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By Madeleine MacMurraugh-Kavanagh

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Additional info for Peter Shaffer: Theatre and Drama

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Further, a concept central to 'Theatre of Cruelty' is the idea that the stage action should take place around the audience, involving each directly with the other: again, this is echoed in Equus where, with the audience placed both in the auditorium and in on-stage tiers, the drama actually takes place between the spectators rather than in front of them with all the emotional and psychological consequences that this positioning implies. 25 The aim was to release the audience from unthinking adherence to the laws of social life, to connect it with unconscious energies associated with dream and imagination, and to purge it of violent destructive tendencies which lead to riot and murder.

Composed external to the site of ritual, the play is essentially alien to its systems of communication, but transferred into that medium, form as well as content become moulded to its precepts. Here we see that in the act of composition, 'drama' again becomes 'theatre', and 'theatre' becomes 'drama' in Shaffer's work since both are inextricably connected at the point of writing which is also the point of realization. The allegiance to form is perhaps more clear in the plays which suggest the traditions of naturalistic theatre, though it should be 20 Peter Shaffer: Theatre and Drama understood that form becomes an intensified, though less conspicuous, preoccupation of the later plays.

Did you have a date with her? ALAN: What? DYSART [sitting]: Tell me if you did. ] ALAN [yelling]: TELL ME! ] 37 The audience here is effectively identifying with Dysart since it is equally eager to discover the explanation for Alan's crime: we too analyse the boy's responses, and react to the increasing pace of this exchange by demanding yet more pace as the tension mounts towards an inevitable explosion of some kind. At the same time, we feel for the hunted boy who is desperately trying to conceal and keep private that which can no longer be hidden.

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