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Attitudes Towards Mental Illness In The Play Cosi By Louis Nowra

1023 words - 5 pages

The play “Cosi” by Louis Nowra is the story of a university student who is set the task of producing a play in a mental institute. The play uses many dramatic techniques including, but not limited to; the setting of the play, humour, and tension as well as role, to help draw the audience into the world of the play, the world of these ‘mental patients.’ The play also helps to bring forward people’s feelings and attitudes towards the mentally ill and people’s attitudes towards love and cheating, to further draw the audience into the world of the play, and the world of the 1970’s, when people with any kind of mental illness where treated as ‘outcasts’ and were not accepted as socially acceptable.
Lewis (the main character) is in relationship with a woman named Lucy, and in a friendship with Nick, who has extreme and dedicated social views. Lewis states he is always in need of work by saying "I need the money". The play is set to take place in a theatre that smells of "burnt wood and mould", the cast are patients with different needs, and the play being performed by these mental patients is Mozart's Così fan tutte. Through working with the patients, Lewis discovers a side of himself that allows him to learn how to value love.
Clothing that is worn by the actors during the play can be a reflection of the characters personalities. Nick, Lucy, Lewis and Julie all seem to be in normal clothing, reflecting the fact they are relatively normal, and don’t show signs of extreme ‘Madness.’ Ruth wears simple, old, and neat clothes that reflect her OCD, and the colours and patterns that Roy wears reflect his crazy and upbeat personality. Meanwhile, Henry wears business-like outfits that you would expect to see a lawyer wear. This helps to influence the dramatic meaning, because it allows the audience to be fully drawn into the play, as well as have some back round of each of the characters personalities, just like they are on-lookers into the institution, or patients along with Roy, or Doug.
The visual technique of the set is one of the most important parts of the play. Through the entire play, there is only one set, which is an old burnt out theatre. The term “Let’s hope it doesn’t rain” is used to show how damaged the theatre is. This setting is very important as it provides the audience with an understanding of exactly how the theatre would have looked. The characters in Cosi highlight the way the theatre looks, so the audience can fully understand the setting, entirely allowing the audience to become engaged throughout the entire play.
Stage directions are used during the play to reveal even more of the personality of each of the characters. The extremely-confident personality of Nick is made clear in the first scene, when Nick, Lucy and Lewis first enter the darkened...

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