Composers use distinctly visual techniques in their texts to display the hardships and emotions experienced by their characters and to remind the audience of the historical context. John Misto, playwright of ‘The Shoe-horn Sonata’ used distinctively visual techniques to highlight the past experiences of World War II veterans, Bridie and Sheila. Misto uses his characters to explore the untold stories of thousands of women imprisoned by the Japanese soldiers in southeast Asia. Similarly, ‘Strange fruit” a poem originally by Lewis Allen acts as a reflection of a chapter in American history where inequality existed in society. ‘strange fruit’ is about the cruel and unusual punishment that African Americans faced solely due to the colour of their skin. Lewis Allen uses his poem to push for a change in humanity. Both texts offers distinctive and provocative images that share perspectives on the darker side of humanity.
Mistos ‘Shoe Horn Sonata’ uses distinctively visual features to offer perspectives on such important human experiences as the resilience and courage of individuals against great adversity. The most important image is of the women; Bridie and Sheila are consistently on stage and their visual presence forces the audience to focus in the two war veterans and their experiences. The use on the ‘On-Air’ sign reminds the audience that it is a set of a documentary, and is raw and indicates what was private will now be public. Bridie’s words are composed of distinctive images as she recreates some of her wartime experiences: “Singapore’s lights were fully ablaze when the Japanese bombers came…” the ferry’s sinking “like a wounded animal. Spilling oil instead of blood” is a powerful simile that Misto has constructed to convey the violence of war and to indicate to the responder of all the lives lost in the war. He reinforces this through the projected photographs throughout the entire play. The 1940’s posters of the Women’s’ Army and the Australian Army Nurses arriving in Singapore “looking excited and quite happy” acts as an ironic and poignant contrast to Bridies perception. The deprivation of the female and children prisoners of war is juxtaposed through the slides, displaying “children stick-thin, obviously starving, dressed in rags, filthy”. Bridie and Sheila emotionally recreate their experience and provide an insightful perspective on man’s inhumanity to man, whilst showing their resilience and courage. Misto uses the powerful female characters to show how brave and empowering the prisoners of war were.
There are many similarities to the Shoe-horn Sonata in the way Lewis Allen has offered his perspectives on our world. Allen wrote the poem “Strange Fruit” in response to a picture he saw of the lynching of two African American men. His p...