Red velvet stage curtains
See if you can get top marks in this English Literature quiz.

DNA - Context

This GCSE English Literature quiz takes a look at context found in Denis Kelly's DNA. A literary work’s context applies to the environment in which the text was written. “Context” includes an author’s geographical time and location, along with any social and political events which occurred during the author’s lifetime. If you think some of these identifying features sound familiar from elsewhere, it is because they are also elements of a text’s “setting”. You already know that setting refers to the fictional aspects of the world contained in the text. “Context” describes the same aspects of the author’s own world. In order to understand context, then, you should know the time the text was written, published, or performed and be aware of the history of similar texts. With recent texts, you might also be able to find newspaper reviews and even interviews with the author to help you develop an understanding of context.

How to write about context

It’s always worth the time spent learning about the context of a work of fiction. Try to develop an understanding of the environment in which the text was produced, or of the history of the genre in which the text was written. Consider the ways in which the author responds to context and how this is evident in the text. Never assume that context dictates the meaning of a text, however. This will be easier to accomplish with a text such as DNA, which aims to be timeless in many of its concerns.

Try these questions on the context of Dennis Kelly’s DNA to see how much you know about the play.

Many television crime dramas rely upon the notion of DNA evidence as proof of guilt. Which of the following is correct?
The evidence provided by the postal worker's DNA present on Adam's jumper is mere coincidence
In the play, the matching of DNA to the guilty perpetrator of the crime demonstrates how reliable this evidence is
The DNA proving the guilt of the postal worker is just as false as the rest of the group's invented explanation for Adam's disappearance
The title DNA has nothing to do with the events of the play
Cathy's targeted collection of DNA from the postal worker is part of the elaborate construction of a guilty suspect
Which of the following is correct?
DNA is a play dealing with a historical event which changes meaning for each generation
DNA is a play dislocated to a certain extent from a particular time and space
DNA is a play concerning very recent historical events and is only relevant to "millennials"
DNA is fantasy and does not claim to have any relevance to its audience
DNA addresses themes which are perpetually relevant to humankind, especially good and evil, the relationship between the individual and community, and the tendency for young people to feel isolated when facing enormous problems
When was DNA first performed?
The play first went on national tour in 2012
“I don’t think he’s getting any kind of enjoyment out of it. He’s trying to make the best out of a bad situation – what he does is flawed but it’s also natural. When I was a kid I felt that parents and adults weren’t anything to do with my world. We sorted out our own problems, often in a terrifying way, and I think he’s actually trying to do something good.”

Dennis Kelly defends one of his characters from accusation of being a psychopath in this quotation from The Telegraph. Which character?
It is always interesting to hear an author discuss his or her own view of characters. In this quotation, what is terrifying is the absence of adult solutions to - or even awareness of - problems which are clearly visible to young people
Kelly has said that his play's exploration of "whether it was right to sacrifice the individual for the many" was prompted by which of the following?
The Second World War
July 2005 bombings in London
The 2011 summer riots
Western foreign policy
Kelly said, of western foreign policy and its response to terrorism: "I felt our fear meant we were in danger (as we are now) of over-reacting and curbing our own liberties and the liberties of others"
The author of a play is known as a ...
Dennis Kelly is a playwright. Remember that it's "wright", not "write" or "right"!
The play draws upon which of the following:
Adult anxiety about, and fear of, teenagers
Fear of immigrants
Political anger about employment conditions
Contemporary despair about educational policy
It is easily possible to imagine the events of DNA as they might appear in a newspaper. The play tells the story from the perspective of its teenaged protagonists. As the audience, we know everything which the adults located on the edge of events do not know
Where was DNA first performed?
The National Theatre
The Globe Theatre
Royal Exchange Theatre
Edinburgh Playhouse
The National Youth Theatre has performed the play as recently as 2017
Adam's name is a reminder of what?
The travels of Odysseus
The Apocalypse
The biblical story of creation
Shakespeare's play Macbeth
Adam's name alludes to the biblical creation story, most notably in the idea of a "fall" in which all people are caught up. In some ways, the events represent the story of Adam's sons, Cain and Abel. Whereas Cain is punished by God for the murder of his brother, the group in the play continue to live with the after-effects of the murder of Adam, punished by their own consciences
In the play, Jan and Mark take the role of ...
the audience
an aside
the narrator
the chorus
In ancient Greek theatre, a "chorus" was a group of actors who related events to the audience, informing them of whatever had happened in the past, or off-stage. The chorus also responded emotionally to the events occurring on stage and sometimes pronounced judgements on characters
Author:  Sheri Smith

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