DRAMA ESSAY STOLEN BY JANE HARRISON INDIVIDUAL PERSONAL RESPONSE Discuss how the scenes you performed are uniquely Australian. You are to include a description of how the content and dramatic forms and conventions used in your group performance help to convey a uniquely Australian message. You may wish to include specific quotes from your scenes to justify your answers. In my group performance, my group members and I chose two scenes from the play ‘Stolen’ that we thought appropriately conveyed a uniquely Australian message.
We performed both of the scenes and took advantage of the themes presented in each scene by using Dramatic Techniques and Conventions such as symbolism, voiceovers, lighting, dialogue, contrast, and props. The first scene that we performed in the play ‘Stolen’ is called ‘Your Mum’s Dead’. In this scene, I played the character of Jimmy’s mother while my other group members played the characters of Jimmy and the Warden. In this part of the play, we witness Jimmy tackling with his nostalgia and torment in the hands of the Institution.
The issue of ‘excessive authority and power’ that the Australian authority exercised during this time is profoundly raised and explored in this scene. To illustrate that effectively, my group members and I incorporated the use of symbolism, voice over, contrasting images, and props in our performance. I start of the scene by reading out loud my character’s letters to Jimmy. While I read the letters, my other group members acted out the characters of Jimmy and the Warden. In this scene we incorporated the use of contrast between Jimmy’s mother’s hopeful message and the actuality of what Jimmy experienced at the hands of the Institution.
We implemented this contrast by using stage directions and placement. My character was placed at the top right hand corner of the stage proportional to the bright lights of the stage while my group mates were behind me at a diagonal distance acting out the beating and torture of Jimmy. By doing this we enhanced the message that Jimmy’s mother was reading out about her thoughts on Jimmy’s departure and state. This is an excerpt from my dialogue: “… I keep thinking that you would have had a nice Christmas anyways, I’m sure you’re getting along just fine with that nice family they said they’d find for you. I expect you’re a big strapping boy by now. At least you’re being well fed and looked after… ” By placing the other characters behind, the audience is able to see the irony in Jimmy’s mother’s message and what Jimmy actually experiences in the hands of the Institution. This further represents the power of the Australian authority towards misleading the Aboriginal Community shown through their lack of knowledge towards the torment and abuse that their children faced. Another technique that we used to further illustrate abuse of authority and power is the use of ‘symbolism and props’.
In the scene my group and I decided to show the lack of care and excessive power of the Australian authorities through the letters. During the performance, my character finishes reading the letters while Jimmy’s torture is contrasted on the other side of the stage. After reading the letters, I dropped them slowly on the floor and got off stage. Then the actor who plays Jimmy, picked them up and held them closely to show the preciousness of these letters to the character Jimmy. Soon enough, my other group member who played the role of the warden snatched the letters and ripped them and threw them away.
This gesture symbolizes the ‘breaking’ of Jimmy’s only connection with his mother. When the warden does this, she also takes Jimmy’s knowledge of his mother’s existence. This signifies the barrier that is stopping Jimmy from feeling even the least bit of happiness and hope of getting reconciled with his family. The warden is used to represent the actual ‘AUTHORITY’ that forbade Jimmy and the Stolen Generation from returning to their families. The second scene that we performed is called ‘Am I Black or White? ’ With the scene’s title, the Australian message of ‘Racism’ is implied.
During the 1960’s, the actual time that the play is set and the events of the ‘White Australian Policy’ was actually in place, the issue of ‘Racism and Prejudice’ was heavily exploited by the Australian Government such as the occurrences of the ‘Stolen Generation’. In this scene, I played the character of Anne while my other group members played multiple characters such as the white and aboriginal fathers and mothers. To be able to illustrate the message of ‘Racism’ effectively my group members and I decided to use dialogue, lighting, and symbolism in our performance.
I start of the scene by reading and acting my character’s (Anne) dialogue and reactions towards meeting her real mother. This is an excerpt from the Anne’s dialogue: “So, I finally went to meet my real mother. I thought they’d live in the country, or the outback, or something. But here they were in a housing commission flat… I just thought it would be different, somehow. ” Anne acts as if she regrets meeting her real mother and shows that she expected something different than what she actually witnessed. I performed the scene by incorporating a ‘harsh’ tone to my dialogue and acting as if my character was in a ‘bitter’ mood.
This technique helped emphasize Anne’s emotions and reactions towards meeting her mother. By altering the tone of my voice, I was able to show the audience that Anne had hoped for something ‘better’ implied by the word ‘somehow’ in her dialogue and that she actually doesn’t appreciate the fact that she had the opportunity of seeing her biological mother and family. This just shows the effect of ‘prejudice’ towards Aboriginal people seeing as her values and attitudes towards them have been influenced by the white people who raised her. The phrase ‘I thought they’d live in the country or the outback, or something.. also corroborates the effect of being raised by her white family seeing as even she an Aboriginal herself believe in the stereotypes of Aboriginal communities living in the desert or outback. All this shows the ‘prejudice’ effect of her surrounding white family on her views and perspectives of the Aboriginal community. The last technique that we incorporated to further stress the theme of ‘Racism’ in the scene is the use of ‘symbolism and lighting’. In the performance, I used heavy emotions to show the turmoil that my character felt while she was being surrounded by voices of her white family and black amily. My group mates acted out the characters of the white and black family and used a ‘flashlight’ to show the difference between the two. Both actors alternate blinking of the flashlight as they say their lines while I run around the room to show the confused state that my character is under. With the use of flashlight, our group was able to show the contrast between the voices and stress and add to my character’s confusion. The light is also symbolic for the ‘whitening of the skin’ which further depicts the issue of racism.
The light symbolizes Anne’s idea of her white identity as the ‘superficial’ and ‘physical’ while the black is stressing her original and natural identity. This furthers the issue of racism as Anne hears the voices of her white and Black family and the contrast between the two with their racist dialogues such as ‘maybe you just want to get a cheap loan or a handout’ and ‘maybe you just want to get on the bandwagon’. This shows the differing and prejudice ideas of the two races towards each other and emphasizes Anne’s conflicted journey towards realizing her real identity as implied with both voices asking ‘Who do you think you are? With all this mentioned, I think that my group and I illustrated the central themes and Australian messages of ‘racism’ and ‘power and authority’ shown in the play and also in real life, effectively through the use of different Dramatic techniques and Conventions such as props, symbolism, lighting, and contrasting images. Our performances evoked the unique Australian messages presented in the play by presenting it through the stage and the audience.