How is an aspect of more direct performance reflected in Phillips' Machine Dreams?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Phillips' work lends itself to a greater aspect of direct performance in a couple of distinct ways.  The first is the basic approach she takes to the work.  In making her characters a "microcosm" of society, she is able to present their own voices as representative of a faction of that social faction.  With this in mind, the characters are able to speak for more than themselves, which is why it makes sense to have the characters read their thoughts aloud.  They are not speaking to the reader only, for they are speaking for an entire group of American society.  The internal thoughts of each character and how they are struggling with both society and their place within it make more sense for a dramatic reading on stage or in spoken word forum, as opposed to constrained on the pages of a book.  The need for a narrator is not as present for these characters wish to have their own sense of speech and articulation outside of what others might say for them.  The opening is reflective of this as Jean is writing a letter to her daughter, indicating that this is something to be performed or read aloud and not kept merely on the page.  Articulating Mitch's frustration is something that one could see akin to Miller's Willy Loman or Wilson's Troy Maxson.  The idea of a man struggling to hold on to whatever small piece of the world he has as it is slipping through his fingers is something that lends itself to an aspect of direct performance.

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