I have chosen to compare and contrast an episode of David’s Attenborough’s nature documentary “Planet Earth” with our devised play. I believe this comparison is appropriate as both texts address the same theme- observing and analysing particular animals in their natural environment- in different ways, though sharing some similarities. Our play is a parody of Attenborough’s documentary, an idea which is reflected in the contrasting styles of the two pieces.
“Planet Earth” has a naturalistic style, as Attenborough is playing himself and the animals are unaware of the camera’s presence, creating the naturalistic style by displaying real-life situations. In contrast, our play has an extremely non-naturalistic style, with stereotypical characters- including “Davie Tattenborough”, a character who mimics and exaggerates Attenborough’s presenting style to comic effect. Stereotypes are used in our play to exaggerate human idiosyncrasies for comedy through the use of exaggerated gestures and facial expressions.
The non-naturalistic style is used in our play to create a comic effect whereas “Planet Earth” uses its naturalistic style to accurately reflect the lifestyle of a particular species. Therefore, the two styles of the texts reflect their contrasting purposes. The two styles also reflect how our play is scripted whereas Attenborough’s documentary is classified as a nature programme so therefore the programme is not scripted in order to show the reality of the animals’ lives.
However, within these contrasting styles, the texts do share some similarities. Both pieces employ direct address to the audience/camera from a presenter who does not often interact with the other characters. In our play, the characters do not acknowledge the presence of Tattenborough until briefly in the final scene of the play, and similarly in “Planet Earth”, the animals are usually unaware of Attenborough’s presence.
One of Attenborough’s documentaries, however, (aired on the 18th February 2007) contained a rare example of Attenborough interacting with the animals when he fished for a small reptile. This similarity helps to establish our play as a pastiche of “Planet Earth” by immediately creating a character disconnected from the main dramatic action, as Attenborough is in his documentary. Another way to establish this, which then creates another similarity between the two pieces, is Tattenborough’s deliberate mockery of Attenborough’s performance.
An example of this is when in “Planet Earth”, Attenborough continually hides behind bushes to avoid being noticed by his subjects. Our play mimics this habit as Tattenborough carries a small potted plant throughout the play and hides behind it in an exaggerated manner although it is clear he would not be hidden from the other characters. Therefore, the use of props is similar in both pieces and the performance of Davie Tattenborough shares many similarities to that of David Attenborough in “Planet Earth”.
Another similarity between the two pieces is their structure. Our play reflects the structure of “Planet Earth” by using scenes to represent aspects of a species’ lifestyle (such as mating rituals, courtship, hunting & gathering) just as Attenborough focuses on one aspect of a species’ lifestyle before moving onto the next. We deliberately used similar aspects to those which Attenborough investigates so the audience establishes our play as a parody, providing more comic opportunities.
However, although both scenes are similar in structure, our play is much shorter in length than the “Planet Earth” documentary- twenty minutes compared to an hour. The shorter length of our play forces the action to be concentrated and condensed to that of “Planet Earth”. This condensed format helps to create the non-naturalistic style of the piece, however, as each scene is brought to a climax more quickly, heightening dramatic tension for the audience.
In conclusion, both texts share similarities and differences as our play uses the same structure (with a similar dynamic between characters) to establish our play as a parody of “Planet Earth” whilst the purposes of the pieces are completely different. To achieve these contrasting purposes, our play is a subverted version of “Planet Earth”, contrasting naturalism to non-naturalism and reality to scripted exaggeration for comic effect.