EN 313 INTRODUCTION TO DRAMA
NOTES FOR TOP GIRLS ACTS II &III
Difficulty in reading the text points to an important feature of contemporary dramaits effort to capture the rhythms of ordinary conversation. False starts, interruptions and overlaps make sense when we HEAR them, but its very disruptive to READ them do to the necessity that print has to happen in sequence on the page. The effort required to read the dramatic text increases the alienation effect. Other features of the alienation effect include:
The alienation effect is supposed to interfere with excessive empathy for the characters so that the themes of the play are emphasized. The audience should not react to the characters as though they were real people. In contrast, theatrical realism diminishes the aesthetic distance between characters and audience, using theatrical conventions to encourage the illusion that the staged events are "real life".
These distinctions are not absolute. We might experience the self-interrupting dialogue of the dinner party as quite realistic when we hear it, while at the same time recognizing that in a traditionally realist play we would hear each speaker in full so that we could experience them as rounded, realistic characters.
More on heroism:
Greek heroism is a response to loss. Similarly the Biblical stories of Job and Abraham show that faith is also tested by loss and humiliation. The female characters of Top Girls have their self-identities tested by actual or threatened loss and humiliation. At the end of the play, it remains an open question whether or not Marlene will successfully retrieve her loss of Angie to Joyce and re-incorporate Angie into her successful business life.
This lack of tidy resolution, and its deliberately unsatisfying effect for the audience, is another typical characteristic of contemporary drama.
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