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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        ”How Does Brian Clark Use Theatre to Dramatise the Euthanasia Debate?"

Patrick Bateman

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. It resides in the fact that the choice is removed from the man concerned.' After Ken's argument we have a doctor from the old-school of medicine, who is much more interested in saving people's lives than listening to how they feel or the rights and choices they should or could have, they are only interested in black and white medical science, and not interested in the grey and mentally and emotionally challenging areas. Dr. Emerson argues that Ken is a human life, and allowing that human life to die is a waste of a human life: 'Mr Harrison is now physically stable. There is no reason why he should die.' Dr. Emerson knows that if Ken is discharged as he would like to be he would definitely die: 'he couldn’t last a week out of here.' He knows however that Ken has an argument that could stand up in court and win, would have to admit Ken under the Mental Health Act if he wants this life to be, as Dr. Emerson sees it, "saved". 'Can't you see that Mr Harrison is suffering from depression? He is incapable of making a rational decision about his life and death.' The two arguments both seem to make sense by themselves and the debate is about an extremely important subject that has massive implications, whether someone lives or dies. Inevitably there will be a conflict of opinions, in this case, Ken vs. the medical establishment and more specifically Dr. Emerson.

        Brian Clark uses the physical space on the stage to dramatise this debate. Ken is at the centre of the debate or more accurately Ken's life is at the centre of the debate, and the decision of whether he should have the choice over whether he lives or dies. The different sides of the debate go on around the hospital, with Ken arguing his case to people at his bed, whilst Dr. Scott, a sympathetic doctor also tries to get Dr. Emerson to see Ken's side of the story in other parts of the hospital. Ken and his bed are in the centre of the stage, with other rooms and places around the stage, the debate is argued in many of these rooms, Dr. Emerson tries to make his point in many of the rooms, like in his office. Finally once Ken has made his point sufficiently, the debate enters court proceedings, but because of Ken's condition, his room is transformed temporarily into a courtroom, where the debate is argued from the beginning so that the judge can pass a fair decision. Brian Clark uses the stage to discuss the debate of Euthanasia all around the hospital from many different points of view of the different people who become involved in Ken's circumstance.

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        In order to dramatise this debate, Brian Clark uses technical language in this play to represent each side of the debate. In the first half of the play medical jargon is used between the medical staff whilst discussing Ken's condition: 'the aminophylline or the huge stat dose of cortisone', 'Two milligrams T.I.D.'. Otherwise we hear medical jargon from Dr. Emerson to Ken to confuse or convince Ken that these drugs or this procedure is necessary: 'Your body received massive injuries; it takes time to come to any acceptance of the new situation. Now I shan't be a minute…' We see ...

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