The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886)

On 11th March 2019, I witnessed the eye-opening phenomenon of Big Brum’s theatrical production of Jekyll and Hyde, an adaptation of the original novel: Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886) by Robert Stevenson. This dramatized adaptation of the book portrays a representation of a dream that Stevenson experienced which led to the writing of the novel (Stevenson, 2003: 218).

Jekyll and Hyde is an allegory based on the protagonist Dr. Henry Jekyll who exploits the formulation of an extremely dangerous potion, predominantly focusing on the power of evil and addiction. This inner evil is presented through the character of Mr. Hyde who is unleashed from Dr. Jekyll when he drinks the potion. Stevenson demonstrates a distinctive difference between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde through their unique characteristics. Dr. Jekyll is known as a good, respected, well-educated and reputable gentleman. Whereas, Mr. Hyde is identified as an evil, murderous, and compelling creature who appears unidentified at night; all covered up and hunched over. Stevenson emphasises on the key concept of addiction through Mr. Hyde who exploits the formula of being able to develop split personalities.

Jekyll and Hyde is not the only written story to explore the ideology of split personalities. In 2016, the film Split was released, a psychological thriller, that analyses the mental disorder: Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). DID is a rare disorder, commonly known as multiple personality disorder, in which ‘two or more distinct identities, or personality traits are present […] and take control of an individual’ (Psychology Today, 2019). In Split, the key concept of identity is excessively portrayed through a total of 23 personalities, primarily as a representation of what the victim of DID would experience. However, there is one personality yet to be exposed, who is the most dominant of all, known as ‘The Beast’ who portrays similar characteristics as Mr. Hyde.

Although, the representation of DID within Split caused a lot of criticism about the stigmatization of mental disorders, the theory behind it was to demonstrate an awareness for educational purposes. On the contrary, the creation of Mr. Hyde is not because of a mental disorder, but instead because of a failed scientific experiment. Personally, when Dr. Jekyll interferes with human nature, he is playing with God by creating a supernatural persona. This is completely unethical as Mr. Hyde has been designed similarly to the mental disorder DID, which is considered serious to individuals who have been diagnosed.

Foundational to this, Jekyll and Hyde is a realistic adaptation of Mary Shelley’s (1818) original novel, Frankenstein. Frankenstein was developed based on the story by Victor Frankenstein; a scientist who creates a monstrous, intelligent creature in an unorthodox experiment. Similar to Stevenson, the story of Frankenstein derived from a dream that Shelley experienced (Write a Writing, 2010). Although, Stevenson’s monster (Mr. Hyde) is not constructed in the same way as Frankenstein, it still materializes itself into the dark evil side of Dr. Jekyll’s personality. Both of these monsters (Mr. Hyde and Frankenstein) are extremely dangerous who oppress innocent individuals within society.

Jekyll and Hyde is a prime example of negative behaviour which could have contributed to the societal implications that individuals experience today. In my opinion, the production of Jekyll and Hyde raised awareness about the world, primarily because of the violence and crimes which are taking place daily. Although, many individuals have different beliefs and morals, I think it is important that individuals are not exposed to these dangerous ‘evil’ characters, as it can influence or inspire them to take on that persona. I think the more violence, the more crimes, and the more serial killers’ that individuals are exposed to, the more it can indoctrinate their minds into thinking that is who they want to become. In the last decade, there have been many cases of attacks, riots, bombings, and even hijackings which has resulted in the deaths of innocents. Crucial to this, it is important to consider that even if these texts appear to be fiction or dreams, there is always the potential for an individual to transform that story into reality; perhaps one that influenced Jack the Ripper two years after Jekyll and Hyde.

According to Curtis (2001), ‘the 1888 mutilation murders attributed to Jack the Ripper’ (Curtis, 2001) who remains as one of the most infamous unidentified serial killers. It has been clarified that Jack the Ripper’s targets were the lower-class women who were loitering the streets at night, specifically the prostitutes (Jack the Ripper Tour, 2012). Curtis suggests that Stevenson’s novel ‘can be read as an extended metaphor for a deeply divided city’ (Curtis, 2001: 35). In my opinion, there is an unequivocal connection between Mr. Hyde and Jack the Ripper, primarily because of the actions and behaviours they both displayed. Curtis believes that ‘serial killers are not real human beings who resemble us’ (Curtis, 2001: 8) which is ultimately a representation of ‘evil’ and the monster within. Admittedly, during Jekyll and Hyde, I was convinced that Mr. Hyde was a representation of Jack the Ripper because of the similarity of their names and mannerisms. The reason for this is that ‘Jekyll’ is similar to Jack and ‘Hyde’ is relatable in terms of hide and seek, considering Jack the Ripper was supposedly never seen or known.

The story of Jekyll and Hyde is one that has had a lot of speculation regarding its true meaning, yet I cannot justify the affects it has had on individuals within society. There are many true and fiction stories that portray a similar representation which have influenced individuals to replicate them. The key concept within Jekyll and Hyde is addiction which articulates the importance of being able to recognise the point of no return. Addiction can be identified as anything, but when the actions made are irreversible then the true consequences begin to evolve. Big Brum believes that Jekyll and Hyde provides questions for individuals to ‘make meaning of their lives and the world around them’, predominantly focusing on the power of theatre, dramatic action and to challenge new ways of thinking (Big Brum, 2019).

What does this tell us about the duality of man?

 

Words: 1024

Reference List:

Big Brum (2019) Big Brum: Theatre in Education. Available at: https://www.bigbrum.org.uk/ [Accessed 17 March 2019].

Curtis, P. L. (2001) Jack the Ripper and the London Press. London: Yale University Press.

Jack the Ripper Tour (2012) Police and Prostitution. Available at: https://www.jack-the-ripper-tour.com/generalnews/police-and-prostitution/ [Accessed 17 March 2019].

Psychology Today (2019) Dissociative Identity Disorder (Multiple Personality Disorder). Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/conditions/dissociative-identity-disorder-multiple-personality-disorder [Accessed 17 March 2019].

Stevenson, L. R. (2003) Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Write a Writing (2010) Why did Mary Shelley write Frankenstein? Available at: http://www.writeawriting.com/write/mary-shelley-write-frankenstein/ [Accessed 17 March 2019].

Advertisements

Slava’s Snowshow: The Best, Yet Worst Production I Have Ever Seen.

After all these years, I am still confused…

In March 2011, I went to The Mayflower Theatre, in Southampton to watch the theatrical production of Slava’s Snowshow, performed by Slava Polunin himself. The running time of the show is approximately an hour and forty-five minutes and is recommended for ages of eight and above (Mayflower Theatre, 2017). Personally, I think that watching this production at the age of thirteen I was too young, primarily because of the idea of not having a spoken narrative and not being able to understand or relate to Polunin’s childhood memories.

Polunin is a Russian performance artist and clown who was highly influenced by the English comedic actor and filmmaker Charlie Chaplin (Slava Snowshow, 2019). Polunin describes his own work as being a ‘silent storyteller’ (Slava Snowshow, 2019). In Slava’s Snowshow, Polunin rein-acts his childhood memories by using the drama technique clowning to assist with the story-telling of his childhood memories.

There are three to seven old-looking clowns, dressed in yellow and green over-sized costumes, large shoes, big red noses, and dramatic eye make-up. The show highlights the key moments of a lost clown as he lives his everyday life. It is performed in a series of sketches, some are funny, some are complex, and some are very absurd. As part of the audience, you are required to let your imagination go wild, you need to follow their every move to get a general understanding of the memories they are re-telling.

The production of Slava Snowshow was incredibly mesmerising, yet one of the most complex performances I have ever seen. However, I did not enjoy the production as I found it difficult to interpret the gestures and movements. The best part of the performance was the ending because of the incredible snowstorm, or blizzard as it was called. It only falls for a little bit, but it is a fantastic phenomenon to witness, especially in a theatre. As well as that, there were giant balloons and bubbles which came from nowhere; it was like magic. This encouraged the audience to be a part of the show, by breaking the fourth wall, as the audience were hitting and passing them around. Both moments demonstrated a clear representation of childhood memories as you could see the excitement in the audience’s faces when they were able to take part and play with the props that were falling from the sky; it was like experiencing your first ever snow day. Polunin claims that ‘Snowshow is just an excuse to celebrate life in a foolish way’ (Slava Snowshow, 2019).

Polunin explains that the ideology behind the Snowshow was to ‘create a show that would take us back to our childhood dreams’ (Slava Snowshow, 2019). It was inevitable that not the whole audience would experience the same childhood background, and therefore not everyone would be able to relate to the experiences. Slava Snowshow was a wonderful production visually, but I found myself disappointed because I could not re-tell the story as I could not follow it. I understand why it would be targeted at children, but as a child myself I found it incredibly complex which is why I think that perhaps the target audience should be reconsidered.

Words: 537

Reference List:

Mayflower Theatre (2017) Slava’s Snowshow. Available at: https://www.mayflower.org.uk/whats-on/slavas-snowshow-2017/ [Accessed 26 February 2019].

Roy Export S.A.S (2018) Charlie Chaplin: Overview of his life. Available at: https://www.charliechaplin.com/en/articles/21-Overview-of-His-Life [Accessed 26 February 2019].

Slava’s Snowshow (2019) Slava’s Snowshow. Available at: https://slavasnowshow.com/en/about-the-show/ [Accessed 26 February 2019].

College Production: Animal Farm (2016)

The best piece of Art I have ever been involved in, was a college production of Peter Hall’s (1985) dramatized adaptation of Animal Farm by George Orwell (1945). This adaptation of the book portrays a representation of the truth which outlines the events of the early twentieth century. Although, there appears to be some changes in the text such as, minor characters being omitted, and scenes being compressed; the overall plot remains the same (Hall, 1985: xii-xiii).

Animal Farm is an allegory based on the events leading up to The Russian Revolution (1917) which demolished the Tsarist autocracy and led to the rise of the Soviet Union (Hall, 1985: viii-ix). Orwell emphasises on Marx and Engels concepts of a capitalist to a communist which influenced the demand for political freedom; to revolutionise society (Hall, 1985: v-xiii).

An example of capitalism is demonstrated by Mr. Jones (the owner of Manor Farm) who represents Tsar Nicholas II. The animals on the farm are a representation of the liberal revolutionaries (the workers) who suppress Mr. Jones because he abuses the animals for personal gain (Hall, 1985: viii-ix). Orwell highlights the importance of communism, known as animalism, in which the animal’s rebel against the humans and no longer work for them. Foundational to this, all the animals and humans are a representation of the lives who were affected by The Russian Revolution, including Lenin, Stalin, Trotsky, and Molotov (Hall, 1985: viii-xi).

af af2

I was cast as one of the leading roles, Squealer, who is known for his deceptive, manipulative and convincing manner. Squealer is a representation of Molotov; the one responsible for Snowball’s (Trotsky) death and a central figure in the Soviet government (Kohan and Traver, 1986: 48). I took on the role of Squealer as being stuck up, sly and mischievous, primarily because Squealer had power over the other farm animals. This is evident when Squealer admits that ‘leadership is a pleasure’ (Hall, 1985: 31) and that the pigs should ‘direct the work and give the orders’ (Hall, 1985: 14). Squealer uses the animals lack of intelligence, and inability to recall sudden events to exploit them through his manipulation.

The costume, hair and make-up were excessively messy with the use of paint and mud which reflected how the animals were treated and the conditions they lived in whilst governed by Mr. Jones. Initially, the idea was to create animal costumes, yet, it was crucial that the audience were encouraged to think about the idea of talking animals, who visually were played by humans. Personally, Orwell intended for this to happen to enlighten the audience about the representation of these farm animals and how important re-telling this story has become, especially to those living in a capitalist society.

The story of Animal Farm represents a great deal of importance, not only because of the events that took place in 1917, but rather the concepts and themes which are still relevant today. Although most countries, including the United Kingdom are capitalist, there are a very few countries who consider themselves as communist, such as China, Cuba, Laos, North Korea, and Vietnam (ThoughtCo., 2018). It has been shown that the principles of capitalism and communism articulated by Marx and Engels in the 1800’s has played an enormous part on society from the nineteenth century to the twenty-first century, and for many centuries ahead; as there is the potential for another revolution!

Words: 564

Reference List:

Hall, P. (1985) The Play of George Orwell’s Animal Farm. London: Heinemann Educational.

Kohan, J. and Traver, N. (1986) Soviet Union Present at The Creation Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov: 1890-1986. 128, (21) 48. Available at: http://web.a.ebscohost.com.winchester.idm.oclc.org/ehost/detail/detail?vid=5&sid=8f9bb073-bbb5-47a7-b633-d3c417424265%40sdc-v-sessmgr02&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#AN=57889859&db=a9h [Accessed 22 February 2019].

Rosenberg, M. (2018) A List of Current Communist Countries in the world. Available at: https://www.thoughtco.com/communist-countries-overview-1435178 [Accessed 22 February 2019].

 

 

 

 

 

YouTube Video: [ASMR] Dark & Relaxing Tapping & Scratching [Close Whispers] (2018)

Have you ever felt the hairs on your arm stand up when someone whispered in your ear? Or that tingling sensation on your scalp and upper body when receiving a massage or head rub? Well then, you could potentially have experienced the effects of ASMR. ASMR is an acronym standing for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response which is a pleasant reaction to a certain stimulus, known commonly as a tingling sensation in the scalp and down the back of the neck (Gibi ASMR, 2018a).

Gibi ASMR is a YouTuber with over one million subscribers who creates a range of ASMR content, including recommended triggers, roleplays, and make-up tutorials which are designed for a worldwide audience (Gibi ASMR, 2018a). Gibi disputes that the most triggered sounds are whispering, finger fluttering, tapping, scratching, and soft rubbing. Gibi experiments with a few of her favourite objects, such as a piece of Cork and an iPhone; all of which have worked on myself.

In my opinion, ASMR videos have therapeutic benefits for mental and physical health which can enhance one self’s positive state of mind. I benefited extremely from watching this ASMR video, as it is relaxing, calming, and helped me unwind from a stressful day. Alongside those benefits, ASMR is created with an intention to help you fall asleep or to enhance your work and/or study time; by listening to a soothing sound to put you in a hypnotic state. Foundational to this, the concept of ASMR is intentionally created to make you feel good.

Words: 251

Reference List:

Gibi ASMR (2018a) What The H*ck is ASMR!?. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFqbWwKg_o4 [Accessed 11 February 2019].

Gibi ASMR (2018b) [ASMR] Dark & Relaxing Tapping & Scratching [Close Whispers]. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FidhD-izZnk [Accessed 11 February 2019].

 

TV Series: Friends (1994)

Friends is a sitcom, comprised of six young adults, who experience the complexity of life to an excessive degree. Monica is a head chef. Rachel begins her career as a waitress. Chandler works with computers and numbers. Joey is an aspiring actor. Ross is a palaeontologist and Phoebe is a private masseuse and singer/songwriter. Although the storylines to some extent resemble moments of reality, the characters personalities and occupations are highly relatable which creates a family-like friendship group that is desired by many of its viewers.

Friends explore contemporary issues such as, sexism, ageism and homophobia which were problematic in society, during the 90’s. An example of sexism is significantly recognised in ‘The One with the Male Nanny’ when Ross claims to be “uncomfortable” (Favourite Videos, 2016) with the idea of hiring a male nanny. Ross believes that “it’s weird” followed by “what kind of job is that for a man? A nanny” (Favourite Videos, 2016). This scene does not promote sexism, instead, it demonstrates how Ross overcomes his prejudices by becoming aware of his own beliefs and judgements. Although these issues are frowned upon, it is important to recognise that even in the 21st century individuals will show signs of prejudices, especially of different cultures and lifestyles.

Nevertheless, Friends heightens the importance of friendship through the opening song lyrics “I’ll be there for you, cause you’re there for me too”, despite all the regrets, lies and conflicts; they forgive one another because their friendship is more important.

Words: 248

 

Reference List:

Favourite Videos (2016) Friends – The Male Nanny, Part 1. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_zVZ_Ox9jc [Accessed 31 January 2019].