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Dramatic Techniques in Shirley Valentine by Willy Russell

Satisfactory Essays
Dramatic Techniques in Shirley Valentine by Willy Russell

How do the dramatic techniques use in the play help the audience to

understand the importance of Shirley’s transformation? You should refer

to the significance of the play’s social and historical (settings,

attitudes to women

SHIRLEY VALENTINE

Task: How do the dramatic techniques use in the play help the audience

to understand the importance of Shirley’s transformation? You should

refer to the significance of the play’s social and historical

(settings, attitudes to women, attitudes to marriage, expectations of

life, etc) context and the literary context (kitchen-sink drama,

comedy, tragedy, drama, etc).

The play ‘Shirley Valentine’ was written by Willy Russell. Russell was

born in 1976, near Liverpool. He left school when he was fifteen and

did a variety of jobs before becoming a writer. Originally he used to

be a songwriter, performing in his late teens. By the time he was

twenty he decided to become a playwright rather than his desired

option of teaching. In his first eighteen months schools loved his

work and he decided that he was successful enough to do it fulltime.

“Shirley Valentine”, is the story of a middle age woman living in

Liverpool and her change in life. Russell explores the usage of

different dramatic techniques to tell a complex story. We the audience

are in contact with Shirley from the beginning, because she talks to

the camera. This forms a friendship between Shirley and the audience.

We become her confidante. Other dramatic techniques used by the

playwright are the use of Flashbacks and Voiceovers. In flashbacks

Shirley would be doing something and would drift off talking about

something that had happened earlier on in the day or a previous day,

so we would get all the background information, on what has been going

on. It also highlights the important events in her life to show us how

she got to this point in her life. In Voiceovers Shirley would express

her true feelings about someone whilst they would be talking about the

thing that Shirley is expressing her feelings about.

The opening credits depict a series of fifteen sketches that show

Shirley doing her everyday routine of domestic chores, with no

enthusiasm. Shirley if cleaning and cooking, this tells us what her

life is like, boring. You could see that she is tired of living out

her life in an ordinary marriage, with very little going on, she has

all this Unfulfilled Potential which she desperately wants to

overturn. The words of the soundtrack are very cleverly adapted to the

sketches shown. They tell the everyday life story of a woman that has
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