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‘Hoods’ is an Epic theatre play, written by Angelia Betzien, directed by Leticia Caceres and composed by Pete Goodwin which is about domestic abuse. The plot is about three children, Kyle, Jessie and baby Troy, left behind in the car by their mother, who desperately had to leave everything after the abuse she had from her husband. The current issue of domestic violence is expertly dealt with in the Epic theatre style play ‘Hoods’, This will be demonstrated throughout an analysis of narration, direct address to the audience, episodic structure, fragmentary costumes and props, multiple roles, use of costume and lighting and soundtrack.
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Narration, a convention of Epic theatre, is used in ‘Hoods’ thereby making it a strong example of political theatre. This technique is often used by actors to describe the scene to the audience to tell them what is happening. This is used as a ‘Alienation’, or called by Bertolt Brecht as the ‘Distancing Effect’ , to “encourage the audience to retain their critical detachment” and have them thinking about the issue, which in the ‘Hoods’ is domestic violence. In the play this is seen when the father kills the cat with a plastic bag, Jesse asks for a hug from a teacher, and at the end when they tell the of the story. The two actors projected their voice in sync and acted on stage while narrating. This has made a strong distancing effect to the audience as it addressed the audience of the play without actually having them being involved in the play emotionally. Narration was used throughout the play to express a much more powerful message to the audience by having the audience remained focused on what was happening rather than feeling it.
Direct address is a commonly used technique used in Epic theatre for the actor to have a direct address to the audience to prepare the audience for a scene change. Brecht has employed direct address to the audience too express the message more clearly . Betzien made the play to have scene changes as often as possible to distance the audience emotionally from the play from the sensitive subject of domestic abuse. This effect has got the audience thinking and reflect on what is happening. The actors personally address the audience what the scene is, quite often speaking in sync. They explained their ability to pause, rewind and fast forward the story. With that throughout the play, they intentionally swap scenes in a blink of an eye to get the audience to focus on the new thing that is happening. The two actors always gave a direct address to the audience to have them focus. Direct address was sufficiently used throughout the play to reflect Epic Theatre and has expressed a much more powerful message to the audience.
Brecht used episodic structure in his plays because it distanced the audience from being emotional involved with the play. He wanted his views to be seen, heard but not felt as people would not think about the message if it if the audience were emotionally drawn in. Epic theatre has since incorporated episodic structure into the style to distance the audience from being emotionally attached. In ‘Hoods’ it is used to explain the story of the children’s life, the abused life they have lived and the desperation of Jesse to find affection and safety. Caceres has made the actors to have scene changes to shift the audience’s attention from the emotion and have them focusing on the new scene. Most occasions the new scene change was to show the progress prior to where the children got in the car, the abuse the mother coped from the father. This gives the audience the message of the play that it is about domestic abuse Episodic Structure was sufficiently used throughout the play to reflect Epic Theatre and has expressed a much more powerful message to the audience.
Throughout the play the two actors change costumes and change props whenever a new scene takes place. This is done to done to get the audience to focus on the new character and scene to follow the story. It also invoked humour in the scenes that which distanced the audience to being detached from feeling the play but listen instead. During, before or after a direct address, narration and scene change, the actors change their costumes by taking off their hood, put on a hat or hold a prop. An example of a prop used in the play is the fairy wand Jesse held. Another example is Kyle’s hat, whenever the actor wore it, they instantly know it is Kyle. This has an effect on the play because it makes it easier to follow because the costumes identify the character distinctively. The effect of clear character by the use of voice and only one costume/prop makes the play more stronger. This is done so the audience will focus and listen to find out who the character is. This distances the audience from an emotional connection with the actors so they focus on the play.
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The soundtrack and lighting worked together hand in hand when the action on stage tensed up. An example is the end scene when Jesse got Kyle to leave the car with her to call for help. This worked really well due to the tension building music which got the audience to listen more and involved in the issue on stage. This has made an amazing effect on the play due to the after effects of the play made the audience reflect the story and issue afterwards. This was done to build the tension on stage and provoke the audience to pay attention. The lighting with the soundtrack created an atmosphere to which grew the tension. An example is when one actor was telling the story of the cat, the lighting was dark and the music was dark ambience. This created the tension that focused the audience on the story and was made because it distanced the audience from being emotionally attached.
The current issue of domestic violence is expertly dealt with in the Epic theatre style play ‘Hoods’ by the use of dramatic languages: narration, direct address, episodic structure, fragmentary props and costumes and soundtrack and lightening that has given the play the strong message to the audience without them emotionally attached to it.
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