In “Cosi”, Nowra positions us to condemn the values of a society which treats it’s mentally ill in barbaric and condescending ways. Discuss.
Louis Nowra’s screenplay ‘Cosi’ explores the attitudes to and perception of the mentally ill in 1971. During this period Australia is at war and undergoing social reform. The perception of mental patients in the 70s can be seen as unethical and inhumane, with society grouping them with animals and locking them away in asylums with barbaric conditions. The 70s saw mental illness being neglected and kept in the dark and with movies that depict ‘mad’ people as animals; a negative connotation is placed upon these people. Nowra attempts to shed light on the issue and change our attitude by drawing sympathy for them through his play ‘Cosi’.
Nowra aims to garner sympathy for mental patients through constructing his characters in ‘Cosi’ in a way that shows that these people are fully functional human beings. By carefully creating the personality of each character, Nowra is able to give an insight to the lives and minds of mental patients. This insight allows the audience to rethink their views on mental patients, like Roy. Roy is an exuberant character with high aspirations. We see Roy’s enthusiasm from the beginning with him eager to begin the production. His dreams of belonging in the theatre and his high aspirations; ‘aiming for the stars’, are a far cry from the insanity and madness that society portrays the mentally ill. Roy’s fabricated childhood stories about his mum singing Mozart to him shows his despair and agony. Roy is mentally disabled in that he wants a childhood so strongly that he creates a fictional tale. His overly enthusiasm for ‘cosmic harmony’ through Cosi fan Tutti is what makes the play work in the end. This aspiration of Roy’s can be seen as a symbol of hope. This poises the question to the audience of why such a person, with these human like aspirations, to be placed in a mental asylum? In a play where the...