Churchill, Booker and Ibsen – Visions of Utopia

Hills Players, BrisbaneSabina Head, of Griffith University, Brisbane, has published a fascinating paper in Drama Australia Journal in which she analyses power relationships in Ibsen’s ‘A Doll’s House’, Claire Booker’s ‘Socks Go In The Bottom Drawer’ and Caryl Churchill’s ‘A Number’ and considers how the three playwrights enable their audiences to contemplate alternative futures.

Hills Players (1)Future Studies is a developing branch of academia which looks at the portrayal of utopias and dystopias within a range of fields including drama.  In this particular article, Sabina uses the technique of causal layered analysis to reveal a play’s depth of innovation – how dialogue and action are informed by underlying beliefs and metaphors.  

“In this half-hour comedy “Socks Go in the Bottom Drawer” (Booker, 1991), two women and their daughter visit a zoo cage to see a most interesting exhibit – a man. He shows off for them and flirts with the girl, who is interested but unimpressed by his attempts at seduction. His keeper then entertains him with a story from the distant past, in which “once upon a time, the world was ruled by men” (ibid. p.15). She then tiptoes out, leaving him to sleep. . . .

Hills Players, Australia

” The status transactions are intended to be comic, to make the audience laugh. The metaphor throughout is one of man as a quaint curiosity, of no actual use but seen as a pet to be occasionally indulged in small ways, including the pretence that he is powerful and dangerous. Clearly women control the world; they are beings of power and influence, functioning without men. The metaphors are pushed into contrast in an extreme reversal of traditional male and female roles, throwing macho male behaviour into the spotlight. . .

The plays discussed may make the present appear remarkable; equally important, they make the future debatable. The story ideas generate public response: condemnation or approval, but above all, debate. Encouraging playwrights to add to these few works is a project worth pursuing if they can inform a broad democratic process.”

To read the whole of Sabina Head’s article, please click on the following PDF  – Forward Theatre and Causal Layered Analysis http://www.jfs.tku.edu.tw/17-1/A03.pdf which was printed in the NJ,36, 2012.

To contact Sabina Head directly, please e-mail her at: sabina.head@uqconnect.edu.au

Loose Muse Anthology Spring 13A 5 minute drama by Claire Booker based on ‘Socks Go in the Bottom Drawer’ was recently published in the Spring 2013 Loose Muse Anthology of New Writing by Women. It is entitled ‘Last Man in Watford.’  To buy the anthology or for more details click  http://www.loose-muse.com

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One response to “Churchill, Booker and Ibsen – Visions of Utopia

  1. The excerpt you read at Loose Muse Anthology launch was really intriguing, political and funny all at the same time. Great theme to explore! jx

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