Cosi

Exam revision - things to remember
STUDY
PLAY
List the themes and contexts in Cosi

CLUE: M.M.P.I.L.W
• Mental illness/madness/sanity & insanity
• Mental health system / treatment
• Power of music (and/or art)
• Illusion & Reality
• Love & fidelity
• War
List the literary devices and techniques in Cosi
• Meta-fiction
• Reflexivity
• Black comedy
List the motifs and key imagery in Cosi
• Light and dark
• Fire and water
List the wider implications of Cosi's subject matter you must refer to in your response
• Mental health act of 1986
• Vietnam War 1961 - 1975
• The Swingin' 60's (sexual revolution, peace era)
List key points about the theme of mental illness/sanity and insanity in Cosi
• No characters condition is ever named > in order to avoid pigeonholing
• Sanity is purely the "accepted norm" of the current society and is thus ever changing
Some key quotes to go with the theme of mental illness/sanity and insanity in Cosi?
• I knew she had gone mad but she was still my Grandma
• They're mad...it's madness
• Roy "looks at Lewis as if he's mad"
List key points about the theme of love and fidelity in Cosi
• Nowra highlights how silly it is to try and disregard something as inherently human as love
• Although at certain times urgent issues must be prioritized over love, it is still wrong to try and make love less important
• There are different kinds of love and none is more important than another
Some key quotes to go with the theme of love and fidelity in Cosi?
• Love is an emotional indulgence for the privileged few
• After bread, shelter, equality, health, procreation, money comes maybe love
• It's about important things - like love and fidelity
List key points about the theme of war in Cosi
• Madness of war vs. the kind of madness that confines someone to an asylum
• Juxtaposition of the backdrops of war in both Cosi Fan Tutte
• The Vietnam war was IDEOLOGICAL and deemed madness by the peace movement (because it was unwinnable)
• Madness of war is symbolic of the madness of the patients
Some key quotes to go with the theme of war in Cosi?
• Lewis calls the Vietnam war "meaningless"
List key points about the themes of illusion and reality in Cosi?
• Highlights the synergy between art and reality
• What is real for the playwright or author is not always the reality for the actors or the director or the audience
• Degrees of separation between people - thus experiences determine our interpretations/realities
• there is the world of the play - the internal world of the characters - the world of the asylum - the outside world
• Illusion or disillusionment with reality is not confined to the asylum - Nick has delusions of grandeur (not unlike Roy) in regard to the impact of his moratorium march
Some key quotes to go with the themes of illusion and reality in Cosi?
• I can live with illusion so long as I know it's illusion
• The more real it is, the more real it is
• An illusion of reality, a real illusion in other words?
• I can't stand real things. I fI could put up with reality I wouldn't be in here.
List key points about the representation of mental health system and its treatments in Cosi
• Nowra claims the health system of the 1970's was ineffective to the point of being detrimental
• Rather than support band-aid solutions like medication, Nowra supports more holistic treatments (ie creative arts therapy)
• Justin's character represents the whole mental health system
Some key quotes about the representation of the mental health system in Cosi?
• Far from helping Lewis, it totally confuses him
• Drug fog of Zac's brain
• Will outsiders see the show?
• You should never have got him to do that shock treatment, he's depressed now
• Don't blame me, blame my mother
List key points about the representation of music and art's power in Cosi
• The play endorses expressive therapy/creative arts therapy, in particular musical therapy
• Music is now a recognised mode of treatment for mental health issues
• The Australian Music Therapy Association was formed in 1975
List some quotes about music and art and their power in Cosi?
• A world without music is a world hardly worth living in
• Theatre makes Roy "enthusiastic"
• Music is what love between humans should be

• Zac is energised and motivated my music, for him it is the best kind of therapy. Direct contrast to his usual comatose state induced by the drug therapy the institution has prescribed him
List the ways in which meta fiction is used in Cosi
• Play-within-a-play
• Highlights the parallels between the themes in Mozart's opera, and those in Nowra's play
• Reinforces key statements
• Both opera and play have the backdrop of war
• Both opera and play revolve around ideas of loyalty, fidelity and betrayal
• 1790's and 1970's - REINFORCING THE IMPORTANCE, GLOBALISATION AND LONGEVITY OF KEY ISSUES (they are ingrained in life)
List the ways in which reflexivity is used in Cosi
• Lewis breaks the fourth wall in the epilogue
• Reinforces/strengthens the audience's connection with the play
• Messages resonate more deeply as a result (they feel more involved, having been directly addressed)
List some examples of reflexivity in Cosi
• Lewis's monologue at the end of the play
• "Do you think [the audience] will get the idea that the toy soldiers symbolise real soldiers?"
• Mozart is about love, not madness
List how Cosi uses the genre of Black Comedy for its purposes
• Audience encouraged to laugh at things not normally considered humourous
• Comedy helps audience interact with the play
• AVOIDS INVOKING PATHOS
• Nowra acknowledges that he "uses[s] humour to move the play along and to reflect critically on what is often a tragedy of human suffering"
• "Go burn a cat"
• When Julie is retelling a grim story of her drug addiction in a humorous way
List ways the motif of fire is used in Cosi?
• Fire imagery dominates act I
• Fire associated with the theatre > representing theatre itself can be destructive or confronting > ie challenging values and this is what Cosi itself aims to do

"Burnt-out theatre"
List ways the motif of water is used in Cosi?
• When Doug is removed, fire imagery is replaced with water imagery in Act II
• Rain is cleansing - it is constantly dripping through the theatre roof
• Rain itself is symbolically regenerative: enables growth
List the ways the motif of light is used in Cosi?
• Light represents clarity and hope
• The opening stage direction has Lewis bringing light into a pitch black theatre
• Too much light can be blinding - ie Zac's overwhelming vision and "seeing the light at the end of the tunnel" symbolising death
List the ways the motif of dark is used in Cosi?
• Represents the unknown, mystery, ignorance and danger
• Chaos and confusion erupt when the lights go out
• However, darkness can be liberating ie. when Julie and Lewis kiss passionately.
• Dark can be comforting, safe, allowing things to occur that could not occur in daylight
List quotes about light and dark in Cosi?
• Time to turn out the lights - Lewis's final statement
• It is day outside but pitch black [inside the asylum]
• Fumble in the darkness
What year was the important document "The Mental Health Act" made?
1986
What was the mental health act of 1986?
The mental health act provides that interference with the rights, privacy, dignity and self-respect of people with mental illness must be kept to the minimum necessary in the circumstances
In what years did the Vietnam war occur?
1961 - 1975
How is the backdrop of the Vietnam War relevant to Cosi?
• Important backdrop for dynamics in institution
• Allows "madness" of this particular war to be juxtaposed with the "madness" of the patients
• Used as a device to highlight the separation between the patients in the institution and the outside world - they didn't even know a war was occuring
Why is the backdrop of Swingin 60's relevant to Cosi?
• It was a time of rapid, rampant social change
• Make love not war
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