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Pathways into the dark : three windows on Judith Thompson’s Lion In The Streets Lindsay, Kathleen M.


In the plays of Judith Thompson there is a common conflict, that of the animal caged, a metaphor for the battle that ensues between the conscious and the unconscious, between social propriety and animal desire. In Lion In The Streets Thompson explores the relationship of the individual to society. How the individual personality, through socialization in our modern world, becomes tormented and twisted. This thesis offers three separate and distinct frames through which we may decipher the labyrinth of image and thought in Lion, and as I approached the play three main questions drove my investigation. My first interest is in decoding the true conflict of Lion. Although a great deal of violence is perpetrated between characters, this is simply a masking of the true violence which is internalized. Through the application of a Freudian framework the true conflict is identified and we come to a realization of the intense and intimate realtionship existing between the conscious and the unconscious. The second chapter deals with the spine of the play, Isobel’s journey. When reading the script I found Isobel to be the driving force of the plot, yet, in the performance of Lion at Touchstone Theatre in Vancouver, I was bemused by the way Isobel faded from focus as the numerous vignettes drove the plotline. In an attempt to clarify the throughline of the journey, I have incorporated a Jungian model that exposes Isobel’s journey as the internalized journey to self-realization. In the third chapter, the theatrical world of Judith Thompson is discussed. A world of absolute artistic licence, disinterested in the conventions of realism, and based in the free association of image and action. Here we are thrown into a realm of imagination where there is no distinction between the real and the imagined, between life and death, between past and future. And Lion thrives on the internal dialogue of its characters where unconscious thought and feeling is exposed as the characters are stripped of their public skins. In Lion, Thompson has created a dream landscape that leaves its characters hanging perilously on the edge of nightmare.

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