Last Updated 04 Jul 2021

The Bench, by Richard Rive

Category Creativity
Essay type Research
Words 1124 (4 pages)
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Table of contents

The story written by Richard Rive takes place during the apartheid era and focuses on a man named Karlie, who listens to a speech about apartheid and takes the speakers words into consideration, "we must challenge the right of any people who see fit to segregate human beings solely on grounds of pigmentation". Later on in the story, a white woman asks the crowd to challenge any discriminatory laws on their way.  Karlie then sees a bench and decides that this will be his challenge; sitting on the bench.

The main theme in this story is apartheid and how it is possible to challenge some of the discriminatory laws at the time. Humanity is also a theme because despite the white people having everything they need; there are in fact some white people fighting for the black people’s rights. This shows a sense of humanity. Karlie has never experienced such humanity and that is why he does not understand why the white woman in the blue dress encourages them to challenge discriminatory laws.

Karlie changed over the course of this story, because he is first sceptical about sitting on the bench, but he then realises that he does not need to live in a world where black and coloured people are oppressed by the Europeans.

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The language is straightforward. If the narrative was more subtle the story would not have its powerful impact as it does now. Readers are shown Karlie’s step-by-step movement from innocence to commitment. Richard Rive thereby convinces us that Karlie is not necessarily one person, but represents many people who can take this uncharacteristic action and go against the timid advice of his elders.

The target audience would generally refer to anyone that has their hearts and minds set towards the history of South Africa, and anyone who is interested in learning about the history of South Africa and the struggle the country has gone through, in order for them to be free from oppression and slavery.

In our group preparations, my group and I have made a few changes and also added a few more details into the story, but still keeping the main events and themes of the story, and not changing anything about the story. Firstly we have inserted a talking bench. The bench does not necessarily speak, only that it as one line, "Whites only". This is relevant to the story because Karlie sits on a bench that is only associated for whites. Secondly, we have added a train and car sequence.

Role analysis

Over the course of this play, I play various characters, but each of these characters all serves a purpose in this play. The first character I play is someone who is protesting against these apartheid laws. The second character I play is the talking bench. During the play I also play a bystander. Lastly, I also play a character in the end that is happy that these laws are put in place; in order for the police to arrest Karlie.

My character(s) functions in this story would be a) someone against apartheid would have high hopes for the future and wanting a better life not only for himself, but everyone affected by these laws, b) the talking bench serves an important part of the story because the bench is the voice that tells Karlie to get off it, unless he wants to be imprisoned and c) the happy guy that enjoys these laws put in place, he agrees to these laws; that blacks need to live in a world run by the whites.

a) Defining the role:

The protagonist in this short story is Karlie, a coloured man who has decided that he does not want to live in a world where blacks are oppressed and whites are superior. He wants everyone to be equal, just as humans were intended to be. The antagonist would be apartheid and its rules of how blacks are only allowed in certain areas and sit in certain spots.

b) Developing motivational force:

The obstacles my character(s) face are a) that the apartheid time does not stop and that it would be an on-going thing and b) that this law of apartheid stops and all black people will have the same rights as white people.

My primary action in this play would be to protest against these discriminatory laws that were put in place during the apartheid era, and as my other character, it would be to have these laws go on and never stop.

Effective personality

The relationship my character(s) have in this play is to a) be surrounded with people of the same struggle so that they can fight together to stop these laws, and b) to be able to communicate with white people so that these laws are kept in place.

In this play I am a character who is complex, someone who has many different traits and develops throughout the story. My character is a completely different character when the story begins and when it ends.

My characters strategies are to gather his thoughts, develop a vision, identify strategic objectives and performance controlling.

a) Forming a defined character:

I have started researching my character and I would get into the role. So I will start off with avoiding distractions, I will find a source of motivation and believe in the unconscious, because it is much easier to adapt a character with the unconscious mind.

Both my characters are people who are extremely loud because they want their words to be heard by everyone.

Wearing informal clothing makes the actor lazy and this is seen in the final production. Informal clothing can hurt in negotiations. Wearing formal clothing increases abstract thinking, which is an important aspect of creativity.

b) Acting for the medium- stage:

My Eyelines: Always look at the other actor during dialogue, if the other actor is somehow making you feel like laughing, look at their forehead.

In order for continuity to work, I will need to know my lines and if not, I will improvise, because if I stand on the stage not knowing what to say, I will look stupid. Also this mistake is seen by the audience. One of the nice things about this is that when on stage people will eventually get over your mistake, but in film, that mistake is there forever.

If a situation happens and I forget my lines, I will not freeze on stage and think the entire time until my line comes to my head, instead, I will improvise my lines, make it seem more fluent.


  3. (2009). PRIMARY ACTION | meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary. online Available at: Accessed 25 Feb. 2019.
  4. Help, H. and Rains, T. (2019). What would be the age group of the target audience for this story? | eNotes. online eNotes. Available at: Accessed 25 Feb. 2019. (Lazer, 2016)
The Bench, by Richard Rive essay

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The Bench, by Richard Rive. (2019, Dec 13). Retrieved from

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