Cosi Louis Nowra Example Essays Images

A pyromaniac, a nymphomaniac, a junkie, a compulsive liar, an aggressive musician and a patient that won’t talk - all in one room with a young director... 

Louis Nowra’s COSI tells the story of Lewis, fresh out of University who is employed to help a group of patients at a psychiatric facility to put on a play.

Lewis is thrown into the deep end when he meets one of the outspoken patients, Roy, who has decided that they will not only put on a play, but an opera of Cosi Fan
with only a piano and spoken in Italian!

But don’t judge a book by its cover! As much as Lewis attempts to talk Roy out of it, the production gains momentum as other patients join the rehearsals.

This hilarious story shows Lewis grow from an insecure director who has a dysfunctional relationship with his girlfriend Lucy, to an independent man of the world. He makes a promise to the patients of the facility and follows it through.  

COSI reinforces there is good in the world and that the music of the spheres and laughter are sometimes the best medicine.

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Louis Nowra

Louis Nowra (12 December 1950 - ) is one of Australia's most acclaimed and prolific writers. Playwright, screenwriter and librettist, Nowra is famous for such plays as Cosi, Byzantine Flowers, Summer of the Aliens, Radiance, and The Golden Age.  He has recently completed a major trilogy for Griffin Theatre Company:  The Woman with Dog's Eyes, The Marvellous Boy and The Emperor of Sydney.

Nowra was born Mark Doyle in Melbourne. He changed his name to Louis Nowra in the early 1970s. He studied at Melbourne's La Trobe University without earning a degree. In his memoir, The Twelfth of Never, Nowra claimed that he left the course due to a conflict with his professor over Patrick White's The Tree of Man. He worked in several jobs and lived an itinerant lifestyle until the mid-1970s, when his plays began to attract attention.

Taken from:

Understanding the cultural references: Mozart, Vietnam War and other Pop-Cultural references of the time.

Delving deeper into the culture surrouding the text will help you to better undertsand the importance of a character and their role in the text. You will also be able to guess the author's contention for the character as you consider the question: ‘what does this (music/literary reference/political opinion etc) reveal about this character?’

Vietnam War: Anti-war protests

The antiwar movement actually consisted of a number of independent interests, often only vaguely allied and contesting each other on many issues, united only in opposition to the Vietnam War. Attracting members from college campuses, middle-class suburbs, labor unions, and government institutions, the movement gained national prominence in 1965, peaked in 1968, and remained powerful throughout the duration of the conflict. Encompassing political, racial, and cultural spheres, the antiwar movement exposed a deep schism within 1960s American society.

Vietnam War protests in Australia

Late 1960s and early 1970s were a time that saw the rise of protest movements across Australia. Causes included: Opposition to the Vietnam War, Racial equality, Equal rights for women and Environmental protection. Protest was not simply between generations ie the young and the old, it was more complex.
First protests were small and non-violent. They were organised by already established anti-war movements. They were made up of middle aged and middle class people and young radicals who favoured extreme change.
Church leaders were divided. Reverend Allan Walker of the Methodist Central Mission in Sydney was a leading critic.
The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) was divided eg in 1965 it passed a resolution expressing concern rather than taking industrial action.

 Forms of Protest

 • Teach-ins took place from 1965. Speakers holding  a variety of opinions debated the issues. Leading speakers against the war  included Dr Jim Cairns, a Shadow Minister in the Labor Opposition in Federal  Parliament and Morris West, a prominent author and influential Roman Catholic.
 • The Youth Campaign Against Conscription (YCAC)
– university students who organised marches and demonstrations.
 • Save Our Sons(SOS) movement (1965) largely middle-aged women held silent protest vigils.
 • Seamen’s Union in 1965 refused to carry war materials to Vietnam.
 • From 1966 protests became more radical. Young men burned their draft cards and protests saw clashes between the demonstrators and the police.
 • Some young men decided to go to jail rather than  be conscripted. The courts could exempt those who could prove they were pacifists (opposed to all wars on religious or moral grounds).

 Grounds for opposition to the Vietnam War

 • It was believed that Australians were being sent  to fight for an unpopular and corrupt dictatorship.
 • It was a civil war and we had no business being  there.
 • It was immoral to send young conscripts who were  too young to vote. You had to be 21 at that time to vote.
 • Television coverage showed the horrors of war (e.g.  use of napalm, execution of old people, women and children). Famous image of Saigon’s Police Chief executing a Viet Cong dead in the street.
 • Fire free zones – places where Vietnamese villages were bombed and machined gunned without restriction.
 • "Mai Lai Massacre" in 1968 where 120 Vietnamese  were slaughtered shocked the world.
 • The question was, "Did we have to kill them, in  order to save them? Could they have been any worse off under communism?"

 The Final Stages

Protests increased and became more directed towards symbols of the United States in Australia.
Public opinion began to change in August 1969 55% of Australians favoured withdrawing the troops. 
During 1970 and 1971 huge public protests called the Vietnam Moratoriums (stop the war) saw hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets in protest.
These protest finished when Gough Whitlam and his Labor Government were elected in 1972 on a promise to bring home the troops. (By this time most had already come home).

Pop culture

Cosi Teaching Notes - read pages 7 onwards.pdf
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Cosi Insight Guide (partial).pdf
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Mozart's "Cosi Fan Tutte" (They All Do It)

 Mozart's final comic opera, Cosi fan tutte, a laughing look at the twists and
turns of romantic love, was originally attacked for portraying faithless women. Some early performances were even accompanied by apologies for the frivolous plot.
The story begins in a Neapolitan café , where two young men, Ferrando and
Guglielmo, argue with the older and more skeptical Don Alfonso that their
fiancées, the sisters Fiordiligi and Dorabella, would never betray them. Aided by Despina, the sisters' maid, the men hatch a plot to test the women's loyalty.
They disguise themselves as soldiers and woo each other's lovers, managing
through various tricks to win over the initially reluctant women. As deeper
feelings surface, however, the suitors become uneasy with their antics, and once the deception is unmasked, the four reunite, though who pairs up with whom remains a mystery.

'Dixieland' Music
Dixieland music, sometimes referred to as Hot jazz or Early Jazz, is a style of jazz music which developed in New Orleans at the start of the 20th century, and was spread to Chicago and New York City by New Orleans bands in the 1910s. 
Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis
Martin and Lewis were an American comedy team, comprising singer Dean Martin (as the "straight man") and comedian Jerry Lewis as the comedic "foil".
Dean Martin was one of the most popular and enduring American entertainers of the mid-20th Century, Martin was nicknamed the "King of Cool" due to his seemingly effortless charisma and self-assuredness. A member of the "Rat
Pack," Martin was a major star in four areas of show business: concert stage/night clubs, recordings, motion pictures, and television.
Jerry Lewis is an American comedian, actor, singer, film producer, screenwriter and film director. He is known for his slapstick humor in film, television, stage and radio
Velvet Underground
The Velvet Underground have been considered among the most influential bands in rock history. Their legacy has stretched into alternative and experimental rock. Artists who have acknowledged their influence include David Bowie, The Dream Syndicate, R.E.M., The Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Cars, The Strokes, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Roxy Music, Beck, The Fall, Pixies, Can, Kraftwerk, Neu!, Faust, Glenn Danzig, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nirvana, Pavement, Psychic TV, Joy Division, Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine, Kings of Leon, Crystal Castles, Jane's Addiction and The Smiths.
Psychedelic Music
A range of popular music styles and genres, which are inspired by or influenced
by psychedelic culture and which attempt to replicate and enhance the mind-altering experiences of psychedelic drugs. It emerged during the mid 1960s among folk rock and blues rock bands in the United States and Britain.


Cosi – Louis Nowra

Exam Revision






Lewis ‘crossing the line’









Patients blurring the line between sanity & insanity







Institutions cannot help Insanity?




Play’s Key Images: Light and Dark; Fire & Water


Light & Dark











Fire & Water















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