AUS THEATRE NOTES Essay

Submitted By Karene-George
Words: 1723
Pages: 7

AUS THEATRE NOTES
Norm and Ahmed – Alex Buzo
Context:
New wave of Australian Theatre Identity
More spontaneous/freer
New theatrical perspectives/experiment
Simple modes of performance
Late sixties
Form realism/heightened realism, one act play
Philosophy:
Juxtaposition – “Never underestimate the power of difference”
Universal issues – xenophobia, racial stereotype/discrimination
“Id be disappointed if people didn’t think the play had something to say about racism and generational envy…” – Alex Buzo
Norm:
“A summation of everything about an average Australian that Alex Buzo can think of”
Norm = ‘normal’ Australian
Fear of well education
Ahmed
“…Everything that Norm thought that he wouldn’t have to confront, he does have to confront, so it’s a kind of nightmare experience for him.” – Alex Buzo
Ethnic, well educated, got a future, articulate, higher social class
Antithesis of Norm
Language:
Norm – feels superior but intellectually inferior
Ahmed – more intelligent speaking
=Power play + humour from contrast of language e.g. Ahmed describe uni and Norm not understand “Oh uh Now just what exactly would that involve, Ahmed?”
Provocative language/implied challenge – “step over here a minute will you?”
Cliché – “throw me weight around”
Comic Elements
Ocker character  contrast to Ahmed
Norm’s racist references – “You see, they’re a cunning lot, those Gyppos”
Contrast of language
Mateship  idolised in Australia
Play open and close with a question
Tension through  status, subtext, physical blocking
Black comedy and Realism
Movement/Gesture  enhance personality e.g. Norm circling = predator
Setting/Light  isolate, atmosphere, fence – symbolic
Ending  suspense + tension = not expect violence = shock = dramatic force  power play
Norm wants to befriend = dominance
Irony in the play:
A foreigner speaking better English that the native born English speaker
The Australian is not comfortable in his own country
He is in awe f those higher up the social ladder
Norm extends hospitality and then bashes up Ahmed
Character alienation:
Ahmed – outsider within Aus society
Norm- alienated in society by not understanding
Link Australian male aggression with insecurity
Audience presented with two binary opposites and so the play moves the audience to find a middle ground
Play revolves around absurdist model
Use of idiomatic (natural/native) language in both Norm and Ahmed
Set:
Minimalist
Constant
Symbolise: outcast, barrier/alienation (fence, light), power play (seat)
Construction = Aus still building itself
Midnight – isolated time of day
Buzo set the play in his chosen way as it allowed immediate alienation of both characters and a visual power play. The setting and lack of other actors caused immediate focus on the subtleties and contrast of each character.
Example of directorial decision to enhance alienation – use of single spotlight over both characters and rest of stage black, flicker when Norm became unstable = suspense
“play starts with a handshake and ends with a punch”
PRACS
Conscience alley (beginning of play)
Recap what is going on in Ahmed's mind (subtext)
Compare our thoughts to his – pressure
P- make friends
N-impolite, hurt, shifty
Hot Seating (middle of play)
Norm – exaggerates past experiences to gain power
Ahmed – eloquent educated individual whose moral obligation overrides his prejudice and fears yet still cautious
Alternate endings
Friends of Norms arrive/Norm runs away = comedic, loss of tension, intensity, no message
Directorial interpretation
Given one page in pairs to act out differently – directorial decision for reaction
1st – Norm warm up = more welcoming and more shock to actions
2nd – sarcastic and superior
Dividing class based on differences
E.g. sit on floor if parent born overseas = feel alone/isolated
Ads against Aus
Aus male = lazy, aggressive, rude, Bogan
Aus = racist, slang
Aus women = stereotype, men control woman when in reality opposite
Aus language = violence = humour, slang, domestic violence
Opening…