George walker

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"Walker is a down to earth blue-collar playwright with a vibrant, vivid, deliberate style of play writing; there's no dramaturgical chicanery in his work. But there is a rough and ready quality in it that is very refreshing." - Neville-Andrews George Walker is a Canadian playwright who has achieved a sort of underdog-like success. Walker's sharpened sense of comedic irony along with his unique patterns of thought have contributed to his success and his being one of the most widely produced playwrights today. The Art of War , Escape From Happiness, and Zastrozzi, are all very different plays from Walker, having all come from different periods in his career. Despite their differences, there are some underlying commonalities. One of them is language and character honesty, another has to do with power and the search for justice. Also, through the character's journeys, we are usually able to find some sort of empathy.

Walker has a way of setting you in the life of real people through their language and brutal honesty. Every one of the characters in Walkers plays speak in a stream of immediate thought and are all in their own little world of self-denial where they have perfectly valid reasons for the eccentric, oddball things that they do. In Escape From Happiness, we find a uniquely dysfunctional family with every character showing similar, but individual motivations towards something better for themselves or the people around them. This play in particular is surreal in this aspect and in the ways the individuals display their honesty. The three sisters are all strikingly different. Mary Anne is a comically heavy-hearted mother who takes everything the people around her say far too literally. She speaks with the honesty of her character in not understanding her sister Elizabeth's actions. She's abandoned her child yet again because she is at a "crossroads" in her life, which she seems to run into far too often. Gail her sister and also a mother would do anything for her former-thug husband Junior. She is incapable of believing that he could do anything wrong and when he tells her of the trouble he is in with the law she bursts in to uncontrollable laughter, denying his very words of truth. Elizabeth, their sister, is headstrong and independent and is relied upon to solve the family's issues that they create for themselves. Nora, their mother, rationalizes everything for herself resulting in the most forgiving person imaginable. Junior, Gail's husband and Tom's cohort, is weak, always relies on other people, and has a tendency to cry whenever things seem to be amiss. Tom, the 'man upstairs", or the sisters' father, was once a raging alcoholic who tried to burn their house down with the family still in it. He recovered but has taken it upon himself to live as a feeble minded invalid, which is a facade to cover his plans for cleaning up the neighborhood he resides in, as being and invalid is the only way they would ever let him stay in the house. This is his way of repaying the damage he once did to his family. All of them do the things they do with a completely honest perspective and motives, which seem to always result in a bigger mess than what they started with in their efforts for happiness, or their 'escape from happiness.' They always speak directly from their minds revealing their almost one-sided characters.

The Art of War, is very similar in regard to character honesty. Tyrone Power is on a quest to stop his mortal enemy from lying, cheating, and being unjust and unmoral. He's chased him around the country dragging his sidekick Jamie along with him. His honesty towards fighting the evil residing in Hackman and his henchman, Brown, is truly genuine. He lives for the cause, but when it comes right down to preforming he doesn't seem to be able to handle it. The battle must go on. Hackman is truly horrible. He has Brown do his bidding, including murder, but will prevail over Power because of Power's weakness. Hackman is there to conquer. He is absurdly civilized and composed in everything he does while Brown is nearly the opposite, unable to be composed because of his old war wound. They fight with cause, but it has a game-like feeling to it, somewhat like cat and mouse. But they're driven by unnaturally honest causes and for that reason will keep running around in their circles. These characters pursue one another with sincerity for their cause. Power for Hackman's sanctimonious nature and Hackman for the sheer pleasure of a good war. Power is dedicated and speaks freely without censors.

HEATHER- You're going there tomorrow night for dinner! Are you insane.

JAMIE- No, he's on a mission.

POWER- Not me. Hackman's the only one with a mission. And to make it he's got to play a dicey double-edged game. He's got to stay close enough to government circles to be useful to his fascist friends and that means convincing skeptics like me that he really is nothing more no than the insignificant advisor to the insignificant minister of culture. But at the same time he's got to make his moves. This operation doesn't begin or end with setting Mendez free. They're going to make some big insurgent move somewhere. He's afraid of me. Afraid of what I'll write. So he wants to talk cultural policy and convince me. I'll let him. And then maybe he'll think that I'll write something that will convince everybody else. And then he'll make his moves with confidence. And then I'll get him. And I'll get Mendez. And I'll get everything they both stand for. (Page 869, Modern Canadian Drama) In Zastrozzi, the characters have a very raw appeal. They never make an effort to hide the things they feel. They say things without thinking sometimes or say something and then realize the truth in what they just said which they didn't know or realize before.

Verezzi- This is often the case with a visionary.

Julia- So you have visions.

Verrezi- (a revelation) I am a visionary. (Page 26, Zastrozzi) Then they completely pay no attention to what they said moments later. It's like they're thinking out loud. Zastrozzi is in perpetual pursuit of Verezzi. Zastrozzi himself is able to rationalize everything he does and has no regrets, even when he kills his subject and shadow Bernardo. The character honesty displayed in this particular play is far more unrefined than the other plays. Zastrozzi pursues Verezzi endlessly wishing to kill him, but when he finally gets the opportunity he lets him go to hunt him again. Verezzi believes he a messenger of God. He honestly believes and speaks openly about his 'connection' with God and his 'followers.' He also thinks he's and artist, but one month he's a painter, the next a poet and the next a dancer. Quite obviously he's crazy, but honest and he speaks and feels with "... the emotions of a ten year old." The themes of power and the search for justice are two other themes that connect Walker's work. In Escape From Happiness, Elizabeth is on a crusade of sorts against police brutality and the abuse of power by the police. Wrestling her in this mini-war is another woman; Dian the female cop. The entire story around Junior's having drugs in the basement and having his mother-in-law put in jail was all a result of Dian. She had the drugs planted in the basement so that she could strike a deal with Elizabeth so that she would not reveal to the public that police brutality was taking places more than ever in their town. There is an overwhelming theme of power here that is overcome through Elizabeth's justice. Tom and Junior are searching for their own justice. Their neighborhood is crime ridden and their plan is to pose as criminals in scheme to turn gangs ans mobsters against themselves in a game of mistaken identity. They had been successful until the Dian stepped in, causing problems for everyone.

In The Art of War, power is also a predominate theme. Hackman has an unnecessary amount of power which he uses for his illegal acts such as murder. He used to be the Minister of Defense, but was suspected of arms dealing and so to remove these allegations from the spotlight along with himself, he was moved to the Minister of Culture. He now gets away with just as much but is not so much in the public eye. His abuse of power agitates Tyrone Power, the journalist, who intends to bring him down by hunting him down. When he's finally in a good position to stop Hackman, it's as though he freezes and his character is unable to continue; as though the war must continue, so let him go and start all over again. Power would like to think of himself as a sort of private detective to bring evil down from the inside. Here in lies his personal pursuit of justice.

HEATHER- We should have called the police.

POWER- Nah. They'd ruin everything. Besides, vengeance is mine saith the Lord and since the Lord isn't here tonight I'm standing in. Vengeance, therefor, is mine. (Page 882, Modern Canadian Drama) In Zastrozzi, there is not so much the theme of power than justice. For three years Zastrozzi has been pursuing Verezzi, an Italian who once killed Zastrozzi's mother in what we must assume was a blind rage for him killing her sister. The truth is he didn't actually kill Verezzi's sister, but his student Bernardo did.

Zastrozzi- ...Only two things should matter to you. That Verezzi killed my mother in a horrible manner. And that I, her son, have a legitimate claim to vengeance.

Victor- But he has no memory of the crime. He never has had. He must have blocked it out almost immediately.

Zastrozzi- I don't care. I seek revenge. Revenge is a simple matter. ... (Page 40, Zastrozzi) Verezzi is a "lunatic" who doesn't believe that Zastrozzi is hunting him, telling his tutor Victor that Zastrozzi is merely a figment of Victor's imagination. Victor has kept Verezzi out of danger for three years, but Zastrozzi has caught up and they confront one another after both sides confront one another in a series of fights. They kill one another off leaving just Zastrozzi and Verezzi, but Zastrozzi lets him go so he can find him again.

Zastrozzi- You have to hide. I am giving you day and I am coming after you. And do you know why I am coming after you? Verezzi- No.

Zastrozzi- Because it will keep me preoccupied. Now leave. And hide well. I wish to be preoccupied for a long time. (Page 69, Zastrozzi) Again we get the sense of a perpetual game of cat and mouse. Zastrozzi, like Power, will never actually provide justice or take revenge because they're both stuck in hunting mode and they're unable to exact they're justice. While Escape From Happiness there seems to be a completed justice cycle, it will never be so for Zastrozzi or Tyrone Power.

Walker has managed to pin down the average or less than average people in our society and has given them unbelievable circumstance to thrive in. His characters speak without subtext, but rather say what they mean and mean what they say. Every speech and emotion is immediate, there's no room to think everything through or to analyze things to death. Just an immediate stream. They speak with this kind of truth and honesty, which we are not capable of ourselves. The characters in his plays always experience some sort of unbalance in luck. The 'good guys' are always at the end of bad luck while the enemy seems to get away with everything. It is this that calls for justice, which is always sought but not always exacted as planned.

"Walker is a down to earth blue-collar playwright with a vibrant, vivid, deliberate style of play writing; there's no dramaturgical chicanery in his work. But there is a rough and ready quality in it that is very refreshing." - Neville-Andrews George Walker is a Canadian playwright who has achieved a sort of underdog-like success. Walker's sharpened sense of comedic irony along with his unique patterns of thought have contributed to his success and his being one of the most widely produced playwrights today. The Art of War , Escape From Happiness, and Zastrozzi, are all very different plays from Walker, having all come from different periods in his career. Despite their differences, there are some underlying commonalities. One of them is language and character honesty, another has to do with power and the search for justice. Also, through the character's journeys, we are usually able to find some sort of empathy.

Walker has a way of setting you in the life of real people through their language and brutal honesty. Every one of the characters in Walkers plays speak in a stream of immediate thought and are all in their own little world of self-denial where they have perfectly valid reasons for the eccentric, oddball things that they do. In Escape From Happiness, we find a uniquely dysfunctional family with every character showing similar, but individual motivations towards something better for themselves or the people around them. This play in particular is surreal in this aspect and in the ways the individuals display their honesty. The three sisters are all strikingly different. Mary Anne is a comically heavy-hearted mother who takes everything the people around her say far too literally. She speaks with the honesty of her character in not understanding her sister Elizabeth's actions. She's abandoned her child yet again because she is at a "crossroads" in her life, which she seems to run into far too often. Gail her sister and also a mother would do anything for her former-thug husband Junior. She is incapable of believing that he could do anything wrong and when he tells her of the trouble he is in with the law she bursts in to uncontrollable laughter, denying his very words of truth. Elizabeth, their sister, is headstrong and independent and is relied upon to solve the family's issues that they create for themselves. Nora, their mother, rationalizes everything for herself resulting in the most forgiving person imaginable. Junior, Gail's husband and Tom's cohort, is weak, always relies on other people, and has a tendency to cry whenever things seem to be amiss. Tom, the 'man upstairs", or the sisters' father, was once a raging alcoholic who tried to burn their house down with the family still in it. He recovered but has taken it upon himself to live as a feeble minded invalid, which is a facade to cover his plans for cleaning up the neighborhood he resides in, as being and invalid is the only way they would ever let him stay in the house. This is his way of repaying the damage he once did to his family. All of them do the things they do with a completely honest perspective and motives, which seem to always result in a bigger mess than what they started with in their efforts for happiness, or their 'escape from happiness.' They always speak directly from their minds revealing their almost one-sided characters.

The Art of War, is very similar in regard to character honesty. Tyrone Power is on a quest to stop his mortal enemy from lying, cheating, and being unjust and unmoral. He's chased him around the country dragging his sidekick Jamie along with him. His honesty towards fighting the evil residing in Hackman and his henchman, Brown, is truly genuine. He lives for the cause, but when it comes right down to preforming he doesn't seem to be able to handle it. The battle must go on. Hackman is truly horrible. He has Brown do his bidding, including murder, but will prevail over Power because of Power's weakness. Hackman is there to conquer. He is absurdly civilized and composed in everything he does while Brown is nearly the opposite, unable to be composed because of his old war wound. They fight with cause, but it has a game-like feeling to it, somewhat like cat and mouse. But they're driven by unnaturally honest causes and for that reason will keep running around in their circles. These characters pursue one another with sincerity for their cause. Power for Hackman's sanctimonious nature and Hackman for the sheer pleasure of a good war. Power is dedicated and speaks freely without censors.

HEATHER- You're going there tomorrow night for dinner! Are you insane.

JAMIE- No, he's on a mission.

POWER- Not me. Hackman's the only one with a mission. And to make it he's got to play a dicey double-edged game. He's got to stay close enough to government circles to be useful to his fascist friends and that means convincing skeptics like me that he really is nothing more no than the insignificant advisor to the insignificant minister of culture. But at the same time he's got to make his moves. This operation doesn't begin or end with setting Mendez free. They're going to make some big insurgent move somewhere. He's afraid of me. Afraid of what I'll write. So he wants to talk cultural policy and convince me. I'll let him. And then maybe he'll think that I'll write something that will convince everybody else. And then he'll make his moves with confidence. And then I'll get him. And I'll get Mendez. And I'll get everything they both stand for. (Page 869, Modern Canadian Drama) In Zastrozzi, the characters have a very raw appeal. They never make an effort to hide the things they feel. They say things without thinking sometimes or say something and then realize the truth in what they just said which they didn't know or realize before.

Verezzi- This is often the case with a visionary.

Julia- So you have visions.

Verrezi- (a revelation) I am a visionary. (Page 26, Zastrozzi) Then they completely pay no attention to what they said moments later. It's like they're thinking out loud. Zastrozzi is in perpetual pursuit of Verezzi. Zastrozzi himself is able to rationalize everything he does and has no regrets, even when he kills his subject and shadow Bernardo. The character honesty displayed in this particular play is far more unrefined than the other plays. Zastrozzi pursues Verezzi endlessly wishing to kill him, but when he finally gets the opportunity he lets him go to hunt him again. Verezzi believes he a messenger of God. He honestly believes and speaks openly about his 'connection' with God and his 'followers.' He also thinks he's and artist, but one month he's a painter, the next a poet and the next a dancer. Quite obviously he's crazy, but honest and he speaks and feels with "... the emotions of a ten year old." The themes of power and the search for justice are two other themes that connect Walker's work. In Escape From Happiness, Elizabeth is on a crusade of sorts against police brutality and the abuse of power by the police. Wrestling her in this mini-war is another woman; Dian the female cop. The entire story around Junior's having drugs in the basement and having his mother-in-law put in jail was all a result of Dian. She had the drugs planted in the basement so that she could strike a deal with Elizabeth so that she would not reveal to the public that police brutality was taking places more than ever in their town. There is an overwhelming theme of power here that is overcome through Elizabeth's justice. Tom and Junior are searching for their own justice. Their neighborhood is crime ridden and their plan is to pose as criminals in scheme to turn gangs ans mobsters against themselves in a game of mistaken identity. They had been successful until the Dian stepped in, causing problems for everyone.

In The Art of War, power is also a predominate theme. Hackman has an unnecessary amount of power which he uses for his illegal acts such as murder. He used to be the Minister of Defense, but was suspected of arms dealing and so to remove these allegations from the spotlight along with himself, he was moved to the Minister of Culture. He now gets away with just as much but is not so much in the public eye. His abuse of power agitates Tyrone Power, the journalist, who intends to bring him down by hunting him down. When he's finally in a good position to stop Hackman, it's as though he freezes and his character is unable to continue; as though the war must continue, so let him go and start all over again. Power would like to think of himself as a sort of private detective to bring evil down from the inside. Here in lies his personal pursuit of justice.

HEATHER- We should have called the police.

POWER- Nah. They'd ruin everything. Besides, vengeance is mine saith the Lord and since the Lord isn't here tonight I'm standing in. Vengeance, therefor, is mine. (Page 882, Modern Canadian Drama) In Zastrozzi, there is not so much the theme of power than justice. For three years Zastrozzi has been pursuing Verezzi, an Italian who once killed Zastrozzi's mother in what we must assume was a blind rage for him killing her sister. The truth is he didn't actually kill Verezzi's sister, but his student Bernardo did.

Zastrozzi- ...Only two things should matter to you. That Verezzi killed my mother in a horrible manner. And that I, her son, have a legitimate claim to vengeance.

Victor- But he has no memory of the crime. He never has had. He must have blocked it out almost immediately.

Zastrozzi- I don't care. I seek revenge. Revenge is a simple matter. ... (Page 40, Zastrozzi) Verezzi is a "lunatic" who doesn't believe that Zastrozzi is hunting him, telling his tutor Victor that Zastrozzi is merely a figment of Victor's imagination. Victor has kept Verezzi out of danger for three years, but Zastrozzi has caught up and they confront one another after both sides confront one another in a series of fights. They kill one another off leaving just Zastrozzi and Verezzi, but Zastrozzi lets him go so he can find him again.

Zastrozzi- You have to hide. I am giving you day and I am coming after you. And do you know why I am coming after you? Verezzi- No.

Zastrozzi- Because it will keep me preoccupied. Now leave. And hide well. I wish to be preoccupied for a long time. (Page 69, Zastrozzi) Again we get the sense of a perpetual game of cat and mouse. Zastrozzi, like Power, will never actually provide justice or take revenge because they're both stuck in hunting mode and they're unable to exact they're justice. While Escape From Happiness there seems to be a completed justice cycle, it will never be so for Zastrozzi or Tyrone Power.

Walker has managed to pin down the average or less than average people in our society and has given them unbelievable circumstance to thrive in. His characters speak without subtext, but rather say what they mean and mean what they say. Every speech and emotion is immediate, there's no room to think everything through or to analyze things to death. Just an immediate stream. They speak with this kind of truth and honesty, which we are not capable of ourselves. The characters in his plays always experience some sort of unbalance in luck. The 'good guys' are always at the end of bad luck while the enemy seems to get away with everything. It is this that calls for justice, which is always sought but not always exacted as planned.