How does Australian Theatre make ordinary situations more interesting by the way they are staged? I'm having trouble applying this question to Norm and Ahmed by Alexander Buzo.

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teachsuccess eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The staging of a play includes the physical set itself, lighting, stage props, sound system, costumes, furniture, and even the way actors position themselves. Their mannerisms and expressions also contribute to the successful dramatization of a play. A skilful director will incorporate all the tools at his fingertips to produce a great play. To that end, Alex Buzo's Norm And Ahmed is no exception.

Norm and Ahmed is a play about a middle-class Australian blue collar worker, Norm, and Ahmed, a Pakistani student studying in Australia. Read the eNotes synopsis.

Language: The use of Australian slang (e.g. boongs, krauts, poofters) versus Ahmed's polite English highlights the difference between Norm and Ahmed. Ahmed's very correct English implies superior education and intelligence; Buzo juxtaposes (places side by side) this dichotomy (an idea split into two opposing or contrasting parts) of language style to simply illustrate why Ahmed is a threat to Norm. Norm's description of his physical encounter with the German soldier betrays his violent tendencies; Buzo uses the contrasting language style to portray the psychosis, vulnerabilities, and/or fears of both characters.

In addition, Ahmed's often fawning language masks his underlying violent nature. Like Norm, he is not averse to violence; if Norm is desirous of ridding Australia of immigrants like Ahmed, Ahmed is just as desirous of ridding Australian society of the type of social injustice he has come to abhor. Again, language depicts interesting truths about the characters.

Use of the pause and gesture: Every break in between dialogue demonstrates Ahmed's wariness of Norm. Ahmed is hesitant to trust the loud and brash Australian. There is an undercurrent of animosity implied in their often stilted conversation.

Use of the cigarette lighter: By the time Norm offers Ahmed a cigarette and proceeds to light it for him, we are as suspicious of Norm's seemingly friendly gesture as Ahmed is. Such an artful use of a simple tool as a symbol is extremely powerful, but the lighter is also a foreshadowing tool. Norm's physical attack on Ahmed at the end of the play solidifies our earlier suspicions that the implied violence percolating under the surface of a friendly attitude is all too real. Thus, the shocking ending commands a visceral reaction from the audience; we are not surprised when it happens.

Dress: In some versions of the play, Norm dresses in a suit and tie. Directors contend that this contributes greatly to the sinister nature of Norm's character. Audiences invariably feel the same way when they are reminded of American Pyscho's Patrick Bateman, a psychotic killer, always dressed in impeccable three piece suits.

You might be interested in a description of an Asian performance of Buzo's play.

From this link, we learn that even a well-placed sigh turns an ordinary expression into an interesting statement.

Hope this helps. Thanks for the question.

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