Project #9630 - Shoe horn Sonata

Task 1 – 25 marks

Responding to the playwright

Imagine you have just attended a performance of The Shoe-Horn Sonata. Try to imagine the effects created by a stage production of the play.

Now listen to the interview with John Misto on your CD. Select THREE of the quotations on the following pages which are taken from the interview transcript printed in Part 3 of your Learning Resource.

Imagine you are responding to Misto’s comments about the structure, themes and effect of his play. What would you say to him? Give your opinion on how successful he was in achieving his aims.

Write 400 words or less in total

1 The role of Rick

[T]he role of the Rick the interviewer is something that I had carefully in mind when I wrote the play. […] A male presence was needed in the play so I decided to keep Rick’s voice as the interviewer but keep him offstage.

Now this is the reason. […] Rick is really the voice of fate and of destiny. The actual army nurses and the women prisoners of war, their lives were decided by men they never saw. Their fate was decided by Australian generals who sent them to the front line and then decided to leave them there. Their lives were decided by Japanese prison commandants who sent them to different prison camps and decided to kill them. Their lives were decided by Australian politicians who decided to forget them and deliberately keep them out of history.

And yet they never saw any of these men, and I felt that as Rick is also manipulating them and deciding whether or not they’ll be able to come to terms with what happened to them, he should also not be seen. […]

2 Documentary vs emotion

It’s a play that has a huge amount of information that has to be conveyed, an enormous amount, and so this is what I thought I would do. I would structure it like a television documentary almost, cold, calculating, distant and removed. Then I would cut away from the documentary to the motel room, where the two women discuss the things they cannot talk about on television. So you would have a counterpoint if you like, the distancing black and white documentary and the intense emotional scenes that go on behind it. So that dictated the form. […]

3 The photographs

The other interesting thing was with the photographs. Officially there are no photographs allowed of the women prisoners of the Japanese. The British government and the Australian government forbade any photographs to be taken. So when we obtained some photographs that were taken, unofficially, the shock in the audience at the sight of Australian army nurses weighing three stone was something I won’t forget. So it’s an education process for all generations really. […]

4 The children’s voices

Interviewer: ‘Sheila is meant be so much younger than Bridie, and when you have the voiceovers going back in time with the younger person it works extremely well. […]’

Misto: When Sheila is in the water singing ‘Jerusalem’, the desperation in her voice and the vulnerability, drives home to you, just using sound, the fact that children in vast numbers died in this war. […]

5 The songs

I wanted songs that summarised the period, and would convey the emotional content of patriotism to an audience […] I just found the songs that I thought were the most loaded. […]

The injustice

With these army nurses, one of the army nurses was captured twice by the Japanese secret police and tortured for smuggling medicine. She risked her life at the front line. She was sunk. She was shot at, whatever. They wouldn’t even give her a war pension. When these women die, no one will turn out. […]

7 The play as a film?

[The play] has a huge amount of impact and I’m not sure that would carry over into a film. […] It’s a very personal play, and I mean, when you think about it, I don’t think anyone would see it as a film. Two old ladies in a motel room talking about the war, for Pete’s sake, you know. It’s not Spielberg. […]

8 The balance between pity and curiosity

When I interviewed the women they would tell me horrendous stories, about their maltreatment by the Australian government, but they weren’t upset. They’d kind of risen above it. So I underplayed the maltreatment. I wanted sound and photographic images to highlight the war. I wanted to teach an audience about the war. And I wanted to make the reader curious about these women. […]

Task 2 – 25 marks

Representing the characters’ relationship

In The Shoe-Horn Sonata, the balance of power between the two characters changes throughout their lives.

(a) Create a timeline that traces the relationship between Bridie and Sheila, showing the events that alter the balance of power in their relationship.

You may divide the timeline into two sections, one for the time during World War II, the other for the present.

(b) Explain how the women’s relationship changes from the time they meet for the television documentary to the end of the play.

Describe how the relationship develops to a climax (crisis point) and how the tension between them is finally resolved.

Write 200 words or less.

(c) Find a scene where you believe there is a change in the balance of power between the two women. Describe what happens in the scene and explain the shift in power.

Use quotations from the scene to support your argument.

Write 200 words or less.

Task 3 – 50 marks

Extended response

What techniques do composers use to enable responders to visualise scenes, events, people and relationships through their texts?

Refer to The Shoe-Horn Sonata and AT LEAST TWO related texts.

Write 750 words or less.

Subject English
Due By (Pacific Time) 07/29/2013 12:00 am
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