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Greater Tuna

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Submitted By sstang
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A Characterized Comedy Greater Tuna is the first in a series of four comedic plays, each set in the fictional town of Tuna, Texas, the "third-smallest" town in the state. The play is a representation on small-town, southern life and personalities in the form of humor and satirical comedy. In Greater Tuna, the eccentric characters, both male and female, throughout the performance are played by two men. Through the effective use of spatial relationships, these two actors play the different zany and colorful characters that inhabit Tuna, Texas. These features of spatial relationships allow the characters to convey the underlying meaning surrounding the gossip that exists in small towns. The spatial relationships of area and the relationship to the audience in Greater Tuna show that the play represents the comedic bigotry and gossip that dwell in a small-town in the South. The ongoing gossip and intolerance that is portrayed throughout the play is symbolically represented by the areas used onstage. Before the play begins, it is apparent that the set is divided into three completely different settings. On the left was a set representing the Humane Society, in the middle the radio station OKKK aired, and on the right was the kitchen of the Bumiller’s house. During the play it is evident that each area conveys a message about the theme of small town gossip. Each of these three areas had distinct interactions and themes that took place there, yet all related back to the center of the stage, radio station OKKK. The play starts out in center stage with the radio hosts Arles and Thurston of Radio Station OKKK discussing the morning report. It is the start of the town gossip and primarily how information and news is relayed throughout Tuna. As the broadcast went on, residents of the town called in to comment, complain, or criticize. Charlene ends up performing her winning poem on the air, and Harold Dean reports the weather making it a very public place, incorporating many opposite personalities. After hearing Petey Fisk on the radio discussing Yipee, Bertha calls Petey in a frantic state to make sure that Jody doesn’t come home with the loud, annoying Yipee. This area was not only the center of the stage but also the center of the town’s intolerant gossip. As the play went on, gossip traveled from one end of the stage to the other, yet always coming back to the center. On the right, in the Bumiller’s kitchen, all the interactions that took place showed how dysfunctional the family was. Bertha, the mother was constantly yelling at her three children, telling them what to do and chasing dogs out of the kitchen. In response, the youngest son Jody was extremely hyper and was constantly followed by a herd of dogs. Bertha’s daughter, Charlene, was emotionally unsettled and it showed through her constant whining and crying. Her other son Stanley was a tough guy, fresh from reform school. Hank, Bertha’s husband was pretty much nonexistent, appearing once for a short period of time. It was prevalent that his relationship with his family was minimal. Disagreements, bickering and yelling were the only type of occurrences took place in the Bumiller’s kitchen, making it resemble a completely dysfunctional family. Chad Hartford came to interview Bertha, and after getting the information he needed, left the house. This gave the audience the idea that he was going to publish some ridiculous story on the Bumiller’s, providing the town with even more to gossip about. The only people that appeared in the Bumiller’s kitchen were the reporter Chad, Sheriff Givens, and the Bumiller’s themselves, making it a pretty private area on the stage, unique to the Bumiller’s. On the left-hand side of the stage was the humane society. Petey Fisk, an employee there called in to the radio station to let the town know that Yipee, the pet of the month five weeks in a row is up for adoption. Petey was the primary character in this area. It was a calm, sort of hideout almost, separate from the rest of the town. The only other people to appear in this area were the washed up, gnarly haired, raspy voiced Didi Snavely and her drunk husband R.R. bickering. The humane society was a private area on the stage and didn’t frequent many townies. This spatial relationship of area visually shows how the town gossip spreads from setting to setting and the characters opposing personalities. Relationship to the audience was a second major spatial relationship represented in Greater Tuna. Towards the beginning of the play, after her son Stanley leaves the house, Bertha speaks directly to the audience complaining about Chad the reporter, how Jody has eight to ten dogs but hopefully will grow out if it, and how Stanley’s dating a Mexican girl. Once Bertha was alone, she had this urge to gossip to someone about recent events in her life, but since no one is around she gossips to the audience as if they were part of the play. A totally unexpected, completely separate interaction from the rest of the play happened towards the end. Vera Carp, the town snob strolled through the audience in her gossipy nature, commenting on different things in the audience, things totally irrelevant to the plot of the play. This brought about unexpected audience interaction and really showed how intolerant the characters were. The inappropriate comments and gestures made by Vera directly to audience members enforced the comedy in the play and emphasized the gossip that the town thrives on. The main themes of gossip and bigotry that take place in the small town of Tuna, Texas were portrayed through the spatial relationships of area and the relationship to the audience in Greater Tuna. The division of the set into three separate settings relayed gossip from one end of the stage to the other by means of the center of the stage, radio station OKKK. Vera Carp’s direct interaction with the audience provided humor and re presented the ideas of gossip and intolerance within the small southern town. The comedic play Greater Tuna, included spatial relationships reflecting upon the ideas of gossip and intolerance in small towns, of which area and relationship to audience were the most prevalent.…...

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