of getting up to answer the door, Birling says “Edna’ll answer it” which suggests ...

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There are many strengths to this piece of work. As a letter written from the perspective of Mr Priestley, the 'voice' is mostly authentic. The student clearly has a good understanding of the theatricality of the play, and the potential impact moments will have on an audience. However, to ensure a high grade, ensure that points are always specific and developed. If they are vague or insufficiently developed or not linked to the question you are answering, you won't get the full marks available. As highlighted, extra marks are available for SPaG so it is worthwhile ensuring the essay is as accurate as it can be.