1.2 Defining the scene
Let us first consider what kind of ‘scene’ the home help was proposing that she and Reg should play out together.
Activity 1: Defining the scene
When the home help asked, ‘What do you want me to clean?’, she was, in effect, proposing a ‘definition’ of the ‘scene’ that was opening up between herself and Reg.
What kind of ‘scene’ a work or social scene, was she suggesting?
What role was she giving herself in this ‘scene’? What role was she giving Reg? Consider if their preferred roles were more managerial, social or servile.
Spend a few minutes thinking about this and quickly jot down your notes.
It seems that the home help was proposing a ‘scene’ in which one person organises the work of another and tells them what to do.
She would have the role of being told what to do and Reg would have the role of organising and telling. Perhaps you described it as ‘servant and master’ relationship, or ‘employee and manager’.
It seems that in his state of sickness Reg did not feel up to playing a role as ‘manager’. He felt weighed down by having to remember what needed cleaning and having to write out shopping lists. It seems he experienced the home help’s question as oppressive, because it thrust him into a role he did not feel comfortable playing.
How can one person push another person into playing a role? The home help did not say, ‘I want you to act as my manager’, so why did Reg feel under pressure? In fact she did something more subtle. She started to act out a scene in which she was a person needing to be told what to do. In such a scene the matching role is clearly someone who tells that person what to do. Since the scene was already beginning and Reg was the only other person there, what else could he do but play that matching role? He found himself absorbed into the action of the scene the home help had initiated. Through her opening question she had both ‘defined the scene’ and begun to act her role in it, and Reg the found himself drawn in.
Glenda, however, presented herself to Reg quite differently as we can see reading the following extract from an interview with Reg in the attached pdf.