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A Sample from Candida  |  Improv Lesson Plan  |  Improv Scenes

Dramatic Obstacles

The leading characters in a good play or film often need to overcome many difficult obstacles before they can accomplish their objectives. Some of these obstacles may be physical, perhaps involving destructive forces of nature, time limitations, or the interference of others. Sometimes the obstacles are psychological, perhaps involving deep-seated guilt or hidden fears. Whatever the type, the obstacles that the characters must confront help create powerful dramatic tension and excitement.

This section contains two different illustrations of obstacles in drama. Below is a scene from George Bernard Shaw’s Candida, the play being rehearsed at Horse Cave in the KET field trip, for you to read, act out, think about, and discuss. This pivotal conversation among the three main characters touches on several obstacles: some actually voiced by the characters, others implied. How many can you identify?

Or, if you prefer making it up as you go, try the improvisation lesson contributed by Jerry Bradshaw of Dayton High School in Campbell County, Kentucky.


A Scene from Candida

Obstacles abound in Shaw’s Candida. The young poet Eugene Marchbanks seeks Candida Morell’s love, but there’s one major barrier: her husband. The husband, for his part, wants no more than a peaceful marriage, but the poet questions the older man’s suitability for Candida. Marchbanks tells Reverend Morell that Candida does not need a “moralist and windbag,” but a poet. “I am the man, Morell,” he says. “I am the man. You don’t understand what a woman is. Send for her, Morell. Send for her and let her choose between us.” And in Act 3, Scene 3, Reverend Morell does just that. Here’s what happens ...

Pamela White as Candida Candida:
Come. Out with it!

Morell:
I meant to prepare your mind carefully, Candida, so as to prevent misunderstanding.

Candida:
Yes, dear: I am sure you did. But never mind: I sha’nt misunderstand.

Morell:
Well—er—

Candida:
Well?

Morell:
Eugene declares that you are in love with him.

Marchbanks:
No, no, no, no, never. I did not, Mrs Morell: it’s not true. I said I loved you. I said I understood you, and that he couldn’t. And it was not after what passed there before the fire that I spoke: it was not, on my word. It was this morning.

Candida:
This morning!

Marchbanks:
Yes. That was what was the matter with my collar.

Candida:
Your collar. Oh, James: did you—?

Morell:
You know, Candida, that I have temper to struggle with. And he said that you despised me in your heart.

Candida:
Did you say that?

Marchbanks:
No.

Candida:
Then James has just told me a falsehood. Is that what you mean?

Marchbanks:
No, no: I—I—it was David’s wife. And it wasn’t at home: it was when she saw him dancing before all the people.

Morell:
Dancing before all the people, Candida; and thinking he was moving their hearts by his mission when they were only suffering from—Prossy’s complaint. Don’t try to look indignant, Candida—

Candida:
Try!

Morell:
Eugene was right. As you told me a few hours after, he is always right. He said nothing that you did not say far better yourself. He is the poet, who sees everything; and I am the poor parson, who understands nothing.

Candida:
Do you mind what is said by a foolish boy, because I said something like it in jest?

Morell:
That foolish boy can speak with the inspiration of a child and the cunning of a serpent. He has claimed that you belong to him and not to me; and, rightly or wrongly, I have come to fear that it may be true. I will not go about tortured with doubts and suspicions. I will not live with you and keep a secret from you. I will not suffer the intolerable degradation of jealousy. We have agreed—he and I—that you shall choose between us now. I await your decision.

Candida:
Oh! I am to choose, am I? I suppose it is quite settled that I must belong to one or the other.

Morell:
—Quite. You must choose definitely.

Marchbanks:
Morell: you don’t understand. She means that she belongs to herself.

Candida:
I mean that, and a good deal more, Master Eugene, as you will both find out presently. And pray, my lords and masters, what have you to offer for my choice? I am up for auction, it seems. What do you bid, James?

Source: Iowa State University’s online concordance of the play.


A Sample from Candida  |  Improv Lesson Plan  |  Improv Scenes

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