In this essay I will compare Mark Wheeler’s Chicken with Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible. Chicken is set in a built up town in the 21st century. There are many examples in the text to prove this, In Chicken, Gary says “I’m going to buy a DVD for my room”. DVD’s have only been around in the last seven years. The Crucible is set in a small village called Salem around 1692. I know this because of the blurb on the back of the play. I would make the differences of time and setting in a performance distinct using the relationships between characters. The language which the characters use is very important in setting the scene for the audience.
The themes of both the plays are very different. The theme in a performance is very important to the success of the production. It helps the audience understand the play, tells the audience what is going on and helps the audience get involved. There are many themes in Chicken. One of these is family. I know this because Gary says “Liz, can you give us a lift, please, you’re the coolest sister anyone could ever have”.
This line outlines the relationship between Gary and Liz instantly. It shows that Gary and Liz are very close. The way Gary says the lines are sarcastic which shows the audience Liz and Gary like to joke with and about each other. Another example of family is when Gary is in the car with Liz and asks “Do you think you’ll marry Martin?” This goes into the issue of marriage and love. Another theme is Friendship.
Chris says “Since we were little kids, Tammy was my best mate”. Chris says this to the audience and makes them feel close to Chris. The line makes the audience want to know more about the character because he has let everyone know a bit about his personal life. The main theme in Chicken is Tragedy. There is a stage direction which states ‘a chant of chicken is repeated to create an atmosphere of disaster’. The technique of the whole cast repeating a word in cannon is really effective in grabbing the audience’s attention. All the themes in Chicken are very relevant to today’s society. I think the audience would be very attached to the show because it is set in present day and love, family, friendship is very important in everyday life.
The themes in The Crucible are very different to what is seen in today’s day to day life. Witchcraft is one theme which is used throughout the whole script. “No witchcraft, now look you” is one line said by Parris. Witchcraft is the art of sorcery, which in the 1600’s was seen as evil and worshiping the devil. The theme of witchcraft is important throughout the play and the audience don’t need to have any knowledge of it because the actions and movement used in the play (which is described in the stage directions) shows the audience clearly what is going on. Another theme is betrayal. Friends blame each other for things which they didn’t do to save their own lives.
Religion is a very important theme in The Crucible by Arthur Miller. Everyone is religious, unlike in today’s society where there people have different beliefs or none at all. Religion is the centre of the community which is an important aspect of the play. “Pray John and be calm” says Rebecca; she is telling John to calm down by reminding him in his faith with god. Witchcraft is not an aspect of modern life but is very interesting for people to think about. It shows how the world has moved on since the past and how things have changed and everyone sees things differently than they did a few hundred years ago. Betrayal and Religion are still important aspects of today.
Even though people may not be blaming each other for things such as witchcraft, affairs and lying are common and revolve around the issue of betrayal. Religion is not so much a big issue but is still a very big part in people’s lives. There are many people who are Christians and have strong faith in God. There are also many other religions which shows how people have their own minds and don’t follow the crowd like the people of Salem did in 1692.
The values of society are very different in both plays. In Chicken it is acceptable and normal for teenagers to dare each other to play silly games and use peer pressure just to ‘have a laugh’ where as in 1692 that was not seen among children. Children in the 1600’s were often very obedient because their parents were much stricter. In The Crucible, in 1692 it was acceptable for people to use the death penalty, whereas in the UK it is illegal and the majority of people are against it. Not only was the death penalty common, it was used for hanging people who were apparently ‘witches’. Normally there was no proof that someone was a witch.
In today’s society everyone is aware that witches are fictional and do not exist. When the play was written in 1952, people no longer believed in witches. Another value in the play is that black people are treated badly and looked down upon. Although slavery is illegal and racism is not accepted in modern life, there are still people who treat others differently because of their skin colour, or even their looks, background, gender or even age.
To explore the differences in relationships, I have chosen Liz from Chicken and Rebecca from The Crucible. Both these characters are female and are adults (although Liz is in her late teens, about 18/19). Liz and Rebecca are the same in the sense that they want what’s best for their family, care about other people and do a lot of housework. Liz is a bit sloppy and I imagine her wearing a tracksuit. She has no job and is constantly looking for one and lives at home with her mum and brother even though she is old enough to leave home and get her own accommodation. Rebecca is a well dressed girl who is very smart and posh.
She has a house of her own and looks after her family. The two characters do not change much throughout the play, but this might be because they plays are set over a very short period. Chicken was set over a few weeks and The Crucible was set over a period of a few months. Family comes first to both characters even though they may not show it. I also think religion is very important to Rebecca.
Both pieces are set in a straight drama genre. However I think that The Crucible would suit a more naturalistic style than Chicken. In Chicken, which I am performing for an audience, my group and I use freeze frame and repeating of the word ‘chicken’ to give a feeling of tension. Another technique I use in my play is multi-role, where Anne is played by the same person who plays Liz. However Anne is always offstage and never seen.
If I were to make The Crucible non-naturalistic I would use repetition and movement to show a feelin**g of magic when a group of girls are playing around a cauldron at the beginning of the play. In the stage directions of Chicken, the writer, Mark Wheeler lets the actors know that they can make the performance non-naturalistic. Non-naturalistic plays can be very effective if the techniques are used in a certain way to create an atmosphere while keeping the audience entertained and aware of what in going on in the story.