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Struggling Societies: A Critique Of Major Barbra

789 words - 4 pages

At the start of the 20th century, England experienced a noticeable decline in interest towards religion, known as the Edwardian Era. The society as a whole desired money for comfortable living, and wished to appear Christian without upholding the moral values of Christianity. Theatre in England during the Edwardian Era contained diverse audiences due to the rise in size, wealth, and influence of the middle class. Theatre deliberately sought to change social perceptions, Major Barbra written by George Bernard Shaw in 1905 sought to do the same. In this play the protagonist, Barbra Undershaft, struggles with the reality of power coming from money and gunpowder against her ideal of salvation ...view middle of the document...

Quotes built within the structure of the set design further proved that society continues to struggle with power and spirituality today. The set of Major Barbra featured three scenic designs: the study of Lady Britomart, the Salvation Army shelter, and the Undershaft Canon Foundry. The windows in each of these sets displayed quotes that reflected the atmosphere of the scenes placed within them. The Undershaft Canon Foundry featured four cut lines from this production of Major Barbra said by Andrew Undershaft; all but one of these lines were personal principles of the Undershaft legacy. Every quote incorporated the struggle between war and salvation, but two of the quotes reflected the production’s theme seamlessly; the first, “To man the weapon: to Heaven the victory,” the second, “If God gave the hand, let not man withhold the sword.” Both of these quotes justify the use of money and gunpowder due to the user’s salvation. Just as the quotes were built into the set, the ideals within them were built into the heart of Andrew Undershaft, and similarly are still built into society beliefs today.
Hyun Sook Kim’s costume design of the male ensemble is the clearest evidence of the production’s theme. The ensemble was used throughout the production by giving the curtain speech, moving pieces of the set, leading actors onto the...

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