The production of J B Priestley’s moral thriller had me hooked from the start. The rising curtain unveiled a scaled-up Edwardian dolls house looking down on a misty wasteland in war-torn Britain – a brilliant way to highlight how out of touch high-society were to 1940s poverty and suffering.
Mesmerised from five rows in, I was enthralled by Priestley’s message filtering through every scene. The voiceless maid Edna spoke volumes with her eyes darting daggers at her self-important employers.
Later, the dramatic collapse of the house as the Inspector left the stage was a reminder that metaphorical glass buildings we hide in can easily be shattered.
It was a roller-coaster of emotion too with gasp-out-loud moments, and then quieter poignant ones which reached out to hold our hands…
In the end, this powerful production made me think differently about a play I’d taught for many years as an English teacher… Now THAT is really something.
What is the real story?
Best of all, the play stayed with me long after. And as I returned to the car park elated by such a dazzling performance, Priestley’s warning was etched in every homeless person’s face I saw huddled against shopfronts, trying desperately to stay warm from the freezing winds.
The society Priestley warned us about in 1945 was here, on the streets of Britain… It wasn’t just a make-believe play. It was real.
Yet, the production did its job – to connect with the audience, to make them think.
Priestley I’m sure would have been elated (35 years on from his death in 1984) that his words could still reach out to people. Whether global societies have learnt the lessons of the past is another story though…
How to make people listen
What I loved about this play is that it reminded me about what matters when we are trying to persuade people – whether you are a business owner, teacher or whoever.
If you run a business, your web copy has to hit the right note right away. Or else you’ve lost them. No time to waste then. Aim to:
1. Have a clear message – and repeat. Essential if you want your audience to ‘understand’ what you offer. Keep it simple with clear language too.
2. Speak to people through your copy. If you just talk about yourself, with dreaded ‘we’ sentences spattered across your website, don’t expect your audience to notice you.
Trigger a human response by speaking to people direct – and they’ll listen.
You know that already, right?
3. Solve the pain. Every person who lands on your site has a problem they want solving. What are their pain points? How does your service or product solve them?
Base your copy on this, visitors will think you care about their needs. They will also trust you more because of it.
While accolades and award-winning titles might impress, most people just want their problems solving. Be who they need.
This 75 year old play had something fresh and important to say because of how the modern actors and director presented it. It felt radical; words written in the 1940s had a fresh – and still relevant – voice.
Make that happen in your copy. And if there are 100 competitors in your town selling the same service, make yours different.
Say something new. Don’t sound like a cardboard cut out full of business jargon. It leaves people cold. Instead, be bold about being human…