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January 6, 2018 | Author: Anonymous | Category: Arts & Humanities, Performing Arts, Theatre
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An Inspector Calls by J B Priestley

Social and Historical Context In your coursework you will be required to refer to the background to this play and to Priestley himself. Make notes as the PowerPoint progresses…..

J B Priestley

Biography    

Born 13th September 1894 died 14th August 1984. Mother died in they year he was born. Left school at 16 ‘to write’ and began work in 1910 as a junior clerk at a wool firm. Priestley stated that it was the period 1911-1914 that ‘set their stamp upon me’ (the time before the first world war).

Biography 

Priestley surrounded himself with ‘people who read a great deal, cared a lot for the arts and preferred real talk and hot argument to social chit chat’. He found himself having political discussions with his father’s socialist friends.

Capitalism 

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Capitalism is an economic system where things are owned by people or an individual and where people have to work for money People may sell or lend their property, and other people may buy or borrow them. If one person wants to buy, and another person wants to sell to them, they do not need to get permission from higher power It has the view that if you work hard you will be rewarded Everyone should pay their own tax The poor should work harder to earn more Traditionally represented through the conservative party (Churchill)

Socialist principles 

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In theory, this system results in the divide between classes getting smaller, with the poorest of a nation's people getting better taken care of while the richest make sacrifices in terms of higher taxes and regulation of business Where people work together to gain a fair standard of living Traditional views of the labour party The views of Priestly, Bernard Shaw & H G Wells The view of living together and looking out for each other Thinks people should share their wealth Equal access to resources for all An extreme of this would be where an authority enforces sharing of wealth and does not allow people to own thing is communism (not to be confused with it)

Back to Priestley…   

World war one broke out in 1914. Priestley joined the infantry at age 20. He left the army in 1919 after seeing active front line service in France. He narrowly escaped being killed when a German shell exploded near him and was the victim of a gas attack. His experiences in the war affected his writing; “I was lucky in that war and never ceased to be aware of the fact.”

After the war… 

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Priestley took a degree in Modern History and Political Science at Cambridge University. In 1921 he completed his degree, married and left for London with his wife. He began his writing career with essays and achieved success with novels and plays

His work 

With the outbreak of WW2 in 1939, Priestley continued writing and worked for BBC radio. However, his programmes were cancelled by the British Government for being too critical of their actions in the war. The play, An Inspector Calls was written in 1945.

An Inspector Calls 

Was set in 1912 (before WW1) and first performed in London in 1946.

A thriller, An Inspector Calls has been running in theatres ever since….

The Theatre  

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Before WW2 theatres were very popular. Since the introduction of cinemas, theatres had been competing with musicals with lavish sets, costumes and budgets. With the coming of WW2, theatres opened and closed erratically due to air raids. Performances were relocated to the North or the Midlands. By 1944 the Old Vic Theatre Company had returned to London and the play was first staged in 1946.

The Play itself…..

Starter Task Look at the following book covers and posters for J. B. Priestley’s An Inspector Calls. Use them to make predictions about:  setting – both in time and place;  plot – what happens;  characters;  themes;  any other ideas.

The Play itself… 

A straightforward detective thriller……....or is it?

First impressions of characters 

Using the stage directions at the beginning of the play, along with the opening of the play, create a table of first impressions of the Birling family and Gerald.

Quiz Time! 1. The play was written in: 1946 1912 1945 2. The play is set in: 1946 1912 1945

3. How many acts are there in the play?  One  Two  Three 4. The action of the play takes place in:  a living room  a dining room  a bedroom

5. The first British performance of the play was in:  1946  1912  1945

7. The play is set in the fictional, industrial city of: Brumley Bradford Birmingham 8. The Birlings’ house is described as being: in the city centre in the suburbs close to Mr. Birling’s factory Explain what this suggests about the wealth and status of the Birlings. 9. Mr. Birling is described as being ‘a prosperous manufacturer’. This means that Mr. Birling: is good at making things is a successful and wealthy factory owner is very wealthy

10. What type of furniture adorns the room? 11. What kind of mood did Priestley want this furniture to create? 12. Priestley specifies instructions with regard to lighting. How is it meant to be before the arrival of the Inspector? 13. How is it meant to change after the arrival of the Inspector? What does this type of lighting remind you of? 14. Make a list of props that hint at the upper middle class status of the Birlings. 15. Which phrase in these opening stage directions creates a sense of foreboding?

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