Joe Orton: his 'dangerous' drama
LE3 .A278 1977
Master of Arts
English & Theatre Studies
This thesis attempts to examine the various aspects of danger in the drama of British playwright, Joe Orton (1933-1967). The examination deals principally with four of Orton's plays: The Ruffian on the Stair, The Erpingham Camp, Entertaining Mr. Sloane and Loot. As a stylist, Orton is descended from Oscar Wilde. His language is artificial and the construction of his plays both deliberate and cogent; no action is left unresolved. The subject-matter of Orton's drama, however, differs markedly from that of Wilde's. Orton viewed the world as an intrinsically cruel and heartless place. Mankind's greatest crime, he felt, lay in its attempt to ignore the bestial side of its nature. However, such a view did not prompt outrage in Orton. On the contrary, it prompted delight: a delight manifested in the fact that he chose comedy and not tragedy as his vehicle for dramatic expression. In his drama, Orton uses the element of danger on two levels. On the first level, he depicts onstage the agents of danger; the victims of those agents; the situations through which danger is engendered; and the ways in which, through the manipulation of that danger, immorality can triumph over good. On the second level, he communicates.
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