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Violence on Stage and Audience’s Pain — Focusing on Shepard’s Family Trilogy

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2013, 26(3), pp.113-134
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama

So Young Yoon 1

1건국대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This paper examines the nature and characteristics of violence presented in Shepard’s family trilogy. Violence is one of recurring themes that Shepard adopts in his plays. Shepard makes the best use of visual and auditory imagery to represent violence on the stage and invites violent experience to the audience. In Curse of the Starving Class, Weston as a father plays a role of invader not a family provider. In this play, tons of violent actions are performed by actors: Wesley’s urination on Emma’s chart, Weston’s intrusion by breaking fences and so on. What is noteworthy is a kind of storytelling about a cat and an eagle between Wesley and Emma. Like their story, their relationship is torn by sharing no experience as a family. Buried Child represents a family including Dodge, Halie, Tilden, Bradley, and Vince. Tilden and Bradley are brothers and Vince is Tilden’s son. Their father, Dodge, shows himself sitting on a sofa in the living room, which was succeeded to Bradley, and then Vince in the end. They have a family secret in common, which might be related to infanticide and incest between Halie and Tilden. Through violence the family can recognize Vince as their grandson. Also, they cannot communicate by eating or drinking food, which is just object for violence. Ironically, food functions as a tool for violent communication between them. True West shows extended violence between brothers which is called Pinteresque menace. As an author Austin conflicts with his brother Lee as a desert rat and a fake writer. Their obvious desire toward the West is revealed through extrem ely tout conflict in the last scene. Wrangling Lee with a telephone wire by Austin discloses endless violent image, delivering the image of the West on stage. In this connection, Shepard considers violence impetus to develop his plays. Especially, Shepard puts emphasis of violent experience on audience in order to arouse their easiness and the invisible fourth wall between stage and audience. Through visual and auditory imagery, the playwright insists on the importance of the power and persistence of violence. On top of that, Shepard’s intention is on leaving painful experience to the audience by making striking images. These are closely related to body in that visual and auditory imagery is to appeal audience’s eyes and ears through violent experiences. Consequently, pain left on audience is inseparable from violence of body.

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