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Contemporary practices of Australian theatre reflect tensionthat cover artistic, cultural, social, political and personal issues andconcerns of different text. The two plays we have been studying is Life Without Me (LWM) by Daniel Keeneand Fearless by Mirra Todd. Bothplays portray tension and reveal how tension takes the audience on thecharacters journeys. The three main themes in both plays are Homelessness, Loneliness and Mental health.

Homelessness isconveyed throughout (LWM) and assistin creating internal tension. Scene one page 5-8, this tense, argumentativescene of John and Nigel includes Blunt repetition and short, non-helpfulanswers from Nigel that emphasis his characteristics. Conflict is raised asJohn is annoyed of Nigel’s naivety.

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Through the play the audience discoversthat Nigel’s straightforwardness causes all of the characters to break downover the amount of negativity that occurs, and reveal their true emotions andproblems that stop them from leaving the hotel until they are resolved. Theempty hotel symbolises not only homelessness, but the fact that they can’tleave, makes the hotel act as a self-discovery and self-revelation eachcharacter has to conquer before being set free into the world, knowing who theyare and what life goals they aim to achieve again and be set free fromhomelessness.In (LWM) page23-24 portrays tension through the use of Symbolism. In this scene, tension isbuilt as Ellen wants Tom to stop showing unwanted affection. Tension isamplified when Ellen and Tom moves towards the elevator and begin listeningthrough the silence for any sounds.

As they lean in closer they hear a muffledsound and causes tension, this drags the audience in to want to know what themuffled sound is of. The muffled sound becomes clearer and the elevator dooropens and John stumbles out. A soundscape is apparent throughout the play thatincludes thing elevator ting, doors opening and the bell at the desk that allenhances the symbolic meaning of being trapped compared to outside noises thatsymbolise freedom.The character Ellen in (LWM),page 70-71, undergoes an emotional discovery throughout tension in her life.

She realises she’s lost who she once was. The Characters and audience feel thetension of the end of scene five when Ellen spills out the truth and worriesabout not being able to leave. Tom repeats himself by saying “let’s go home” toEllen to reinforce that they need to leave before they get stuck there and bein a constant circle. Symbolises the revolving door, the door just goes roundand round in circles and that’s how there life is going. The last line enablesthe audiences to understand the dramatic meaning behind the hotel and thesymbolism involved. They entered the hotel because they had unfished businessin their life, and before they can go any further in their afterlife, they hadto finish what they started. They all come to the hotel for some sort ofreason, or brought there by something, or like how John got sucked in by therevolving door symbolises the circle of life (not referring to lion King).

Before they can leave they need to let the past go and move forward in life.In Fearless, page 45-48, Mental Health flows through the characters of the play. Thecharacter Dogtag gets egged on and pushed by Clipper and his triggering words,the audience experiences the tension being built and empathise Dogtag and theconfusion, hurt and anger he’s encountering. A metaphor is used within Dogtag’slast lines to express the pain and anguish that’s been caused due to histraumatising experience as a soldier during the war and heartache filledmemories he suffers from.Loneliness is A big issue in Fearless.

Page 45-48, expressesthis big issue. The chapter headline of “Loneliness pokes the pig until it squeals”,gives a perception of the upcoming chapter to the audience. The character Lotteappears during this scene due to Dogtag having suicidal thoughts. As she doesto everyone, Lotte pushes Dogtag to become more shaken by tormenting him withcruel questions, but in a tone that almost seems comforting. Lotte is lonely soshe probably abuses her targets to keep her satisfied. Lotte’s tone may seem comfortingbut she is an evil swine who torments and is very provocative.

During thescenes in the Hell Room the Tension is always raised between Lotte and her target.The audience is made to feel nervous and uncomfortable, just like absurdismstyle methods. The audience stays tense as Lotte continues to provocativelyharass Dogtag until in the final lines of scene eighteen, he gives up andstates “one last mission” before ending his life. This graphic scene results inleaving the audience feeling upset, uneasy, scared and overall feeling sad,lonely and empty, ironically just like how Dogtag’s life is.Both plays explore similar and contrasting themes and ideas.Tension is developed and explored but in different aspects. Life Without Metakes a more light hearted approach during tense moments whereas Fearless ismore confronting and provocative.

The main themes and techniques in LifeWithout Me include loneliness, homelessness, metal health, ignorance,disconnection and bringing back the idea of living in the moment. The mainthemes and techniques in Fearless include mental health, loneliness,homelessness, self-depreciation and drug use. Both plays develop specifictechniques on how to take their audience through a journey and empathise thecharacters and their situations.Contemporary practices of Australian theatre reflect tensionthat cover artistic, cultural, social, political and personal issues andconcerns of different text.

Tension is used throughout both plays to createmeaning of the plays. 

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