A comparison between ‘Hard to Swallow’ by Mark Wheeler and our Improvised dramas
During the course of this essay I intend to compare ‘Hard to Swallow’ by Mark Wheeler to our improvised performance, which was a TIE project. The stimulus for our performance was ‘teenage problems’ and we decided to base our performance on teenage pregnancy. ‘Hard to Swallow’ outlined the life of a girl, who struggled with anorexia whereas our piece showed the story of four different teenage girls who became pregnant under different circumstances. Both plays dealt with predominant teenage issues, which mainly affected girls, however both ‘Hard to Swallow’ and our play were able to portray different attitudes towards these issues, and how others away from the situation viewed these problems. Eating disorders and teenage pregnancy are the highest predicaments that teenage girls find themselves in, and both plays have been successful in exposing the advantages and disadvantages facing them. Overall, both plays provided the audience with an insight into teenage girl’s lives and the difficulty they endure through these conditions.
‘ Hard to Swallow’ and our play used similar techniques, for example ‘two-touch theatre.’ Mark Wheeler used it to show the passing of time, and how quick the problem can arise and how repetitive the issue can become. ‘The Billy Goats’ scene used two-touch and the repetition allowed the audience to see that the concern could not be overcome. This was extremely similar to ours, and how the problem would always be apart of the person’s life. The main affect for both plays was to get a lot of information over to the audience quickly, and the two words would be strong and emotive to create the atmosphere quickly.
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Equally, both plays had a character with a strong attitude to the person with the problem, the effect of this was seen as the controlling character caused the teenager to become vulnerable and weak. In ‘Hard to Swallow,’ the father blamed the girl for being anorexic and believed it was her choice for starving herself. He could not admit that it was partly his fault and his daughter had used this as a way to protect herself against him. Similarly there was a father of a pregnant girl and due to his controlling behaviour the girl had rebelled against him and had become pregnant, when the father had been told, he had forced the girl to give her baby up and to continue living her life the way he had intended. These comparable attitudes towards the problem escalated the emotions and the helplessness of the teenage character.
A direct address monologue allows the audience to be involved, and enables the character to interact with the audience. Mark Wheeler used the girl with anorexia to talk to the audience about how she was feeling and by doing so, asked the audience questions. We also did this and allowed a character to express the anger she was feeling as her baby had been taken away from her; she also used rhetoric questions, which drew intense emotion from the audience. Being direct address, it meant it was not a ‘self-indulgent’ monologue and the character did not want sympathy intentionally, however, it is used to express the characters feelings and causes the audience to sympathise with them.
Finally, both the plays started and finished their performances with the same scenes. ‘Hard to Swallow’ began and ended with similar scenes and outlined the anorexia and how problematic it could be and no one could be forced out of it. Conversely, we used motif work to begin and end the play. The repetition of this technique allows there to be a final, intense climax to the plays. The effect that both Mark Wheeler and our group intended was for the audience to remember and think back on how these feelings had occurred to create an atmosphere of both relief and remorse for the characters.
In conclusion, even though both plays were about different issues, they still were extremely similar. Be it through the techniques, which were used, or the character’s opinions and views. It cannot be denied that both plays were able to teach the audience how difficult a teenager’s life can be, problems cannot be overcome unless there is support from everyone around them.