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Year 12 Module B: Cosi Speech - model

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Published on May 27, 2012

This is a model 2 minute Pecha Kucha for the Module B: Close Study of Text assessment task for my Standard English class.
Below is the written text from the speech. Please keep in mind that this is just an example of what can be done - it was done in a bit of a rush may not represent the standard for an 'A' range response. The written text is modified from the speech of one of my students in 2010 - I can't remember who. Thanks if it is your speech!

QUESTION:
Distinctive ideas are at the heart of every play.
In your view, what is a distinctive idea explored in Cosi? Explain how this idea is developed throughout the play.

Mayhem and madness! Playwright Louis Nowra draws us into a world where the mad seem sane and the sane seem mad in his farcical play, Cosi. Through the use stage directions, foreshadowing and symbolism, Nowra tackles the problems associated with defining an individual as mad.

Let's look at the mayhem.

Preconceived ideas about madness and those deemed to be sane are challenged by Nowra in the very first scene of the play. The idea of mounting a production of the opera Cosi Fan Tutte with a cast of mental patients seems itself mad, with Nowra immediately alluding to the possible disasters of the working with people who have been rejected by society.

Nowra foreshadows possible complications when Justin warns Lewis, "keep a close eye on Doug," creating tension. Nowra continues this downward spiral to catastrophe, with black humour such as when Doug says, "I can't sing a note, and as for Henry here to get him to speak a word is a miracle." But Nowra doesn't dwell on the lunacy and instead reveals the ability of the patients to accomplish something positive.

Now the madness.

Nowra forces responders to recognise the madness of the world outside the theatre. Stage directions constantly remind the audience of the Vietnam War context, "[Henry takes out a toy soldier and plays with it]". This symbolism forces the audience to recognise the madness of modern society outside the institution.

Also Nowra successfully reflects the values of modern society through the characterisation of Nick, "Only mad people in this day in age would do a work about love and infidelity. They're definitely mad." Through the 2-dimensional character of Nick, Nowra suggests that attitudes to love are changing but ultimately he encourages us to agree with Lewis who recognises that "Without love the world doesn't mean very much". Nowra sets his play in an asylum full of bizarre yet lovable mental patients and in doing so focuses our attention on the madness outside of the asylum.

Nowra forces responders to question what it means to be normal and consequently what it means to be mad. The outside world is characterised by the chaos and madness of war and a society whose relationships are characterised by a devaluing of love. Inside the world of the theatre and the asylum ordinary people have achieved something extraordinary by supporting each other and helping one another grow.

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