One Social Issue That Has Not Gotten Much Attention Until

1357 WordsApr 28, 20176 Pages
One social issue that has not gotten much attention until the past few years is mental illness. Playwrights recently started creating works that feature characters with mental illnesses. One such play is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Simon Stephen, based on the book of the same name by Mark Haddon. This story follows an autistic boy named Christopher and his investigation to not only figure out who killed the neighbor’s dog but also understand his family. During the play, it is mentioned that Christopher wrote a book, which is what the play is staged as. The audience gets to hear, see, and experience the world through the eyes of an autistic child, something that is hard to imagine. This play has been getting a lot of…show more content…
In David Storey’s play Home, the story follows two men and their two female friends in their daily life in a mental institution (Theatre Alberta Library). These plays plus many others are taking the drama community by storm and advocating for mental illness awareness along the way. Although one will never be able to fully understand the inner workings of a person with autism or down syndrome, it is important for one to learn how to interact with a mentally ill person. Plays on mental illness greatly reduce the stigma held by society. Each time one sees a play that includes a learning disabled character, one comes to be more acclimated with mental illness, which makes the illness become a part of the social norm (Brigg, 26). Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, Professor of English at Emory University, says, “To behave toward unknown others effectively and ethically, we need to gather information about them. We use their appearance as clues to who they are and we relate to them. What you look like, rather than who you are, often determines how people respond to you” (34). She proposed that staring is a social and cultural behavior brought about by a quest to know more about others and since theatre is a safe place to stare it provides the perfect opportunity for one to learn about those different from oneself (34). These plays also allow the audience to build empathy for the mentally ill (Cummings), but the production itself must perform it in an enriching way.
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