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”One day of the year” by Alan Seymour

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  • Pages: 6
  • Word count: 1364
  • Category: Play

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The play was written in the late 1950’s and deals with issues such as, the hollowness of Anzac day, different generational meanings of Anzac day, social class, the value of education and woman returning to the workforce. ‘One day of the year’ would be classified as an early Australian play that was very much ahead of it’s time in relation to it’s views about Anzac day and at the time was quite a controversial play because of this. The play was considered a milestone in Australian’s playwriting history and assisted in people beginning to question the typical schools of thought associated with the 1950’s. The main identifiable features associated with the late 1950’s was the idea that woman’s only role should be to raise children and serve their husbands and the great glorification placed upon war, in particular Anzac day.

In writing ‘One day of the year’ I think that Seymour’s main intension was to give his readers a different insight about the issues of the hollowness of Anzac day, different generational meanings of Anzac day, social class, the value of education and woman returning to the workforce. By combing these issues into a storyline that is both realistic and easy to relate to the reader is challenged to question the values and attitudes they hold towards these issues. The play clearly addresses the two schools of thought about the issues presented and these two points of view can be seen through the clashing of the father and son characters Hughie and Alf. Hughie is the educated son of Alf, a digger that was in the Second World War, Alf represents the typical stereotype of an Australian and Hughie represents the second generation Australian that followed the Second World War. Alf’s attitude towards war is one typically held by his generation;

‘well! That’s nice. That’s real nice. We’re pretty strong on Anzac day in this house….’

Hughie on the other hand is the character the represents the attitude towards war that is typically seen in today’s society;

‘All that old eyewash about national character’s a thing of that past. Australians are this, Australians are that, Australians make the best soldiers, the best fighters, it’s all rubblish.

The Europeans here force us to see that we’re pretty much all the same, and that’s the best thing that’s ever happened to this country, maybe the next generation won’t be so one-eyed’

From the clashing of these to point of view between the two characters the reader gets ‘both side of the story’ so to speak. It is the clashing between Alf and Hughie that tie in most of the other issues of the play.

For our original performance the issue we chose as to base our storyline around was ‘woman returning to the workforce’. This issue was one that was not directly addressed in the storyline of ‘One day of the year’ but because the main female character Jan was a university student the link between woman being educated and woman in the workforce is seen. My group consisting of myself, Kristy, Tamara and Amy chose to base our plot in a way that reflected the scrutiny and hardships woman in the 1950’s experienced for trying to cast off the stereotype of being only seen as useful for serving their husbands and raising children and get out into the workforce. The plot we wrote focused around 3 main characters, Sherrel the wife, John her husband and Sherrel’s best friend Tina.

It follows the journey of Sherrel a housewife sick of her day to day life wanting to make more of herself, her husband John (mimicking the attitude of a typical male in the 1950’s) apposes to her getting a job and when secretly going against his wishes Sherrel gets found out and is kicked out of the house. All the characters symbolized a generalized stereotype of a person in the 1950’s, Sherrel the housewife wanting more then to cook and clean, John the husband proud of being the ‘bread winner’ in the family and holding a great deal of power in the marriage, Tina a woman that because of not being married has the freedom to join the workforce and is disliked by John for being independent and Tony, a typical hardworking Australian bloke. I think our play well represented the typical hardships faced by women in the 1950’s who wanted to join the workforce. Also I think that how we chose to show characters reactions to things helped our issue come across more effectively, for example;

* Tina being disliked by John (representing a typical Australia male) because she is out in the workforce shows the negative attitude shown towards women who were already out in the workforce

* Sherrel’s need for Johns approval and acceptance of his decision to go and get a job showed the dominance men had in relationships

* John kicking out Sherrel for going out and getting a job showed the rejection of the idea held by many people that woman had the right to a career and the typical consequence associated with disobedience by a wife to a husband.

I think my overall performance as Sherrel was generally good with my verbals and non-verbals coming together well. Because I was playing a very passive character who was very much dominated by her husband I had to alter both my verbals and non verbals depending on who I was interacting with, for example, when interacting with John my husband my verbals were a lot less free flowing and I used my non verbals sparingly, my voice was also at a much lower pitch then Johns so indicate that he was the dominant party in the relationship. When interacting with Tina and my Avon customer I used my non-verbals and verbals to convey the bubbly, happy imaginative and confident woman Sherrel had the potential in being. By altering my body to a more withdrawn stance, having a bored expression on my face and talking at a noticeably lover tone when interacting with John I think I was effective in portraying the loneliness and lack of power woman in the 1950’s typically experienced. The main weakness in my performance was I think that at times my dialogue was too faced paced and didn’t come out as clear as I would have liked which I would say took away from the overall feel we were going for in our performance.

The class member I have chosen to give a critical evaluation on is Nicole Dodson. There were only 2 people in her group and I think that this assisted in setting the mood and feeling of loneliness that came across very well in her performance. I think a major strength in her performance was her non-verbals and interaction with the character of her sister. Body language between them such as the constant physical connection between them greatly added to the storyline and helped show the closeness between these two characters. I though another major strength in Nicole’s performance was the way she made the transition between her character and the character of her father with such ease altering everything from her tone of voice, pitch, stance and language to the point that it was almost like seeing 3 characters on stage. The only slight weakness I saw in her performance was at times towards the end some of her verbal’s come out a bit fast and it look away from the overall feel of the performance. Overall I thought that everything in her performance came together really well to present a really moving and creative incite into the

From creating an original play based upon the issues dealt with in ‘One day of the year’ I have learnt the importance of understanding the links between text and context when working with a play. I now understand that when analyzing a play it is critical that the issues presented within it are carefully identified in order to really get an incite into how the character you are performing thinks, feels and acts leading to a very believable performance.

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