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About “Oh what a lovely war” the play by joan littlewood Essay

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This classic play devised by Joan Littlewood and the Theatre Workshop takes a humorous and light-hearted walk through the history of World War One. The production brims with anecdotes, jokes, songs and dance, but we are never allowed to forget that the Great War was no joke, and are presented with a thought-provoking insight into the futility of war. It was written in the time of the swinging 60s, a time of rebellion from the youth against the conformities of their seniors. Especially when it came to the futility of war; the Vietnam War was on topic opinion. Unbeknown to popular belief this is not the reason Littlewood wrote her play. The production came to life through the combined efforts of director and actors in Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Workshop in 1963. They had been provoked by a BBC program with songs from WW I:

‘Terrible!’ – ‘Sentimental.’ – ‘All that feeling and no imagination.’ – ‘Pure nostalgia.’ – ‘They couldn’t sing like that stuck in a trench!’ – ‘Waiting for the next bomb to blow their heads off.’ These were the words of Littlewood and her actors.

World War 1 was responsible for the deaths of 10 million people, the equivalent of a twin tower disaster every day for 4 years. From the play you receive a sense of near blind patriotism and hope which is exemplified through the songs such as good byee-ee. These moments contrasts from the heightened physicality like the drill sergeant. The drill sergeant character dimensions were he was a tall man, of the upper classes. His character dimensions differed from the soldiers he was trying to instruct. They were poor, low class and incompetent. Oh what a lovely war provides all the Elements of Drama. Six major elements of drama according to Aristotle: plot, character, theme, dialogue, music, spectacle. MC part, he tells a joke ‘have you heard the one about The great Von and his 3 daughters…” The MC controls all the action in the play. This is very similar to the Threepenny opera written by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill’s. Both plays show their meaning through songs, like I don’t want to be a soldier and The Ballard of sexual imperative. A contrasting play would the naturalistic play of the
children.

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Other than character dimensions I have learnt; Emotional Perception. The detection and apprehension of emotional states, feelings and reactions both in oneself and others. Emotional Recall and Expression. Emotional perceptions elicited from past experiences which can be used in understanding, portraying, and reflecting on the human condition and human behaviour. Guided Dramatic Play. Imaginative play stimulated by a trained leader. Nonverbal Communication. Communication without words using facial expression, gestures, and body language. Playing Space and Audience Space. An area for dramatic activities. A cleared space in a classroom without a designated place for observation by an audience. Theatrical production clearly establishes an acting area, or stage, and a designated audience area: proscenium (one side), thrust (three sides), area (four sides).

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