Mind of State: Freedom but at What Cost?

Sam Lovett-Perkins

English : Sexuality and Society

Creativity Project: Mind of State (Playbill and Dialogue)

           In order to represent the theme of freedom at the cost of the true self Ryan and I decided to plan and preview a play. We planned to make a playbill and a dialogue, two mediums, as a form of presentation. The basis of our play was an alternate dystopian reality where everyone is born into a role. Even though a role is forced upon an individual each one has a function (although some more influential than others) in this society. The purpose of this is to maximize efficiency in the state. The main character, who has no name, is called Accountant #56870. He represents individual opposition to the system that is his reality. The playbill includes detailed information on the story behind the play as well as a few smaller connections to the theme and instances when it occurs. Our dialogue is the confrontation of the man and the state. Accountant #56870 relates strongly to Hester Pryme; both characters are singled out in their society and are going against the status quo of what is acceptable. In relation, the puritan town and dystopian reality relate because both represent a fairly bland and unhappy air of living. They represent communal judgement and mindless obedience to injustice against the people. The play also toys with the idea of mental stability. In the same way that Juno didn't allow her peers judgement to define whether she wants to keep her child or not, the accountant understands that he must separate his mind from the mind of the State. He must not let their preconceived ideas and limitations prevent them from reaching their potential.

           The process of making this project was fairly simple. I got the idea from looking at Ms. Dunn's collection of Playbills. Making a playbill would utilize both Ryan's skills and my own skills. It incorporated a variety of creativity through visuals and text explaining the play. The original idea was influenced by the book 1984 by George Orwell and The Obsolete Man episode from the Twilight Zone. Together we evolved the plot to fit our theme better. After much thought we decided we could do more as a two person team. We added one of the more climactic moments in the play as a dialogue between the man and the state. We both agreed on the basis for how the stage is to be set for the performance. We wanted to use the idea of levels because in many situations one party is dominant over the other. Especially since we learned the importance of height and levels during our workshops during Angels in America and with the Wilma Theater it seemed very relevent. We also thought of the idea of light. The placement a light source can make someone standing in front of it seem darker. We set up the stage as a table in front of the window. The state (myself) is standing on top of the table in front of the window, while Ryan (the accountant) is standing below voicing his concern. This is not unlike the scene with Hester on the scaffold. We also planned thinking of how we could use our voices and body language. Our bodies and voices represent the conflict between the wild power of ambition and desire vs the solid and monotone strength of a oppressive society. We split up the work evenly. I wrote the creative writing parts and made the majority of the pamphlet, while Ryan made the main visual on the front page and wrote the dialogue.

           I believe the creation of this project demonstrates a strong analysis of the theme of self sacrifice and freedom in the Scarlett Letter. I am particularly proud that we are using a variety of mediums in one cohesive project. The connection to the Scarlett letter is clear but not so close that it warrens the title of freely adapted version of the story. The planning process was creative and fun and the final product of the playbill is visually appealing. We split the work eventually and out communication was efficient. Some areas we could have improved on was more practice for the scene. We should have anticipated the creation of a scene from the beginning so we could make a schedule and practice our lines. It also could have been longer and more complex. Essentially we are showing this scene from the middle of the play. We could have written it to show more of the man's struggle against the state prior to the designated scene; how this alternate society limits it's citizens freedoms but for a common good. More planning would have also allowed us to have a draft copy of the playbill that we could have edited together instead of cutting it close by uniting the two parts near the day it is due. Finally, although it is easily relatable to the Scarlet letter, I wish it shared themes that were more connectable to Juno. Despite these draw backs I am content with our final project.