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Arnold Wesker’s Kitchen: Is There Any Exit?

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2018, 31(2), pp.5-31
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama

Soim Kim 1

1건국대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Arnold Wesker’s Kitchen: Is There Any Exit? Abstract Kim,So-im(KonkukUniv.) This paper explores the representation of labor in Arnold Wesker’s play, The Kitchen. It explicates the ways in which the sinister vicious circle of labor, laborers, labor environment, a capitalist and the society are constructed in the kitchen at the restaurant Tivoli, the metaphor of the industrial capitalist society. It also pursues how the play’s pseudo absurd theater techniques such as the fragmented plot development, undeveloped characters, the chaotic exchanges of words and movements, the isolated spaces contribute to the intensity of the vicious circle without providing the solution to the problems. This paper finds that both the cooks and Marango are portrayed as the components of the vicious circle. Because they do not have meaningful identity separated from their work, they do not seem to have means to escape or break the circle. The society that values money and shows lack of sympathy for the weaker and the poorer seem to be the main cause of the vicious circle. Also this paper probes whether there are clues to resolve the vicious circle in the play. Even though one of the goals of Wesker’s theater is to educate the laborers, The Kitchen asks questions to the audience about what to do with the vicious circle rather than provides concrete suggestions or definite guidelines to solve the problems. None of the characters attain the definite ideas about how to abolish the vicious circle. The communal social awareness of employment-friendly labor environment is not attained. In the play there is no easy exit from the vicious circle. What the audience is expected to do is to find the qualities that all of the staff, Marango and their society do not achieve, such as sensitivity to the capitalist working system, the future vision for the service industry and the sympathy for the underdogs. Obviously their insensitivity and ignorance block their exit. The play using the kitchen, the uglier version of the capitalist society, challenges the audience to see what would happen to themselves if they lack the education that Wesker’s theater intends to provide. While enriching the social play’s tradition with various non-representational characteristics, The Kitchen not only embraces the labor class who has been isolated from the British theater monopolized by the upper class but also attains the goal of education, as Wesker intended to.

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