In "Tape" by Jose Rivera, what events mark the major elements of the play's structure?  

1 Answer | Add Yours

booboosmoosh's profile pic

booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Jose Rivera's play, "Tape," only has one scene: it is a short, two-man play. The story's premise is that a man, "The Person," is meeting "The Attendant" and becoming acclimated to his new surroundings. The conversation is casual until the audience realizes that the Person is actually dead. In fact the structure of the play is based upon the death of the Person, the foreshadowing of what is to come, and the detailed elements of his "punishment."

Foreshadowing is:

Suggesting, hinting, indicating, or showing what will occur later in a narrative...

We do not, as the audience, know where the Person is, but it is either purgatory or hell. There is suffering in this place, which means it is not heaven. This an example of foreshadowing because we are told that there is suffering (though we don't know what it refers to) as the Attendant tells the Person:

We don't want to cause you any undue suffering.

"Undue" means unwarranted, so the Attendant is implying that there is suffering, but that they don't want to administer more than is deserved.

The most horrifying event, seemingly "hellish" in its presentation by the Attendant, is the fact that the Person will be spending a very, very long time listening to all the lies he has ever told in his life.

We know this will take an extremely long time because there are ten thousand boxes, of reel-to-reel tapes of his lies, and that the machine they will be using does NOT have a fast-foward button.

Listening, word by word, to every lie you ever told while you were alive…Every ugly lie to every person, every single time, every betrayal, every lying thought, every time you lied to yourself, deep in your mind, we were listening, we were recording, and it's all in these tapes, ten thousand boxes of them, in your own words, one lie after the next, over and over until we're finished.

It is this description that so powerfully outlines the "suffering" that lies ahead of the Person. Strangely, while the Attendant is extremely cordial and eager to please at the beginning of the play, he pulls absolutely NO punches when he lays everything out in front of the Person, so that man knows not just that there is a record of all he has done, but worse, that he will have to listen to it—relive it, all over again.

These are the events that mark the major elements in the play's structure.

 

Additional Source:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/José_Rivera_(playwright)

We’ve answered 318,961 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question