Analysis of Play as Film “August Osage County”


Analysisof Play as Film: &quotAugust:Osage County&quot


&quotAugust:Osage County&quot The Play

Themain meaning and purpose of this play is to present the deeper storyof the influence of women in a family who come together due to acrisis in the family. The play presents members of the Weston familywho are intelligent, sensitive and posses the ability to handle acrisis that befalls their family. The Weston family members havedivergent lives after being brought up in a family that was not fullyfunctional. However, they are brought together by the disappearanceof the patriarch of the house, BeverlyWeston.The play is about the events that surround a large family over themonth of august. The family lives in a large home in Pawhuska,Oklahoma in Beverly and Violet Weston. With the death of Weston, thefamily falls into arguments and conflicts, which end with confessionsof past truths and facing of future fears.

Thepremise and Dramatic Structure

Theplay presents a normal house with proper and general functions thatgo on around a family set up. The play opens with Weston, the man ofthe house interviewing a Native American by the name of Johnna forthe job of a house help. The interview is done by Weston to get acaregiver to his ailing wife, who has been diagnosed with mouthcancer (Letts,2008).As a result, she is constantly in pain and she has got an addictionto painkillers to reduce the pain in addition to other prescriptiondrugs. The relationship between Weston and his wife is not as good asit could be expected because they can be seen having an argument.After Johnna is hired and several weeks pass, when Weston is not seenfor five days.

Theinciting incident in the play is the mysterious disappearance ofViolet’s husband. This is the event that changes the whole familyand drives the plot of the play from the beginning to the end. Thisis because prior to the disappearance of this patriarch of thefamily, all the members of the Weston family had led different lives. The members of the family had lived differently from each other andadopted different lifestyles. The three daughters to Violet, BeverlyWeston’s wife also return home with their fiancée’s andhusbands. The whole family comes together and Violet is happy, butalso amazed by the return of almost the entire clan and theirrelations to the house.

Thedisappearance of Beverly Weston changes the plot since it ends up inthe news of the death of the patriarch of the house. This comes withall the relatives to be with Violet as she mourns her husband and asthey morn their father, father in law and other relations Weston had.This makes the death of Weston the subsequent inciting incident thathappens during the play. Without the death of the patriarch of thefamily, all these members would not have gathered in the house. It isthe coming together of the members of the extended family of thehouse that makes the whole play find the essence and purpose. It isthrough the coming of the members of the family that the play takesshape why introducing the intrigues of the past.

Theclimax of the play is the discovery of some of the old truths of thefamily members that lead to the surfacing of jealousy andconfrontations. This is after the family members find it necessary toconfront the past and experience the past hurts as they fear for thefuture. After the funeral of the man of the house, the members of thefamily take dinner together as Violet continues to mourn her husband(Bryer, &amp Hartig, 2010). According to Gounaridou (2011), there-union prompts interactions that lead to several arguments betweenthe members of the large family. For instance, Ivy distresses Barbarawith her excessive talk of how she will get married to her fiancée(Gounaridou, 2011).As they argue, it is made known, that argument Ivy is romancing witha person she does not want to disclose as she confesses unwittingly(Letts,2008).

Thedinner confrontations become the next point of climax for the play.This is because the diner opens each of the members’ truths andthey find weaknesses to attack each other. They face truths abouteach other and continue to behave badly against each other. Forinstance, in act three, Steveshares a joint with Jean, but Steve is attacked by Johnna with ashovel, which brings Jean`s parents and Karen (Letts,2008).Following the scene, a bitter argument ensues as they open theaffairs of the family members. The arguments become the final climaxof the play as they reveal the mistakes of the past, such as theintervention of Violet to her daughters’ lives.

&quotAugust:Osage County&quot The Film

Thefilm is based on the play and the plot of the film is the same withthat of the theatrical performance. The movie opens just as the play,with Weston interviewing Johnna as the caregiver to his wife Violet.Just like in the play, Weston’s disappearance sparks the coming ofthe family members to the house to be with Violet in the tryingmoments. Unlike in the play, the news of his death in the film isbroken for the family by a sheriff who informs of the drowning ofWeston. The film presents a well directed account of the family thatillustrates the role of women in a family especially in the times ofcrisis.


Thetheatre presents a real life story that provides real life situationsthat can only be captured by the acted play. This is because theatrepresents the plot through people who perform the story and gives ahumanistic element to the play (Schulman,2014).For instance, the interviewing of Johnna by Weston comes out asrealistic as it can be since Weston behaves for the live performanceand not just for the camera. This makes the family set up of theWeston’s house become more lively and makes the audience feel theemotions of the members. As argued by Barranger(2014), thelive theatre makes the audience to be more realistically connected tothe intrigues of the family members.

Inaddition, the plot of the play and the storyline favors theadvantages that come along with a live theatre. This is because livetheatre performance gives the play a sense of validity and quality ofinteractions and life of the people in the play (Brown,1997).According to Ralphand Gassner (1992),a live theatre presents the story line in a more authentic way as thestory comes from the people. This is because the live theatrecaptures best the cultural and social characteristics of the peoplethat appear on stage. This suits this play because of the diversebehavior that the family members have acquired because ofdisintegration for a long period of time.


Thefilm version of this story presents more details and richerinformation about the plot than the theatre. Right from thebeginning, the film captures the background of the house and brings aclear picture of the large house and a big home. The interview ofJohnna takes place at the house and the cinema captures thebackground and the amazement of the young Native American to starther job at the house (Letts,2013). Thefilm captures more details of the events at the house and thearguments by presenting the emotions of all of the members. Thispresented in a better way compared to the play, especially when thereare arguments during the dinner after the funeral.

Thecinema makes the following of the play more consistent since theevents of the film follow each other without significant or materialdivisions to the scenes. This is because the cinema has consistentscenes that are made possible by the use of video and film editingprocesses (Bazin,2005).This makes the cinema a good platform to tell the story of theintrigues that take place in the family of Beverly Weston. With thelarge number of cast members interacting in the same house, thecinema gives the better option of presenting the arguments andconflicts that befall the house. The best scene that fits the cinemacompared to the theatre.

Inaddition, cinema provides better understanding of the events of thestory since the scenes are well arranged to show what is happening atwhat time (Naremore,1988).This makes it possible for the director to illustrate thesimultaneous events that take place in the large house. This isimportant in the presentation of the conflicts that happen during thedinner after the funeral. It is also the best way to present thearguments and the attacks that take place after the dinner. Forinstance, the cinema gives a better account of the attack by Johnnato Steveand Jean(Letts,2013). Inthe film, it is seen in a more detail how she met the two and startedhitting Steve with a shovel.

Whilethe play presents great details and makes events real, there arescenes that are captured better by the cinema. The family set up isbest described by the cinema more than the theatre. At the same time,the emotions are better presented by the play more than the cinema(Rayner, 1994). However, all of the two versions of the story presentthe same account with an achievable objective.


Theplay and the film, August:Osage Countypresents the changes that happen to the Weston family after thepassing on of the patriarch in a mysterious way. This gives the playthe main inciting moment that brings the extended member of thefamily to the house to console Violet. The reunion becomes the climaxof the family as they engage in argument and conflicts. While theplay presents realistic emotions and events, the cinema capturesdetails and occasions that surpass the strengths of the theatre. Thismakes the cinema version superior to the theatrical presentation ofthe story.


Barranger,M. S. (2014). Theatre:A Way of Seeing.Belmont:Thomson/Wadsworth

Bazin,A. (2005). Whatis Cinema?, Volume 1.California: University of California Press

Bryer,J. R., &amp Hartig, M. C. (2010). TheFactson File Companion to American Drama.New York: Infobase Publishing

Brown,R. S. (1997). Whatis Theatre?: An Introduction and Exploration.New York: Taylor &amp Francis

Gounaridou,K. (2011). Text&amp Presentation.Jefferson, NC: McFarland Books

Letts,T. (2008). August:Osage County.London: Nick Hern Books

Letts,T. (2013). &quotAugust:Osage Country (2013).&quotDVD

Naremore,J. (1988). Actingin the Cinema. California:University of California Press

Rayner,A. (1994). ToAct, To Do, To Perform: Drama and the Phenomenology of Action.Michigan: University of Michigan Press

Ralph,A., &amp Gassner, J. (1992). Theatreand Drama in the Making. NewYork, NY: Applause Theatre Books

Schulman,M. (2014). &quotA Play Falters on the Big Screen&quot.TheNew Yorker.Culture Desk. Retrieved From,&lt 11, 2014