“Distinctive images are created for different purposes” How is this shown in your prescribed text? A composer uses techniques in order to influence and create a lasting impression on the responder. John Misto’s aim is to increase awareness of the women’s suffering during the war, allowing the responder to acknowledge the women, which will convince society to pay tribute to the women. He uses a variety of techniques which involve many senses of the responder in The Shoe-Horn Sonata to achieve this goal.
The Shoe-Horn Sonata is based on two women who helped each other through hardships during World War II; they are reunited after fifty years to film a television documentary which unravels many secrets. The involvement of more than one sense allows the heroism of the women to have a lasting impression on the responder. The army nurses endured a tough time during World War II. Humour lifted the women’s spirits and provided them with happy memories. At the end of scene four, the women are happily recounting the time when Sheila stitched a pin into Lipstick Larry’s loin cloth.
It is evident from their amusement that the humour gave them strength to carry on. On the soundtrack, the audience hears young Bridie being beaten up by Lipstick Larry and a frightened young Sheila. Instead of the women just recounting Bridie being beaten up, Misto involves the audience’s auditory senses which allow them to imagine it in their heads, leaving a lasting impression of the suffering of the women. The power of art is a strong theme in The Shoe-Horn Sonata but was also vital for their survival, singing helped them to persevere and maintain hope.
Sheila says “We forgot the Japs – we forgot our hunger – our boils – barbed wire – everything… ” which demonstrates that singing gave them a sense of being and let them forget the unfortunate circumstances they were experiencing. ‘Bolero’ is playing majestically on the soundtrack followed by a blackout. The blackout focuses the performance on the song; the triumphant song reflects the bravery of the women and their resilience. The role of music in their survival is brought up again in scene seven when they recount Christmas in 1943.
Bridie recounts hearing men singing near their POW camp, ‘O, Come All Ye Faithful’ is heard on the soundtrack, gradually getting louder, which is followed by ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’ sung by the women’s choir. As the song plays and Bridie describes how they felt because they haven’t seen an Australian man for months, the audience is able to visualise the POW camp, the women and men separated by a barbed wire fence and their happiness. The audience comes to an understanding of why the women are so happy and will be able to acknowledge the unacknowledged. The healing nature of the truth is the main theme in the play.
During the play, secrets of the suffering of the women and government inaction are revealed which is the main reason why Misto created the play, so that the public could be aware of what really happened and pay tribute to the unacknowledged. Misto believes that the truth must be acknowledged in order for the women to move on from the past, so when the truth is revealed, they begin to heal. The secrets are revealed at the end of the act one and for most of act two. The audience is aware of the negative impact that the POW camps had on the women, causing the responders to have sympathy for the women.
At the end of act one, Sheila reveals the truth about sleeping with a Japanese guard for quinine to Bridie. The devastating effect this has had on Sheila is obvious when Bridie wonders why they haven’t contacted each other and Sheila says bitterly “What did you expect – we’d all settle down in Chatswood – you, me and Benny? ” Shelia was too ashamed of what she had done and could not be reminded of it every day by being with Bridie. As they argue there is a distant sound of crickets growing louder, this signifies that Sheila has made a point that Bridie is unable to answer.
The women are standing isolated in spotlights, to emphasise the strain on their relationship. As the lights slowly fade the audience hears a worried young Sheila trying to save Bridie and her gentle singing. When this truth is revealed on a public scale in scene thirteen, it is clear that Bridie and Sheila are beginning to accept the past. At the end of scene thirteen, ‘An Epitaph to War’ plays on the soundtrack during a gradual darkness. The song establishes the end of torment that the war causes for the women, the truth was revealed which has allowed them to grow stronger and move forward.
The responder understands that it was difficult for them to endure such hardships and the detrimental effect it had on them, as a result, the responder will sympathise for the women and acknowledge their bravery. John Misto has effectively used a variety of techniques to involve the responder’s auditory senses to convey the themes of the healing nature of the truth and survival and endurance. It is evident that he wants the public to acknowledge the women for their bravery, and recognise the government’s inactions which will eventually lead to them paying tribute to the women.