Timberlake Wertenbaker is a British playwright ,screenplay writer and translator who has written play for the Royal court, the Royal Shakespeare Company and others. “Our Country’s Good” (1988) is her historical play based on the real events that took place in the eighteenth century among the first convicts transported from England to Australian penal colonies.Wertenbaker uses the play-with-in-a-play to expolre themes of crime and punishment,the impact of colonial expansion,hierarchies of class and gender.The play also emphasis on the theater’s potential to transform individuals and societies .
Dramatic techniques are used to increase the dramatic tension in the novel or short story.This can be done by placing the characters in time –sensitive situations, diverting the reader’s attention or appealing directly to the reader’s emotion to elicit sympathy for the main character. In “Our Country’s Good” the cast usually doubles up roles so that convicts and officers are obviously played by the same actors.The play opens with flogging of Robert Sideway and goes on to present stark inequalities between the convicts and officers, between the poor and the better-off, and between men and women. Wertenbaker uses the dramatic techniquesin epic theatre , yet it uses mostly naturalistic characterisation. It’s a historical dramatization based on fact and the locations of scenes changes rapidly.
The play alludes how it connects past and present through documentary information and meta-theatrical performance.The play creates tension and insight suffered by it’s cast of convicts,while suggesting the potential of education and theatre.Each act of play opens with one of the convicts struggling to express the violence of his or her existence with adequate language. “Our Country’s Good” is divided in to two acts that jump forward in time.Each one bears a title that alludes what happens in the episode.This technique encourages readers and spectators to focus on how the events unfold,not just on suspenseful revelations.In these scenes Wertenbaker introduces and reveals the system of beliefs, values and ideas behind the actions of the colonial authorities.With these techniques, it draws spectators attention to consider this history through the multiple perspectives of the convicts, the colonists and the colonised.Actors signalled their change of character and status simply by taking-off or putting on a uniform coat and hat.
To conclude the play “Our Country’s Good” enhances the options for stories to be retold revised.The play concludes with beginning of the first scene of interlude “The Recruiting Officer”.Theatre critics praised this play as a celebration of “the redemptive powers of theatre’’.
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