The essay (3500 words) is a comparative study of two plays on one of the topics listed below.
The essay must demonstrate an understanding of the plays and socio-political issues explored in them in the American context through an in-depth critical analysis of the works with close reference to appropriate texts.
Your essay will be assessed according to the effectiveness of the argument: the clarity and quality of the thesis, the appropriateness of the comparison/contrast of the plays, the specificity and suitability of the examples, and the strength of the analysis that must relate those examples to the essay’s thesis. In addition, your prose needs to be clear, your essay’s structure logical, and your ideas original. You should use both primary and secondary sources. Use parenthetical documentation and works cited (MLA format—on the departmental website). Be sure to check that you have documented correctly because accurate citation will have an impact on the assessment. Please include word count.
The essay will be submitted both in electronic form and hard copy to Kate on the due date listed on the website.
1) Analyse, compare and contrast the use of familial relationships to explore societal issues specific to the American context in two of the following plays: Buried Child; Heroes and Saints; How I Learned to Drive; In a Forest, Dark and Deep; Topdog/Underdog; Angels in America.
2) Analyse, compare and contrast the dramaturgical presentation and aesthetic use of historical events in two of the following plays: Heroes and Saint; Topdog/Underdog; Joe Turner’s Come and Gone; Ballad of Yachiyo; Angels in America.
3) Analyse, compare and contrast the ways in which two of following plays dramatize issues of race specific to the American context: Heroes and Saint; Topdog/Underdog; And I and Silence; Joe Turner’s Come and Gone; Ballad of Yachiyo; Angels in America.
Mixed Media Response
The mixed media response is a creative analysis of one play. It has both an oral and a written/visual component. You will have ten minutes to present the mixed media response and explain your approach. On the day of presentation, you will hand in your written/visual component that summarizes and explains your mixed media response in words (no more 1500 words) as well as the images, sounds, etc. used in the presentation. You should not use a play that you analysed in the essay.
The mixed media response is an analysis of the play using visual imagery and/or sounds as a ‘language’ or form of analysis. The mixed media response will be assessed according to the clarity and quality of the play analysis, the effectiveness of the explanation of your dramaturgical choices (in both oral and written forms), and the originality of your ideas. In addition, the quality of the oral presentation, the presentation of the images and/or sounds, and the ‘professionalism’ of the presentation will have an impact on the assessment. The written part of the response will be assessed on its clarity, thoughtful organization and careful logic in explaining the choices you made in the creative paly analysis. If you collect images or sounds (paintings, photographs, music, etc.) created by others, be sure to cite your sources. The written component explains your ideas, choices of images and/or sounds, and goals.
You will hand in only one hard copy of the mixed media response to Kate on the due date listed on the website.
Forms of mixed media response:
1) Visual analysis: For a visual analysis, you will take 12-15 photographs, draw/paint 7-9 images, or collect and curate 12-15 paintings, etc. which tell the story and explain the ideas of the play from your particular perspective. Remember that this is a form of analysis, not just a plot summary, so the images must present your ideas about the play.
2) Musical analysis: For a musical analysis, find several pieces of music to create a musical montage that evokes the world of the play in some way for you. Or you can compose a piece of music and record yourself or someone else playing it OR perform it live. The music should last 5-7 minutes; discussion of your approach fills the rest of the time.
3) Artistic analysis: For an artistic analysis, paint or draw or sketch (oils, water colors, charcoal, etc.) one visual image OR create one sculpture, mobile, or small installation art piece that represents some aspect of the play for you (mood, character, tension, structure, etc.). These are the obvious forms of the artistic analysis, but you can create others. The ‘model’ for this response is a poster of a play that attempts to signify the work in one image.
4) Collage of found objects: You can create a collage that speaks to the imagery, atmosphere, structure, or mood of the play as a whole. This collage should be mounted on thick cardboard or some other rigid structure. It can include some pictures cut from magazines or downloaded from the web, but it must include more than that. It must include found objects, drawings, color (to signify mood, meaning, etc) or some other items so that the collage tells a “story” about the play.
5) Discovery (Cornell) Box: You can create a discovery box to be opened, manipulated, touched, and explored by your audience. The discovery box should suggest the world of the play through objects, drawings, perhaps sounds, textures, and smells. It should be aesthetically satisfying, detailed, multi-layered, and made with care.
Attendance and Participation
It is important to understand that this class is based on discussion, not lecture. Just as theatre is a collaborative art, our class is a collaboration of minds, ideas, and insights. Class participation in discussions is crucial to that collaborative spirit. Coming to class and listening intently is not enough because you will not be sharing your ideas for others to build on. For each class, you must have completed the readings listed for that day and be ready to discuss them. Sometimes, I will pose a question on the readings at the beginning of class and give you about 10 minutes to write your thoughts.
Since the class meets only once a week, perfect attendance is highly recommended. It is very important to arrive on time having read the plays and remain awake, enthusiastic, and creative throughout the class!