An Inspector Calls: Staging and Themes

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10 Questions

What is the significance of Arthur Birling's seating position at the table?

He is seated at the head of the table to reflect his sense of self-importance

What can be inferred about Eric's character from his seating position?

He is hiding something from his parents

What is the significance of the props used in Act Three?

They indicate the family's wealth and social status

What is the significance of Edna's actions in clearing the table?

She is highlighting the family's wealth and luxury

What is the significance of the costumes used in the play?

They indicate the characters' social status and wealth

What is the primary purpose of the stage directions in An Inspector Calls?

To highlight the themes and social class of the characters

What is the significance of the phrase 'if a realistic set is used' in the stage directions?

It suggests that the set can be creative and non-realistic

What does the description of the Birling's house reveal about their family?

They are not a truly happy family despite their prosperity

What is the effect of the play's real-time setting?

It creates a sense of urgency and tension

What is the significance of the contrast between the Birlings' house and Eva Smith's circumstances?

It emphasizes the social and economic disparities between the characters

Study Notes

An Inspector Calls: Staging Choices

  • Priestley provides clear instructions for staging in An Inspector Calls, with a focus on simplicity: the play takes place in real-time and in one location.

Setting and Props

  • The play is set in the dining room of a prosperous manufacturer's house, with solid, period-specific furniture that exudes comfort but lacks coziness, hinting at the Birlings' superficial façade.
  • Props mentioned in the stage directions, such as champagne glasses, port, and cigars, highlight the family's wealth and luxury.

Staging Instructions

  • Priestley allows for creative freedom in staging, with the option to use realistic or non-realistic sets, enabling different productions to add unique atmospheres to the play.
  • Specific instructions for Act 3 include a small table with a telephone, emphasizing the importance of props at specific points in the play.

Character Placement and Costumes

  • The seating arrangement at the dinner table reflects character traits: Arthur's position at the head of the table signifies his self-importance, while his distance from his wife implies emotional distance.
  • Eric's placement downstage, apart from the rest of the family, hints at his secrecy and potential guilt.
  • The Birlings' evening dresses, including the men's tails and white ties, demonstrate their wealth and social status.

Explore the staging choices in J.B. Priestley's play An Inspector Calls, including the use of real-time and a single location. Analyze the role of props in highlighting themes.

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