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Cosi – structures and features

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  1. Cosi – structures and features Louis Nowra

  2. Characters contribute to dramatic effect • Doug’s deliberate antagonising of other’s and his pyromania • Zac – has abrupt entrances and exits • They both have clown-like roles – but Doug is much more menacing.

  3. The interconnection of settings adds drama • inside the burnt out theatre – this is the physical stage setting for audiences watching the play • Mental Institution or asylum. Interpersonal relationships here are different than those in the outside world. Lewis is a variation to their boring daily routines. • outside in Melbourne 1971, - the year of the action – a time of social change – Vietnam war, conscription and political unrest, Moratoriums, ‘free love’ • setting of the opera by Mozart - theme parallels • Lewis’ memory of the events- since at the end we realise the whole play has been a reflection of events that happened to him. He never leaves the stage.

  4. Play within the play • Roy says ‘the theatre is no place for metaphysics’. He means the theatre is no place for examining philosophy, or the underlying theoretical principles of a subject or field of inquiry. – But this appears to be what Cosi does. Ruth – struggling with what is real and what is not puts the drama of philosophical questions right before us. • Themes of opera and Cosi are intertwined – love and fidelity are universal concepts.

  5. Cont… • Zac provides the distinct contrast between endings – ‘what is going to happen to the couples in the future: a life of torment and adultery’. • Creates ‘metatheater’ – by acting out a character role in the play within the play each character is able to discover and reveal unexpected , unusual, or even unrealised qualities in themselves. This adds interest, expands the action and enables deeper meaningfulness. Ruth is a good example of this as she discovers more confidence in herself through playing Dorabella.

  6. Fourth Wall • Lewis’ final speech has a dramatic function – adds an autobiographical element to the play, reminds the audience of everyone’s life is part of a wider context. In the world of comedy and fun their needs to be an ending – the audience must return to the real world.

  7. A beat • This is a feature of expressionism – (a style of playwriting and stage presentation stressing the emotional content of a play, the subjective reactions of the characters, symbolic or abstract representations of reality, and non naturalistic techniques of scenic design.) • It emphasises the emotional reactions - it intends to underline a key emotional moment – a moment of perception, or awareness (a light bulb moment) – of love, stress, fear, amazement etc. It is a psychological pause. It signifies a quick change of emotional gears. • Each beat is open to its own interpretation. The only awareness an audience has of {a beat} as they watch a performance is an awareness of a heightened or altered response n an actor to something said.

  8. Comedy • -the comedy is a mask of fun, wit, bravura, but it does not completely seal the other darker world of struggle we must endure in real life. • -Comedy gives us some courage for the journey – some relief from its seriousness

  9. Comic in its storyline (Plot) • – it is wildly absurd to put a group of mentally ill patients under the direction of a nervous young man with little drama experience. • Each of the performers has a different illness, each cannot sing and none speak Italian. • -Cosi is using humor to tell us something important about the world we live in – living dreams (Roy) , understanding love and commitment, developing self confidence, discovering what is important in life. How ‘normal’ is ‘normal’?

  10. Cont… • -the play entwines the values of worlds: world of Opera with the world of the mental institution and the outside world of the 1971. – the humorous outcome is the division between these worlds comes from the fact the lines between them are not clear and what is ‘normal’ or ‘sane’ can be questioned

  11. Cont… • -the performance of the last scene of Cosi fan tuttedepends the comedy of the play to poignancy. While on the positive outcome for the lovers of the opera is exaggerated, and the patients are satisfied with their efforts, the upbeat, optimistic outcome of the impact of doing the play is short lived as Lewis reveals how things had turned out in the following year. There are no magic cures for mental illness and life is more complicated than a night of theatre entertainment

  12. Language – is also a source of comedy • Australian dialogue • Crass politically and sexually inappropriate language • Poetic lyrical language of Cosi Fan Tutti (libretto or words of the Opera)

  13. Dialogue • Uninhibited directness – many characters are painfully direct and abrupt in their dialogue. This is a reflection of their personalities and values. For example Doug’s line ‘Poofter?’ to Lewis. Doug is oblivious to his own sexual hang-ups. Lewis’ nervousness is revealed in response to Doug’s questions. • These uncensored socially inappropriate, impolite lines of dialogue add humour to the play – they do get a laugh. Uninhibited directness in dialogue is a key source of humour.

  14. The Joke • Cherry tells the story of what happened to her so seriously we are all sucked in by her pulling our leg. Underlying this of course our views of what causes or contributes to mental illness is challenged – even though we laugh.

  15. One Liners • Good one liners reveal a complex truth about the world. Roy provides the best one liners and this swerves to emphasise his leadership in the group. • Lewis utters a significant one liner at the end of the play – ‘I don’t have a concept, I’m a director.’

  16. Overlapping Dialogue • Several conversations taking place at once on stage. – the black out scene – Cherry is looking for Lewis, Zac is molesting Ruth and Julie kisses Lewis.

  17. Vulgarity • The are many references to bodily functions and parts – urinating, sexuality, etc. Vulgarity is an expected behaviour in those with no social inhibitions and to a degree accepted part of social relations in a mental institution. Everyone knows everyone else’s business, there is no privacy. The bluntness and inappropriateness of the comments are meant to shock the audience who are ‘outside’ the world of the institution because while we might think such things we would hardly dare to say them out loud. We end up laughing out of embarrassment. • Ironically – Nick is also as vulgar – perhaps contributing to the blurred line between ‘normal’ or ‘sane’ and not.

  18. Irony – is also a source of humour. • Irony exists in the parallels between Lewis’ love life ‘off stage’ and his love life ‘on stage’. On stage the infidelity is treated light heartedly – in ‘character’ of Fiordiligi and Ferrando, it is a trick, and the emotional turmoil is portrayed as comedy. In the blurred lines of Cosi, Julie returns to her true lover. Off stage – Lewis is devastated by Lucy’s infidelity. He is moving out of the house, the relationship is over.

  19. Farce • – a light humorous play in which plot depends more on situation than character. This tends to describe the action of the play that is the performance of Mozart’s Opera. • -Australian rather than Albanian soldiers • -the music does not come on on cue in Act two scene four – a farcical improvisation takes place to solve the problem