Stolen is a non-linear play that is a series of short vignettes. The episodic scenes move between the past, present and the future as the characters shift between their adult and child selves. It was written like this so that the style could be kept direct and simple as well as it lacking any clear plot structure, this meant that rather than plot progression or character development driving the play forward, it relied on themes that link the episodes together. The disjointed structure also reflects, not only the characters experiences but the whole indigenous population’s experiences with the Stolen Generation. However the breaking up of the structure of the play also has an alienating effect on the audience. It prevents them from feeling as though they can relax and settle into the play’s story but instead it forces them to remain alert. It also means that, unlike in traditional naturalistic plays, the audience doesn’t get as much of an emotional and sentimental connection with individual characters but rather the themes and experiences that they represent. It means that the audience is left thinking about the play, both while watching it and once it’s over. It is supposed to inspire them to do something since the emotions of the play haven’t been purged during the viewing of it. It pulls the audience out of their comfort zone and forces them to reflect on what they’re seeing.
I found this concept confusing at first but my teacher designed a workshop of some of Jane Harrison’s techniques used in Stolen. Six people stood up and, like the actors in Stolen, introduced themselves as actors rather than their characters. Already as an audience member I found this rather alienating, it broke the forth wall and reminded me that I was watching a play, this wasn’t real life. Then all of a sudden the actors stopped and scanned us looking for “empathetic eyes”. For me, as an audience member, I found this very confronting. It somehow made me feel guilty...