Drama Coursework 2

The play ‘Oh What A Lovely War’ is a controversial play that unearths the corruption in war leaders, the incompetence of generals and the death of innocent war during the first world war. The play was developed by Joan Littlewood.

One concept that interested me while reading the play was how munitions manufacturers of different countries met together and discussed about ways of making money from the war, even though some of the munitions manufacturers present in the meeting were enemies during the war. The lack of empathy towards the dying soldiers and suffering of civilians really interested me as the munitions manufacturers instead of discussing peace talks, they complained about how the war could end. A British munition manufacturer was present in the meeting and from research I discovered that the British have sold over £5.6bn in sales of arms, fighter jets and other military hardware to Saudi Arabia since David Cameron came to power (May 2010). Also the UK has sold weapons to 24 of the 27 states included on its own list of countries of humanitarian concern. These two facts suggest the past history of the UK selling weapons to enemy countries is still happening in the present.

I quite like the possibilities of idea that can sprout from the stimulus of corruption e.g. a message behind the scene or the effect of corruption.

Improvisation stages

Through the use of a small time period and a given stimulus, we started to improvise small scenes to help our development

Still image- An image of a picture of the army was given to us and in 3 minutes, we had to create a still image based from it. My group devised an image of a general ordering two soldiers, and the soldiers did not seem to like being soldiers. This image could be developed into a scene where the unfortunate reality of being a soldier could be revealed.

We also were read a poem to and then improvised a still image from that as well that had a certain time limit.

Closer to the performance date, me and my group improvised our performance by fastforwarding the scenes and only the narrator spoke. From the criticism, we learnt that the poor character needs to be developed so that the audience cares about his character. We also learnt the importance of dialogue. The main thing that was discovered was the death scene caused the audience to lose interest as it is very hard to realistically show a death. So to keep the audience’s suspension of belief, we decided that to make the death unrealistic. When the character dies, there is going to be a heartbeat audio track running, a bright red light shining on the character to symbolise the blood that is on his body and to cause the audience to feel for the poor character, the character will have a soliloquy.

Dramatic inventions used in the performance

Spoken Thought

Red lighting to represent death (Suspension of disbelief)

Chorus of movement

Freeze Frames

Heartbeat soundtrack

Radio soundtrack

Exaggerated character

Breaking the 4th Wall


The intention of this performance is to unearth the true war profiteers and to show how corruption affected innocent people. The performance is about the life of two different people during the war; a money-hungry aristocrat and a poor young man. The story is how the aristocrat is happy that a war is declared and heavily gains wealth from it and ends up gaining awards, even though he led 1000’s of men to their death. However the young man unfortunately is forced into war and sadly dies, without any recognition.

To give the performance an WW1 feel, we are going to use radio recordings in-between scenes to broadcast facts. This was used to make our performance more factual and less bias, making it more believable to the audience. Also we plan to place propaganda pamphlets on the audience’s seats and when the conscription officer calls out names, he will call out some of the audiences name, to make the audience feel like many British men during the time (they didn’t sign up for this).


Through the use of the ‘Oh What a Lovely War’ script and research about WW1 profiteers, this flooded me and my groups with ideas. We wanted to devise a performance that has the intentions of broadcasting the corruption and greed in war.

I plan to dress as a rich aristocrat with a walking stick to project my status with against the other characters.

Reflection and Evaluation

The intention of our performance was to shine a light of corruption during the war and the inequalities of different statuses as well. I believe that we successfully showed the different intentions, but some technological problems need to be looked at.

After the technical and dress rehearsal, a lot of changes were made. We realised that improvising on lines really stopped the flow of the performance and made it less powerful. We also got rid of one whole scene which really helped the overall message of the play as the characters were less confused. Also we learnt how powerful the lighting could be as we used strobe lighting for the fighting scene to create a dramatic effect. We also used fading of light to make the transactions of scenes more smoother as well. Before my character was quite neutral towards Bruke, however in the dress rehearsal I was much harsher and aggressive towards him which worked better as it allowed Bruke to develop his character and the audience can feel sorry for Bruke’s character. This helped us achieve our intention as now it was clear the different of status, and it showed how inconsiderate my character was due to his hunger for money.

We also tried to make the transition from the skeet scene to the trenches scene smooth by having no fade of light, instead the scene will start with strobe lighting, making the soldiers feel scared and confused, just how soldiers would feel in that situation, making it realistic. However due to technological mistakes, the scene seemed less powerful and unprofessional. Another aspect that needs cleaning up is the dialogue as it seems unprofessional as most of it was improvised.

Unfortunately because we decided to cut the conscription scene out, we couldn’t the propaganda pamphlets on the audience’s seats. I felt that if we didn’t cut the scene, the feeling of unauthorised pressure on the audience could really help us with our intention.

One aspect that worked very well was the use of radio recordings in-between scenes. This worked well because it created a real 1900’s atmosphere and it gave the audience clues about the next scene, allowing them to use their imagination.

The use of un-naturalistic aspects really helped with the overall intention of the performance. An example of this is me and Bruke’s spoken thought as it revealed my actual feelings about the declaration of war and made the audience understand what the character is going through. Another example was the use of the heartbeat soundtrack and red light to signify that Bruke character has died.

Light and Sound Script

start off with all lights down.

Sound – Play radio 1 (voice-over) July 28th, 1914

Light – when sound ends fade to white light

Bruke and Gabriel begin to act when Bruke turns on the radio…

Sound – Play radio 2
(radio) Hello and welcome to the BBC I will talk story Austria-Hungary has declared war on Serbia the possibility of a wider conflict is looming over the rest of Europe.

Spoken thoughts by Bruke and Gabriel.
Light – red + white.
Bruke will go last.
Light – white

They will carry on acting

Freeze frame.

Light – fade to black
Sound – Play radio 4 in darkness.
(Radio) The spoils of War a glorious businessman who own weapons factory across the world are living in a world Of glamour and riches, their only worry, what happens when the war ends.

Light – when radio ends white light.

They act and shoot clay discs.

Sound – After second shots, play machine gun. Until Arthur runs on stage
Light – flash white with the machine gun.

Sound – When Bruke starts walking forward play heart beat.
Light – flash red with the heart beats.

Hold red light.

Light – When Bruke walks backwards fade to white.
When Arthur and Gabriel shake hands fade red





During the dress rehearsals, a problem arised with my character. My character was too like myself and not like the rich aristocrat I was meant to be. So through constructive criticism and watching videos of rich aristocrat during WW1, I was able to adapt my character into the uncaring, money hungry, aristocrat I was meant to be.

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