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Captive Audience PDF: How David Ives Uses Language, Humor, and Irony in His Short Plays


Captive Audience by David Ives: A Review




If you are looking for a collection of short plays that will make you laugh, think, and appreciate the power of language, you might want to check out Captive Audience by David Ives. This article will give you an overview, an analysis, an adaptation, and a comparison of this witty and whimsical work by one of America's most acclaimed playwrights.




Captive Audience David Ives Pdf Download


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Introduction




What is Captive Audience? It is a collection of seven short plays by David Ives, who is best known for his evenings of one-act comedies called All in the Timing and Time Flies. The plays in Captive Audience range from absurd to hilarious, from philosophical to satirical, from romantic to murderous. They showcase Ives' mastery of wordplay, his clever use of irony, and his keen observation of human nature.


Who is David Ives? He is an American playwright, screenwriter, novelist, and translator. He has written dozens of plays, including full-length works such as The School For Lies, The Heir Apparent, New Jerusalem: The Interrogation of Baruch de Spinoza, Is He Dead?, White Christmas, Polish Joke, and Ancient History. He has also translated or adapted many classic works by authors such as Moliere, Feydeau, Reza, Corneille, and Mark Twain. He has won numerous awards for his writing, including the Outer Critics Circle Playwriting Award, the Hull-Warriner Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.


What are the main themes and genres of the plays in Captive Audience? The plays cover a variety of topics and styles, such as time travel, murder mystery, ancient history, soap opera, existentialism, romance, and comedy. They explore themes such as love, death, identity, language, communication, and society. They are all humorous in different ways, but also have deeper meanings and messages.


What is the purpose of this article? The purpose of this article is to provide you with a comprehensive review of Captive Audience by David Ives. It will give you an overview of the seven plays, an analysis of their strengths and weaknesses, an adaptation of the plays by New York Deaf Theater for deaf and hearing audiences, and a comparison of the plays to other works by Ives and other playwrights. By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding and appreciation of Captive Audience and its creator.


Captive Audience: An Overview




How many plays are in Captive Audience? There are seven plays in total, each lasting about 10 to 15 minutes. They are:



  • Enigma Variations: A man and a woman visit a doctor who claims to have a cure for their mysterious condition: they have two identical copies of themselves that switch places at random times.



  • The Mystery at Twicknam Vicarage: A parody of Agatha Christie's murder mysteries, in which a detective tries to solve the case of a man who was killed by a blunt object in his own home.



  • Babel's In Arms: A comedy set in ancient Mesopotamia, where two slaves are ordered to build the Tower of Babel for their tyrannical king.



  • Soap Opera: A man confesses his love for his washing machine to his girlfriend, who is a TV soap opera star.



  • Lives of the Saints: A series of vignettes about various characters who are preparing for their deaths or funerals.



  • Arabian Nights: A couple goes to a Middle Eastern restaurant, where they encounter a translator who has a strange way of interpreting their words.



  • Captive Audience: A couple is trapped in their living room by their TV set, which forces them to watch a series of bizarre and disturbing programs.



What are the summaries of each play? Here is a table that summarizes the main characters, plot, and genre of each play:



Title


Characters


Plot


Genre


Enigma Variations


Bebe W.W. DoppelgänglerFifi W.W. DoppelgänglerDr. William W. WilliamsNurse Fifi Fofo FumA Receptionist


A man and a woman visit a doctor who claims to have a cure for their mysterious condition: they have two identical copies of themselves that switch places at random times. The doctor reveals that he is also a doppelgänger, and that he has created a machine that can merge the copies into one. However, things go wrong when the machine malfunctions and creates more confusion.


Absurd comedyScience fictionFarce


The Mystery at Twicknam Vicarage


Detective Inspector HoundMrs. DrudgeMagnus MuldoonCynthia MuldoonFelicity CunninghamSimon GascoyneLionel ToopThe Body


A parody of Agatha Christie's murder mysteries, in which a detective tries to solve the case of a man who was killed by a blunt object in his own home. The suspects include his wife, his niece, his lover, his rival, and his vicar. The detective discovers that everyone has a motive and an alibi, and that the victim is not who he seems to be.


Murder mysteryParodyComedy


Babel's In Arms


GorphZigguratMardukNebuchadnezzar IIA MessengerA Guard


A comedy set in ancient Mesopotamia, where two slaves are ordered to build the Tower of Babel for their tyrannical king. They complain about their work conditions, question the purpose of the tower, and try to escape from their task. Along the way, they encounter a god, a prophet, and a miracle.


Historical comedySatireFantasy


Soap Opera


The ManThe WomanThe RepairmanThe Maypole (a washing machine)


love for his washing machine to his girlfriend, who is a TV soap opera star. He tries to convince her that his relationship with the machine is not a threat, but a form of art.


Romantic comedySatireFantasy


Lives of the Saints


EdnaFloMr. HalpernMrs. SorkenMr. SorkenMr. and Mrs. ManyMr. and Mrs. FewA Funeral Director


A series of vignettes about various characters who are preparing for their deaths or funerals. They include a woman who wants to be buried with her vacuum cleaner, a couple who argue about their epitaphs, a man who has a near-death experience, and a woman who delivers a monologue about theater.


Dark comedyDramaMeta-theater


Arabian Nights


NormanFloraThe Waiter/Translator


A couple goes to a Middle Eastern restaurant, where they encounter a translator who has a strange way of interpreting their words. He makes up stories and lies about them, creating misunderstandings and conflicts.


Comedy of errorsCultural clashLanguage play


Captive Audience


LauraRobThe TV Set


A couple is trapped in their living room by their TV set, which forces them to watch a series of bizarre and disturbing programs. The TV set has a mind of its own and threatens to harm them if they try to escape or change the channel.


Horror comedyDystopiaMedia critique


Captive Audience: An Analysis




What are the strengths and weaknesses of each play? Here is a list of some of the pros and cons of each play:



  • Enigma Variations: This play is a clever and hilarious exploration of identity, duality, and confusion. It uses wordplay, puns, and anagrams to create humor and irony. It also raises questions about the nature of selfhood, reality, and free will. However, some might find the play too absurd or nonsensical, or too dependent on linguistic tricks.



  • The Mystery at Twicknam Vicarage: This play is a witty and amusing parody of the classic murder mystery genre. It uses tropes, clichés, and stereotypes to poke fun at the conventions and expectations of the genre. It also has a surprising twist at the end that reveals the true identity of the victim and the murderer. However, some might find the play too predictable or formulaic, or too reliant on references to other works.



  • Babel's In Arms: This play is a funny and irreverent satire of ancient history and mythology. It uses anachronisms, exaggerations, and contrasts to mock the arrogance and folly of rulers and gods. It also has a clever ending that explains the origin of language diversity. However, some might find the play too silly or disrespectful, or too detached from historical accuracy.



  • Soap Opera: This play is a charming and whimsical romance between a man and his washing machine. It uses metaphors, similes, and hyperboles to express the man's love for his appliance. It also has a sweet message about finding beauty in unexpected places. However, some might find the play too ridiculous or unrealistic, or too sentimental or cheesy.



  • Lives of the Saints: This play is a poignant and touching meditation on death and life. It uses irony, contrast, and symbolism to show how different people cope with their mortality. It also has a meta-theatrical element that breaks the fourth wall and invites the audience to reflect on their own lives. However, some might find the play too depressing or morbid, or too preachy or didactic.



  • Arabian Nights: This play is a hilarious and clever comedy of errors that involves language and culture. It uses misunderstandings, misinterpretations, and lies to create confusion and conflict. It also has a moral lesson about honesty and respect. However, some might find the play too offensive or stereotypical, or too simplistic or moralistic.



  • Captive Audience: This play is a scary and funny horror comedy that critiques the media and technology. It uses suspense, violence, and absurdity to create fear and laughter. It also has a dystopian vision of a society controlled by TV. However, some might find the play too violent or disturbing, or too exaggerated or unrealistic.



How do the plays use language, humor, and irony to convey meaning? Here are some examples of how each play employs these elements:



  • Enigma Variations: The play uses language as a source of humor and irony, as well as a tool for creating confusion and identity. For instance, the names of the characters are anagrams of each other (Bebe W.W. Doppelgängler, Fifi W.W. Doppelgängler, Dr. William W. Williams, Nurse Fifi Fofo Fum), which suggests their interchangeable and unstable identities. The play also uses puns, such as when the doctor says \"I'm afraid you're both suffering from a rare condition known as doppelgängler syndrome,\" which sounds like \"doppelgänger syndrome\" but also implies that they are \"dangling\" between two selves. The play also uses irony, such as when the doctor claims to have a cure for their condition, but ends up making it worse by creating more copies of them.



  • The Mystery at Twicknam Vicarage: The play uses humor and irony to parody the murder mystery genre, as well as to reveal the truth behind the crime. For example, the play uses humor by exaggerating the stereotypes and clichés of the genre, such as the eccentric detective, the suspicious suspects, the red herrings, and the final revelation. The play also uses irony by subverting the expectations of the genre, such as when the victim turns out to be alive and the murderer turns out to be himself.



  • Babel's In Arms: The play uses humor and irony to satirize ancient history and mythology, as well as to explain the origin of language diversity. For example, the play uses humor by contrasting the modern language and attitude of the slaves with the ancient setting and situation. The play also uses irony by showing how the slaves' rebellion against their king leads to the intervention of a god, who punishes them by confusing their languages.



  • Soap Opera: The play uses language as a metaphor for love, as well as a source of humor and irony. For example, the play uses language as a metaphor for love by comparing the man's washing machine to a woman, using terms such as \"spin cycle,\" \"delicate cycle,\" \"permanent press,\" and \"rinse.\" The play also uses humor and irony by contrasting the man's passionate speech with his absurd object of affection, and by showing how his girlfriend reacts to his confession.



  • Lives of the Saints: The play uses irony and contrast to show how different people cope with death and life, as well as to make a statement about theater. For example, the play uses irony by showing how some people have trivial or absurd concerns about their deaths or funerals, while others have profound or touching reflections on their lives or legacies. The play also uses contrast by juxtaposing different characters and situations that deal with death in different ways. The play also makes a meta-theatrical statement by having one of the characters address the audience directly and talk about theater as a way of celebrating life.



the translator misleads and manipulates them with his words. He makes up stories and lies about them, creating misunderstandings and conflicts. The play also uses language as a means of communication and understanding by showing how the couple eventually learns to trust each other and overcome the language barrier.


  • Captive Audience: The play uses language as a source of fear and comedy, as well as a critique of media and technology. For example, the play uses language as a source of fear and comedy by showing how the TV set speaks to the couple in a menacing and sarcastic tone, forcing them to watch a series of bizarre and disturbing programs. The play also uses language as a critique of media and technology by showing how the TV set controls and manipulates the couple's lives, depriving them of their freedom and autonomy.



Captive Audience: An Adaptation




How did New York Deaf Theater adapt Captive Audience for deaf and hearing audiences? New York Deaf Theater is a company that produces plays for both deaf and hearing audiences, using both spoken English and American Sign Language (ASL). The company adapted Captive Audience by using different methods of communication for different plays, depending on the needs and preferences of the actors and the director. Some of the methods they used are:



  • Having the lead actors sign while their words are spoken by others in the cast. This method was used in Time Flies, Enigma Variations, Lives of the Saints, and Captive Audience.



  • Having the lead actors speak while interpreters sign their dialogue. This method was used in The Mystery at Twicknam Vicarage and Babel's In Arms.



  • Having some actors sign and some actors speak, without interpreters. This method was used in Arabian Nights, where the translator spoke English while the couple signed ASL.



  • Using a combination of methods, such as having some actors sign and speak at the same time, or having some dialogue spoken only or signed only. This method was used in various plays to create different effects or emphasize certain moments.



What are the benefits and challenges of using both spoken English and ASL in the plays? Some of the benefits of using both spoken English and ASL in the plays are:



  • It creates a more inclusive and accessible theater experience for both deaf and hearing audiences, who can enjoy the plays in their preferred language.



  • It adds a layer of richness and diversity to the plays, by showcasing different forms of expression and communication.



  • It enhances or changes some aspects of the plays, such as the humor, the irony, or the meaning.



  • It showcases the talent and skill of the actors, who can perform in two languages simultaneously or switch between them seamlessly.



Some of the challenges of using both spoken English and ASL in the plays are:



  • It requires more coordination and collaboration among the actors, who have to synchronize their movements and words.



  • It poses some technical difficulties, such as finding enough space on stage for interpreters or ensuring that everyone can see and hear clearly.



  • It may create some confusion or misunderstanding among some audience members, who may not be familiar with both languages or may miss some cues or details.



  • It may not suit some plays or genres, such as those that rely heavily on verbal timing or wordplay.



Captive Audience: A Comparison




How does Captive Audience compare to other works by David Ives? Captive Audience is similar to other works by David Ives in many ways, such as: