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Wheat Essay, Research Paper Not all plays are character-driven, in fact a great many are not. So if the characters are not what keep the audience intrigued, well then what does? There are many possible answers to this question. Paper Wheat uses the history of a group of people, a specific message commenting on a time period, spectacle elements such as song and dance, and the genre of comedy to keep its audience both engaged and entertained.

Wheat Essay, Research Paper

Not all plays are character-driven, in fact a great many are not. So if the characters are not what keep the audience intrigued, well then what does? There are many possible answers to this question. Paper Wheat uses the history of a group of people, a specific message commenting on a time period, spectacle elements such as song and dance, and the genre of comedy to keep its audience both engaged and entertained.

There are many elements to a play that can engage the minds of an audience. Paper Wheat uses the history of its audience to keep them captivated. Written around 1977, Paper Wheat focuses on a period in the early part of the 20th century when many migrants and immigrants were moving to Western Canada in search of a prosperous living. They heard that land was cheap, and they wanted to be wheat farmers. PaperWheat’s target audience is the retired farmers and their families who are now looking back on the hardships and struggles they endured. It is an historical reflection of their lives.

Paper Wheat is a collective creation by 25th Street House Theatre, and opened in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The decision to open in the mid-west indicates the target audience. What is so engaging to the audience is looking back on the history of their lives and seeing themselves and their neighbors in the action portrayed onstage.

The many themes contained within the play are additional evidence that the play was constructed for a specific group of people who would find it entertaining. The role of cooperation and the formation of co-op’s in the mid-west are two of the central themes to Paper Wheat. In a scene entitled The Report in Act II, the audience listens to a monologue given by Ed Partridge in which he explains how the co-operative Grain Growers’ Grain Company is formed. Many of the audience members will remember the formation of this company and may still be prospering from it.

Other themes that were relevant to the time period include the importance of education and knowledge, survival, determination, and hard work. All of these are important to the farmers. They have felt the struggle of starting new lives and fighting the injustice of the elevator agents. They have worked hard to build their farms and cultivate their lands. These themes are of interest to the target audience of Paper Wheat.

The message of Paper Wheat becomes quite evident as the play progresses. The play begins by telling a story. A group of people move to Canada for various reasons, basically to begin new lives. They become wheat farmers in order to provide for themselves. As the play continues we realize that individually, these people are not able to survive on their own. They are faced with seasons of bad weather, the loneliness of being out in the middle of nowhere far from home, and powerful corporate businessmen who attempt to take advantage of them. Together, by pooling their knowledge and resources, they are able to overcome, and accomplish greater things. This is a very powerful message for the audience. They have lived through the hard times depicted in the play and have learned the hard way. Therefore, the message has meaning for them and will keep them interested in the performance.

The role of spectacle elements, such as song and dance, also play an important role in engaging the audience. The Wheat Pool song is used in the play as a means of setting the mood, and capturing the audience’s attention. As the song was written in 1926, it is used to arouse memories in the minds of the audience members. Other songs such as The Prairie Winds, and Homesick Blues, are used sporadically throughout the play to keep the audience interested and alert. The director of the play, Guy Sprung, also chose to use a well-known local fiddler, Bill Prokopchuk, for the musical sequences. Audience members are able to relate to the music as well as the musician.

Dance is another element of spectacle used in the play to engage the audience’s interest. At the end of a scene entitled “Leo”, two tap dancers are used to symbolically show the formation of the Wheat Pool in 1924:

Man enters. Starts to tap, then realizes he has only one shoe on. Girl enters-same thing but missing shoe on opposite foot to Man’s. Idea strikes. If they tap together, the alternate shoes will make it sound as if one person was tapping. The dance goes from slow and tentative to frenzied ending with the old-fashioned theatrical tam-ta-ta-tam-tam…tan-tam. They finally turn their backs to the audience, and their two T-shirts together make up the following message:

WH EAT

PO OL

19 24

By using dance, a spectacle element, during this crucial scene, the audience is forced to pay attention to the importance of the scene.

Paper Wheat relies heavily on comedy to captivate the audience. Comedy is a very alluring genre. If you can make an audience laugh then you can keep their attention. So the key is to find out what will make your audience laugh and then use it to entertain them. Paper Wheat does this quite well on several occasions.

In Act I, the second scene is entitled Welcome to Saskatchewan. In this scene, the audience is introduced to the comedy of the play when Vasil, an immigrant, is taken advantage of by a local shop owner, John Pearson. The audience is kept laughing as the exchange between the two men progresses half in English and half in a gibberish form of Ukrainian. Here we see that the comedy throughout the play will focus on making fun of immigrants. Another scene entitled “Breaking the Plow” illustrates this point. Sean, an Irishman who has recently immigrated, delivers a hilarious monologue in which he lovingly coaxes his oxen, and then berates them for not plowing a straight line. He repeatedly refers to them as “Protestants”, as this is the worst thing he can think of to call them!

There are many different elements that can be used to engage an audience’s interest. The overall success of Paper Wheat proves that really getting to know and identify with the characters themselves is not really necessary for an audience to remain interested. In the case of Paper Wheat, the audience is able to identify with the plot, they are able to see a historical reflection of their lives. They are also able to relate to the message of the play. These can be just as powerful and interesting as identifying with the characters themselves. When you add spectacle elements and a comedic backdrop to the story, you have a delightful play that the audience can both learn from and enjoy, and this is what we have in Paper Wheat.

1f64

25th Street House Theatre. Paper Wheat. Copyright 1977.

Note: A proper Works Cited entry is not given for Paper Wheat as there was not enough information provided in the pamphlet handout.

Not all plays are character-driven, in fact a great many are not. So if the characters are not what keep the audience intrigued, well then what does? There are many possible answers to this question. Paper Wheat uses the history of a group of people, a specific message commenting on a time period, spectacle elements such as song and dance, and the genre of comedy to keep its audience both engaged and entertained.

There are many elements to a play that can engage the minds of an audience. Paper Wheat uses the history of its audience to keep them captivated. Written around 1977, Paper Wheat focuses on a period in the early part of the 20th century when many migrants and immigrants were moving to Western Canada in search of a prosperous living. They heard that land was cheap, and they wanted to be wheat farmers. PaperWheat’s target audience is the retired farmers and their families who are now looking back on the hardships and struggles they endured. It is an historical reflection of their lives.

Paper Wheat is a collective creation by 25th Street House Theatre, and opened in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The decision to open in the mid-west indicates the target audience. What is so engaging to the audience is looking back on the history of their lives and seeing themselves and their neighbors in the action portrayed onstage.

The many themes contained within the play are additional evidence that the play was constructed for a specific group of people who would find it entertaining. The role of cooperation and the formation of co-op’s in the mid-west are two of the central themes to Paper Wheat. In a scene entitled The Report in Act II, the audience listens to a monologue given by Ed Partridge in which he explains how the co-operative Grain Growers’ Grain Company is formed. Many of the audience members will remember the formation of this company and may still be prospering from it.

Other themes that were relevant to the time period include the importance of education and knowledge, survival, determination, and hard work. All of these are important to the farmers. They have felt the struggle of starting new lives and fighting the injustice of the elevator agents. They have worked hard to build their farms and cultivate their lands. These themes are of interest to the target audience of Paper Wheat.

The message of Paper Wheat becomes quite evident as the play progresses. The play begins by telling a story. A group of people move to Canada for various reasons, basically to begin new lives. They become wheat farmers in order to provide for themselves. As the play continues we realize that individually, these people are not able to survive on their own. They are faced with seasons of bad weather, the loneliness of being out in the middle of nowhere far from home, and powerful corporate businessmen who attempt to take advantage of them. Together, by pooling their knowledge and resources, they are able to overcome, and accomplish greater things. This is a very powerful message for the audience. They have lived through the hard times depicted in the play and have learned the hard way. Therefore, the message has meaning for them and will keep them interested in the performance.

The role of spectacle elements, such as song and dance, also play an important role in engaging the audience. The Wheat Pool song is used in the play as a means of setting the mood, and capturing the audience’s attention. As the song was written in 1926, it is used to arouse memories in the minds of the audience members. Other songs such as The Prairie Winds, and Homesick Blues, are used sporadically throughout the play to keep the audience interested and alert. The director of the play, Guy Sprung, also chose to use a well-known local fiddler, Bill Prokopchuk, for the musical sequences. Audience members are able to relate to the music as well as the musician.

Dance is another element of spectacle used in the play to engage the audience’s interest. At the end of a scene entitled “Leo”, two tap dancers are used to symbolically show the formation of the Wheat Pool in 1924:

Man enters. Starts to tap, then realizes he has only one shoe on. Girl enters-same thing but missing shoe on opposite foot to Man’s. Idea strikes. If they tap together, the alternate shoes will make it sound as if one person was tapping. The dance goes from slow and tentative to frenzied ending with the old-fashioned theatrical tam-ta-ta-tam-tam…tan-tam. They finally turn their backs to the audience, and their two T-shirts together make up the following message:

WH EAT

PO OL

19 24

By using dance, a spectacle element, during this crucial scene, the audience is forced to pay attention to the importance of the scene.

Paper Wheat relies heavily on comedy to captivate the audience. Comedy is a very alluring genre. If you can make an audience laugh then you can keep their attention. So the key is to find out what will make your audience laugh and then use it to entertain them. Paper Wheat does this quite well on several occasions.

In Act I, the second scene is entitled Welcome to Saskatchewan. In this scene, the audience is introduced to the comedy of the play when Vasil, an immigrant, is taken advantage of by a local shop owner, John Pearson. The audience is kept laughing as the exchange between the two men progresses half in English and half in a gibberish form of Ukrainian. Here we see that the comedy throughout the play will focus on making fun of immigrants. Another scene entitled “Breaking the Plow” illustrates this point. Sean, an Irishman who has recently immigrated, delivers a hilarious monologue in which he lovingly coaxes his oxen, and then berates them for not plowing a straight line. He repeatedly refers to them as “Protestants”, as this is the worst thing he can think of to call them!

There are many different elements that can be used to engage an audience’s interest. The overall success of Paper Wheat proves that really getting to know and identify with the characters themselves is not really necessary for an audience to remain interested. In the case of Paper Wheat, the audience is able to identify with the plot, they are able to see a historical reflection of their lives. They are also able to relate to the message of the play. These can be just as powerful and interesting as identifying with the characters themselves. When you add spectacle elements and a comedic backdrop to the story, you have a delightful play that the audience can both learn from and enjoy, and this is what we have in Paper Wheat.

Works Cited

25th Street House Theatre. Paper Wheat. Copyright 1977.

Note: A proper Works Cited entry is not given for Paper Wheat as there was not enough information provided in the pamphlet handout.

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