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Within the Australian Theatre, David Williamson and Alex Buzo used provoking images and ideas to confront the cultural issues that Australia faces with the use of distinctly Australian stereotypes and issues. Using the ‘ocker’ persona of Australia as well as societies power of masculinity over femininity to confront the audiences about these issues.
Within Norm and Ahmed Alex Buzzo creates an air of fear around the character of Norm, the setting of the stage beneath a street lamp casting a narrow light while keeping the majority of the stage in darkness contrasts to Norms personality, showing Ahmed what he wants to see while keeping his true agenda hidden from both Ahmed and the audience. Norm uses his typical Australian nature to be seemingly harmless towards Ahmed, to which Ahmed believes and begins to tear down the walls that separate the two differing cultures and individuals. When I performed as the character Norm, and witnessing my classmates perform both Norm and Ahmed, I have noticed that Norm is often portrayed as the typical Australian male. Norm uses Ahmed’s fears against him, firstly portraying himself as just a regular passer-by, hiding his true agenda from Ahmed. In the line “Green lawns all around, vista of the harbour, Holden in the garage, I’m sweet!”, when I played Norm I used gestures and body language to metaphorically build the Australian dream around Ahmed, lulling him into a sense of false security. Norm then uses this to his advantage as he draws Ahmed into his web throughout the story, whilst destroying his trust with the audience as they begin to unravel his true agenda. The line “F****ing Boong!” along with the stage directions of ‘Norm offers hand’ reinforces the idea of Norm trapping Ahmed, only to incapacitate him in the end because of his hate for foreigners, especially those of colour.
Williamson’s use of stereotypes in The Removalists, in order to brazenly astonish his audience by creating a parallel to the audience’s true reality, this is apparent within The Removalists. Kenny represents the ‘ocker’ persona of Australian masculinity, “Knock us up a quick steak or something”, “Where’s that bloody opener?”, Williamson uses the character Kenny to challenge the Australian stereotype of the violent, masculine and sexist male figure. However, with the use of absurdist techniques such as the devaluing language and underlying threat of violence. During a class exercise I performed as Kenny, I attempted to create a very tough, sexist and violent man, using a deep and loud voice modulation to establish dominance and control over the scene, while also using my body language to dominate over the other characters in the scene and somewhat control them. I attempted t make Kenny’s behaviour more intimidating and unpredictable to create tension in the scene and added an air of anger to his dialogue and actions, “Go into the kitchen, get out a piece of sliced cow and put it under the griller, you lazy bitch!”, Along with the use of pause to create the tension within a scene that was distressing and rousing to the audience. Williamson shows the audience the typical Australian stereotype by displaying the ‘ocker’ figure while presenting the dark side of the stereotype with the violence and sexism of such a widely accepted symbol of Australian culture.
The Removalists explores the idea of power through the use of proxemics and blocking. When I was performing a scene from the script, my partner and I used the architecture of the room to create a fearful and scary environment during the line, “Do your children know you’re an adulterer?”, Simmonds trapped Kate in a corner, both physically in the rooms corner and mentally within his accusations of sexual misconduct. Using the corner to represent Simmonds power over Kate. The use of proxemics was used to intimidate Kate into the corner, while the deliberate blocking was used to cut Kate off from the audience, leaving her no escape, while allowing the audience to ponder her fear and resentment of the situation.
Within The Removalists there is an obvious theme of power, Kenny is Williamson’s primary instrument to create the stereotype of the typical Australian man. Kenny’s display of power throughout the play is that of sexism and violence, using derogatory language and rude comments to not only put down his (now Ex) wife but boost himself above her. During a class exercise of a scene with Kenny and Fiona, I noticed that during the scene there was an air of power resonating from Kenny, as he exhibits sexist undertones along with overtly sexual language and actions towards Fiona and indications of his education and upbringing through his use of vocabulary and lingo. Kenny’s swearing and rude comments from Kenny to Fiona suggest sexism and violence, “I didn’t hit you that hard.”, “It’s just that you’re too lazy. Bloody Slut!”, These lines only confirm his sexist perspective of women and his abuse of Fiona, the audience empathises with Fiona, concerned for her safety. The audience builds dislike for Kenny and starts to think about what they are doing to make women feel lesser in their lives.
Alex Buzzo and David Williamson have used themes of power, stereotypes and fear to challenge audiences with the new wave of Australian theatre. “Norm and Ahmed” shows how fear can control people and influence them to make harsh decisions and actions. Buzzo effectively does this through the character of Norm, subtly controlling and influencing Ahmed into a false sense of security and ultimately his death. “The Removalists” creates an image of masculine power through the ‘ocker’ persona of the Australian community, using power for personal gain and to control those around them, often for sexual gains. These plays challenge the audience’s beliefs of what they do in their everyday life and how these characters feel within these situations.
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